GearList: The Mudguard
By Nathaniel Wu
If you come from an area like the DMV, you probably encounter frequent rain. Although biking in the rain should not be attempted, biking after rain should not prevent you from going on a ride. However, biking around in wet conditions can cause the wheel to kick up the debris on the surface. This can cause a rather unpleasurable appearance on the face and/or back. What's more, this can happen on non-rainy days. Introducing the mudguard: bike attachment that blocks dirt and other debris from flying up.
Although mudguards are convenient after a light shower, do not ride wet trails (specifically non-paved trails). Learn why from our article: PSA: Don’t Ride Wet Trails.
A mudguard works by attaching to the bike and blocking the road spray from reaching the rider. Instead of the rider getting dirty, the mudguard itself becomes dirty. For mountain bikers, this is especially ideal because it prevents dirt and/or plant matter from getting on the back. Remember, although wet trails are unrideable, damp trails might be okay. For roadies, mudguards can block road debris. A mudguard is not necessary if you ride on clean, dry surfaces. If you consistently ride in damp conditions, it might be desirable to clean the mudguard every few rides.
Here is your guide to buying a mudguard:
Price - an entry-level mudguard should cost no more than $20. If you want more durable or sophisticated mudguards, they might cost around $50.
Attachment points - a deciding factor for a mudguard should be the attachment points. Some bikes have more mounting points, while others do not have much. There are mudguards that attach to the seatpost, which will work on virtually any bike. However, if a mudguard appears to be attached to the frame, double check your bike for the corresponding mounting points.
Length - longer mudguards cover more area, hence giving more protection. Avoid the extremely short ones that only prevent your shorts from being sprayed. However, there is no need to purchase an expensive one that covers almost half the wheel.
Hopefully, after reading this brief guide, you can decide if a mudguard is right for you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. As always, happy riding!