The Crud Catcher XL offers serious coverage for almost complete protection from flying filth. Despite this is only takes seconds to fit or remove, gives seemingly clog-proof clearance to front tyres and is flexy enough to last. It does leave your stanchions exposed, however, and it's best to add helicopter tape before fitting – but that, like its £30 tag, seems a small price to pay for superb performance.
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The XL really is extra large. It covers a quarter of the wheel, and I was impressed with how much of the tyre's sidewalls it wraps around too.
It mounts in seconds using strong o-rings – bonus points there for avoiding zipties. It does take a bit of a pull to extricate from your fork, and is especially tricky to remove when wet or muddy, mainly because it’s slippery plastic to start with.
The injection moulding has a slightly H R Gieger Alien feel in shape, with some nice flowing lines. It’s well finished, and feels robust, striking a good balance between strong but not overly heavy.
It can be mounted quite high up the fork and gives good clearance, too – despite my very best efforts I couldn't get it clogged up. The gap in the middle helps stop build-up, and the flexible areas encourage the mud to fall off.
With the Crud Catcher XL I hardly got a spot of mud on my face. It shields nearly everything, so if you prefer to ride without glasses you can. This thing provides absolutely amazing mud defence, and in that aspect it’s pretty much the best I’ve used.
There are compromises, though. It does nothing to protect your stanchions, for a start. The design allows the XL to be mounted super quickly, but also leaves a gap for muck to get through. Any build-up is behind the fork brace is easily sprayed out in the post-ride clean, but it doesn't do a great job of keeping your seals free of filth.
Another snag is tyre buzz on landings or hard impacts, as the guard flexes and hits the tyre. It’s never enough to be worrisome – it's just a loud surprise at first – and to be fair it's infrequent, too.
The final issue is having mud creep in behind the mounting points and, over time, wearing away your paint. This is by no means unique to the Crud Catcher XL, of course, and can easily be overcome with protection tape.
Despite these minor niggles, the XL is simply a fantastic defence against flying filth, and has become my go-to guard. It's well-made, easy to fit, extremely effective , great value and promises to last many seasons. If it's wet where you are, the Crud Catcher XL is a truly brilliant choice.
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