Bike fenders, or mudguards, are designed to protect your bike from elements such as mud, water, and grime. But they are not protecting your bike alone. They are also protecting you, reducing the number of elements that sprays up into your face or backside. But with so many models available on the market, how to choose the best fenders for your mountain bike?
We’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve found, tested and rated the most popular fenders for mountain bikes. Read on to find out more or check out our top picks below.
Mounting bike fenders on your vehicle has many benefits. Besides reducing the amount of grime that ends up all over you and your bike, bike fenders also reduces the amount of grit that can end up into the moving components of the bike.
Bike fenders are also protecting your fellow riders. If you’ve ever taken part in a group ride on a muddy terrain, you’ll probably understand how important fenders are in reducing grime spray. In other words, bike fenders can help you and your fellow riders stay clean and safe.
Types Of Bike Fenders
Not all bike fenders are the same. We can distinguish between mountain, urban, and road bike fenders. The main difference between these types is in the design. In fact, the various models of fenders come in different sizes and shapes, designed to fit at the best the wheel size of the chosen bike.
But we can also categorize bike fenders based on how they mount to the bike.
These fenders are traditionally used on endurance road bikes, low-end mountain bikes but also on commuter, cruiser, touring, and vintage bikes. The fenders, as their name suggest, mount with bolts to the frame of the bike, therefore they only fit on bikes that come with pre-drilled holes or eyelets that allow screwing the fenders in place.
Bolt-on fenders are often permanent and they are a popular choice among those who love to ride their bikes all-year-round regardless of the weather conditions.
However, bolt-on fenders also come with some disadvantages. First, they don’t fit on all bikes. They are also more suitable for bikes with large frames. On the other hand, if the bike comes with the necessary mounts and a suitable frame, bolt-on fenders are easy to install and are extremely secure.
This is a fantastic advantage on paths and trails that are in a poor condition, as it often happens in mountain and off-road cycling. Ultimately, the longer the fenders, the most coverage they offer to both you and the bike.
Installing bolt-on fenders is easy, it requires simple tools and it usually doesn’t require you to visit a mechanic.
If your bike doesn’t have pre-drilled mounting points or the right frame to support bolt-on fenders, clip-on fenders step in. These mudguards fit most types of bikes, are lightweight, easy to install, and easy to take off whenever you don’t need them.
These fenders typically attach to the front fork and to the seat post tube via zip ties, Velcro mounts, or removable rubber or plastic buckles. The installation is very easy and it rarely requires the use of tools, but that’s not the only advantage.
Clip-on fenders are slim but have an excellent coverage, ensure an optimal shielding and they can be switched from one bike to another if you ride multiple bikes. On the downside, these bike fenders might fall off if not secured properly, especially when riding on bumpy trails or paths.
How To Fit Mudguards On Your Mountain Bike
How To Choose Bike Fenders
Mountain Bike Specific
Grime is often part of an off-road riding. When the conditions are wet and muddy, bike fenders become even more important. But to benefit from the best protection, choose mountain bike specific mudguards. The main difference between mountain bike fenders and the others is the rigidity of the material.
In fact, mountain bike fenders have a more robust construction that deals better with harsh terrains, rocks, sticks, and other debris which has nothing to do with mud.
Front And Rear Fenders
While most cyclists limit themselves to installing a rear fender, a front fender can also be useful. This mudguard usually installs on the fork under the crown and don’t interfere with the bike’s suspensions, if you were concerned about that.
As for the rear fenders, we recommend seat post-mounted fenders. They are usually positioned at the right distance from the tires, allow an optimal clearance for the suspensions and do an excellent job in deflecting road debris and mud from spraying your back or your riding mates.
When choosing, make sure the seat post mounted fender fit the specific model of your bike.
Even if the package says mountain bike fenders, it doesn’t mean they will fit. Mountain bikes come in different sizes, therefore make sure the mudguards you like fit on your specific bike. Length is another thing you should check. Long fenders are more effective on watery and muddy terrains but it might not suit a specialty bike.
Again, just make sure the mudguards you like fit your bike.
The overall quality but above all the rigidity of the fenders is also important. If the material is not rigid enough, the fenders might lose their shape and start rattling your tires as you ride along. Mudguards are made of a wide range of materials, from cheap plastic to metal or carbon fiber. Like you could expect, plastic guards have inferior costs compared to the high-end carbon fiber versions.
Another thing to consider is the installation. If your bike has pre-drilled mudguard holes, you can opt for a bolt-on model which has a greater stability than the clip-on counterparts. Regardless of the model, make sure you’re able to install the bike fenders correctly and securely.
If you’re not confident in fitting them by yourself, just ask a mechanic or your local bike store for help.
Best Bike Fenders For Mountain Bikes
1. SKS Rear Mudguard Xtra-Dry
SKS rear mudguard Xtra-Dry 26 inch is a medium-duty bike fender ideal for all off-road cycling enthusiasts. The clip-on design ensures compatibility with almost all 26 or 28-inch bikes while the quick-release strap is compatible with all types of the seat post.
The fender is an update of a classic backscratcher fender. The name is owed to the shape of the product, which is long and straight, with a curved end. The fender is long and narrow, protecting from mud, grime, water, and other trail elements.
A plastic structure makes this mudguard lightweight, while the choice of shock-resistant plastic adds robustness to the item. The fender weighs 140gr and will have a negligent impact on the overall weight of the bike.
Another thing we like is the pivot behind quick-release that allows adjusting the angle of the fender to the frame of the bike. The product is available in black and white.
2. BlueSunshine Adjustable Front/Rear Fenders Set
BlueSunshine Adjustable Front/Rear Fenders is a universal set with fenders that suit mountain bikes but also road, touring, racing, commuter’s and urban bikes. In fact, according to the manufacturer, the mudguards fit all seat posts with a diameter up to 34mm and all bikes with a holed fork.
The rear fender is easy to mount thanks to the universal buckle, is easy to dismantle and lightweight. The front fender is also lightweight but is a bolt-on design that needs to be bolted to the fork. Unless the fork is predisposed for this, you won’t be able to install it.
Both fenders are made of synthetic fiber plastic which has a strength comparable with that of the more expensive options. At the same time, the mudguards are affordable and available in a wide range of colors and styles.
The angle between the mudguard and the bike tire is also easy to adjust without any tools, while the product does an excellent job of keeping both bike and rider clean.
3. FIFTY-FIFTY Mountain Bike Fender Front and Rear Compatible
FIFTY-FIFTY Mountain Bike Fender is a simple and effective mudguard designed to provide protection from front and rear wheel spray and flying debris. The manufacturer promises this product will keep both the bike and the rider clean, and many users agree.
The product is compatible both with the front fork and with the rear seat, for disc brake use only. Regarding the bikes, this mudguard fits bikes with 26, 27.5, and 29-inch wheels and a series of plus size and fat bikes.
A sturdy and lightweight design make the mudguard almost unnoticeable while it still protects from trail dirt and debris. As for the mounting, installation is super-simple and the fender comes with 6 heavy-duty zip ties and installation instructions.
Moreover, the fender is four-point fixed, it won’t slide while riding and is flexible enough to shape it as you like, making the bike look cooler.
4. FJQXZ Bike Fenders Set
FJQXZ Bike Fenders Set contains a front and a rear fender made of high elasticity material and available in a range of style and colors. The fenders can be twisted in any way you like, while the lightweight but robust material maintains their characteristics.
The fenders are available in a wide version, comprising a taillight, or a narrow version with no taillight. Apart from this aspect, the mudguards provide efficient protection from water and mud sprays or flying debris.
Regarding compatibility, the fenders are compatible with almost all mountain bikes with standard forks, including reverse opening designs. They are easy to install thanks to a clip-on system, while the rear fender is adjustable to fit the width and size of the wheel.
As for the front fender, it comes with 3-sizes expandable nuts and fits almost all standard forks, including the reverse opening models. Moreover, the quick release on the rear fender makes it easy to move from one bike to another and it fits tubes between 3.5 and 3.7 inches.
5. FIFTY-FIFTY Adjustable Mountain Bike Fender
FIFTY-FIFTY Adjustable Mountain Bike Fender is similar to the other model from the same company we mentioned above. The product fits both the front and the rear wheel while the adjustable design adds up to the fender’s versatility.
The mudguard is compatible with almost all front forks and with the rear seats for disc brake use only. When installed on the fork, it protects it from getting caked and reduces the need for cleaning.
This mudguard is easy to install and comes with 6 heavy-duty zip ties and comprehensive instructions for installation. Moreover, the four-point fixed design avoids sliding, while the “folding line” design makes it easy to shape the fender and make your bike look cooler.
Another thing we like is the material. The fender is made of super-sturdy and lightweight material that is thick enough to last in time yet flexible enough to fit on most bikes. The product comes in two colors, black and white.
Conclusion & Final Pick
In our opinion, FIFTY-FIFTY are the best bike fenders on the market. We like their versatile design, the fact that the same fender can fit both the front and the rear wheel, and the minimalist size that makes the product almost invisible on the bike.
Despite its reduced dimensions, the fender provides an efficient protection from mud, grime, and trail debris. Compatible with a wide range of bikes, they are made of a flexible yet sturdy material that adds robustness to the structure.
These fenders are also easy to install, while the 4-point fixation ensures they stay firm while riding. Moreover, they come with 6 heavy duty zip ties that allow you to fix them on the fork or seat post. Coming at a great price, these are definitely the bike fenders that impressed us the most.