The KranX FendR Pre-Assembled Full Length Mudguards have a couple of good ideas that help with fitting, and they give a rattle-free ride. I had problems with compatibility with my fork, though, and they are heavier and more expensive than some of the alternatives.
If you're interested in the KranX, also check out our guide to the best road bike mudguards.
A good set of fixed mudguards adds so much to the quality of riding in the filth of winter that it's surprising more bikes aren't equipped for them. With the rise of gravel/adventure bikes, however, there's sure to be renewed interest. These new offerings from KranX, an in-house brand from wholesaler Bob Elliot Ltd, do a good job, though the design of the front-stay quick releases limits their versatility a little.
By that, I mean if you have a bike with mudguard eyelets that are not at the fork dropout – such as my Thorn Audax Mk II, where they are positioned about a quarter of the way up the fork leg. The quick releases on the FendR are incorporated into the stays themselves, about three-quarters of the way up (they're the black plastic 'tubes' along the guard stay).
They're designed to pull apart if something gets stuck in your front wheel, because a stick or stone can shatter the mudguard or, worse, jam the front wheel and send you over the bars. Unfortunately for me, they were positioned too near the guard itself to allow me to slide the stay far enough up through the mounts and line it up with the fork eyelets.
Bob Elliot went to some trouble to establish whether there was a workaround, but in the end agreed they are not compatible with my bike. The problem may only apply to a handful of bikes on the market, but does limit the versatility of the KranX setup. A simple repositioning of the quick release nearer the fork mount end would solve this.
My solution was to attach the front guard using the stays from my existing SKS guards, which have a different design of quick release that fits to the fork mount. It worked perfectly, though it meant I couldn't give the supplied kit a 'proper' testing.
The KranX guards come partly assembled, insofar as the stays are already inserted through the fork mounts and the bolts are secured. It's a thoughtful touch, aimed mainly at bike mechanics who have to fit a lot of guards, and it can be a time-consuming job at the best of times. You're still likely to want to take the stays off again during fitting, to cut them to length, unless you have some heavy-duty croppers, but it all helps in a busy workshop. I didn't trim them for the test, because I was using a rack too, so they weren't too conspicuous, but I took the photos before the rack went on.
There were a couple of other good design touches that made the job easier: the drilled nuts that the stays slide through at the guard mount have a little shoulder machined onto them. This stops them falling through the mount when you're trying to get the stays through and keeps the securing bolt in place. The sound of that nut hitting the workshop floor twenty times during the fitting process is the bane of some other mudguard makes.
Another is the way the rear guard is mounted between the stays. Rather than the conventional stamped metal bracket that hangs from the brake bolt and has to be folded under the edges of the guard, the KranX has a sturdy plastic mount that slides onto the guard. It's still attached to the bike using the brake bolt, but is shaped so that it fits snugly between the seatstays. This causes it to self-centre, making it quicker and easier to fit straight. Also, it results in a rattle-free ride. That's good thinking.
The front guard bracket is more conventional, but is still an improvement over the SKS design, because the slot for the mounting bolt is longer. That means you can push the mudguard right up under the fork crown where clearances are tight. On my old SKS guards, I had to lengthen the slot with a file, a tedious job. My frame having an external headset, the mounting bracket also had to be bent to fit, which was achieved easily enough. The issue won't arise with the majority of modern bikes.
Tyre and mud clearance is generous, unsurprisingly as I was only using 30mm tyres and these are designed to work with up to 38mm. How much clearance you get also depends on frame design and tyre height.
The KranX come with a bag of hardware and fixings to suit most frames, including spacers to provide clearance for disc brakes where they are mounted on the seatstay. I was using the guards with road rim brakes; there was plenty of clearance at the back but the front guard was deflected by the calliper when the brake was applied and rubbed on the tyre. That wouldn't have happened if I'd been testing the narrower version. It won't be an issue at all on disc-equipped bikes.
The eyelet bolts supplied can be tightened with a cross-head screwdriver or a spanner and, being lower profile than hex bolts, gave a little bit more tyre clearance where the rear guard attaches to the chainstay yoke. I intended to use the rear guard in conjunction with a rack and had no problems with clearances or bits of mounting hardware trying to occupy the same space.
Mud and spray protection is also an improvement on the SKS guards they replaced, partly because of the extra width but the generous mudflaps make a big difference too, keeping the worst out of my bottom bracket and crankset, though I still got wet toes riding through standing water. The rear flap is more in consideration of people riding behind you.
The flaps are equipped to take two rivets but had been secured with only one each. As a result, the rear flap twisted on the end of the guard a bit, though it's not showing signs of coming adrift. Otherwise, everything stayed very secure and the FendRs gave a rattle-free ride, which is a definite bonus.
The plain black paint looks like a simple spray-job. It looks fine and will suit some bikes well, but I don't think it's as classy as the SKS Bluemels, and found it marked quite easily.
At 690g for the 45mm version, they're a bit heavier than some. The SKS ones they replaced on my bike came in at 500g for a narrower guard, but including a rear reflector.
The stays are made from a larger-gauge steel, which may add to the overall bulk. The FendRs are perhaps more robust overall, and on a touring or winter bike, the extra mass isn't really a deal-breaker, for me anyway.
At a penny shy of £45 a pair (if you look around you may find them for less), the FendRs are more expensive on the whole than SKS Bluemels. The Bluemels come in a very wide range of styles and sizes, but the basic models cost around £35, and some include a rear reflector at that price. (The FendRs have no reflector and you'd need to drill holes to fit one).
The FendRs are also £15 more than Stronglight's 700C guards (distributed by Bob Elliot as well, check them out here), which come in four widths and a choice of black or silver.
Overall, I liked these for the rattle-free ride, the good mud and spray protection, and the robust build, but the price and compatibility problems went against them, and if you're going for a light build, the weight may stand against them too.
Secure, rattle-free protection, but quite heavy and pricey, and not compatible with all forks
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Make and model: KranX FendR Full Length Mudguard 45mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The distributor, Bob Elliot, describes the KranX Fendr as part of an "excellent range of pre-assembled, high quality mudguards in a range of popular sizes. Made from ultra-resistant Polycarbonate and finished with stainless steel fixings".
They're also available in 35mm and 55mm for 700C, and there's a 26in version.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bob Elliot lists:
Made from ultra-resistant Polycarbonate with Stainless steel fixings
Quick releasing pop-off stays on front guard for safety
Mud-flaps front and rear for extra coverage
Disc brake compatible fittings included
Pre-assembled for easy installation
45mm suitable for 30-38mm tyre widths
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Generally simple and solid. The paint finish seemed a bit soft, and the mudflaps would benefit from a second rivet fastening.
Rate the product for performance:
They provide very good mud and spray protection and don't rattle.
Rate the product for durability:
They aren't flimsy or too flexy, and the polycarbonate material shouldn't get brittle. Chunky stainless steel stays will last the distance. The paint finish marked easily.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Heavier than some of the opposition, but possibly more robust too.
Rate the product for value:
There are guards that do a similarly good job in most respects for less money, so a bit below par here.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Marginally easier to mount than some, thanks to a bit of the assembly being done at the factory. The rear yolk mount made the job a bit easier as did the improved stay nuts and bolts. Otherwise, similar to other guards on the market. The spray and mud protection was good, thanks to the full length and generous mudflaps. There was no rattle in use, which is by no means universal.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Having mounting bolts that won't fall out of the guard mounts. Self-centring, non-rattly rear mount. Long slot on the front mount bracket means the guard can sit well up under the fork crown.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Mudlfaps need an extra rivet to prevent them twisting.
The front quick release stay system made them incompatible with my bike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
SKS Bluemels come in a very wide range of styles and sizes, but basic models cost around £35, and some include a rear reflector at that price. The FendRs are also £15 more than Stronglight's 700C guards (distributed by Bob Elliot as well), which come in four widths and a choice of black or silver.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, but only for bikes with standard eyelet mounts at the fork dropout.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly, though good guards are available for less.
Use this box to explain your overall score
There are a few good design touches here – the shoulders on the drilled bolts that stop them dropping off the stays during assembly, the self-centring rear yoke mount – that I thought made these guards worth considering. They seem robust and give excellent mud and spray protection. But the design of the quick-release front stays means they won't be suitable for all bikes. The plain finish was only OK, and the weight and price are higher than some good-quality opposition.
Age: 57 Height: 6'2 Weight: 75kg and rising
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
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