Do You Need Mountain Bike Mudguards or Not? A Guide with Tips & Tricks

Mudguards deflect the sludge that is flung up by your tires, ensuring that your vision is clear and your bike stays clean. When riding in wet weather and on muddy trails in particular you will be grateful for having mudguards. Mountain bike mudguards are a type of mudguards designed for off-road bikes, but they are also commonly used for on-road cycling. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know in order to decide whether you need mountain bike mudguards or not.

Mountain bike mudguards are beneficial for riding in wet and muddy conditions. They protect the bike's mechanics and seals from grit and block water and mud sprays, keeping the bike and rider protected and clean.

What is an MTB mudguard?

When using mudguards a rider is kept dry and comfortable in harsh weather conditions. They also protect riders cycling behind from the water and mud that is flung up.

A mountain bike mudguard is a wing or fender designed to cover the wheels of a mountain bike for protection. They shield seals and rotating bike parts from getting damaged. Mudguards also serve to prevent water and mud from flying into the rider’s eyes and onto their clothes.

A variety of MTB mudguard types exist. There are clip-on mudguards, full-length mudguards, bolt-on mudguards, downtube mudguards, headtube mudguards, and rear mudguards. Mudguards are available in different sizes to suit different widths of bike tires. When choosing a type you should consider the attachment points on your bike. For example, if your bike has eyelets you can use traditional full-length mudguards.

Deciding whether you need mountain bike mudguards or not depends on how much you ride in muddy conditions
MTB mudguards like these prevent mud from flying into a rider's eyes and prevent damage. Image source: Amazon.

Should I Install Mountain Bike Mudguards or Not? Reasons Mudguards are Useful

Many cyclists wonder whether they should install mountain bike mudguards or not. We will explain in detail when and why you might need MTB mudguards.

Whether to install mountain bike mudguards or not depends on the weather conditions and terrain. Mudguards are most effective for riding on muddy roads and in wet weather. One should definitely consider using them when in a group as riders cycling behind won’t suffer the spray of water and mud flicked up by the tires.

One should consider using mountain bike mudguards for the following reasons:

1. To Keep You and Your Bike Clean When Riding in Wet Weather

One of the most important advantages of using mudguards is that they block water and mud sprays from ruining the look and functionality of your bike. Without them, mud that flings off the front tire ends up covering everything from the fork to the frame. Using mudguards will save you lengthy cleaning sessions and extra maintenance. If you are the type of person that does their own repairs check out our ultimate list of tools needed for mountain bike maintenance.

Importantly, mudguards prevent mud from reaching your face. This study, published by Cambridge University Press, was conducted to explain the prevalence of gastrointestinal disease in riders after participating in cycling events. It determined that mud splashing was the cause as mud is often contaminated with bacteria originating from animal feces and using mudguards greatly reduces the risk of infection by keeping your face clean during rides. So, whether you need mountain bike mudguards or not depends on whether you ride in muddy conditions.

2. Because it is a Requirement to Join Cycling Clubs

Using mudguards is a requirement if you want to join some cycling clubs. For example, The Warwick Lanterne Rouge Cycling Club in the UK asserts that all cyclists should fit mudguards on their bikes to avoid bothering other riders with water and mud sprays. To join their club using mudguards is one of the requirements stipulated in their riding guidelines. Some cycling events also require participants to use mudguards for health protection reasons.

3. To Protect Seals and Rotating Parts From Grit

Another important feature of mudguards like these is that they protect seals and rotating parts from grit. They deflect grit away from the wheels and any moving parts of your bike thereby preventing damage and accidents. Thus, using mudguards also increases safety when riding in dry weather when stone chippings can also be flicked up.

4. To Improve The Look Of Your Mountain Bike

Some riders use mudguards like these to improve the aesthetics of their bike. There are a variety of colorful mudguards that help make a bike stand out. If you would like to know more ways to make your mudguards unique you will find some handy tips in our article about mountain bike fender accessories.

If you feel the need to make a statement changing your Mountain bike mudguards can make your bike look unique and colorful.
Colorful Mudguards can be used to make a bike stand out. Image source: Amazon.

5. To Maintain Clear Vision When Cycling

Another important thing mudguards do is help keep your vision clear. When cycling, mud and water splashes can blind you even while wearing glasses. Not only can this be irritating, but it can also be very dangerous, especially when riding at high speeds. Thus, using mudguards will reduce the risk of having an accident. 

6. To Stop Water and Mud Splashes from Landing on the Cyclist's Back

Lastly, mudguards prevent water and mud splashes from landing on the cyclists' backs. This is of particular importance in the winter when having wet clothes is not only very uncomfortable but potentially dangerous. For tips to ride in the winter see this blog by SKS Germany. We also provide some great mountain bike armor heating and cooling tricks, and steps to choosing mountain bike grip heaters for riding in cold climates. 

Besides keeping you comfortable and improving safety, mudguards will also save efforts to get stains out of your riding clothes. 

You need to use mountain bike mudguards if you don’t want to get covered in mud when riding on muddy trails.
Mountain bike mudguards will keep mud from spraying all over you and your fellow cyclists. Image source: Amazon.

Our related article will also help you answer the question, "do you need mudguards on a mountain bike?" So be sure to check that one out too. Furthermore, we have a similar article explaining whether or not you should add a mountain bike mudguard extension to your bike. You'll certainly want to read that one too.

Reasons MTB Riders Don’t Need Mudguards on a Bike

There will be certain instances when mudguards are not necessary but be sure to check our reasons below before you opt to not use them in case you end up compromising your and your fellow cyclists’ safety.

Reasons, why MTB riders don’t need mudguards on a bike, include maintaining the bike’s original appearance, avoiding rattling, and riding during the dry season.

Here we list the reasons that MTB riders may not find mudguards necessary: 

1. To Maintain the Mountain Bikes' Original Appearance

Many MTB riders do not use mudguards as they prefer the look of their bikes without them.

2. To Avoid Mudguard Rattling

One of the main reasons that MTB riders do not use mudguards is because of rattling noises When mudguards are fitted too close to the wheels they can make a noise that is annoying to many cyclists. Hence, they avoid using mudguards. This problem has an easy solution and only requires the mudguard to be adjusted away from the wheel by taking off the metal bracket and tying the mudguard in place.

3. Riding During the Dry Season

The most common reason riders do not use mudguards is because they do not ride in wet weather. Mudguards offer much less utility during dry seasons and hence many riders do not use them.

Common Full-Length Mudguards for Mountain Bikes to Buy

Mudguard Name Mudguard Material Mudguard Length Mudguard Width Mudguard Compatibility Approximate Price
SKS-Germany Alley Cat Plastic 0.29 inches  0.13 inches  Compatible with 27.5" wheel size  ~$45
Xinbous Adjustable Carbon Fiber MTB Bicycle Mudguard Plastic and 3D Carbon Fiber  10.4 inches  8.66 inches Compatible with 20"/24"/26"/27.5"/29 wheel sizes  ~$10

Meghna enlee Bike Fenders MTB Mudguard PP fiber  11.42inches 3.54inches Compatible with 20"-29" wheel sizes  ~$15

You can also make mudguards for your bike. If you're interested in learning more, check out our related article explaining how to make a mountain bike mudguard, as well as our article explaining mountain bike rear mudguard installation. So be sure to check that one out too.

Should I Put Mudguards On My Mountain Bike? How To Decide?

As described here by Chain Reaction Cycles, mudguards are a great way to protect you and your riding companions from mud and water – it's a matter of courtesy. When installed correctly, they keep most of the mud and water from splashing up onto the rider's face and clothes. This not only keeps them clean and dry but also improves their visibility. Additionally, mudguards can help to prevent water and mud from landing on the chain and gears, which can cause them to malfunction. Similarly, if your mountain bike chain is too long, it could cause you a lot of problems. Be sure to check out our related article to find out what to do to help fix the problem.

Put mudguards on a mountain bike when riding frequently in wet weather, and when riding with other mountain bikers.

Here we list the reasons why we think you should use mudguards so that you can decide whether you need mountain bike mudguards or not:

Tip 1. Add Mountain Bike Mudguards If You Ride in Wet Weather

When deciding whether to add mudguards to a mountain bike, there are a few factors to consider. The most important consideration is whether or not you ride in wet weather. If you do not ride in wet weather, then mudguards are not necessary and you may not find them useful. However, if you do ride in wet weather, then mudguards like these can be a great way to keep yourself clean and dry. Additionally, they can also help to improve your visibility by keeping mud and water from splashing up into your face.

Tip 2. Decide If Mudguards Add or Detract from Aesthetics

Another consideration is the appearance of your bike. Some riders prefer the look of their mountain bike without mudguards, while others find that mudguards like these improve the aesthetics of the bike. Ultimately, this is a personal preference and you should choose the option that you think looks best.

Tip 3. Buy Mudguards If You Ride In Groups

Mudguards increase safety while riding by increasing visibility. While most mountain bikes do not come with mudguards because not everyone rides in wet conditions, they’re a valuable addition if you have $50 to spare. In addition to reflectors or night lights, mudguards like these are among the best accessories to add to a mountain bike for your sake and for the sake of your riding buddies.

Quick Summary of Tips For Choosing Between Using Mountain Bike Mudguards or Not

Your Riding Style Mountain Bike Mudguards or Not?
Flat roads on sunny days No, you do not need mudguards
Riding during wet weather on muddy trails Yes, definitely buy mudguards to protect yourself
Riding after a rain storm with some buddies Yes, mudguards will protect you and your friends. Be courteous
Riding on a sunny day in nature No, you do not need mudguards.
I have a new bike and I don’t know what kind of weather I’m going to ride in Yes, get the mudguards. You want to be able to ride in and after wet weather. 

While reviewing your mudguard options, you might want to take a look at your chain. Occasionally, you might find yourself with a mountain bike chain that keeps breaking. If you do, be sure to take a look at our related article for more information. Similarly, you might have to learn how to replace a chain on a mountain bike. Our related article is filled with lots of tips and tricks for you to use.

Can You Put Mudguards on a Mountain Bike? Are Mudguards Necessary on Bikes?

It is possible to put mudguards on a mountain bike by purchasing a new set of mudguards and following the manufacturer's installation instructions so that they are installed securely and do exactly what they are supposed to do.

Put mudguards on a mountain bike if they are necessary and be sure to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions carefully. 

Mountain bikes do not come with mudguards as a standard issue because they are not an essential part of the bike. They are not required for the bike to function properly and do not directly improve the safety or aesthetics of the bike. Additionally, many riders do not use mudguards as they only ride in dry weather and find them unnecessary.

However, if you do wish to add mudguards like these to your mountain bike, it is a very easy process that can be done in a few minutes. You will need to purchase mudguards that are compatible with your bike, and then you can follow the instructions that come with the mudguards to install them. We provide tricks to choose clip-on bike fenders for mountain bikes which are the easiest to install.

The total cost of adding mudguards to a mountain bike can vary depending on the type and quality of the mudguards that are purchased. Based on the table above, the cost of new mountain bike mudguards is between $10-$50.

You will need mudguards like these if you want ones that are easy to install but with good protection.
These mudguards are very easy to install and are durable enough for rough terrain. Image source: Amazon.

How to Fit Mountain Bike Mudguards

It is crucial that you fit the mudguards to your mountain bike properly so that they stay secured and actually protect you, your bike, and your fellow riders from water, mud, and other debris.

To fit mudguards on a mountain bike first thread the zip ties through the mudguard, then position the mudguard in place and tighten the zip ties.

Here we list the steps to fit your mountain bike mudguards:

Step 1. Thread the Zip Ties to Attach the Mud Guard

Start by threading the zip ties through the guard. Do so by guiding the ties through the front holes and up through the rear holes.

If you use zip ties to secure your mudguard, first thread them through the holes from the front to the back.
Thread zip ties through the holes like this to attach the guard to your wheels. Image source: Mountain Biking UK.

Step 2. Put the Mudguard in Place

Now that the zip ties are in place the mudguard can be attached to the bike. To slot the guard between the tire and the fork arch it should be bent carefully. Keep the short end of the guard at the front so the zip ties are placed on the sides of the fork legs and fork arch.

To slot the guard between the tire and the fork, it will have to be bent gently.
Slot the mudguard between the tire and the fork arch. Image source:  Mountain Biking UK.

Step 3. Tighten the Zip Ties 

Now that the guard is secured in place, tighten the zip ties so that it is well attached to the bike. Make sure to hold the ties under the brake hose and not over it.

Once the guard is secured into place, the zip ties can be tightened so that they keep the guard in its place.
Tighten the zip ties to keep the guard secured. Image source: Mountain Biking UK.

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