MUDHUGGER EVO MUDGUARD REVIEW
Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley
The Mudhugger mountain bike mudguard has been a prolific item on the front of downhill and enduro race bikes alike for years now, with their “FR” front mudguard offering an effective solution to keeping racer’s vision clear. If you are riding in the UK, chances are you will also spot a rider with a ‘Hugger strapped on to the front of their bike during the nine months of the year when the ground is perma-wet. Recently there have been other options popping up that had stolen a little of Mughuggers’ limelight, so, it was time for founders Bruce and Jamie to go back to the drawing board and build upon their extensive experience to produce an improved offering. With hopes of regaining their place on the top step of the mountain bike mudguard list, the Mudhugger EVO guard was sent our way for a wet and wild winter of testing.
This revised offering is called the Mughugger EVO and promises to have resolved some of the issues found with their previous offerings, so let’s dive right into the muddy waters.
The Mudhugger EVO is available in three mounting options to suit differing rider needs. All of which share the same base molding. This main body is manufactured from 100% recycled Poly Propylene plastic, with a shape closely based on their time-served FR mudguard, with some key updates implemented to bolster the performance. The length has been upped slightly to offer 515mm of coverage in total, which Mudhugger believes to offer the optimum level of coverage without any excess material. They have pulled the Mudhugger EVO further away from the tire thanks to a recessed mounting point, which helps to prevent the guard clogging with mud or snow. This could have resulted in issues with the fork crown fouling the guard at bottom out, however the recess continues past the arch far enough to prevent this. The EVO is only recommended for boost spacing forks and will accommodate up to a 3” tire on most models.
The differences between the models lie in their attachment points for the fork crown. The standard, classic zip tie option remains in the lineup for those looking for a fit and forget solution. Joining it is an even more fit and forget bolt-on model, with specific versions for Fox forks, Ohlins forks and the Rock Shox ZEB. Rounding out the trilogy is the Velcro model on test which promises easy swapping between different bikes. I was very interested to find out how the Velcro would stand up to muddy trails and frequent bike washing, with the additional benefit of no wasted zip ties. The Mudhugger Evo guard weight starts at about 120g for the Velcro model excluding the lightweight Velcro fittings. Pricing ranges from £27.50 for the zip-tie version through to £34 for the ZEB bolt on version, with the Velcro model tested coming in at £28.50 including the fittings. In Europe, you can purchase all versions of the EVO from the Mudhugger webstore, or from a local bike shop through one of their distribution partners. In North America, the bolt-on version can be purchased for $40 from the Cyclepath PDX webstore, with other models to follow in the future.
Before I dive into the latest Evo, I will make it clear that I am a former ambassador for Mudhugger and have been running their previous models for quite some time. Whilst they were effective when they worked, the previous models certainly were not flawless, with a recent bike park trip reminding me of this as I spent the whole day battling a guard that just would not sit nicely. If I never hear the noise of a mudguard scraping a front tire again, I will be a much happier man.
First impressions of the EVO were positive, with the new shape having a more refined and purposeful appearance than the plainer old version. At first, I was certain that there were only 5 straps of the 6 included, but it turns out they ship the guards with the two shorter straps attached together, so look out for this before you send out an angry email. After looping the Velcro straps through the pre-cut holes on the guard, it was time to fit them to their first fork. Within seconds I was ready to roll, with next to no fuss mounting the guard even with the wheel fitted. I was dubious as to how well it would stay in place – it almost seemed too simple – but nevertheless I took straight to the trail to find out.
I have now got a good number of rides and hose-downs under my belt, swapped the hugger between bikes a few times, and I am pleased to find that it is still doing its job without causing any stress. The Velcro on a couple of the leg straps did eventually fill with trail debris, reducing its sticking power considerably, but a quick scrape with a screwdriver to pull out the gunk sorted this in a pinch. The spray-stopping ability is about on par with the previous slightly shorter version I would say – damn good – but the extra tire clearance was instantly notable. This was confirmed by a friend of mine running the older model, who struggled with a snow jammed wheel mid-ride while my EVO equipped machine rolled freely. This will depend on the fork and tire combination of course, but my findings were the same across multiple 29er fork and burly 2.4-2.6” tire combinations. The fork seal guarding ability is not a trait that should be overlooked, which you can safely assume will extend fork service intervals through harsh riding conditions. Throughout the testing period I did my best to rattle the Mudhugger EVO loose but went the entire duration without so much as a peep out of it, through high frequency chatter and wrist jarring bottom outs alike. Long may that continue!
Improvement points are something I will always try to find in a product review, but there is little to complain about with the new Mudhugger EVO. Sure, you could wish for it to be lighter or cost less, but I do not feel like either of these figures are unreasonable given its performance. It comes in at a slightly lower price point than some others on the market with no discernable loss of performance and does not add a considerable amount of weight to a bike. If its initial time in the ring is anything to go by, the EVO Velcro should last until the last ding of the bell without an issue. If I am wrong, I will be sure to update this review to reflect it but given the longevity of earlier models I feel like this will not be necessary.
The Mudhugger EVO represents the top tier of mudguard offerings, offering a fit and forget solution for year-round vision protection. The tested Velcro model represents a more ecofriendly alternative for those looking to swap between forks, without compromising in the guards’ stability. The only issue you may have is trying to pick one up for yourself as they are struggling to make enough of them!
Website: Themudhugger.co.uk / USA cyclepathpdx.com