The Nerdiest Bike Accessory Revealed

from Rookie’s keyboard

Hello, friends

Today, I am going to present to you in great detail the dorkiest bike accessory known to mankind. 

Can you guess what it is? Wait for it…

It’s the DORK disc (DD) also known as – spoke protector, spoke guard, pie plate…rookie ring…etc.

What is this in the first place? 

The DD is the plastic unit that you find between the largest cog of the cassette (or freewheel) and the spokes of the rear wheel.

In 99% of the cases, this accessory is found on low-end bicycles with entry-level specifications. 

Most rookies rarely notice it, but some wonder why it’s there and what’s its function.

The DD’s role is to stop the chain from going into the spokes in case of a technical failure (e.g., a broken or poorly adjusted derailleur).

The DD is also helpful when there is slight but persistent contact between the spokes and the chain due to improperly set limit screws.

Over time that slight contact will eat the spokes at the location where they’re stressed the most.

The outcome? A broken wheel and whatever else you can imagine with it. 

So, one may be tempted to conclude that the DD is some insanely useful accessory. But that’s the case only when the derailleur is not calibrated properly or simply sucks – the case for many bicycles sold at convenience stores next to cans of paint, construction lumber, and flowers. 

Derailleurs have limit screws labeled as L (low) and H (high) that limit the inward (toward the frame) and outward (away from the frame) amplitude of the derailleur’s cage.

In this case, we are focused on the L-screw as it prevents the derailleur from throwing the chain into the spokes. Ideally, the L-screw will be adjusted so that the derailleur can gently place the chain on the largest cog (the chain will be centered) without permitting any contact with the spokes. 

And as I said, even slight contact is problematic in the long run as it damages the spokes. If you can hear a rhythmic “spring sound” coming from the rear wheel, chances are that it’s the chain “playing music” on your spokes and shortening their lifespan. 

But if the L-screw is set correctly, those outcomes are limited to the point where you can throw the dork disc away. And this is what most people do. Good luck seeing one on a dedicated cyclist. 

The “cool” style of DDs

There is only one exception that I could think of – classic steel bikes. In the past, the DD was made of chromed steel and was a lot more aesthetic. Sometimes the maker would even cut out their initials or the name of the company on the DD. 

In other words, this version of DD was aesthetically pleasing and arguably complimented the bike. And for that reason, the owners of similar bicycles kept theirs. 

Additional Downsides

Besides dorky looks, DDs have other shortcomings such as:

  • Spoke Damage Due To Dirt Accumulation

Somewhat ironically, the spoke protector could sometimes damage the spokes if it gets very dirty – not uncommon due to its proximity to the cassette. 

When that happens, the dirt gets between the guard and the spokes. And since the spokes flex slightly when you ride, their movement creates friction against the protector. And if the DD is dirty, the dirt could act as soft but persistent sandpaper thinning out the spokes.

  • Cheaply made

Most spoke protectors are made of the cheapest plastic on the planet and have no resistance to sunlight. 

As a result, the DD degrades fast and starts to chip off at the ends. It often makes an annoying rattling sound.

  • Mud Magnet

Spoke protectors have to be larger than the largest cog (first gear) on your cassette. And that makes them pretty large and also a mud magnet. And most of the accumulation happens in an area that’s hard to clean. 

  • Jam

If a spoke protector disintegrates, it can jam the cassette or freewheel. The outcome will be the weird behavior of the rear derailleur and chain, and in unlucky cases, a fall may take place.

Inspect your DD when you clean the bike. If it’s loose, replace or remove it to avoid issues down the line.

  • Extra Weight 

I am not a weight weenie, but many people are. A dork disc weighs 50 grams at most when it’s made of plastic. It’s practically nothing, but it’s extra weight that some people would like to eliminate.

  • The Noob Look

Good luck finding a pro with a dork disc on their bike. They’d rather go outside and ride their bike naked than be seen with a similar noob accessory. No joke.

Modern“Dork Discs?”

Let’s be real here. Demand dictates everything. And since there is low demand for DDs, producers don’t do a lot of R&D (research and development). 

Thus, you won’t be able to find “high-end” DDs, maybe outside of the metal protectors that are often used for their looks rather than their function.

Besides those, there’s a dorc disc called DH Block by OneUp components that has a second feature too – it acts as a spacer when converting a 10-speed cassette into a 7-speed “downhill-specific” cassette. The spacer replaces the last three gears and operates as a spoke guard too. 

But other than that, good luck finding a manufacturer who cares about DDs. 


You would have to take off the rear wheel and then untighten the cassette or the freewheel to install or remove your rookie ring the right way. 

But if you don’t care about keeping it for further use, and it’s made of plastic, you can also use strong and long scissors to break the spoke protector and remove it without additional disassembly.






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