The simplest ideas are always the best.
Jason Marsh, Greg Minnaars mechanic must of been begging the big man in the sky for rain at Fort William World Cup when he first unveiled his product. His prayers were answered and he unveiled his Marsh Guard mudguard/fender to the World. Some four months later and Greg Minnaar wins the UCI World Championships whilst running a Marsh Guard.
Greg Minnaars bike prepped and ready for his race run.
Pinkbike caught up with Jason regards his new mud guard and this is what he had to say, "For a few year now we had been using the old inner tube between the fork brace and crowns as a mudguard but I never liked it and have always been thinking of alternatives. I made a couple of carbon guards a few years back but they were all a bit heavy, expensive and took so long to produce - I even made one out of an old Beta trials bike fender which worked really well but came loose all the time and again the costs were too high.
The thing I found with the mud guards you could buy was that they were either too free ride or commuter orientated. They were clumsy looking, had an over complicated fastening system, scratched the paint work, were too flimsy, broke easily, weighed too much or were just damn ugly.
Working as a world cup mechanic, I really wanted a purely race orientated guard that was minimal, simple to apply, looked good enough for a racer to be happy with it on their bike and also work efficiently. They had to be light, flexible and strong enough to be able to withstand being pressure washed 10 times a day, unobtrusive and most importantly, aerodynamic.
Fitting took less than a minute.
The basic shape came from a mud guard I had been given in the USA that was made out of a piece of chopping board. I bolted it on my bike when I got home, put the bike in the stand, ran the hose on the spinning front wheel and took some videos of the spray direction.
From these videos I worked out exactly where the guard material had to be and I then added and removed material to the guard until it looked and worked in a way I was happy with.
It was also important for the guard to be fastened using cable ties as we needed to be able to remove and refit the guards quickly and easily. I did not want any o-rings or hook and loop (velcro) fastening systems. They look like they might scratch the paint and could come loose easily and if they got clogged with mud, would stop working. Cable ties are part of a World Cup mechanics tool box, fast, easy to use and look tidy.
I wanted to be able to keep a couple in the back of my tool box and in the wheel bag I took to the top of the hill so I could fit and remove them quickly depending on the weather.
The guard had to fit well on each type of DH fork that racers used whilst keeping it's low profile aerodynamic stance. It was tried with the 3 main DH forks and mounting points and I slight shape alterations were made until I was happy with the way it worked on each fork.
Once I had my shape, the next job was to find the material.The first prototypes were solid and robust but they were a bit too heavy for my liking at 32 grams so a lighter material was sourced for the next prototype.
I called on my good friend Tony, he is a creative director and I knew he had worked on various projects where he had sourced specific materials. So together we made the next generation out of a lighter material - these ones weighed in at 15 grams, held good shape but they broke too easily and didn't get along very well with the pressure washer.
After a a fair bit of research, we found the material that we have now and, as a bonus it is made out of recycled materials and recyclable itself. We again made some shape alterations to accommodate this final material. The MarshGuard now weighs in at a respectable 21 grams (without cable ties).
Tony designed the logo and made a computer generated template for the final design and found someone to make them for us. We managed to get some produced just in time for Fort William, they were actually delivered to our pit area at about midday on Saturday.
I gave them out to a few of the other mechanics and racers on the Saturday for them to test and get their feedback on, some of them put them on their bikes straight away as they liked them and some of them looked a bit confused as it was so hot and dusty, but they took them anyway.
No one was really prepared for the rain on race day and I was pretty happy to see pretty much every guard I had handed out on the pros bikes for practice. They were all pretty impressed on how well it worked and I had other riders coming up and asking where theirs were". Now for the magic!
Up at Fort William we tried this on over a dozen bikes rear ends and everyone would have seen the Marsh Guard fit in there nicely. Helping to stop the muck from getting into the linkages and rear shock unit.
Two for the price of one?
The Marsh Guard may even fit into rear triangle.
The Marsh Guards were on both the winning bikes that day, half the top 20 mens riders and 3 of the top 10 women were running them at Fort William. Some will say ten bucks is way too much for a piece of plastic when an old inner tube will easily do the job. When you have spent thousands on your ride why scrimp on your mud guard? The Marsh Guard does exactly what it says on the tin, it stops the mud flicking up from your front wheel, is super light and easy to install/remove, fits onto nearly every fork (except Cannondale Lefties and Upside down forks), it's aerodynamics and the real winner is the cheap price. If it's good enough for World Cup racers, then it's good enough for you and me..
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