A round-up of the best crud catchers
If you want to ride fast along wet trails you’ll need a front mudguard to keep your vision clear. Here are the top five very best mountain bike mudguards
Crud XL Fender
If you want a fender that will keep your vision clear even in the worst trail conditions, and can be taken on and off at a moment’s notice, and the Crud XL is the best solution on the market.
Mudhugger’s new FRX mudguard is slightly longer in the front than the standard Mudhugger model, so has greater protection at higher speeds. This is because the faster you go, the further mud gets thrown forward off the wheel, and you then ride into the spray. It fastens to the lower fork legs and brace with zip-ties, and is compatible with both 27.5in and 29in wheels, although we found there’s not a lot of clearance when running fatter winter tyres upwards of 2.25in. There are three slot positions, allowing you to rotate it forward on longer-travel forks. These slots will also accommodate thin Velcro straps if you want to remove the guard after a ride to prevent it bending in the boot of your car. The Mudhugger is slightly shorter than the Dfender, but it’s lighter, half the price and for the majority of wet rides, just as effective.
The Dfender is the only mudguard that you can remove quickly from the fork, which stops it getting bent out of shape during transit. It has a machined clamp with vibration-reducing rubber bumpers and is held in place by a tiny thumb wheel. This replaces the old 4mm bolt, but there’s still an 8mm nut in the bottom of the fender that can easily fall out. For this reason, we’d recommend taping or gluing it in place. Currently the Dfender only fits Fox and RockShox forks, although we found it can work with other brands, it just depends on the shape of the fork brace. Spare clamps are available, but at £20 a pop it can get expensive if you’ve got more than one model of fork in your fleet. Like the Mudhugger, the guard covers quite a large segment of the front tyre, providing excellent protection at all speeds. It’s also well built, although that quality comes at a hefty price.
RapidRacerProducts’ EnduroGuard is just one of many flexible polypropylene guards on the market. It bends to fit closely against the lower legs and brace and gets secured in place by zip-ties. The difference between the EnduroGuard and most other versions is it’s available in two sizes, for 80-120mm and 130-200mm travel forks respectively. It also features Seal Guard Technology, which is basically a little extra tab of plastic that prevents mud and water from dousing your fork seals. The guard can also double as a shock protector, using the extra set of mounting holes. The reason these plastic plates are so popular is they’re cheap, light and effective. The EnduroGuard is shorter than all the others on test, but it still deals with medium-speed mud splatter. The best thing about this type of guard is its flexibility — you can bend it to release any built-up mud, and you can also stash your bike in the car without permanently bending the guard out of shape.
UPDATE: One of the most effective mudguards is RRP’s new £26.99 ProGuard Max Protection (above). Fitting a big front guard makes a lot of sense because when you ride slowly through a puddle, a spray of the sticky stuff leaves the tyre at around 5 o’clock and often hits the frame but if you ride faster and it’s thrown further forward and then you actually ride into it. The ProGuard Max Protection is big enough to cover all the release points, so that you stay clean no matter what.
Zefal Deflector FM20
Developed in conjunction with the Zefal-sponsored Polygon Hutchinson UR enduro race team, the Deflector FM20 is a rigid resin fender with a three-point fixing. Velcro straps and zip-ties are included for attachment — the Velcro is useful if you want to remove the guard regularly, the latter offers a more permanent fixing. Soft Rilsan covers stop the sharp edges of the zip-ties scuffing the paint on your fork legs, and a nice sticker kit is included to make the guard look pretty. The Deflector FM20 is compatible with all three wheels sizes and most forks. It has an extended front section, but we found it sits pretty low to the tyre on a 29er wheel, although the front section is quite flexible, so we never had any issues with clogging or it catching on the rotating tyre. Overall the Deflector FM20 is affordable, lightweight and offers good all-round coverage.
The best mountain bike mudguard: the verdict
We’re split between two standout mudguards here at mbr. Our two favourites are the Crud XL Fender and the Mudhugger FRX.
The Crud XL Fender is arguably the better protector but the nicer aesthetics and lower price tag of the Mudhugger FRX are bonus points too.