There’s little more unpleasant than getting a wet butt when cycling, so mudguards are an essential accessory for any cyclist that wants to ride year-round.
Mudguards also do a damn fine job of keeping your bike clean, reducing the amount of maintenance you have to do and greatly increasing the longevity of your components. A win/win in our eyes.
On longer rides, the boost to morale of being dry and comfortable on your bike is also immeasurable. A few audax events and randonneuring bodies (and some clubs) even require your bike to be fitted with mudguards as a courtesy to other riders in a bunch.
As with seemingly everything in the cycling world, choosing the right mudguards or fenders for you and your bike isn’t always the most simple task.
First, you need to determine whether your bike has the eyelets required for full mudguards or if you need a clip-on set (that’s usually the case for race bikes, less likely to have mudguard eyelets). You also need to think about tyre width and clearance.
But worry no longer because our recommendations below present the best mudguards, as rated by our test team, while our full buyer’s guide at the bottom will help you demystify the world of staying dry on a bike.
Best mudguards for cycling in 2020 as rated by our expert testers
- SKS P35: £44.99 / $47.99
- Bontrager NCS: £44.99 / $59.99 / €54
- Crud Roadracer MK3: £39.99 / €47.49 / $53
- Honjo Koken: £89 / $125
- SKS Raceblade long: £54.99 / €44.99 / $59.99
- SKS Stingray: £41.99 / €32.99 / $42.99
- Specialized Dry-Tech: £55 / $60
- Velo Orange alloy mudguards/fenders: £65 / $76
SKS P35 mudguards
- £44.99 / €N/A / $47.99
- Tried-and-tested chromoplastic construction
- Available in just about every bike shop
Our SKS P35 review dates from way back in 2008 and, in that time… well, not a lot has changed.
The P35 — and it’s wider siblings, including the P45, P55, P65 and so on — has been in the SKS line-up for just about forever, and with good reason. The mudguards offer sensible and affordable practicality at a reasonable price point.
Add in extensive spares availability in nearly every bike shop in the land and you’re onto a winner.
Bontrager NCS mudguards
- £44.99 / $59.99 / €54
- Super easy to fit and adaptable
- Neat rear light integration
Bontrager’s NCS mudguards are an easy-to-fit and affordable option available to wrap around tyres from 25mm all the way up to 45mm-wide.
The mudguards use a neat pair of clamps on each stay that allow you to adjust the length of them without having to cut the stay.
This makes them super easy to fit for even the most mechanically inept home mechanic. It also makes the mudguards easy to adapt if you decide to fit different tyres on your bike. The included, high-quality stainless steel hardware is corrosion resistant and plentiful.
The mudguards have a distinctive round profile with no flattened section at the apex of the curve. This looks great when fitted but, in our experience, it can cause issues with clearances around the fork crown on certain bikes.
Unlike SKS’s chromoplastic mudguards, which sandwich a layer of alloy between plastic, the Bontrager NCS ‘guards are a full polycarbonate construction.
Though this will give you years of service if well fitted, if poorly fitted and left to wobble away, we’ve found these to be more prone to cracking than other options.
Newer versions of the mudguards include an integrated Blendr mount for fitting Bontrager rear lights, which is nice to see.
Crud Roadracer MK3 mudguards
- £39.99 / €47.49 / $53
- Ideal for bikes with no eyelets
The Crud Roadracer is the go-to option for road bikes with no eyelets or tight clearances.
They can be a bit fiddly to fit and don’t offer as comprehensive coverage as full-cover mudguards, but they’re one of the best clip-on solutions out there.
While the MK2 version of the Roadracer used O-rings to attach the mudguards, the MK3 iteration now uses “super Velcro” for a cleaner, fuss-free finish.
Getting your bike and kit ready for winter? Check out these guides
- Best bike lights
- Best cycling kit for riding in the rain
- Best waterproof jackets for road cycling and commuting
- Best winter road bike tyres
Honjo Koken mudguards
- £89 / €TBC / $125
- Super high-end quality and finish
- Wide range of sizes available
Japanese manufacturer, Honjo, makes some of the nicest mudguards out there, with quality that is pretty much unparalleled.
Naturally, such quality comes at a price and £90 / $125 is the starting point for a set of these very special mudguards.
A wide range of sizes is available through a number of international distributors, most notably Rene Herse (formerly Compass) in the US, which also ships internationally.
SKS Raceblade Long mudguards
- £54.99 / €44.99 / $59.99
- A very secure fit for clip-on mudguards
SKS’ Raceblade mudguards attach to bikes without eyelets using an ingenious set of clips that fit behind your quick-release skewer.
These give a much more secure attachment than typical clip-on solutions and make them easier to remove as well.
SKS Stingray mudguards
- £41.99 / €32.99 / $42.99
- Rock-solid fitment
- Subtle and tasteful colour matching with your bike is possible
SKS’s Stingrays are based on the modern P35 profile but add a fun, coloured layer that’s sandwiched-in using the brand’s signature chromoplastic construction. This makes it possible to subtly and tastefully match the guards to the colour of your bike – neato!
The mudguards offer generous coverage, though could benefit from having mud flaps added, and can often be found for a bargain price.
Specialized Dry-Tech mudguards
- £55 / $60
- Super-wide coverage works well with chunky tyres
- Plug and play compatibility with certain Specialized bikes
Specialized’s alloy Dry-Tech mudguards are a great option if you want to use wide tyres or if you want to take advantage of the ‘plug and play’ compatibility the brand offers on certain models.
Fitting is fairly easy and the price is competitive compared to other alloy mudguards.
Velo Orange alloy mudguards
- £65 / €TBC / $76
- Super durable
- Available in large number of sizes and styles
Velo Orange’s alloy mudguards are a firm favourite here at BikeRadar — coming in a huge variety of sizes and styles, there’s an option to fit the vast majority of bikes.
Fitting them can be a bit of a fiddle, but if you invest the time it takes to do it well, you will be rewarded with a dry bum for years to come.
Mudguard and fender buyer’s guide
The first thing you must determine is what kind of mudguard your bike can run.
If your bike has eyelets (or braze-ons, as they’re also known), you should be able to run full-length mudguards.
Although these are a more permanent fixture, they are undoubtedly the best solution because they give the greatest level of coverage possible, are far less prone to wobbling and tend to last longer than clip-on solutions.
If your bike doesn’t have eyelets, you may be able to use p-clips as a makeshift solution, but be cautious doing so on carbon frames. Other adaptors, such as Axiom’s axle runners, are also worth investigating.
Although the situation has improved greatly, the placement of eyelets on some bikes can leave you wanting (particularly on bikes with disc brakes), so a little bit of jiggery-pokery, including bending stays, may be required.
Though some will bemoan the permanence of full-length mudguards, they can look excellent if ‘integrated’ with the bike and really don’t take long to remove once set up.
Clip-on full cover mudguards and fenders
While clip-on mudguards give decent coverage, they’re not as comprehensive as full-length mudguards. If your bike doesn’t have eyelets, and you cannot use one of the aforementioned workarounds, clip-on mudguards are your next best bet.
Mudguards such as the SKS Raceblade Pro and Crud Roadracer use o-rings or Velcro wrapped around the frame to provide a relatively secure connection in lieu of eyelets while providing a level of coverage comparable, but not quite as thorough, as full-length mudguards.
Although their lightweight and sleek looks may seem appealing, be warned that this style of guards is often a bit of a fiddle to set up and tends to wobble about more than full cover ‘guards.
However, if your bike has especially tight clearances or lacks eyelets, these are the best options available.
Clip-on mudguards and fenders
Clip-on mudguards, which typically attach to your seatpost, are your last option and give the least amount of coverage of all the styles of mudguards.
They’ll go a long way to stopping the cursed brown streak of muck up your back, but they’ll do little to protect your bike or legs from the elements.
However, for mountain bikes, or those that absolutely cannot stand the idea of full cover mudguards, they’re the only option.
Usually mounted under the saddle, fork crown or down tube, these will protect you from the worst spray and are best suited to mountain bikes.
Which full cover mudguards and fenders should I buy?
First, it’s worth considering what you want your mudguards to be made of.
Starting at the high end, a nice set of alloy, full cover mudguards are a very worthwhile investment that will last far longer than a set of regular, plastic ‘guards.
Not only do they look handsome, but a set such as the Velo Orange mudguards recommended above only cost a bit more than a set of regular, plastic ones.
For those after something a little less flashy, the well-loved Portland Design Works Full Metal fenders are another popular option.
Latest deals on the PDW Full Metal fenders
SKS bridges the gap with its chromoplastic ‘guards, which see a thin layer of alloy sandwiched between two layers of plastic, creating a durable and sturdy set of ‘guards at a relatively low price point.
Coming in nearly every size imaginable, chromoplastic ‘guards are the usual go-to option for bike shops, with SKS providing a plethora of spare parts.
A set of plain plastic ‘guards, such as the NCS range from Bontrager, are a lighter option, both in weight and on the wallet. However, in our experience, they won’t last as long as other options.
What width of mudguard or fender should I buy?
Consider what width of mudguard is most appropriate for your tyres.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to err on the side of caution and fit the widest set of mudguards you can to your bike.
Not only does this future-proof your mudguard choice, but it also increases the clearances between your mudguards and your tyre, greatly reducing the chance of something getting stuck in there.
On that note, SKS includes breakaway clips with its mudguards, which are designed to disconnect the stays of the mudguard from the bike in the event that something gets stuck between the tyre and the guards, stopping you from taking a flyer over the bars.
Be aware that the profile of some mudguards won’t play nicely on bikes with tight clearances, particularly around the fork crown, so it’s well worth doing some research online or popping into your local bike shop and having them fit you a set that they know will work with your model of bike.