If you are willing to invest the time it takes to fit them properly, Velo Orange’s alloy mudguards (or Velo Orange’s fenders, if you prefer), are some of the best options on the market.
Velo Orange’s mudguards are available in various styles and a black or silver finish in most options. Various models are sold for 20in, 26in, 650b and 700c wheels and, in their widest options, they’ll accommodate tyres up to 52mm wide.
This review relates to the 45mm wide version of the mudguards but, as the hardware is shared across all models, this review applies to every option in Velo Orange’s mudguard lineup.
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Velo Orange alloy mudguards/fenders review
Fitting Velo Orange’s mudguards can take as little as 20 minutes or, easily, up to an hour and a half if you want to do it well.
I suggest you set aside the latter and take pride in doing a job well because the results are well worth it. Fastidiously following Velo Orange’s instructions definitely helps.
I won’t go through the whole process but, to summarise, it presents nothing out of the ordinary, but there are a few niggles and suggestions worth mentioning.
It is possible to trim the stays using a bolt cutter and finish the ends with a file but, marking your cut, removing the stays from the bike and cutting them with a hacksaw is undoubtedly cleaner, if more time-consuming.
As an aside, if you opt for the black — or noir as Velo Orange terms it — version of the mudguards, a black permanent marker does a great job of matching the cut ends to the rest of the guards. The same can be done if you pick up any scratches on the mudguards themselves.
Fitting the front guard using the daruma (a special bolt with a hole in the head that fits onto the brake bolt) is very neat and secure, though you may have to source a shorter recessed nut if clearances are tight.
The chunky rubber washer that sits between the fork crown and mudguard keeps things tight and helps reduce rattles.
The stays are held in place using 10mm nyloc nuts. These work well, and the supplied leather washers do significantly reduce vibrations, but I have found that the nuts benefit from a dab of thread lock to stop them vibrating loose over time.
It is very difficult to get a snug and rattle-free fit using the supplied bridge bracket. The tangs on the bracket are slightly too sturdy to get a very close fit around the profile of the mudguard and the metal-on-metal connection is also inherently prone to rattling.
I also found the tangs to be slightly too long — no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get the relatively thick bridge to neatly hug the inside of the mudguard. This meant that, over time, debris would build up around the protruding tangs.
Shortening the tangs and fitting a rubber spacer — which I made from a chopped up latex inner tube — solved the problem and the rear mudguard has been silent since. Including a thick rubber spacer that was cut to fit the bracket would be a nice touch in future generations of the mudguards.
I should note that an L-bracket is also included with the mudguards. If possible, using this would be a better solution than the malleable bridge.
As mentioned, I opted for the 45mm-wide snakeskin version mudguards and, with 30mm WTB Exposure tyres, there is more than enough clearance to ride in mucky conditions. An errant leaf will occasionally get stuck on the nut at the fork crown, but that’s to be expected.
The profile of the mudguard fully encloses the tyre and the rolled edges help channel water towards the bottom of the guards. Coverage is generous front and rear, extending to around 12cm from the ground on the front.
A nerdy mudflap would definitely help deflect every last drop of water to the ground and I implore you to fit one to your bike if you have not already. Velo Orange sells a leather mud flap at $30 a piece, though it’s also fairly easy to make your own.
The bolts that attach the stays protrude significantly and these cause significant toe overlap on my All-City Mr Pink. This is only an issue when riding at walking speed around an exceptionally tight corner (typically the exact same corner, nearly every day, on my daily commute!).
This has never caused an issue on the road and it may not be an issue at all, depending on the geometry of your bike, but it bears mentioning.
I’ve primarily used the mudguards in conjunction with Velo Orange’s own (excellent) Grand Cru long reach brakes. These capacious calipers have more than enough room to accommodate the mudguards but, when used on narrower rims, they are pinched when braking.
Some profiling around the crown would reduce this issue but the noise is no more than a little bit annoying and the repeated pinching hasn’t caused any long-term issues.
At £65 / $76, Velo Orange’s mudguards present — in the context of an accessory as mundane as mudguards — a significant premium over established models such as the venerable SKS Longboard (£41.99 / $58.99) or Edge (£55 / $TBC) from the same brand.
However, if you can spare the time it takes to fit them and troubleshoot any problems, they can be a great investment that, in my experience, are more durable than their competitors.
That they are quite handsome and, dare I say it, can even complement rather than detract from the look of the right road bike, also helps.
A few niggles aside, any mudguard/fender from Velo Orange’s extensive range is unlikely to disappoint.