These are the best mudguards (or fenders, for those outside the UK) for road and commuting bikes, as rated by our expert testers.
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 increases 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 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. But worry no longer as our guide below should demystify the world of keeping dry on a bike.
Best mudguards 2019, in order of score
SKS P35: £44.99 / €N/A / $47.99
Crud Roadracer MK3: £39.99 / €47.49 / $53
Honjo Koken: £89 / €TBC / $125
SKS Raceblade long: £54.99 / €44.99 / $59.99
SKS Stingray: £41.99 / €32.99 / $42.99
Velo Orange alloy mudguards/fenders: £65 / €TBC / $76
The SKS P35 has been around for just about forever. BikeRadar
- £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 SKS’ lineup 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.
Crud Roadracer MK3
The Crud Roadracer is the go-to for a clip-on mudguard. Chain Reaction Cycles
- £39.99 / €47.49 / $53
- The best solution for road bikes with no eyelets or tight clearances
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.
Our original review refers to the MK2 version of the Roadracer, which used O-rings to attach the mudguards instead of the “super velcro” used on the new version. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of the newest model this winter.
Honjo Koken mudguards
Honjo makes some of the most respected mudguards out there BikeRadar
- £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 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 road
SKS’ Raceblade mudguards are another take on the clip-on style Joseph Branston
- £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 bring some jazzy-ness to the austere world of staying dry. BikeRadar
- £41.99 / €32.99 / $42.99
- Rock-solid fitment
- Subtle and tasteful colour matching with your bike is possible
SKS’ Stingray are based on the modern P35 profile but add a fun coloured layer sandwiched in using the brand’s signature chromoplastic construction. This makes it possible to subtly and tastefully match the guards to your bike.
The mudguards offer generous coverage, though could benefit from having mud flaps added and can often be found for a bargain price.
Velo Orange alloy mudguards
Velo Orange’s alloy mudguards/fenders offer durable practicality at a price that’s easy to swallow. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
- £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
Have you got the eye for it?
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, as 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, though be cautious doing so on carbon frames. Other adaptors, such as Axiom’s axle runners, are also worth investigating.
Don’t be surprised if you have to ‘encourage’ the stays of your mudguards to work nicely with disc brakes.
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 in order.
If neatly integrated, mudguards can even complement the look of a road bike. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
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.
The choices available for full cover mudguards are huge and we’ll cover these later.
Clip-on full cover mudguards and fenders
While clip-on mudguards give decent coverage, it’s not as comprehensive as full-length mudguards. If your bike does not have eyelets, and you cannot use one of the aforementioned workarounds, clip-on mudguards are your next best bet.
Mudguards like the SKS Race Blade Pro and Crud Roadacer 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 are often a bit of a fiddle to set up and tend to wobble about more than full cover guards.
Crud Road Racers are a great option for bikes without eyelets but are undoubtedly a faff to fit.
However, if your bike has especially tight clearances or lacks eyelets, these are the best options available.
Clip-on mudguards and fenders
Mudguards aren’t limited to road use and can make a world of difference off road.
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.
Though they’ll go a long way to stop the cursed brown streak of muck up your back, 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.
Some mudguards, such as these from Topeak, utilises a cammed strap closure to keep the mudguard securely in place.
Clip-on mudguards come in two distinct styles — clamp-on style like the venerable Topeak Defender and folding ones like the popular Ass Saver.
Usually mounted under the saddle, fork crown or downtube, 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 these Velo Orange mudguards only cost a bit more than a set of regular, plastic ones.
These alloy guards from Velo Orange don’t cost much more than a plastic set.
For those after something a little less flashy, the well-loved Portland Design Works Full Metal fenders are another popular option.
A well-used set of SKS Chromoplastic mudguards embellished with a suitably ugly, custom mudflap. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
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.
Lastly, 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.
Although we jest, these walnut and Formica mudguards from Woodguards are undoubtedly pretty.
If you’re chronically hip, you could realm into nichedom and order a set of furiously trendy wooden guards from the likes of Woody’s.
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.
This article was last updated on 17th October 2019