Mudguards: not exactly the sexiest or blingiest upgrade that you can add to your bike.
But if you have ever experienced the boak-inducing vomfest that comes when particulate dog egg is flicked up from your front wheel, lands with laser-guided precision on your top lip and then is unwittingly smeared in with your gloved finger as you wonder “what the hell is that bloody awful smell?”, I suspect you too will have come to appreciate that sometimes function just has to overrule appearance.
Crud Products kicked off a revolution in mudguard design with the launch of its eponymous Crud Catcher but over the years, new solutions have come to market offering mud protection in an alternative format. Step forward Rapid Racing Products with its Neoguard.
Unlike its competitors, Rapid Racing Products has eschewed the conventional moulded plastic approach in favour of a simpler and substantially lighter neoprene and velcro affair that mounts directly onto the crown of your forks. By concentrating the spray protection at the point where it comes off the front wheel, the Neoguard Rigid is designed to stop mud and spray (and of course dog poo, should you find yourself in an unwelcome game of Dog Turd Roulette where the odds are always stacked against you).
Taking it out of the packaging, I almost had to check there was anything in it as it weighs only a few grams. Rapid Racing Products claims that it is the lightest mudguard in the world. I have no reason not to believe it!
Set up was a breeze with none of the usual profanity-filled invective that I tend to suffer from whenever trying to fit a Crud Catcher. The top two velcro straps attach the Neoguard Rigid to the crown. The bottom two velcro straps wrap round the fork leg leaving the recommended 5mm gap between the mudguard and the top of the tyre. Cinching them up tightly, there was a little excess velcro on the Neoguard Rigid when fitted to the steel forks on my Salsa rigid 29er. It would be an easy job to snip the ends off for neatness but given that I may wish to swap between bikes, I preferred to keep my options open and not trim them down.
Ease of fitting and light weight are one thing but how did it work out on the trails. Surprisingly well actually. I have to admit that I was less than looking forward to testing the Neoguard rigid. As a belt and braces rider who likes to marry up a flexible enduro style fork guard with a down tube mounted mud guard, I had fairly low expectations for the Neoguard Rigid. However I’m happy to report that the mudguard performed exactly as the manufacturer promised.
Riding through muddy puddles, while my down tube was coated in mud, my face stayed relatively splatter free. Just so you, dear reader, don’t have to, I took one for the team and rode the same trails again with the Neoguard Rigid removed. Thankfully there were no dog eggs lurking in wait, as my face became a picture of mud splattered filthiness. For something so small and unobtrusive, it certainly works.
Unlike its rigid competitors, once fitted there is no obvious movement on the fork crown meaning that you don’t have to fit helicopter tape first to protect your paint. Cleaning is simply a case of skooshing it with a hose although the packaging does say that if you have Howard Hughes tendencies, you can machine wash it in a tablet bag to keep it looking pristine. I may just not bother with that though. It’s a mudguard. It’s designed to get muddy!
If you like your mudguards to have a Germanic level of minimalism, the Neoguard Rigid may be right up your strasse. It’s uber-light, cheap and works exactly as the manufacturer claims. On its own, I don’t think that it gives as much mud protection as I would like compared to my regular set up, but couple it with a down tube-mounted mud guard and I reckon you would have a pretty good combination for the winter.
|Brand:||Rapid Racer Products|
|Tested:||by CJ for several minging rides|