The circular, see-through plastic disc on the back wheel of a bike is a spoke guard – also called a dork disc.

It’s mounted between a bike’s cassette and the spokes. And its job is to prevent the chain from falling off the cassette and into the spokes.

If that happens, the rear wheel may lock up and the spokes and chain would get damaged.

However, it’s not really necessary and not the prettiest thing to look at. I certainly remove it from all my bikes because I just hate the way it looks (and often rattles).

bicycle spoke guard dork disc
The plastic disc next to the cassette has many names from spoke guard to dork disc.

Is it really necessary?

A spoke guard stops the bike chain from falling off the cassette and getting caught in the spokes. Damage to the wheel, chain, cassette and crashes due to wheel lock can be the result.

With correct shifter limits (to prevent overshifting), this doesn’t happen. So, a dork disc is only really useful when gears are set up incorrectly.

It doesn’t solve the root problem of lacking maintenance.

Or when the chain bounces around on uneven terrain. But modern mountain bikes hardly ever drop the chain due to shifter clutches, that maintain chain tension on rough trails.

bicycle cassette no dork disc
There is space between the largest cog on a cassette and the spokes. But a well-maintained bike will not drop the chain there.

Why it’s called dork disc

There’s a hint in the nickname “dork disc” it got from the cycling community.)

Bikes of all price ranges ship out with these things. Strangely enough, bicycles you see out on the streets and trails rarely have that component still on. Weird, right?

Because most riders don’t want their bike’s looks ruined by this plastic disc and it’s so easy to remove, you rarely see it on bikes that are actually used.

It’s a bike enthusiast’s pet peeve. Bike spoke guards got nicknamed “dork discs” because generally, only inexperienced riders leave them on. Or those who simply do not care about the looks.

They’re not really doing much and on top of that also look bad aesthetically.

Totally snobbish thinking, I agree.

mountain bike locking rear wheel
Skidding the rear wheel is fun when done on purpose, but not so much when it happens by surprise due to a locked wheel.

Pros and cons of removing

There are more reasons for removing a spoke guard than for using it. It’s only marginally useful but can be irritatingly loud while riding when it’s even a little loose and looks unpleasant.

In the end, removing the dork disc isn’t necessary but a personal preference.

It can definitely help make your bike quieter when removing unnecessary components. And here’s how you do it.

How to remove

Removing a dork disc is a process that can be completed easily with a few basic tools.

Each method will be easier if you remove the rear wheel. So be sure you know how to do that and reinstall it properly. Here are the three main methods:

1. Unclip spoke guard (only certain kinds)

Some rare discs disassemble into two parts or at least unclip in one spot to be removed easily. You may be able to do this without removing the whole wheel, but it’s easier to work on only the wheel itself.

Even when opened, you’ll find it difficult to remove the disc in a space this tight. Bend or even break it if you want. Or cut it in two halves.

2. Remove the cassette

This is the easiest one for most spoke guards but requires more mechanic skills.

Depending on the cassette and hub, a cassette removal tool or chain whip may be necessary. Many modern mountain bike cassettes come off by just loosening a nut using a standard wrench or Allen key.

The disc comes off easily right after the cassette. Reassemble and install the wheel again. Done.

3. Cut off the disc using a box knife

Now for the brute force method.

There’s always use for sharp knives and a little destruction. It may be difficult to reach the disc with a knife, however.

Best done by reaching through the backside (where the brake is mounted). It’s easy to scratch the cassette, so this method should only be your last resort.

bicycle spoke guard dork disc 1 e1671798860989 edited
This is a single-piece dork disc with only a hole in the middle and no clips attaching it to the spokes (which rattles a lot).

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