As much as I love mountain biking in the winter, there isn’t much to recommend about a face full of mud. Crud in the eyes obscuring vision, crunching grit in your teeth and looking like you’ve been trying the latest mudpack facial treatment, yeah there isn’t much to like. That’s why a mudguard is essential and this number from Rock Guardz is the best front mudguard I’ve yet come across.
It’s available in three lengths, this is the middle length offering, which I reckon is the best all-round option. It provides an astounding level of coverage. The long tail stops most of the mud and water from being flung from the back of the wheel into your face, the extended front section stops most of the mud doing the same off the top of the wheel, which you normally then ride into.
A full carbon fibre construction not only keeps the weight low (97g on my scales), it looks darn good too. It’s a sturdy bit of kit and has dealt with a couple of crashes into trees with the mudguard coming off completely unscathed. They’re handmade in the UK, by a chap who used to making carbon fairings for superbikes and turned his skills to making a mudguard. One thing led to another and he’s now running a company offering a range of mudguards and other accessories. He’s recently branched out into carbon wheels too, which look interesting.
Back to the mudguard. Fitting it to the bike couldn’t be any easier. There are four pairs of slots which you thread thin zip ties through. This fixes the ‘guard securely to the fork, and the sides come down quite a bit providing a little extra protection for the fork seals. It’s compatible with all makes of fork and all wheel sizes.
The only issue is clearance. With a 2.25in Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyre on a RockShox Revelation fork clearance wasn’t a problem, but swapping the tyre to a 2.5in Continental Trail King pushed the tyre very close to the mudguard. There’s a bit of rub from the bristles of the new tyre, but there’s no effect on forward progress. You do occasionally notice stones getting caught in the tyre tread and scraping along the underside of the mudguard, but after several months of riding this winter I’ve not had any problems at all that have caused a failure or had me stopping. That really is the main compromise with this style of mudguard. Such a niggle is easily outweighed by its impressive performance.
Huge front fenders that look like they’ve been taken off a motocross bike aren’t to everyone’s tastes. It does seem they’re more acceptable than they ever have been though; on a recent visit to BikePark Wales it seemed like every other person had a similar style mudguard fitted to their bikes. Once you get past the looks, and trust me they do grow on you, you get on with enjoying ploughing through muddy trails.
Yes it’s expensive, more than a Crud Guard, but the coverage it provides is second to none, even transformative if you’re bored of getting mud in your face and eyes on every ride.
Superb front mudguard that keeps more mud out of your face than most other mudguards. Light and very strong too, and handmade in the UK to boot
More information: www.rockguardz.com
What Rock Guardz says:
The Guard (Our Medium Length guard), measuring 490mm front to back gives maximum protection to the rider, designed to stop all Face Splatter moments spoiling your ride, and filthy bike and riding gear from typical wet mountain rides.
The Guard also significantly reduces mud and dust build up on the fork stanchions during a ride which will prolong your fork life and keep them operating at top performance throughout your ride.
It is located with Zip Ties (included in the Package) which mounts it securely to the Fork Bridge and fork leg making the Guard Super solid when fitted, in operation they are silent and the low sleek look is super pimp.
Mud clearance is good, the gap between your tyre and fork bridge is the minimum clearance, as the guard is a slightly larger diameter than the wheels clearance in maximised but maintaining the low look.
It can be used with all wheel sizes, 26″, 650B and 29er for XC, Trail, Enduro and DH bikes.
As it is made from Carbon Fibre it weighs just 150 grams so it doesn’t affect your suspension set up.