Mudguards on proper road bikes are a hot (and dry) 2021 trend

Fenders are cool now, so I guess I was right all along

Hands holding a beautiful mudguard

Here at BikeRadar we’ve been banging the drum for mudguards (fenders) since time immemorial, continually asking the question: why don’t nice road bikes that definitely have the requisite clearances also have proper mounts to accept full ‘guards?

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Suddenly, it seems like at least some bike makers are taking notice. 

In recent weeks we’ve seen launches of four 2021 bikes: the Trek Domane AL, the Merida Scultura Endurance, the Cervélo Caledonia and the Orbea Avant. Aside from all being new and shiny, and generally appealing, these bikes have one thing in common: they’ve all got proper fender mounts. 

Mudguards matter

All-City Mr Pink with Velo Orange mudguards
Mudguards are practical rather than sexy, and we love them.
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

I realise this is an issue many of you simply won’t care about. 

If you live somewhere relatively dry (or simply don’t venture out when water falls from the sky), fenders probably seem like a distasteful annoyance that clutter the otherwise svelte lines of your beloved bike. 

The thing is, dorky aesthetics aside, they’re damned effective, making otherwise miserable conditions bearable. 

In much of the world, limiting your riding to bone-dry days only will severely reduce the amount you can do, and that’s never a good thing. 

When it’s actually raining, fenders help enormously by diverting the continuous spray coming off your wheels. As well as protecting you, this keeps your bike much cleaner and reduces drivetrain wear caused by road filth.

Brushing a dirty bike down
Wouldn’t you rather do less of this?
Will Poole / Immediate Media

Without ‘guards, it’s the water and muck already on the road that’s going to ruin your day, soaking the back of your chamois and your feet, and making a mess of your bike.

Thanks be to disc brakes

I’ve no doubt the rise of disc brakes has played its part in this dry-butt trend. (I’m calling four new bikes a trend. Deal with it.)

While I still appreciate rim brakes in the right context, removing the clearance restrictions they impose has given bike designers huge latitude in creating more versatile, practical machines. 

Disc brakes go hand-in-hand with wide rims and tyres, and with so much space to play with, it would be rude not to offer fender mounts, right?

Stealthy rear mudguard mount
The Merida Scultura Endurance’s fender mounts are so subtle you could easily miss them. See that little bolt on the inside of the seatstay?
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

I do accept that maybe they don’t belong on pure race bikes. Bikes such as the new Specialized Tarmac SL7 or the BMC Teammachine SLR are about pure performance, with no concessions to the everyday. 

That’s fair enough, but most of us don’t have a special bike for race day, instead doing all our riding on the one or two bikes we can afford. 

For that reason, given the choice, I’d always much rather have mounts than not, so the option to fit ‘guards is there when I want them. 

Naturally, mounts will add weight to a frame, but we’re talking a tiny penalty here. 

It seems a shame to me that, for example, my otherwise sublime Specialized Roubaix Expert long-termer lacks mounts. 

Specialized Roubaix in woods
In just about every other respect, this is a wonderful bike.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media

It’s a bike that takes big tyres and excels on mixed terrain, but if you want to put mudguards on it, you’ll have to make do with clip-ons or get creative with other attachment methods. 

Similarly, the Rose Pro SL Disc is a favourite affordable aluminium all-rounder that’s otherwise extremely well-suited to commuting or year-round training, but even the updated 2020 model skips the mounts

Rose Pro SL Disc 105
Why Rose, why?
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

I hope bikes such as the Trek, Merida, Cervélo and Orbea are a sign of things to come, and that more bike makers will jump on this curiously dry bandwagon and consign damp derrières to the dustbin of history. 

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Do you care about fender mounts? Do you welcome this thing I’m choosing to call a trend? Let me know your thoughts below.