Maybe I'm coming at this from the wrong angle, but to my thinking, all those guards around the rear tyre just decrease mud clearance and are likely to lead to clogging earlier than on a bike without them, I'm looking specifically at the black guard thats wrapping round the tyre at the bottom bracket. And the 'chain choobz' just add weight surely? If the reason for keeping mud off the chain is to help it to seat on a muddy cassette, how necessary are they on a bike with no cassette?
This bike is an experiment the results of which will hopefully feed into the next generation of Clelands. It is "work in progress" and so far from perfect. However the Mudguards sit outside of the frame and forks and so do not reduce the frame clearances. However, this bike doesn't have anything like the 2" of mud clearance found on my 1988 Highpath made Cleland. Another feature is that the NRS' mudguards move with the suspension so they always remain as close as is practical to the wheels.
The chain choobz weigh virtually nothing though the smaller they are the less mud can stick to them. The function of the chain choobz is to maintain the efficiency and reliability of the drive train and not just a cassette, if fitted. And also to reduce maintenance.
In over 20 years of off road riding in all conditions, I can honestly say that I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that its been so muddy and I've been riding so slowly that my drivetrain has ceased working due to clogging.A/ we have lots of marl around here (a mixture of clay and chalk) which gets mixed into with standing water by the many horses to form a quagmire.
B/We ride in all weathers and all seasons.
C/ Because the bikes are not damaged by mud we actively seek out the best muddy bits.
D/ We share some of the local trails with 4wds and tractors so "wheel rut
riding is commonplace.
I do appreciate the history behind these bikes and the work that goes into them, but I can't help but think that they're a solution looking for a problem.
For fair weather riding you are correct, as much of the extra stuff is not needed including the frame clearances. Though in the UK, it can get very muddy even in the summer.
But in the winter the bikes need very little maintenance. Geoff Apps recently spent a week riding in Devon. He took no tools, not even a pump, did no maintenance despite keeping the bike outdoors in all weathers. In his opinion maintenance and repair means wasted riding time. My 1988 Highpath made Cleland is still running all its original bearings, has been heavily used and abused, and only gets cleaned once a year. Its rear brake shoes are original and the front have only been replaced once. Highpath say that one set of shoes will last for 20,000 miles.
The Clelands are off-road touring bikes intended to get you there and back whatever the trail conditions or weather.
This could be a week of winter touring. They will keep the mud off the rider so that you arrive at the bed and breakfast in a presentable state and will not let you down in subzero temperatures when you have four hours of night-riding to the destination.
It would be foolish to use my carbon fibre Giant NRS in such conditions. but even if I did get to the destination the repair bill could be considerable.
Having said all this, I did feel that despite being made in Guildford, my Highpath seemed somewhat out of place in the bone dry conditions of the recent Leith Hill RetroBike Ride. Overkill: like a expedition spec Landrover Defender in Tesco's car park.