The Mudhugger Rear Gravel Hugger is adapted from the successful mountain bike version, and adjusted for gravel bike sizing. Designed for those gritty winter rides, it is a sturdy performer as long as you can tolerate the looks.
The Gravel Hugger secures with the supplied cable ties, and the handy fitting video on Mudhugger's website is clear and easy to follow. The Gravel Hugger is designed to fit most seat stays (with angles approx 40-55 degrees) and tyres up to 50mm wide.
Before fitting the guard, Mudhugger insists you use the supplied heli-tape on the seat stays in order to protect the paint, and recommends keeping an eye on the contact points generally – small amounts of movement will wear away the tape eventually. It's thick tape though, and we saw very little sign of wear during our testing.
Time to mention the elephant in the room... the looks. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, especially if you're from a road background, but the performance and protection should prompt you to reconsider.
Riding in typical British winter conditions – sodden fire roads and plenty of thick boggy patches – normally results in a gritty, muddy spray up your back, but the Gravel Hugger keeps you remarkably cleaner.
More impressive than the protection, even, is the rigidity of the guard. Having ridden trails which were arguably more than a gravel bike should be capable of, I can report no rattling or breakages. I generally forgot the guard was fitted at all – it just silently keeps the mud at bay.
There are pros and cons to this style over more traditional, full wraparound offerings. The Gravel Hugger is considerably sturdier, is less fiddly to fit, offers strong tyre clearance and gives plenty of protection, for instance.
On the other hand, wraparound guards provide even more protection by enclosing the tyre all the way down to the chain stays. However, these rattle around more and have a high chance of breaking if caught whilst off-roading.
At £23 the Gravelhugger is competitively priced amongst its competition, and the easy fitting and rugged build mean it should last multiple winters.
The Rear Gravel Hugger is an excellent option for fending off the winter filth – at least from the rider, if not quite entirely the bike. Okay, the aesthetics are questionable, but the performance more than outweighs it – it's a must-have during the winter months.
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