Dork disk

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Sunday, October 26, 2008
By Yokota Fritz

Little Fritz got a new mountain bike. Like just about any new dérailleur equipped bicycle, this bicycle comes equipped with a spoke protector, aka a frisbee or "dork disk."

Dork disk

The purpose of the spoke protector is to keep the chain from getting shifted off of the largest cog into the spokes. A properly adjusted dérailleur won't derail the chain into the spokes -- hence the name "dork disk," because presumably dorks don't have properly adjusted dérailleurs.

I'm pretty sure 13 year old boys don't worry too much about the adjustment of their dérailleurs either, in spite of the best efforts of their fathers. I know first hand the damage that can occur when a chain gets shifted into the rear wheel. The damage can easily run into hundreds of dollars.

What do you think? Should I hope and pray my son will always keep his bike well maintained? Or should I prepare for the worst and assume Little Fritz will be about as consistent on his bike maintenance as any other 13 year old?

Should the dork disk stay or should it go?

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I really dislike the 'dork disks' but I remember my own battles with my father over what should and should not be on my bike. I say let him decide what he wants to do.
I have always heard them called "Pie Plates." Whatever the name, they need to go.
I vote "stay." If your son doesn't know the difference, there's no reason to take it off. It's there for a purpose.
What kind of 13 year old deserves XT?

When he's riding pricy stuff that he obviously didn't buy, he should play by your rules and protect the parts.

That being said, what kind of a father doesn't make sure his kid's stuff is adjusted properly?
Keep the pie plate. He's 13 and he possibly can keep it adjusted properly, but probably he's like most 13 year olds and won't. When he's shown he's responsible can take it off.

But really, is it all that terrible on a kid's bike?
Take it off and tell him that the lowest gear is for sissies.
Pie plates don't work any better than the federally-mandated "safety" devices do. They'll protect from some degree of misalignment, but they can be circumvented by any number of common situations, including simply repeated overshifts of a misadjusted derailleur. The disk may wear through or break loose. Stay? Go? "Amputation not necessary. In two week, it fall off."
My roadie (1976 Raleigh Supercourse) had the plate on it when I got it a couple years back and I don't see much reason to remove it "just because". It's not all that obvious except to the overly image-conscious. The time/effort that goes into removing one is better spent elsewhere. I only remove them when they break and start flaking.
If they annoy certain columnists so much, I say leave it on.

After all, it's going to take effort to take it off. And all for the sake of fashion

I've seen a chain come off with one of these things fitted, the disk got ripped to shreds and made it harder to get the chain back out of the wheel.

And it's not just bad adjustment that causes it to come off, bent hangers can cause it too.
Stay. You don't want him to be a fashion victim do you? Otherwise you'd have built him a fixie with no brakes.
If it's his bike, then let him decide what makes him feel best. If it's actually "your" bike, then do what makes you feel best. But, if you take it off, put it away nicely. Points off for a restoration without original "dork disk." Honestly, he's 13. He should learn good maintenance, but I hope he rides it into the ground, not caring what it looks like, knowing what's important is him, not the bike, and loves every minute!
@Sydney: I tried to talk him into a Bianchi Pista with top tube pad, though as a caring father I'd insist on front brake. He wanted the MTB, though. I'm *so* disappointed.

Thanks for the input, all. I especially value the opinions about going for usefulness instead of fashion.

My old mountain bike still has the pie plate on it. :-)
"Death to all Dork Disks"

Completely unnecesary, given the derailleur is adjusted properly, and ugly.
He's a kid, Fritz. Of course he'll abuse the bike. I say leave it in place. If he objects, let him learn how to remove it, and more importantly, let him learn how to keep the derailleur adjusted and aligned. It's almost a given that he'll drop the bike on its right side at least once, perhaps bending the derailleur inward.

Just my $0.02....
Wow! I can't believe no one knows the coolest name for that part ever: the "cosmic ray deflector"!

As a mechanic, I can say that most likely will not make much difference whether it is on or off. However; I will say that it wouldn't hurt in the case of a kid to leave it on. A right side dump, common with kids when they don't use a kickstand, or prop up the bike, will likely bend that hangar inward and you know whaere that will lead!
I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to take it off, but I wouldn't put it back on when you replace the cassette.
I'd say it makes as much sense to give a 13yr old XT as it does to remove a dork disk... might as well keep it consistent! ;)
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