Having one of the best mountain bike mudguards on your bike may not be the most glamorous or exciting prospect, but when the trails get sloppy they are worth their weight a hundred times over.
We know there’s nothing particularly cool or fancy about a mountain bike mudguard (or mountain bike fenders, in some parts of the world). However, if you want to ride trails with clear vision this winter, we’d highly recommend you find the right mudguard for you and your bike.
Not all mountain bike mudguards are created equal, so we’ve put some of the best options to the test for you.
If you’re unsure which MTB mudguard is best for you, we’ve got a buyer’s guide at the end of this article.
Best mountain bike mudguards
Mudhugger EVO Bolt-on
- Price: £30 / $48 as tested
- Weight: 124g
The Mudhugger EVO Bolt-on’s protection is great, keeping us clean down to knee level, without the guard feeling oversized. Fork seals are well-protected by a pair of ‘wings’.
The bolt-on mount is secure, so there’s less movement over rough ground than with strap-on models. Made from recycled and recyclable polypropylene, this is as sustainable as a mudguard gets. Adaptors exist for many MTB forks, and if there isn’t one for yours, the zip tie and Velcro version offers the same performance.
The only downside of the bolt-on design is it’s not as quick and easy to swap between forks or remove for storage as a fender with zip ties or Velcro mounts.
RRP ProGuard Max
- Price: £29 as tested
- Weight: 104g
RRP’s ProGuard mudguard has a choice of upper mounting holes and the option to use Velcro straps (not included, but available from RRP) instead of the supplied zip ties. This enables you to customise the fit, fork dimensions allowing.
The length of this fender means it shields you from mud splashes below your knees, and it protects fork seals, too. It’s lighter than others offering similar coverage.
Movement over rough terrain is minimal, thanks to the double mounts for each fork leg.
However, fitting is more complex than some, and RRP’s Velcro strap kits are pricey (£9.99 or £19.99 with rubber fork protectors).
- Price: £48 as tested
- Weight: 105g
Made from light but tough carbon fibre, this mudguard is laid up by hand in Shropshire, England. A plastic version is also available for a little less (PG450, £23.50).
The CG450 shields you from mud and water from the knees up, and also protects fork seals.
It has a moulded hump on top, which butts up against the fork brace to give a solid fixing. We didn’t find a fork that it didn’t sit well with.
It’s worth noting that the plastic version is 15g lighter and half the price. Also, you can’t fit a Velcro strap through the small mounting holes, so are limited to using zip ties, which aren’t as easy to remove or reusable.
Mucky Nutz MugGuard Short
- Price: £20 as tested
- Weight: 78g
Despite this being the ‘Short’ version, coverage is good enough to keep your top half clean and fork seals free from grit and water.
Slots (rather than holes) on the top enable adjustment to suit different forks and tyres, while double mounts on the legs ensure a rock-solid fit.
It’s light, stable on rocky trails, doesn’t clog easily and is made from recycled and recyclable plastic.
It’s important to note you need to be careful when cutting the short double-sided Velcro strip to length. It’d be easier to fit the mudguard if the Velcro straps had buckles, instead of having to overlap them under tension.
Mudhugger MK2 Rear Mudhugger
- Price: £35 / $55 as tested
- Weight: 306g (large)
The Mudhugger MK2 Rear Mudhugger offers excellent protection from mud and slop flying up from your back wheel.
The rear MTB mudguard is lightweight, affordable, and easy to fit and remove.
It can be noisy on rough terrain, though, and its looks might not be to your personal taste.
The following mountain bike mudguards scored fewer than four out of five stars in testing, so they haven’t been included in our main list.
Crud XL Fender
- Price: £30 as tested
- Weight: 196g
Fitting is easy, using rubber O-rings, which pop on and off easily, and have so far proven friendly to paintwork.
Coverage is excellent – the Crud mudguard protects you from your face to your knees, thanks to its length and easy position adjustment.
However, with a more complex, multi-piece construction than most competitors, the XL Fender is pretty heavy. Its split design leaves the fork seals more exposed than some, too.
We also noticed a knocking noise on rough trails; unable to replicate this in the workshop, we put it down to the mudguard’s long ‘legs’ contacting the fork legs.
Topeak DeFender FX 279er
- Price: £19
- Weight: 203g
This mudguard attaches via a bung in the fork steerer and has front and rear portions, connected with quick-release clips, which are easy to fit and remove.
Wheel coverage is great, so little spray reached our tester’s top half. It’s also the cheapest option here.
Due to its design, the fender sits high above the tyre, so doesn’t offer any fork-seal protection – a major reason for using a mudguard.
Not only are the seals exposed to spray from below, but also to mud and water dripping from the fender itself.
The front and rear sections flex with the slightest movement, or when riding over rough ground. It’s heavy, too.
Mountain bike mudguard buyer’s guide
So, you’re fed up with mud and puddle water splashing up into your face and eyes while riding? Sounds as though you need a mudguard.
The best front mudguards for mountain bikes attach to the lowers of your suspension fork, sitting close to the wheel, and catching mud and spray before it even gets close to you or your bike. The bigger the guard, the bigger the coverage, so it’s important to choose a mudguard that’s suitable for your trail conditions.
Zip ties used to be the standard method of attachment for most front mudguards due to their strength and low cost.
However, in the last few years, different mounting methods have surfaced: some mudguards bolt directly onto your fork crown, whereas others use velcro straps in place of zip ties as a reusable and less wasteful alternative.
Do I need a mountain bike mudguard?
If you ride in the wet, chances are you’ll benefit from using a mudguard. Front mudguards are light, relatively inexpensive and durable.
As well as protecting your face and eyes from mud and spray, they also act as an extra layer of protection for your fork seals, protecting them from dirt and grime build-up.
Many of the best mountain bike mudguards are also easily removable, especially those that bolt directly to your fork or are attached by reusable Velcro strips. So, if you really wanted to, you could even remove your mudguard for dry days and deploy it for cycling in the rain.
How to fit mudguards to a mountain bike
Most mudguards are designed to attach to your mountain bike via pre-drilled holes in the plastic moulding, which can then be attached to your fork brace and lowers (or frame, in the case of rear mudguards) with zip ties.
However, in an attempt to reduce single-use waste, some manufacturers now offer hook and loop straps, which do the same job as the plastic zip ties but are reusable, should you want to remove your mudguard or swap it between bikes.
Some fork manufacturers have also introduced bolt holes on the back of their fork braces. This allows for compatible mudguards to be bolted directly to the fork and results in a very clean look.
How much coverage do I need?
How much coverage you need depends on the trails and weather where you ride. If you ride predominantly in dry climates or on super-hardpacked trail surfaces, mud won’t be too much of a concern and you may get away with a shorter mudguard to keep the occasional puddle at bay.
However, if you live somewhere prone to rain and ride natural trails, a mudguard with bigger coverage will do a much better job of keeping the slop off your face.
Front vs rear mountain bike mudguards
While front mudguards are a common sight on the trails and quickly becoming the norm in wetter climates, rear mudguards aren’t often seen on mountain bikes.
This is because, as well as not being particularly flattering (although this is subjective), they tend to be noisy at best and at worst they can hinder a rider’s range of motion on the bike.
While there are some options out there that keep most of the mud off your back – such as the Mudhugger MK2 rear mudguard – the priority for most riders is to keep their vision clear. A good front mudguard does just that without any side effects.
If it’s very wet and you’re worried about spray from your rear wheel, we’d recommend a good pair of waterproof shorts.
Do I need a specific mudguard for my wheel size?
The mudguards on test here are compatible with both 29in and 27.5in wheels. However, it’s important to check if there are any maximum tyre widths stated by the manufacturer.