Here is a question about a little problem that confounds anyone purchasing a new bicycle…

hi there levi! another newbie question… what’s this black plastic plate at the center rear wheel? what’s its purpose? how can i take it off? thanks again!

Sincerely,
Mr. Pete Plate

Hi Petey,

That plastic piece that looks like a pie plate is a spoke protector, and it is sometimes called a “dork disc” because serious riders always remove those before riding a new bike. Apparently, shaving your legs and dressing in colorful spandex is cool, but a spoke protector makes you a dork! šŸ˜‰

dork disc spoke protector

The purpose of the spoke protector is to keep the chain from shifting into the spokes and damaging the rear wheel and/or causing you to crash. It is totally unnecessary if the rear derailleur is adjusted properly.

The derailleur would have to be totally out of adjustment to actually shift the chain into the spokes, and if that were to happen, I doubt that thin piece of plastic would help at all. It would probably get torn apart by the chain (which could be good, but it probably won’t save the wheel.)

I suggest removing it. It adds needless weight to your bike, it looks ugly, and it will do more harm than good. While I’ve never seen an accident caused by the plastic spoke protector, I have seen them break. The plastic gets brittle from the weather, and whenever it gets hit, it will crack. If it’s not removed immediately after any damage, sharp plastic pieces could snap off and get stuck in your cassette and jam your chain, or maybe even slice your tire.

(I highly doubt it will break and cause an accident any time soon, but there’s always that slight chance.)

To take it off without risking any damage to your spokes, you will need to remove your cassette, pull the spoke protector off, then reinstall your cassette.

If you need a tutorial for that, check out “How to Replace a Cassette Cluster” or read “How to Replace a Cassette.”

The tools for this job will cost about $25-50 total, though. A bike shop would probably do this for a lower price if you want, or you could use a Dremel or another cutting tool (wire cutters or tin snips, perhaps) to cut it off. But bear in mind, you could damage the wheel if you’re not careful!

I would avoid bending and snapping it, since that could put too much force on your spokes.

So here’s what I would do:

1. See if the shop where you purchased the bicycle would remove the spoke protector for free. (Just keep in mind, they had to install it to avoid breaking the law.)

2. Wait until you need a new cassette and just have the spoke protector removed at that point.

3. Buy the necessary tools for cassette removal, because then you can remove the spoke protector safely, and when you need to replace the cassette or switch wheels, you can do it yourself and save some money in the long run.

4. If it’s really an eye sore, cut that thing off!

Or you could forget about it and go for a ride. The choice is yours!

9 Comments
  1. I hate the thing. It’s so aesthetically unpleasing. My new Cannondale came with one. Made sure it wasn’t on my new wheelset. Bike shop charged me $5.00 to remove it.

  2. how can i tighten my loose plastic spoke protector on my rear wheel?

  3. @Todd

    If the spoke protector came loose, chances are that a piece of it broke off. In that case, you’d have to install a new one.

    Although I’d still recommend removing it. (Especially if it gets too loose, in which case it could cause drivetrain damage or a crash.)

  4. …just waited for mine to get old and brittle and crack by itself, then it’s easier to break off without damaging the spokes.

  5. I just cracked my with my bare hands and removed it, spokes will get more damage from having it and all the friction since it’s loosely placed.

  6. So halfway through an 8 mile single track loop, the dork disc on my mountain bike apparently fractured and then part of it went into the rear derailleur, jamming it up with the chain, twisting and then sheering the derailleur off. “Luckily”, this happened at the furthest point from the trailhead… so I got to walk a dead bike out 4 miles…
    My advice: Remove it, cut it, burn it, bury it and spread salt over the grave so that nothing ever grows there again.

  7. @Jay

    Great advice! šŸ™‚

  8. can i just glue the dork disc to the spoke as the clip has broke of on my specialized sirrus bike

    regards
    dez

  9. So glad I found this post. My comment here is 4 years after OP, but this piece of plastic broke today on a ride and made god-awful noise as the wheel turned. I had no idea what the darn thing was for. Iā€™m just going to cut it off and call it a day. Thanks

Leave a Reply