Have you noticed a plastic disc between your bikes gears and the spokes? Well, that’s a dork disc, also known as a pie plate or a spoke protector. But you will hear some bike owners ask, “Is a dork disc necessary?”
The dork disc is necessary as it prevents the chain from reaching the spokes if the chain drops. Actually, the main function of the spoke guard is to hold the chain back from the spokes. In addition, the disc also helps to keep disc brakes free of oil and other forms of dirt coming from the chain and the cassette.
All the same, most elite riders don’t use the pie plate on their bikes. They say it looks rooky and adds unnecessary weight to the bike.
What Can Make The Chain Drop Between The Spokes And The Gears?
A chain drop can be devastating if the chain finds its way to your wheel’s spokes. Actually, you may end up with the spokes on the drive side of the wheel completely shred.
But what can make the chain get into contact with the spokes? Here are some causes.
1. Wrong Derailleur Alignment
If your derailleur is misaligned, it will pull the chain sideways. If the misalignment is big enough, it can lead to an involuntary shift of gears. This is known as gear slipping.
Generally, when the limit screws are wrongly set, the derailleur may shift past the biggest cog in the cassette. This would drop the chain between the gears and the spokes.
2. Smacked Derailleur
When riding off-road, objects like rocks and branches may knock your derailleur out of place. Worst still, this could bend or break the derailleur’s hanger.
As a result, the chain would slip and fall between the spokes and the cogs. If you were at high speed and didn’t have a dork disc, the damage to your wheel would be enormous.
To reduce chances of such disasters happening, you can look at this article on why you need a derailleur guard and get one today.
3. A Jump or Landing
Again, if you are that rider who frequently take the rugged to terrains, this phenomenon may not be new to you. There are times you take sudden jumps and touchdowns, even when at high speeds.
In such a situation, if you were riding on a low gear (big cog), the chain can jump out of line and get stuck between the cog and the spokes.
The only way to stay safe in such terrain is to have your dork disc on all the time. If your bike doesn’t have one, you can buy a replacement pie plate like the SUNLITE Cassette Spoke Protector, made of clear plastic and weighs 4 ounces only.
Do I Need a Dork Disk? (Is a Dork Disc Necessary?)
Although many pro riders usually remove the dork disc, it is designed to stay on the bike as a barrier for the unfortunate may happen. As the saying goes, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Those who designed your bike put that little plastic disk there for a reason. They knew it was essential. Why would you doubt the judgement of the people who put together all the parts of your bike?
If they thought having it on was prudent, they are most likely right about it.
Back to the question, is a dork disc necessary? Yes, it is essential to have it on. The discussion above shows that a chain drop may happen when you least expect it.
Therefore, you need to be ready for eventualities by keeping the disc installed.
In addition to acting as a barrier, the spoke protector also prevents dirt from the chain or the cassette from reaching the brake rotor or pads.
Most importantly, it saves you the pain of prematurely finishing your trip and footing a hefty bill to repair damaged wheels and replacing the rear derailleur.
Furthermore, why risk spending over $1000 fixing a broken wheel and derailleur, when a small disc that costs less than $10 can save the situation?
In case you want to buy a decent dork disk, you may consider the SHIMANO CP-FH53 Spoke Guard, which is suitable even for a bike with disc brakes.
Why Some Cyclists Remove The Dork Disk?
Some bike owners remove the pie plate the moment they get home with their new bike. So, why do they do so yet we have found the disc is so important?
Well, there are various reasons as to why some bikers remove spoke protectors. All the same, the most common reasons include:
1. The Guards Get Noisy
With time, the spoke protectors get loose and wobbly. Consequently, this leads to a rattily noise coming from the rear wheel.
Most riders prefer their bikes to be as quiet as possible. Therefore, after some time, you find some cyclist remove the dork disc to keep the cycle quiet.
2. Accumulates Mud
Notably, the pie plate makes cleaning the area next to the cassette a bit harder. As a result, mud and other trail debris may pile up. The mud, in return, dirties the cassette.
Also, when dirt gets between the spokes and the spoke guard, grit acts like sandpaper, wearing the spokes out slowly but persistently.
Mostly, this is a problem experienced by touring cyclists and mountain bikers.
As such, most riders find the mud effect to be too much to bear. To solve this problem, clean the wheel regularly and replace the guard when necessary.
3. They Have an Anti-Pro Look
To most cyclists who remove the dork disc from their bikes, they perceive it to be a symbol of inexperience. They associate the accessory with rookies or careless bikers.
Since these riders want to avoid ridicule from colleagues and guard their pro status, they skip the disk.
4. Adds Extra Weight
Most long-distance cyclists like their bikes being as light as possible. Actually, they avoid extra weights to their cycles as a plague. Surprisingly, most spoke guards weigh less than 100 grams.
Someone who rides leisurely for short distances may not notice the effect of adding 100 or so grams on their bike. But, for road race cyclists, that is 100g too much.
All the same, you can get significantly light dork discs, such as the Shimano Bicycle Chain/Spoke Protector, which weighs 1.6 ounces only.
Also read: Can you ride a bike with a broken spoke?
At the start, our question was whether a spoke guard is necessary. After reading this far, what do you think? Is a dork disc necessary? It’s our hope that we have convinced you to keep that disc on.
Leave alone what others think; fathom about the risk you take by not having a pie disk and the cost of repairing a damaged wheel.
Even when you are an experienced bike mechanic, you can never immune to error when it comes to derailleur settings. Also, accidents happen, and it’s never in anyone’s plan. So, drop the “pro” ego and leave the pie disc on.