Mudguards are probably one of the least inspiring topics among mountain bike riders when it comes to talking about kit. They just don’t engender the same excitement as tyres, suspension or breaks. But they are, nevertheless, a piece of essential kit.
They keep mud out of your eyes, and the eyes of the person behind you, not to mention prevent that brown streak down your back when riding in muddy conditions.
More importantly, they improve performance by ensuring the mad doesn’t attack your brakes and mechanics, so you are less likely to have an accident, less likely to have to stop on the trail, and will spend less time cleaning your bike at the end of the day.
OK, so you need mudguards, but which mudguards? We’ve taken the guess work out of the decision for you by recommending the six best mudguards that you can buy today.
We have also put together a complete buying guide covering everything you need to know about mountain bike mudguards, and a little more.
OK, let’s get our hands dirty.
6 Best Mountain Bike Mudguards
TAGVO Bike Mudguard
This mudguard from TAGVO is our top pick because it is almost as lightweight as a foldable mudguard, weighing just 364 grams, but is much more durable since it is a pre-moulded style.
It is a three-piece set with two pieces for the front and one for the back wheel. They look like wings and sit up on the fork. This makes them highly adjustable so you can get them exactly where you want them.
They are easy to put on and take off, all you need is an Allen key (which comes included), but they aren’t so easy to put on and take off that it is something I want to be doing regularly.
The guards themselves are made from super anti-pressure PVC material that won’t break or rust, but is soft enough that it flexes and bends as needed. The material is also easy to wash.
They are a little bit wider than your average mudguard, which means less splash back on you and your bike, which is the whole point.
This guard will work with the majority of bikes, as long as the read guard fender is 22 mm or greater. You have five colours to choose from, so you can try and blend this piece of kit with the rest of your bike aesthetic.
- Three parts
- Anti-pressure PVC
Lixada MTB Fender
This is another pre-moulded mudguard set which is almost as light and flexible as a foldable fender, but with the extra substance that you expect from a pre-moulded model.
The front guard covers the back of the wheel without extending too far over the front. This means that you get good protection with less impact on the overall aesthetic of your bike.
They are made from synthetic fibre glass, and they are easy to install with a clip and bracket. Again, you can put them on and take them off with relative ease, but it is not as easy as with some models, so I would probably describe them as permanent.
They are fully adjustable, so you can get them in just the right place to protect both you and your bike from excessive mud exposure. Choose from three available colours and fit on bikes with a seat post less than 34 mm.
- Synthetic fiberglass
TAGVO Retractable Bike Mudguard
If you don’t want to be attaching and detaching mudguards all the time, but you want them out of the way when you don’t need them, these retractable mudguards will do the trick.
On both the front and rear fender you can just push the guard closed when you don’t need it. The front fender retracts from 11.2 cm to 5.8 cm, and the rear fender from 12.2 cm to 6.8 cm.
These guards aren’t quite as lightweight and durable as our top pick from TAVGO, because the designed means that they need a little bit more substance to them. But we do like that they are made from recycled materials.
The retractable design does also mean that they are a bit of a pain to clean, but the convenience on the road more than makes up for spending a few more minutes cleaning.
- Easy to install
- Recycled material
Taianle Bicycle Mudguard Set
If you are looking for pre-moulded mudguard, this option is one of the most affordable options on the market, and they are almost as good as the models that cost twice as much.
Made from high quality PVC and available only in “classic black”, these pre-moulded mudguards are durable, easy to clean, and also lightweight, so you aren’t carrying any unnecessary weight on your wheels.
They come as a three piece set, with two pieces to fit either side of your front fork, and a third piece to cover the rear tyre, and protect you back and the person behind you from backsplash.
They are easy to install and adjust with a few little nuts and bolts, though again, you probably aren’t going to want to do this on a daily basis as it is fiddly and there are just too many pieces that can go missing.
- Three piece
Chooee Adjustable Mountain Bike Fender
If you prefer the “barely there” approach of foldable mudguards, these fenders from Chooee are a great choice.
Designed to sit on the front fork and the rear seat, just attach the guards with zip ties, and cut them off when they need changing. This means that they are also easy to put on and take off, though you will need a pack of zip ties at your disposal for the purpose.
The guard is made from 0.8 mm polypropylene plate and is lightweight, weighing just 28 grams, and flexible to keep your two wheeled-machine feeling aerodynamic. But they are durable enough that they won’t wear out quickly, even with tough use.
You don’t get any choices with the colour or design, but once they are covered in mud hopefully that won’t matter too much.
Auwoo Two Piece Mountain Bike Fender
Another lightweight and affordable foldable option, Auwoo make their fenders in a variety of sizes to fit 26 inch, 27.5 inch, and 29 inch mountain bikes.
These are designed to be l feel like they aren’t there, while protecting you. And they also shouldn’t tear or otherwise become deformed, no matter what they come into contact with.
They are installed on the front fork and the rear fork using eight zip ties, which come with the guards. But again, if you are hoping to attach and detach as needed, you will need your own store of zip ties.
The four-point fixture means that they stay fixed where you want them and get them in the right place for the style and shape of your bike.
- Cap to cover clips
- EVA moulded footbed
- Leather upper
Do I Need Mountain Bike Mudguards?
You might be asking yourself, if I need mudguards, why doesn’t my mountain bike come with them?
The fact is, mudguards don’t look good, so smart marketers aren’t going to ruin the aesthetic of their product with them.
Moreover, they aren’t the type of kit that you want to have on your bike all the time. They can rub against your tyres, add weight, and be one more thing to get in the way if you do have an accident. So, you don’t really want to be using Mudguards in sunny and wet conditions.
But they are great in wet conditions.
They aren’t just about keeping mud out of your eyes and off your clothes. They also stop mud from invading the mechanics of your bike and jamming it, so they can significantly improve your ride in muddy conditions.
So, mudguards have a lot of benefits:
- The keep you warmer, cleaner and drier
- They prevent mud from your bike hitting the person behind you (so may reduce issues on the trail)
- They protect your breaks and mechanics from getting dirty and clogged up.
While mudguards aren’t something that you want to use in all conditions. When the conditions are wet a muddy, they can make a big difference to your riding experience.
So, yes, you need mudguards.
MTB Mudguard Buying Guide
There are lots of things to consider when choosing the right mudguards for your mountain bike. But the main consideration to decide where you fit on the bike performance vs mud protection spectrum.
Smaller, lighter mudguards don’t weigh down your bike or interfere with your fork brace, but don’t catch as much mud as heavier guards that tend to pre-formed and often sit down on the wheel. So, it is all about balancing bike performance with how much mud you are willing to get in your eyes.
But when making your choice, these are the main things to check off your list when deciding whether a fender is right for you.
First and foremost, make sure you get guards the right size for the wheels that you have. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people make this mistake and can’t fit the guard onto their frame.
You should think about where on your bike you would like your mudguard to sit. In the old days, front mudguards were always close to the wheel on the down tube, but now it is more common to see them higher up on the fork brace. This makes them easier to affix. There are even some with fastenings such as Velcro, which means that they are removeable, so you don’t need to use them in dry conditions.
Mudguards come in a lot of different sizes, some long, covering a good quarter of the wheel, but some much shorter. The bigger they are, the more mud they are likely to protect your from, but they are more likely to impact on the performance of your bike. The idea with the smaller ones is that they are positioned to catch the worst of it without compromising performance. Which you prefer is down to personal preference.
Foldable or Preformed
Guards will come preformed to sit around your wheel at just the right angle (which is why size matters), or a flat foldable piece. The latter are less robust and tend to offer less coverage, but they tend to be affordable, lightweight, and don’t take up much space on the fork.
The vast majority of mudguards are made from polypropylene, which is cheap, light, and easy to form into the requisite shapes. So, when looking for variation, it will primarily relate to how the plastic is sourced. The environmentally conscious might look out for options made from 100 precent recycled materials.
Obviously, a lighter guard will maintain the aerodynamics of your bike, but there is generally not much of a difference between guard weights. However, mud can weigh a lot. Bikes are known to have put on 12 pounds after a muddy ride. But smaller guards also have the benefit that less mud will stick to them.
Do you want your mudguards to be permanently affixed, or do you want to be able to attach and detach them depending on the conditions? If the latter, you will want to look out for something that mounts on the fork brace, and has reusable attachments, like Velcro.
Should I put Mudguards on my Mountain Bike?
Yes, when you need them. Mudguards protect you from mud, but they also stop excessive amounts of mud getting into your breaks and gears and jamming them up. So, mudguards make riding in the mud safer. But they do add extra weight, and are one more thing to get in the way if you have an accident. So, only put them on when you need them.
How much do Mudguards show you down?
Tests suggest that mudguards slow down bikes by between two and five percent, depending on the bike and the fender. This is why they should be something that you attach when you need them, and not something that you use all the time.
How can I improve my mountain bike’s performance in the mud?
Aside from a good pair of mudguards, drop the pressure in your tyres for better grip, or if you are permanently in muddy conditions consider upgrading to a mud tyre.
They may not be stylish, but when taking to muddy trails, a good set of mudguards can make a big difference.
They protect you from eating dirt and picking mud out of your eyes, as well as from that tell tale back mud streak that warns you someone doesn’t have mud guards.
It will make riding with your mates a happier experience as no one is getting severe mud splash back from the wheel of the rider in front of them.
It also means fewer accidents, and mud isn’t getting into the breaks and gears, leaving them in less than perfect working order.
So, while mudguards might not look great, the right set of fenders can seriously improve your riding experience in muddy conditions.
The right set is lightweight, you don’t need extra weight on your bike aside from the mud, but still offers enough protection. They are also stylish enough that they don’t leave your bike looking too much like the one you had as a kid.
We’ve picked six great choices, all of which should do the job, and hopefully won’t reduce your cool factor.
- Why Do Mountain Bikes Not Have Mudguards – Mountain Bike Report
- Mudguards: Why Use Them And How To Choose – Full Speed Ahead
- How To Ride In The Mud: 5 Essential Bike Tips – Red Bull
- Pro Tips: How To Ride Your Mountain Bike In The Mud – Wide Opening Mag MTB
Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API