Mountain bikes aren’t typically sold with fenders already installed, still, many riders choose to fit their own after they’ve purchased their bike
In this article, we’ll take a look at how useful fenders really are and try to answer the question – Are fenders worth it?
In Summary: Are MTB Fenders Worth It?
Mountain bike fenders are worth the investment. The difference between riding with and without fenders is drastic, particularly in poor weather. Not only will fenders keep you drier, less muddy, and more comfortable, but they can prevent accidents by stopping mud from being kicked up into the eyes.
Fenders are a worthwhile investment no matter the trail conditions. In the Summer, your wheel can kick up dust and grit from dry trails. Not only is it uncomfortable to have dust blasted into your face, but it can also be dangerous as anything hitting you in the face can easily impair your vision and cause you to crash.
Whilst fenders (or mudguards) are really useful in Summer, they really come into their own in winter, or at least in wet and muddy conditions.
There’s nothing worse than being soaking wet and full of mud 10 minutes into a ride. In wet weather especially, just the water kicked up from the front wheel and into your face can be enough to ruin a ride at best, and cause a bad accident in the worst-case scenario.
Pros and Cons of Mudguards/Fenders
As we’ve already mentioned, the major pro of having fenders installed on your mountain bike is that they keep you drier and cleaner, as well as help to avoid injuries from anything nasty flying into your eye at speed from your wheel, not to mention any injuries avoided from crashing as a result of being unable to see.
If you’re still not convinced about the effectiveness of fenders, check out this video from Global Mountain Bike Network where they look at just how much of a difference fenders make:
The only real ‘con’ of using fenders on your MTB is that they aren’t free and you’ll have to install them yourself, or pay to have them installed.
Fortunately, most fenders are relatively cheap and easy to install, and the benefits they provide more than justify the cost of purchasing them and the few minutes it takes to install them.
Types of Fender/Mudguard
Whilst most fenders are good enough that you’ll notice a major difference after you’ve installed them, some are still better than others. Typically speaking, there are 2 types of fenders that attach differently over the front wheel.
Some front-wheel fenders attach to some part of the suspension forks – these are the better option as the front mudguard will turn with the front wheel, staying aligned even through turns and therefore ensuring the fender functions properly even throughout sharp bends.
The other type of front mudguard is one that attaches to the top tube of the bike. Whilst this type is still better than having no fenders at all, they are inferior to fenders that attach to the fork as they aren’t able to move with the front wheel.
All this means is that when the front wheel isn’t straight mud, water, and anything else can be kicked up past the fender, reducing its effectiveness.
So as a general guide we’d always recommend buying a front mudguard that attaches to your bike’s forks as opposed to the top tube.
In summary, fenders are an essential piece of kit for any mountain biker, regardless of the trails, season, or weather conditions.
The benefit they provide more than justify their relatively low cost and considering how easy they are to install, we honestly think that putting a half-decent set of mudguards on your mountain bike is a no-brainer.
Bike Fenders FAQs:
Are Bike Fenders Necessary?
Bike fenders aren’t essential for everyone, however, the benefits they provide far outweigh their cost. For most mountain bikers, particularly when riding in wet or dusty conditions, they become essential. Installing fenders will keep your face free from debris, keeping you safe and comfortable.
Are Bike Fenders Universal?
Bike fenders are not universal. They come in various shapes and sizes, and with a number of different attachment mechanisms dependent upon make and model.
Whilst they aren’t universal, many fenders can be made to fit any bike if you have a couple of basic tools. Plastic fenders can have holes drilled into them, then attached to the bike frame/fork using sturdy cable ties.