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ETC Trekking Mudguards are decidedly superior to cheap 'n' cheerfuls of a few years back, though the detailing isn't of the standard we take for granted these days.
Available in black or silver, these chromoplastic guards feel reassuringly solid and curve gracefully. Suggesting they'll accommodate stockier 38-45mm tyre sections is slightly optimistic. In practice, 35mm commuter/touring fare seemed pretty much their limit '' 32mm with deeper tread patterns.
They're a wee bit shorter too, which is both blessing and curse. It's handy when manoeuvring bikes in tight spaces (say through side gates or train doors) but affords less protection to rider and machine alike. This is compounded by a lack of mud flaps, although pop-riveting on some DIY/aftermarket flaps should (largely) resolve matters.
Stainless steel stays and hardware are another definite plus and shouldn't tarnish come the first hint of a wet, salty road. Inserts overcome the need for threadlock, doing an excellent job of countering vibration/chatter across washboard surfaces and everything breezes together in an hour or so.
However, I was somewhat disappointed by the absence of quick release front stays, the sort that spring free should something get lodged between guard and tyre. While short of inducing a spill, even with careful alignment, sticks and similar debris littering country lanes fouled ours, demanding swift dismounts.
Wet rides in these contexts saw more residual spatter than I'd expected around fork blades, chain/seatstays, bottom bracket and crank arms (not to mention shoes and smart trousers). Indeed during one sustained downpour, a passing rider complained about the amount of water being chucked his way!
Things improved when hustling through built up areas and despite forgoing a rear reflector (or drillings for one/dynamo lamp) the silver finish proved surprisingly conspicuous when under street or vehicle lighting.
Overall, performance isn't poor, just mediocre, something I attribute to a combination of old fashioned design and basic specification. Other brands commanding similar cash are decidedly better equipped.
Middling performance and basic specification by current standards
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Make and model: ETC Trekking Mudguards
Size tested: n/a
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?
ETC give little away but essentially "trekking" translates as shorter full length 700c guards sans mud flaps. 38-45mm is a little optimistic too-35mm is nearer the mark without encountering coverage/clearance hassles.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Full length silver or black chrome plastics, stainless hardware.
Chrome plastics fit nicely and aren't too whippy, ditto stainless steel hardware.
Feel slightly low rent given the standards set by others in recent years.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, these fit reasonably well and depending on tyre sections, offer middling protection. However, while not bad guards per se, standards and consumer expectations have risen considerably.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nice fit, stainless steel hardware.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Narrower than suggested,basic too given breakaway stays and mudflaps are pretty much standard issue these days.
Did you enjoy using the product? Indifferent.
Would you consider buying the product? On balance, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No, too mediocre compared with other brands commanding just a few quid more.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)