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Are plastic spoke protectors necessary?

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Are plastic spoke protectors necessary?

Old 03-29-09, 10:32 PM
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bragi
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Are plastic spoke protectors necessary?

I recently got my bike back from the LBS, and noticed that they'd removed the plastic disk that separates the cassette from the spokes; I think it's called a spoke protector, or "dork disk." I'm considering putting a new one back on, but am wondering if it's even necessary. I'd hate for my chain to jump off the cassette and wreak havoc on my spokes, but in my entire life I've never experienced such a thing, nor have I ever known anyone that experienced it. I'm pretty good about keeping my bike well maintained, so I doubt it would ever happen, but then again, what's the harm in having a dork disk, just in case?

What do you think?
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Old 03-29-09, 10:35 PM
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Took mine off when i changed cassettes recently. Just looking for an excuse to buy new wheels is all.
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Old 03-29-09, 10:52 PM
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It adds a little weight, and can yellow with the years.... not a significant problem but I wouldn't bother keeping it on.


I guess it keeps twigs and things caught in your chain from going through the spokes and jamming the hub or something? I don't know.... I really can't imagine how it would do much to protect the spokes at all.
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Old 03-29-09, 10:54 PM
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IF you're capable of making sure the derailleur-hanger is in correct alignment (LBS has the tool - one would cost you $70), and you keep the limit-screws in their proper adjustment - they are there to prevent your chain from being shifted, along with the rear-derailleur, either into the spokes or onto the chainstay - then you're good-to-go dorkless/diskless.

Unsure? Check these out for guidance:

http://bicycletutor.com/adjust-rear-derailleur/

and...

http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=64

Once the LBS gives your derailleur-hanger's alignment a clean bill of health - or puts it right (simple operation), then your good-to-go and you need not do that again unless your bicycle falls over in the derailleur-side. Or you have some other impact in that region.

Tally Ho!
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Old 03-30-09, 01:51 AM
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A well maintained bike will not need it. As for twigs and branches, most of the issues of that nature I've seen or heard of will still happen with or without the disk.
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Old 03-30-09, 04:15 AM
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Dont bother, just rattles and looks ugly. And they don't *really* work anyway, no guarantee to save spokes if the chain drops in there.
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Old 03-30-09, 06:20 AM
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Cannondale recalled a batch of bikes about two weeks ago, because they were missing those spoke protectors. I'm assuming that manufacturers are required by the CPSC to install them, but I'd be surprised if you were legally required to keep it on your bike.

As for your LBS, they really ought to check with their lawyers, if they haven't already. It's one thing to remove it at your request, but removing it without consulting you is likely to open them to all sorts of unnecessary liability risks.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:41 AM
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1. I think that these fall into the category of those tags you see on a matress that say "not to be removed except by consumer" they have to be there, but they don't really need to be.

2. I do know that they make a difference. I was at my LBS Saturday and my wheel guy was replacing the entiety of a drive side spoke set (one spoke at a time) in a set of Kyserium wheels. The owner had dumped the chain in between the casette and spokes and had dinged up every spoke on the drive side.

But if you keep your bike properly adjusted this is a non issue.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:47 AM
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I've never spilled a chain into the spokes and have removed or never fitted these disks to most of my bikes.

I do have one on my "rain/beater bike" since it's ridden almost exclusively in bad weather and sloppy road conditions so the drivetrain takes a real beating. If any of my bikes is likely to go out of adjustment, this is the one.
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Old 03-30-09, 11:12 AM
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I've had it happen Twice on wheels equipped with spoke protectors. Both times the protectors did their job. Debris can knock the chain into the spokes. It's not just a drivetrain adjustment issue. Not all my rear wheels have them, but; I don't remove them if a wheel comes with one and I've fitted them to some wheels that did not.
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Old 03-30-09, 12:02 PM
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I've dropped my chain into the spokes only once, and that was on my commuter bike which I keep outside. It has indexed shifting and I thought it was in adjustment, but I guess not good enough adjustment. So I keep a spoke protector on that bike now, as well as on my bikes that I keep in Michigan and in California, because I can't service a wheel easily if I do happen to mess up in either case. I don't keep a spoke protector on any of the other bikes that I own though.
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Old 03-30-09, 12:31 PM
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I put my chain into the spokes once on my MTB after a minor spill which slightly tweaked the RD hanger. I didn't notice it and the bike shifted fine until I went to use the largest rear cog. Luckily, I felt the shift miss and stopped pedaling immediately. I tweaked the hanger back into place by hand and continued my ride.

Note to self: check derailler hanger after any spill before continuing ride.
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Old 03-30-09, 07:33 PM
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I have them on most of my bikes. I also sometimes wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. The racer wannabes don't use them, as they are not "cool". I'm a Fred, so saving the spokes and derailer is more important to me.
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Old 03-30-09, 07:45 PM
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I always had one on my bike. The first day I took mine off, some debris caused the chain to get thrown off the cassette and wrap up between the cassette and spokes. 4 spokes had to be cut/replaced, and the wheel seriously retrued. I put one back on. Best $3 I spent (It cost a lot more to have the spokes replaced and wheel trued)

Most people don't like them, but I think they're great!
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Old 03-30-09, 08:00 PM
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The one & only time I let someone else play with my brand-new Titanium Huret Duopar - back in 1983 - I was distracted and rode off without checking for sabotage. I get to where I'm going and ask my friend (not the saboteur) to watch my bike while I ducked into a store. When I came back, my friend said; "You're gonna kill me!" I looked. The new Duopar was a mangled, dangling ghost of it's former glory. And every spoke on the drive-side bore a scar. Needless to say, I didn't have a spoke-protector disk. I didn't need one. But due to the sabotage of another - I wished I'd had one that day.

I glared at my guilty-looking friend; "Oh I'm gonna kill you. But first I'm gonna bill you." He paid me full value. But the Titanium Duopar were gone from my area for keeps. I had to settle for the eco-Duopar.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:08 PM
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They serve no purpose whatsoever.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:15 PM
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dork-disk? I haven't heard anything from anyone about the one my wheel has.
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Old 03-30-09, 11:04 PM
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Thank you, everyone. The message I come away with is this: spoke protectors are probably never going to be needed, but they can't hurt, and, on rare occasions, they will save you from an expensive repair. I think I'm going to ride my bike as-is, until I need to replace the cassette, at which time I'll get another plastic disk. And I'll find another LBS to do the work I'm not willing to do myself.

I do think the bike looks better without it, though.
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Old 03-31-09, 08:43 AM
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Haven't used one since 1971. Put my derailleur into the spokes just once, in a race, after I crashed on it--knew it was bent but forgot at the bottom of the last hill.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:29 AM
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I also haven't had one in about 30 years, but when I think about them rationally, I think they are useful. It's true that a properly maintained bike shouldn't need one, but no one always rides a properly maintained bike. You could bend your derailleur hanger without knowing it. I have run my derailleur into my spokes MANY times. I have the reflexes to know what's happening and stop pedaling immediately, so I haven't damaged my spokes. Joe Typical Rider doesn't, so the disk is more important for him.

I agree they look dorky, but they are far from useless. I still take my chances, but I can't honestly recommend that people take them off, and I can't blame anyone for wanting one.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
The one & only time I let someone else play with my brand-new Titanium Huret Duopar - back in 1983 - I was distracted and rode off without checking for sabotage.
Hmmm, there is a message here but I'm not sure exactly what it is.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:44 AM
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The disks will protect the spokes from a chain that spills to the inside of the cassette or freewheel cogs but it won't help if what hits the spokes is the rear derailleur body, cage or lower pulley.

In a crash that bends the derailleur hanger or damages the derailleur itself, often the culprit is the lower part of the rear derailleur's cage and no disk is large enough to protect against that.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:47 AM
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...which means that a disk still protects against some types of damage. It's still not useless.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Hmmm, there is a message here but I'm not sure exactly what it is.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
The disks will protect the spokes from a chain that spills to the inside of the cassette or freewheel cogs but it won't help if what hits the spokes is the rear derailleur body, cage or lower pulley.

In a crash that bends the derailleur hanger or damages the derailleur itself, often the culprit is the lower part of the rear derailleur's cage and no disk is large enough to protect against that.
Sounds like there could be a market for an extra-large, extra-dorky plastic spoke protector disk.
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