Do you want a carbon fibre road bike with mudguards? We’ve picked out 13 bikes that combine the performance of a carbon frameset with the practicality of mudguards.
Your choices used to be very limited, but that's changed in the last couple of years. A few years ago I wrote an article about mudguard-equipped carbon road bikes being The Next Big Thing. It didn't happen quite as quickly as I expected but there is now a lot more choice if you really want a carbon fibre road bike that will take mudguards. Some of the world's biggest bike brands — notably Giant and Trek — have something for you, as do many smaller companies.
Why might you want carbon fibre road bike that is compatible with mudguards? If you want the performance and weight benefits of carbon fibre for summer sportives, but don’t want to skimp on the practicality of mudguards for grinding through the winter weather, then you want a mudguard-equipped carbon road bike. Fit some mudguards for the winter, take them off for the summer.
One thing that's helped manufacturers get on board with mudguard-compatible road bikes is the rise of disc brakes. To squeeze a mudguard between a tyre and a standard rim brake is tricky. The fork legs have to be slightly longer, or the seatstay brake bridge a little higher, and the brake pads lower in the caliper. It's doable, but it means using up all the brake pad height adjustment. With disc brakes, it's easy to make room for mudguards and fatter tyres.
There's nothing to stop you fitting clip-on mudguards to a regular carbon road bike, but clearance can often be a problem, and they're never as secure or reliable as proper full-length mudguards. Most of these bikes have hidden eyelets that accept proper mudguards and don’t ruin the smooth lines when no 'guards are fitted.
The growth of adventure and gravel bikes is also having an impact because these bikes more than any other are really being designed for the demands of today’s cyclists. In many ways, adventure bikes are a modern update on the classic touring bike, with the benefits of bigger tyre clearance brought about by the disc brakes. These are bikes that are being pressed into service for weekend training bikes, sportive challenges, Audax, touring and even commuting.
If you want a carbon road bike that can take mudguards, here are 14 options for you. Few of these bikes are pictured with mudguards because they're an optional extra, but a set of mudguards is a relatively small cost and they're easy to fit. A good bike shop will do that for you at the point of purchase.
It's a gravel bike, so of course the new Vitus Substance CRX has room for mudguards, but there's quite a lot more going on here too. The Substance CRX comes with 650B wheels and 47mm tyres for bombing around on dirt roads, but it'll take 700C wheels with skinnier rubber for Tarmac shenanigans. That's a very welcome level of versatility that reminds us of swapping mountain bike wheels back in the 90s: skinny slicks for commuting, knobblies for playing at the weekend.
The Vitus Substance CRX has SRAM's 1X Apex groupset with a wide gear range and hydraulic disc brakes.
Specialized characterises the Diverge as a gravel bike, but fit smoother, skinnier tyres than the stock rubber and it's an extremely capable road bike too. There's plenty of room for mudguards and if you want to switch between weekday Tarmac and weekend dirt, it'll take 700C wheels with 42mm tyres and 650B wheels with 47mm tyres.
The Diverge has never failed to impress. When he reviewed the 2017 Diverge Comp Carbon, Jo Burt loved it so much we thought he was going to marry it. David Arthur called the uber-expensive S-Works edition of the current iteration "one of the best adventure bikes I've ridden … a sophisticated ride with buckets of capability for going fast and tackling big journeys over varied and challenging terrain … a comfortable, long-distance cruising bike on the road, with fantastic poise and cornering ability".
The Monsal from Forme Bikes is one of the new breed of bikes designed to take on a multitude of riding on a variety of terrain. There is obviously the old 'Jack of all trades, master of none' risk, but the Monsal won't let you down, it's fun to ride pretty much everywhere and it excels away from the tarmac.
On the road, the Monsal has a sort of mild-mannered ride thanks to a high level of neutrality in the handling. That doesn't mean it's dull – far from it. You can still point this thing downhill and have a blast through the bends with its long wheelbase aiding stability.
The gravel and adventure trend is ripping through the cycling industry at a rapid rate, and even the most race-focused bike brands aren't immune to its appeal. Orbea has stepped into the ring with its Terra and produced a blisteringly fast and highly capable multi-terrain bike that is as fit for an adventure as it is for commuting and winter training with the addition of mudguards.
First and last impressions are: it's bloomin' fast! With a stiff and responsive carbon frameset, the Terra is one of the flightiest gravel and adventure bikes I've tested. The low weight and high stiffness help, giving it almost road race bike-like responses on the road, yet it's stable and controlled on rough and loose surfaces.
The Focus Paralane offers a fast and comfortable ride with a healthy dose of practicality and versatility. It's crammed with all the latest technology and a host of interesting details, but what really matters here is that they all come together to form a very cohesive package that provides near class-leading performance. It's not a gravel bike, but with space for up to 35mm tyres it's can still handle a bit of the rough stuff.
On the road, the lightweight frame with its comfort-enhancing carbon layup and tube profiles, along with the skinny seatpost and 28mm tyres, provides a smooth ride that is up there with the best in this category. It isolates you from the worst road buzz but without completely detaching you from the road surface passing beneath the tyres. It's a really nice balance and rewards the cyclist that wants some involvement in the ride but without being shaken to pieces.
Edging toward the dirty end of the spectrum between road endurance bike and gravel bike, the Felt VR line includes four bikes with carbpn fibre frames, mudguard mounts and plenty of space around the tyres. With a Shimano 105 components and an FSA Adventure chainset with 48/32 chainrings for lower gears, the VR4 looks to be the pick of the bunch.
Even newer than the Genesis is the brand new Cervelo C3 and its super-light big brother the C5, the first ever Cervelos with mudguard mounts. Those mounts are fitted to full carbon fibre frames with space for up to 32mm tyres. They're packed with the latest technology such as flat mount disc tabs and bolt-thru axles front and rear, and they're light, at a claimed 850g for the C5. Cervelo says the C-series bikes are more endurance than gravel, but it’s clear they could lay a foot in each camp quite easily, dependent on tyre choice. They're not cheap, though, with the base model C3 with Shimano 105 at £2,399 and the Dura-Ace Di2 C5 running at £7,499. (As of early September 2018 there are very few Cervelo C-series bikes in the shops.)
Introduced in 2009, the Dolan Dual is one of the few really good looking carbon road bikes that features eyelets for mudguards to be fitted. I’ve ridden it and the ride performance is very impressive, just what you’d expect from a carbon road bike. Handling is sharp and comfort is good, the geometry on just right for a mix of fast group riding to commuting and Audax use. A Shimano 105 model will cost about £1,400, and you can customise the build to your liking. A good choice if you want mudguards.
The Genesis Datum bagged the road.cc Sportive Bike of the Year 2015/16 award. It’s a bike that straddles the fine line between an endurance bike and a gravel/adventure bike, with details that trace their way back to a cyclocross bike, particularly the tall fork with its huge tyre clearance. There’s space for properly wide tyres – 33mm will go in a treat – and even with proper full-length mudguards fitted there is space for 30mm tyres. If you want your cake and be able to eat it, this could be the one for you.
The 2018 Datums (Data? We'll leave that for grammar obsessives) aren't in the shops yet, but you can read about them in our look at the 2018 Genesis range.
In 2017 Giant went all-carbon and all-disc for its Defy endurance bikes; the aluminium-framed models were renamed Contend. The 2019 range starts with the Defy Advanced 3 for £1,499, and goes right up to the luxury option, the Defy Advanced Pro 0 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 at £4,499.
Now if you want a bike with disc brakes, massive tyre clearance and a carbon fibre frame, the gravel/adventure category is the place to look. GT’s Grade came along just as the style of bike was spreading from its birthplace in the US to the UK, and it’s a bike that is well suited to British roads and cyclists. And of course, the frame has mounts for mudguards and, depending on the exact choice of tyre, can be modified to suit your requirements, whether’s weekend club training rides or the daily commuting.
The BMC Roadmachine is an endurance road bike that is lighter than the company’s Granfondo and offers some aerodynamic aids for the cyclist that wants a sporty ride. It’s only available with disc brakes and uses 12mm thru-axles, and the top version gets a nifty integrated stem and handlebar to keep all the cables tucked away. There’s space for up to 30mm tyres on the carbon version, 32mm on the aluminium frame, and mudguard mounts on the Roadmachine 02 and 03 models - the top-end model does without them.
However, take a look at the comments. From our reader shutuplegz' experience, actually persuading mudguards to fit to a Roadmachine seems to be a job best assigned to one of Evans' mechanics.
Trek tucks away the mudguard mounts on its Domane endurance bikes so you hardly notice them, but they're waiting unobtrusively until you need them. The cheapest model in the range, the Domane SL5 above, has the signature IsoSpeed decoupler in the frame with rim brakes. If you want discs, your carbon-framed starting point is the £2,350 Domane SL 5 Disc.
The latest version of Tifosi's do-everything Cavazzo now has space in the frame for 45mm tyres, or even fatter 650B rubber, and is available in a 'commuter' build with mudguards. It’s tapping into the gravel/adventure popularity and the promotional spiel talks about it being a “multi-terrain carbon adventure road bike”. The bike has discreet mudguard mounts, maintaining the clean lines when they’re not fitted.
British brand Whyte has a good handle on the demands of the British cyclist. The Wessex is a lightweight carbon fibre road bike, with disc brakes and eyelets for mudguards. And with Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes, 25mm tyres and sub-9kg weight, it’s a bike that combines comfort, control and performance in one very smart package. Here’s a bike you could commute to work on during the week, and tackle a hilly sportive at the weekend. Whyte has designed its own mudguards which integrate seamlessly with the frame and fork and cost just £30.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.