Last week a few people questioned why I reviewed an $18 solution to many of your bike woes. Apparently $18 is just way too much to spend on having peace of mind. So, just to give those same people something to whine about, I thought I'd find another $18 product to evaluate.
This week we have the RaceFace Mud Crutch, a neoprene mudguard that wraps around a fork crown and arch to prevent muck, crud and poop from flipping off a rotating front wheel and landing on your face or in your eyes (or mouth if you are caught gasping at the price of chips these days).
Here's RaceFace's explanation for the Mud Crutch:
"The off-season is a state of mind at Race Face, so we've designed the new Mud Crutch for those of you who, like us, ride unconditionally. Constructed of Mylar laced woven elastic, the Mud Crutch stretches around your fork to collect any mud spray headed upwards on a potentially devastating trajectory with that fantastic mug of yours. Especially heinous sans goggles in a muddy berm."
The Mud Crutch is made from Mylar laced woven elastic and Lycra so it's stretchy, and it comes in three sizes. Velcro attachments make taking it on and off quick and easy.
Does it work? Does it keep crap from being thrown up into your blinkers? Yes. Mostly. Some can still get around the sides but not enough to be a huge disruption. One downside is that mud, spray and debris tends to get caught by the guard and redistribute onto fork seals.
Another thing that some people might recognize is this design. Rapid Racer Products has had a very similar product available for several years now and it looks like its "Patent Pending" never became "Patent Protected." That is also very good because most muddy mountain bikers know about the old inner tube solution.
Yep, for the price of not repairing a discarded inner tube you can make one of these fancy units. That's a saving of $18, minus a few zip ties and a bit of your time.
1. Cut strip of inner tube roughly the length of the distance from fork arch to crown, leaving a little for wrap around.
2. Cut holes in top and bottom for zip ties.
3. Attach with zip ties.
4. Go ride through a puddle, be amazed, then spend the $18 you saved on beer.
Recycle, reduce, reuse.
Not so fast to put on or off, if you need that sort of thing.
If you do tend to take it on or off then you might spend, say $18 on zip ties throughout the year.
But there's an even better alternative, and that's the Marsh Guard (or similarly branded plastic fenders like the Mucky Nuts. These things keep even more crap from spraying up in your face AND keep the spray from coming up and landing on your fork seals.
But again, there's an alternative to the alternative. Rather than spending a whole shit ton of money (or about $10) on a front fender you can make one yourself.
1. Take your wife's/girlfriend's/husband's/mum's/your own plastic chopping sheet and cut it up.
2. Custom-shape it to fit whatever fork you have or however big you want it.
3. Tape and zip tie it to your bike.
4. Go for a mucky, wet ride to the store and buy your wife/girlfriend/husband/mum/yourself a new chopping sheet.
So, there you have it. You can spend $18 on a simple, ready-to-use solution to a common problem or you can stop complaining that everyone is trying to swindle you out of your money and just go make one yourself. There's no great conspiracy, it's a capitalist system based on conspicuous consumption but you can still just opt out once in a while and make your own fix.