Another mudguard review so soon? Well… it is winter so perfect testing conditions were never going to be too difficult to find were they? This time it’s the latest offering from Crud Products. The Crud XL Fender is made by a company with a long long history in helping us mountain bikers keep muck and spray off our clothes, bikes and faces.
Aptly named the XL Fender, it’s a long front fender designed with the intention of keeping as much mud and water out of your field of view as you splash your way around the trails.
So I guess you’ll be wanting to know what this guard’s like and how it compares to the other front fork mounted guards available?
Firstly, fitting the Crud XL honestly couldn’t be an easier or quicker procedure. The guard is a split fender design meaning it doesn’t rely on any fork arch attachment at all. Instead the the guard has a twin strut to attack only to the fork lower legs by way of 3 stretchy o-rings on each leg.
These really do make fitting or removing the guard a 20 second job at most. Absolutely great news if you’re the vain type who’d rather only run a fender when conditions are terrible, a racer or a simply a rider with multiple bikes.
Crud have lined the inside of the fixing points with a neoprene foam material to protect your fork paint and increase grip helping it stay in place and also negating the need for using any sort of protection tape. The leading and trailing edges of each side of the fender have been fitted with a moulded deformable rubber portion either side of the fork brace.
Firstly should protect the fork arch paint from being rubbed away, secondly should allow an accumulation of trapped mud to exit as the flexible rubber can then move and open a channel for it to escape from, and thirdly the rubber will flex when the crown hits the guard on full fork compression (other arch mounted guards foul a fork crown at full travel too) .
The ingenious split fender design and fork leg fixing also mean the height of the guard can be fine tuned for looks or conditions. Closer to the tyre should in theory mean less spray thrown forward from the front tyre and less chance of anything getting to the riders eyes.
Higher mounting allows better mud clearance allowing your wheels to turn unhampered by mud of even the stickiest thickest consistency. A godsend if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation with other arch mounted guards that have clogged so badly your front wheel won’t even turn.
Once fitted the guard feels very secure but does have a little vibration in use if you look for it. in use while riding it’s not noticeable though I still wonder whether the front rubber section vibrating will eventually cause paint wear to the front of the fork arch. Only time will tell on that score.
First ride impressions
Untypically for a Scottish winter it’s actually been very dry recently but luckily I know all the swampiest most badly draining local trails so finding mud and puddles to play in wasn’t too difficult at all. The first ride I did with the fender fitted was 20 miles of undulating natural woodland singletrack, double track and a smattering of hand built rutted trails.
I made sure not to ride around any wet patch of ground if I could. Often I’ll hop, manual, jump or just plain avoid puddles if we’ve been having a dry spell but not this day. This day was all about pedaling through shit power drifting in boost, getting sideways in ruts, slapping wet turns and hopping into puddles like Gene Kelly after a goodnight kiss from Debbie Reynolds (younger readers ask your parents).
Two hours of riding like this and I was knackered. On an Ebike? Really? Yes really! but I hadn’t had a single drop of moisture or mud come into contact with my eyes. This fender had done that job like a champ. Overall I was a little muddier and wetter than I’d have been with the another guard I’ve been using for the past 6 months though not uncomfortably so. I’d put this down to the slightly narrower tapered profile of the Crud.
Crud have chosen to incorporate a mud flap into the plastic moulded rear section which does a great job of stopping upwards spray as seen by the distinct post ride tide mark on my downtube where the mud stopped but I do think this could have been wider and maybe even made from rubber like in other sections.
The downside of using a split design meant that more mud could spray into both the honeycombed rear of my fork arch but also onto the fork stanchions and seals. I’m a little puzzled as to why with such a well thought out fender this was overlooked. There’s clearly room to add better protection here without compromising it’s anti-clogging design.
Because of it’s complicated design the XL at 189g does also weigh more than the closest competitors fenders but we’re only talking 50g here so it’s pretty negligible and once you’ve ridden through your first soft section of trail it’ll have fended off more weight in mud than that from clinging to the front of your bike.
Decals on the guard are quite subtle white and black Crud logos and XL Fender print with one on the nose, one on the tail and a longer one either side of the rear portion, These are easily peelable if like me you prefer less logos but because of this be careful washing the bike if you want to keep them, the front logo had peeled at the edges from it’s first wash.