Mudhugger's Front Gravel Hugger is a simple mudguard designed to be easily removable, light, and strong enough for off-road riding... and of course, for those little unplanned lie-downs. It nails it, too. This is a simple, sturdy and cost effective solution which is hard to beat.
The Gravel Hugger weighs 82g including fittings and fits both 700c and 650b wheels, with max tyre widths of 42mm and 50mm respectively.
Straight out of the box it feels like a quality product. The finish is top notch with rounded edges, a smooth surface and a subtle Mudhugger logo embossed on top. It's moulded from polypropylene plastic that's 100% recycled – nice.
Fitting couldn’t be easier. The Gravel Hugger is supplied with two different sizes of o-rings to suit varying fork tubes or blades, and you simply stretch the appropriate ones around your fork and hook them onto the guard. There's a handy video on the Mudhugger website if you have any doubts.
I really like the look of the Front Gravel Hugger, as it's sleek and doesn’t intrude on the lines of the bike. Although it only comes in black, it adds to the subtle and understated look.
Testing involved typical British winter conditions, late in autumn when the leaf litter has started to mulch and is holding a lot of water. This usually results is a thin layer of gritty, muddy spray from head to toe, plus an inconceivable amount making its way towards my eyes.
The front Gravel Hugger does a great job of redirecting most the spray and keeping it away from the rider. From the knees up, riding becomes a considerably cleaner affair.
The flip-side is that redirected water is aimed solely at your shoes and shins. This is a small price to pay for the increased protection everywhere else, at least, and can be combatted with waterproof socks and/or overshoes.
In thicker mud the guard continues to perform well without clogging, plus the o-ring attachment means it can easily be moved away from the tyre to increase clearance if you need it (I recommend running it as close as possible for the best results).
There are pros and cons to this style of fender over traditional full-length mudguards. On the upside the Gravel Hugger is subtle, has plenty of clearance and is sturdy – full length guards tends to be flexy thanks to long spindle stays.
On the downside, it doesn’t fully protect the rider against all spray the way a full length guard will.
With a price tag of £25, it's competitively priced against the likes of the SKS Speedrocker Mudguard Set at £50 (the accompanying Rear Gravel Hugger is £23), though the SKSs only fit up to 38mm tyres.
There is also the £9 Crud Catcher which mounts on the downtube and has changed little since road.cc's 2015 review, but that design doesn't work as well with frame bags and isn't as effective as the Gravel Hugger.
Mudhugger has tweaked its already excellent mountain bike design into a brilliant gravel version. The Front Gravel Hugger is a real game-changer for those winter rides, is easy to fit, and is very well suited to off-road abuse. The price is good too – as one less excuse not to get out and enjoy the British winter, it's a bargain.