Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by AJ Barlas
Ah winter... The sun seems to set before I leave work and the trails have reached maximum saturation, with consistent rain to boot. Regardless, I have been night riding fairly consistently and making the most of winter here in the Northwest. But nothing ruins a wet weather ride like a face full of mud, or the realization that all the slop surrounding your fork bushings will require diligent removal. The tube and zip-tie fender is a nearly free and simple solution to unwanted muck on one's face, but it doesn't reduce the slop around fork stanchions nor does it last for more than a few weeks (at least in my experience). A handful of companies have caught on to the idea that there was room for improvement and just in time for monsoon season, a MarshGuard fender and Stash extension arrived at my doorstep.
MarshGuard Fender Highlights
- Designed by World Cup DH mechanic Jason Marsh
- Made out of tough, flexible, recycled and recyclable plastic
- Fits all types of forks except Lefty and inverted models
- Weight: 32g (does not include zip-ties or Stash extension)
- MSRP $14.99 (Marshguard) // $6.99 (Stash)
With such a simple product, setup was a breeze. Four zip-ties, five minutes, good to go. Once installed, I noticed how 'clean' the MarshGuard looks compared to the ghetto tube fender, almost as though the fork is meant to have it. The plastic is thin enough that it conforms easily and mates perfectly with the arch and lowers of just about any fork.
On The Trail
I decided to begin with the MarshGuard fender only and left the Stash extension on the workbench as I wanted to test the fender with and without the extension.
Since the MarshGuard is within an inch or two of the tire, very little water and mud escapes when riding. I had no issues with water, mud or snow over a number of rides in less than ideal conditions. Also of note is the significantly reduced amount of grit build-up on the backside of the fork arch, up the steer tube, around fork bushings as well as in one's eyes.
When conditions became truly nasty, I mounted the Stash extension. It is designed to direct excess water downward, as the odd bit of muck can potentially work to the front of the fender and get into unwanted areas. I found that the addition of the Stash added to the effectiveness of the fender, but only in the nastiest of conditions (i.e. standing puddles, water bars, and heavy rain).
With or without the Stash extension, the MarshGuard does a much better job than the arch to crown ghetto fender. The added bonus is that when the trails dry up, the MarshGuard and Stash look good and can be forgotten about, so they can stay on the bike full-time ready for the next downpour.
Things That Could Be Improved
Since the Stash extension doesn't have any downside, why not create a one piece option to simplify setup even more? Some riders might also prefer additional color options (the MarshGuard is currently available in black and white) to match their forks, although I have seen the standard MarshGuard set up on a number of different bikes and it has never looked out of place.
Long Term Durability
I have had the fender mounted for two months without any issue. It has survived numerous rides, washes and careless handling without any problems. I thought that the zip-tie holes might suffer from stress and wear over time, but so far they're as good as new. I don't foresee any issues from daily riding, although the plastic could potentially be torn if one were careless with bike storage, shuttling, or ghost riding.
What's The Bottom Line?
The MarshGuard is a more effective solution than home-made DIY attempts to deal with front wheel runoff. It looks good, does a better job and it should last longer too. When the trails are dry, the only drawback to leaving the fender on is 35g, something that few, if any would notice. A simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive solution to possibly the single biggest headache that faces wet weather riders. The MarshGuard fender is definitely worth a look and for about $20 you don't have much to lose.
About The Reviewer
Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 8 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at www.straightshotblog.com.