Do you want a carbon fibre road bike with mudguards? We’ve picked out 11 bikes that combine the performance of a carbon frameset with the practicality of mudguards.
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 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.
For our purposes what gets it the title of best overall mudguard-compatible carbon bike is that as well as being an excellent ride it actually comes with mudguards. Chapeau!
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: zero. The Paralane comes with its own mudguards, made for Focus by Curana, so just make sure your bike shop fits them for you.
If you can live without disc brakes, then the latest carbon-framed road bike from Boardman is an absolute steal with a Shimano 105 transmission and long-drop brakes leaving room for 25mm tyres with mudguards (and 28mm tyres without).
Tester Stu writes: "Mat tested the previous version of this bike back in 2018 and was very impressed, and now I've ridden the 2021 version I can see why. It's brilliant!
"I did a couple of long rides – four hours or so – on the 8.9 and it's a smooth ride. There's no harshness to speak of, and I found the riding position well thought out.
"This makes it a quick and efficient bike to ride, especially as the front end geometry is on the lively side of neutral. Technical descents can be taken at speed, not only because of the planted feel, but also thanks to the stiff fork and rigid, tapered head tube and steerer."
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. The rim brake calipers provide standard mounting points and the eyelets on the frame are parallel to the wheel axles and close in, which facilitates fitting standard mudguards without too much extra hassle.
Ribble's Endurance SL Disc is a bike that we'd happily ride and race all year round. It handles well, remains composed over broken tarmac, climbs quickly, and can hold its speed on the flat too. The customisable spec makes this an easy bike to get right for your riding aims and budget.
It's also the raciest bike here, despite the 'endurance' tag, because that's just how Ribble roll, so if you want to ride fast and have a dry bum, this is the bike for you.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: medium. The rear mounts on the frame point backwards, so you're going to have to modify the stays of your mudguards or use 90-degree brackets to fit them.
Kudos to Giant for sticking to their guns with the Liv brand of women-specific bikes. While other manufacturers have quietly dropped the notion of tailoring road bikes to women's needs, Giant has continued to offer Liv bikes with specific geometry and carbon fibre layup.
There are four models, from the Advanced 2 with Shimano 105 components to the Advanced Pro 2 with Shimano Ultegra and Giant SLR 2 42 carbon wheels, but we've a bit of a soft spot for the limited-edition Tropical version above.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. Giant put their mudguard eyelets close to the wheel axles and pointing outwards, so fitting mudguards is no more fiddly than mounting them on a regular steel or aluminium frame with eyelets. See the Giant Defy, below, for more
Trek tucks away the mudguard mounts on its Domane endurance bikes so you hardly notice them, but they're waiting until you need them, even on the top-of-the-line Domane SLR 9 eTap. You might argue that it's bonkers to fit mudguards to a bike that costs over 11 grand so you can ride it in the rain, but on the other hand if we could afford an 11 grand bike we'd want to ride it all the time, come rain or shine.
The latest version of the Domane has room for tyres up to 38mm wide, and while that's almost gravel bike territory, the bike comes with more asphalt-friendly 32mm rubber. Dave Atkinson found at the launch of the latest incarnation that it's "really, really smooth. How much of that is down to the big tyres and how much the IsoSpeed doing its thing would require more time (and wheel swaps) than was available at the launch, but it’s certainly a comfy bike."
You don't have to spend 11 grand though. The Domane range starts at £2,325 with the Shimano Tiagra-equipped SL 4 which still gets you the comfort-enhancing Isospeed decoupler in the frame, disc brakes, like all carbon fibre Domanes, and even a storage compartment in the downtube for your spare tube and tools.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. The Domane's mudguard mounts are easily accessible on the outside of the stays and fork legs and they're in pretty much standard spots close to the hub so you don't need to bend the stays to fit them. Trek provides a bolt-on seatstay bridge.
The Synapse is one of the most popular carbon fibre endurance bikes out there and for good reason. When our Dave Arthur rode it at the launch, he found the Synapse a "fast, comfortable and dynamic handling endurance bike with the silky smoothness to not batter you into submission on a long ride. There's little concern that performance has been sacrificed for comfort. And there's room for mudguards for winter grinding, a practicality you really only fully appreciate with the passing of years."
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low-medium. Cannondale hide their mudguard mounts on the inside of the seatstays and fork legs, which makes them a bit more awkward to access, but they're close and parallel to the wheel hubs so there's no need to dramatically modify mudguards to fit.
Technical editor Mat Brett currently has the base model Defy Advanced 3 on test, a bike he describes as "still a sporty bike, designed to be quick and efficient – it’s just that the position isn’t quite as aggressive as some." After getting out on it for several weeks he says it's "a smooth riding, no-nonsense endurance bike with a hugely upgradeable frameset – Giant packs in a whole lot of value here."
Other comfort-enhancing features on the Defy series bikes include the composite D-Fuse seatpost, which is is slim and D-shaped to provide up to 12mm of bump-absorbing flex; the D-Fuse handlebar claimed to provide 10% more compliance than Giant's round Contact Bar and the 32mm tyres.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. Giant put their mudguard eyelets close to the wheel axles and pointing outwards, so fitting mudguards is no more fiddly than mounting them on a regular steel or aluminium frame with eyelets. Giant UK product manager Dave Ward tells us: "The remit I give to the designers now is for any bike that takes a mud guard should take an off the shelf guard." There's therefore no need to fit Giant-specific guards as was the case a few years ago; Ward says he likes the Kinesis Fend Off guards and so do we.
The Ribble R872 Disc Tiagra is a carbon fibre road bike that's built to a sportive-friendly geometry and it offers much higher performance than you've a right to expect at this price. Plus, there's the bonus that you can tweak the spec to suit your taste and budget.
It's available with disc brakes, but for riders who value the simplicity and low weight of rim brakes, Ribble offers this version with Tektro R540s that'll fit around mudguards.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: medium. The R872's front mudguard mounts are close to the wheel axles and pointing outwards, so fitting mudguards up front is no more fiddly than mounting them on a regular steel or aluminium frame with eyelets. However, the rear mounts point backwards so you're going to need to modify the stays or use angle brackets to fit a rear guard.
The 7000-E tops the new Scultura Endurance range from Merida, and is a more relaxed, less aggressive version of its Scultura race bike. It still offers plenty of performance and comfort, but it's more suited to those big rides – and, thanks to large tyre clearances and mudguard mounts, you can use it whatever the weather too.
Tester Stu writes: "I really enjoyed riding and living with the Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E. It feels as close to a race bike as it needs to for the speed and performance required of a fast day in the saddle. But it's also fun to ride, either when going fast or going far, something that's only helped by its excellent comfort levels."
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. A removable seatstay bridge provides the necessary anchor point out back, along with a bolt at the bottom bracket. The eyelets on the frame are parallel to the wheel axles and close in, which facilitates fitting standard mudguards without too much extra hassle.
The Caledonia and Caledonia-5 replace the C3 and C5 in Cervelo's range and slot into a category Cervelo calls 'modern road' meaning that they're intended to tackle Tarmac, broken surfaces, potholes and dirt roads.
The Caledonias have full carbon fibre frames with space for up to 34mm tyres, and mounts for mudguards, though fitting guards knocks the tyre capability back to 31mm. They're not cheap, though, with the base model Caledonia with Shimano 105 at £3,190 and the Caledonia-5 Red eTap AXS running at £11,059.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: low. You fit mudguards to the Caledonia bikes by adding tabs to the thru-axles. They provide threaded holes close to the hubs and parallel to the axles so fitting standard mudguards is straightforward.
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.
Mudguard Fitting Faff Factor: high. The front and rear eyelets point backwards, which means you're going to have to modify the stays or use right-angle brackets. The fork mount is halfway up the fork, necessitating bends in the stays of most mudguards. In theory Whyte offers mudguards specifically for the Wessex (product number WHYMG42W) that solve these problems, and we found they worked well, but we can't find a single UK Whyte retailer that shows them as available.
Your choices used to be very limited, but that's changed in the last couple of years. A few years ago Dave Arthur wrote an article about mudguard-equipped carbon road bikes being The Next Big Thing. It didn't happen quite as quickly as he 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.
However, we've focussed here just on road bikes, with relatively skinny tyres, not least because most gravel bikes have mudguard mounts, so if you want a super-versatile carbon fibre bike, that's the obvious place to look. Pure road bikes that'll take mudguards are still rarer and if we're honest the inclusion of gravel bikes in an earlier version of this article caused it to be rightly dubbed "a big confused mess" by one reader. Ouch.
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John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.