Ultimate Mountain Bike Mudguard Test
I've had the burning desire to conduct this test for over a year. Don't ask me why I just needed to know the answer to the question, which mudguard is the best? Luckily with support from Terry Wright Cycles and some friends I could finally find the answer. The concept is a simple one, gather a group of riders wearing paper overalls, fit various mudguards then set them loose on the trails to see which guard keeps them the cleanest. We also made sure that one rider had no guards fitted so that we could compare the assortment of mudguards fairly.
The old inner tube hack
Cost: practically free.
We added this guard to this mix just out of pure curiosity. Stretching a piece of inner tube between the crown and bridge of the fork with cable ties is an old trick that should in theory, prevent spray and mud traveling through the fork which you then ride into. So that's the theory in practice, it looks like it kept our riders face marginally cleaner than our control test rider.
Mucky Nutz face fender & butt fender
Cost: £16.48 (set)
The set of guards from Mucky Nutz couldn't be easier to fit. The front face fender attaches to the bridge of your fork using velcro ties, whilst the rear clips directly to the seat rails. They may be affordable and easy to fit, but they really don't help keep you clean do to the lack of wheel coverage. Mucky Nutz also have xl versions that should offer more protection than the guards we tested here.
Crud Catcher race pack
Cost: £20 (set)
Crud catchers are a classic guard from the 90's with the only real significant upgrade being that they now offer guards for 29" wheels. The rear guard mounts directly to the seat post and is easy to fit, whilst the front mounts to the down tube with a set of orings. The front guard has done a reasonable job of keeping our rider clean although an extra flap for the front of the fork would increase its performance significantly. The rear guard underperformed compared to other guards on test.
Topeak defender M1 front / XC11 rear set
Cost: £40 (set)
The Topeak defender M1 front guard mounts into the steerer tube and only needs an Allen key to fix it into position. Once mounted the bracket can remain in place and the flaps can be removed for transport or drier days when they won't be needed. The bracket even fits different sized steerer tubes ranging from ø19.6 to ø35 mm. The M1 front guard, although a bit "flappy" over rough ground did a sterling job of keeping our rider clean. The rear XC11 guard is even easier to mount on the bike due to its adjustable quick realise clamp and can mount to seat post from 25.4 - ø34.9 mm in size. Unfortunately, during testing it wiggled out of alignment with the wheel. We can't blame the XC11 for that as it was our fault, we didn't adjust the clamp properly for our test subjects smaller seat post. In use prior to the test shoot the XC11 provided ample coverage keeping my bottom clean and dry.
Mudhugger FR front / standard rear
Cost: FR Front £25 Standard rear £23
The Mudhugger FR front guard has a longer nose compared to the original standard guard from Mudhugger and the added coverage really helps to keep your face clean from mud and spray. Mounting is easy with a few cable ties, but it does mean you'll need a bag of ties handy if you want to fit and remove the guard on a regular basis. Our FR guard also had the optional extension fitted (£7.50) which increased protection even more. The rear guard is cable tied directly to the rear seat stays providing very secure wobble free fixing point. But care should be taken to protect your frame from paint damage, Mudhugger do supply frame tape with all of their rear guards to prevent this. Because the Mudhugger guards are longer than other guards and fit closer to the wheels the protection they provide from mud and spray is second to none and worth the extra investment.
Here's a short behind the scenes video of our Ultimate mudguard test.