Road bike mudguards come in various forms. Some are little more than cleverly designed plastic flaps designed to protect your backside, and while they certainly have their place in cycling, winter isn’t it. The Kinesis Fend Off mudguards goes to the other end of the spectrum, offering maximum coverage front and rear, protecting not only you, but your bike and, perhaps more importantly, the person riding behind you.
Taking the time to affix full-length mudguards to your road bike is a selfless act, and I’ve long been an advocate. If you’ve ever ridden behind an un-guarded wheel on wet roads, you’ll understand why. Situating yourself in the firing line of the torrent of road spray that is ejected from a wheel doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience, and the goodness-knows-what-else that is being picked up from the road doesn’t bear thinking about when it ends up in your eyes and mouth. My old local cycling club would actively turn away any riders that arrived at the meeting point without them.
To that end, I’ve cycled through many of the best road bike mudguards in my quest to find the best, and with the Kinesis Fend Off mudguards, I’ve found a new favourite.
Design and specification
Kinesis’s Fend Off mudguards are constructed from aluminium, using a flat-top profile with two straight-edge shoulders, rather than the fully-rounded profile found on many of the competitors’ options.
They are available in two sizes, a road-bike-friendly option suited for up to 34mm tyres – the perfect pairing for my Cervelo Caledonia review – as well as a Wide version suited to gravel bike tyres up to 45mm. Both sizes are available in either black or silver, though the stays and mounting points are silver, no matter your choice.
Being a British brand, Kinesis is likely familiar with what makes a good mudguard. Coverage is key, and to this end, Kinesis has added a novel way to recycle the packaging, inviting customers to cut around printed guidelines to create coverage-lengthening flaps.
Despite taking less than an hour to fit, the installation wasn’t without its hiccups. The biggest hurdle came courtesy of the riveted-in mount that sits atop the front guard, and the section of guard behind it that has been purposely narrowed to fit within the crown of the fork. When combined, this means the Fend Off mudguards are designed to be fitted to a mounting point on the front of the fork. It’s a common place to find them, but it’s not always the case, and could be considered an unnecessary restriction.
Coincidentally, the Cervélo Caledonia’s mounting point is positioned on the rear of the fork crown, and as a result of the fixed bracket, I’ve had to fit it around 5cm further back than intended, which means the guard’s narrower section is in the wrong place, meaning I needed to get the mole grips out to bend some more metal so the guard would fit within the fork crown without chipping the paint. It would make more sense for Kinesis to have used a sliding bridge such as this, which comes with the added benefit of being replaceable, should it ever break.
Kinesis doesn’t supply bolts to mount the guards to the frame, relying on the bike manufacturer to have supplied these – Cervélo hadn’t, but that’s more not Kinesis’ fault. However, in my opinion, Kinesis should have supplied bolts to fix those added flaps – not everyone has an array of nuts and bolts in their workshop.
These frustrations aside, the actual fitting of the mudguards was an easy task. The stays are affixed to the guards using similar sliding adaptors to those you’ll find on SKS Longboards. These can be a little confusing at first, but soon become an easy job to fit, and benefit from being extremely secure once complete.
The benefit of the aluminium construction is that they are super easy to align. A common problem I’ve found when fitting plastic fenders is that the smallest of adjustments in stay length can be amplified into way-too-much movement at the guard, resulting in wonky guards and potential tyre rub. No such problem here, though, as the stiffness of the aluminium effectively combats it.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that aluminium means heavy, but Kinesis managed to surprise us in this regard. The circa 630g weight (a rough weight, due to the need to add my own extra fixings) is less than the 689g SKS quotes for its Longboards, which are predominantly plastic in construction.
I wholly understand the arguments as to why people are against using mudguards on road bikes. They can be fiddly to setup and they can rub, but my response has always been to spend an extra hour in the workshop to get them fitted securely, and these problems will usually disappear. The thing that impressed me the most about the Fend Off mudguards is that I didn’t need to spend that extra hour in the workshop. In fact, I didn’t even spend an hour at all. The total fitting time was 48 minutes, including a bit of photography and the aforementioned fork-mount bodge.
When it comes to mudguards, the sweet spot of performance is ample coverage with rattle-free fit, and in both of these regards, the Kinesis Fend Off mudguards are fantastic.
The length is comprehensive and is boosted by the add-on flaps built into the packaging. The 40mm width offers plenty of coverage, and any water that does overflow is directed downwards, rather than outwards onto the feet. Thanks to the aluminium construction, the rattle-free security is better than anything I’ve used. There’s absolutely no ‘flapping’ or oscillating in response to road vibration, which can occur with flimsier full-length fenders.
If I were to have one complaint, it’s that the rubber caps for the stays aren’t quite sturdy enough, as I found out when walking past the bike and catching the stay with my leg. The rubber ripped off, exposing the metal beneath and ripping a nice hole in my tights.
In my experience, fenders typically require occasional adjustment and tinkering in order to keep them running rattle-free. However, the sheer non-existence of any rattle thus far has been bliss.
The Kinesis Fend Off mudguards aren’t without a couple of quirks, but their combination of rattle-free security and protective coverage is so far ahead of anything else I’ve used that if I were buying another pair of mudguards, I’d go straight to Kinesis again.
Tech Specs: Kinesis Fend Off mudguards
- Weight: ~630g
- RRP: £55.00 / $78.00
- Colours: Black, Silver
- Material: Aluminium