There are few things more unpleasant than getting a wet backside when cycling in the rain, so mudguards are an essential accessory for any cyclist who wants to ride year-round. The protection from the best waterproof jackets for cyclists is wasted if your rear wheel is sending spray up your back.
Mudguards also do a 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 when riding in a group.
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 – the best winter road bike tyres tend to be wider than summer slicks.
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.
The best mudguards and fenders in 2023, as rated by our expert testers
- £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 – as well as its 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.
Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders
- £109.99 / $129.99
- Comprehensive coverage
- Flawless once fitted
The Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders cost twice as much as some full-length, aluminium mudguards in this list. But on wet rides, the protection they offer to you, your bike and riders behind you can be priceless.
Unless you’re experienced at installing mudguards, Portland Design Works recommends asking your local bike mechanic to fit them for you. Either way, once in place, they don’t rattle or move about even on broken roads and blustery conditions.
The Full Metal Fenders come in matte black or polished silver. We tested the 700 x 45mm size for a maximum tyre width of 35mm. Narrower and wider options are available for 700c and 650b wheels.
- £44.99 / €54 / $59.99
- 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 enable you to adjust their length 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
- £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 coverage that’s as comprehensive 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.
- £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.
Kinesis Fend Off
- £60 / €69 / $73.95 / AU$109
- Wide tyre clearance
- Additional flaps
The aluminium Kinesis Fend Off mudguards come in two colours, and the wide version costs £65. The maximum recommended tyre widths for each size are 34mm and 45mm respectively.
They’re around 200g heavier than their plastic rivals, at 637g, including hardware. Kinesis supplies most, but not all, fixings.
The polypropylene packaging is designed to be converted into flaps, with cutting guides and fixing bolts supplied.
The flat profile gives more tyre clearance, but they may touch your frame. Add the flaps and these stable ’guards are a great long-term choice for committed all-weather riders.
- £46.99 / €53
- Fit extra-wide tyres
- Rear reflector
M-Part offers the Primoplastic mudguards in five widths, from 38mm to 68mm, and different colours. The polycarbonate mudguards come with stays in stainless steel or black-coated stainless steel.
Their profile is classically rounded, and only trimmed to fit between the chainstays, so check the available width of your frame before choosing a size. The stays have Pop Off safety couplings, similar to SKS Secu-Clips.
Flexible flaps are stepped away from the tyre as they flare out, to intercept more spray. The rear also has a reflector. There’s good coverage at both ends, with the rear covering just over half of the 700c wheel.
The 68mm width easily covered the 45mm tyres on a gravel bike; 50mm tyres also fitted.
SKS Bluemels Longboard
- £40 / €39.55 / $41.62 / AU$61.21
- Solidly built
The SKS Bluemels Longboard have a classic, robust design and come in black, latte or silver Chromoplastic.
The front mudguard’s stainless steel stays fix easily to the fork leg or dropout with the SKS breakaway Secu-Clip.
Fitting the rear mudguard is easy too, but the rear stays don’t have the Secu-Clip. Excess stay can be cut off, and plastic end caps added to cover the sharp ends.
The 35mm width works for tyres up to 30mm, and the slim, snug-fitting mudguards enable easy adjustment for optimum positioning.
They simply refuse to rattle and their curved profile and generous lengths with rear flaps mean little spray escapes.
SKS Raceblade Long
- £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.
- £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.
The mudguards offer generous coverage, though could benefit from having mud flaps added, and can often be found for a bargain price.
- £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.
- £65 / €TBC / $76
- Highly 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 backside for years to come.
Mudguard and fender buyer’s guide
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll cover the different types of mudguards available and how to choose the right ones for your bike.
Does your bike have mudguard eyelets?
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 and you want to fit full-cover mudguards, you may be able to use P-clips. These malleable rubber-coated metal clips clamp onto a frame tube, providing a makeshift eyelet. Be cautious if fitting P-clips to carbon frames – carbon is very susceptible to damage from compression. Other adaptors, such as Axiom’s axle runners, are also worth investigating if your bike uses quick-release axles.
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
If your bike doesn’t have eyelets (many road bikes don’t), and you cannot use one of the aforementioned workarounds, clip-on mudguards are your next best bet.
While clip-on mudguards give decent coverage, they’re not as comprehensive as full-length mudguards.
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. They provide a level of coverage comparable with, but not quite as thorough as, full-length mudguards.
Although their lightweight and sleek looks may seem appealing, be warned this style of mudguard is often a bit of a fiddle to set up and tends to wobble about more than full cover mudguards.
However, if your bike has especially tight clearances or lacks eyelets, these are the best options available.
Clip-on short mudguards and fenders
Short 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.
Clip-on mudguards come in two distinct styles – clamp-on style such as the venerable Topeak Defender and folding ones such as the popular Ass Saver.
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.
What width of mudguard or fender should I buy?
Consider what width of mudguard is most appropriate for your tyres and the amount of clearance your frameset offers.
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 (allowing you to run wider tyres in future if you wish), 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, preventing 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 they know will work with your model of bike.
Latest deals on SKS breakaway clips
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.
SKS bridges the gap with its chromoplastic mudguards, 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 mudguards are the usual go-to option for bike shops, with SKS providing a plethora of spare parts.
A set of plain plastic mudguards, 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 alternatives.