Mudguards for Disc Brakes
What mudguards will fit when you are running disc brakes and should you?
The answer to the second question is yes. Yes if you ride in a group in the wet and yes if you ride on your own, mudguards are essential. The first question is a little more complicated, as it depends on how your bike is constructed and what kind of coverage you want.
Traditionally, fitting mudguards was straightforward, if a little fiddly. First off, your bike probably came with mudguard eyes near the drop-outs for stays to attach to. Secondly there were also brake-bridges and drilled fork crowns for the guards to fix to, creating a fairly stable structure. With the advent of disc brakes and beefy bottom-brackets however, some of those attachment points started to disappear.
Manufacturers were left trying to make mudguards that would fit any bike. Fortunately mountain bikers had created various clamp-on butt-protectors. These floated above the rear wheel, keeping the muck off of you. Riders behind would not be so lucky however, but as you don’t tend to ride so close off-road, this wasn’t a problem. Using these types you ended up with various designs that sort of did the job. Most of the muck stayed off of you – as long as the guard didn’t swing off to the side – but your bike would come back covered in mud.
Road designs started to follow these designs, some becoming very minimalist, like the Ass Saver. The handy thing about them was that they were quick and easy to fit, but not really up to the job if you were doing long rides in all weathers.
Should you fit mudguards?
The other issue with these types of guards is related to the ‘should you’ part of the question. There used to be a fast training ride that went out of London during the winter. It was well organised with all the local big fish taking part. It was a great way to keep fit and learn how to ride in a group at speed. One of the conditions for taking part – apart from 50p for the following car – was that you had to have mudguards. No guards, no ride, it was that simple.
The reasoning was that riding in a fast group of closely spaced riders, can be a nightmare if your rear wheel is spraying water straight into the face of the following rider. Club runs were the same, while you would be allowed to ride, you were banished to the rear. So mudguards make sense if you’re riding in the wet in a group; it’s just good manners.
If you’re riding on your own then surely it doesn’t matter; it’s only you that’s getting wet after all? While you may be happy to return home looking like a hardman of the road, your kit won’t be so happy. Mudguards keep a lot of that grit from reaching your bike and becoming a corrosive grinding paste. Unless you’re washing your bike after every winter ride, it’s going to get worse. Of course if you’re a commuter, then they’re a must. Arriving to work soaking wet is not top of anyone’s list of things to impress the boss.
Ok, so mudguards are great, let’s get some. For this winter I’ll be converting my gravel bike to a winter road bike. I live in the South Downs National Park, which is great in the dry. However once we get any prolonged wet weather, the chalk becomes a nightmare. It develops a green glaze over the top that makes ice seem grippy. So that makes climbs and descents dicey, meanwhile the trails at the bottom of the Downs become water-logged. Throw in horses and off-roaders and your choice of routes start to become limited; so it’s time to hit the black stuff.
My Handsling CEXevo has some issues when it comes to traditional guards. With no rear brake bridge – great for clearance and compliance – and a beefy bottom-bracket, fitting is tricky. There’s plenty of clearance, but no mudguard-eyes, which is standard for a modern bike. So what are my options?
Crud Roadracer mk3
The Crud Roadracer mk3, as the name suggests, is the third iteration of Crud’s Roadracer guards. I’ve used the mk2s for ages, commuting and training with them all year. They were a novel design when they first came out, using nylon brushes rubbing against the rim to keep them in place. The new version replaces the separate stays with a one-piece design, that fits higher so avoiding your disc-brakes.
Duotec strips are used to fix the mudguards in place, allowing you to get the position right for your bike. These strips look like over-sized velcro and have adhesive backing that – according to Crud – won’t damage your paintwork. The Roadracer’s stays are pressed onto the Duotec and can be easily removed.
While the front and rear mudguard use the same rear part, the fronts are different. The rear has an extension that gives full coverage all the way to the bottom-bracket. A nice touch is not only does it give full coverage, it also wraps around on the drive-side, protecting the drive-train. The front guard has an added nose piece that keeps spray coming off your front wheel from covering you and the bike.
The guards will take tyres up to 38mm wide, which is perfect for our shonky Sussex roads. They also extend quite far down the tyre and flare out, which will keep more of the muck off you. This is particularly useful on the front, as it will keep your feet dryer thanks to the extra coverage. The Roadracer mk3 is available from Crud for £34.99 and they also do a wide range of spares.
The SKS Speedrocker is aimed at the gravel crowd, so has to allow for fatter tyres and more mud! Heading off-road in the wet means you are going to run the risk of ‘stuff’ building up under the mudguards. This can be mud, leaves or worse, a combination of both. Handily it looks like the Speedrocker can be quickly removed and re-attached. So you could stop mid-ride and clear any build-up.
Fitting the Speedrockers involves two different types of attachment. On the rear there are stretchy straps that hold the stays and the guard to your bike. That’s four fixing points, which look to be quick and simple as well as stable. On the front the Speedrocker is split into two parts. The rear part has stays that attach to the bottom of the fork with velcro straps. At the top are short legs that butt up to the fork which are then strapped to the front spoiler with more velcro straps.
The composite stays can be trimmed to get the fit right, but they’re also adjustable allowing you to fine-tune the fit. They attach via the SKS ESC system, this is designed to break apart, preventing the wheel from jamming.
Unlike the Roadracer, the Speedrocker’s coverage doesn’t extend as far on the rear wheel, so you may be spraying your mates. However, if you are a considerate soul, you can buy a rear extension that will add an extra 170mm of coverage. The Speedrockers will set you back around £45.
M Part Quick Detach Road 700×46
Now we’re getting even more minimalist with the M Part QDR. The main body is made from polycarbonate with stainless-steel stays. These attach to the frame via rubber straps, which means they’re quick and easy to install and remove. The rubber straps do look quite long and flappy, not sure if you can trim them though.
While they do cover most of the wheel, there is a lot of real estate that is left uncovered. This does mean that your seat-tube and drive-train will be spattered with crud. The same will be happening up front as there is no front guard to keep the spray off of you. I think for occasional wet rides these would be fine, but if I was going to go through an entire winter I’d want something more substantial. The M Part QDR mudguards will set you back £49.99.