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When riding on trails, your dirt bike is bound to get hit by rocks, sticks, and other debris.
Protecting the brake discs on your dirt bike is one step further for making sure your riding day will go smoothly and you don’t need to cut it short.
Next, we will tell you everything you need to know about brake disc covers and why you should consider installing them on your dirt bike.
What Is a Brake Disc Cover?
A brake disc cover, also called a brake disc guard or a rotor guard, is a cover that is mounted over the brake disc or rotor at the front and rear of a dirt bike. It protects the brake disc by keeping rocks, sticks, stumps, and other debris from damaging it or becoming tangled in the brake disc. In addition, it prevents the brake disc from getting bent or broken after an impact or a crash.
The main task of a brake disc cover is to cover the brake rotor and deflect debris, thus ensuring an even and effective stopping power. If the brake disc cover wouldn’t be keeping mud and small rocks off the disc, caliper, and brake pads they would also show wear much quicker.
The brake discs on dirt bikes are lightweight and prone to bending—sometimes very easily. If your bike doesn’t have any protection, consider adding brake disc covers for lowering the risk of bending the brake discs.
Different Types of Brake Disc Covers and Guards
There are two types of brake disc covers: front disc covers and rear disc covers. As their names suggest, the former protects the front brake rotor and the latter the rear brake rotor.
Depending on your riding style, you can install both disc covers on your dirt bike or only the front or the rear one.
Usually, the front disc is more prone to bending. So, if you need to choose only one, we recommend buying the front brake disc guard. The front brake disc cover also provides protection to the lower forks.
When choosing which type of brake disc cover to get, these are the main factors to consider:
- Installation method
More importantly, you need to reflect these factors based on your riding style and the conditions you ride in.
Design-wise some brake disc covers provide a better coverage than others.
In addition to the brake disc or the brake rotor, some disc covers may also protect the lower fork and axle connections as well as the brake caliper. If you mostly ride in a terrain with boulders, you may want to opt for a better coverage.
On the other hand, if the front axle nut is covered by the brake disc cover, it can make quick front wheel changes a hassle in racing conditions. So you may want to consider also this aspect if you are attending races in addition to riding on trails.
Brake disc covers mount over the brake rotor, so it is understandable that they can affect the air flow and the brake rotor heating. For that reason, most of the brake disc covers are designed with a ventilation that keeps the brake rotor cool in all conditions.
The vented design usually solves the problem and the brakes never really overheat from the guards. It’s usually other aspects that reduce cooling more. For example, if you ride in muddy conditions, actually the vented rotors can be causing issues as those holes hold the mud and wear your brakes out so much faster and that is where a lot of heat comes from.
On the downside, twigs and weeds along with mud with a certain type of consistency can sometimes get trapped in the ventilation holes. Some riders have reported finding it frustrating to have to pull the stuff out after the ride is over. Then again, you still have to wash you bike anyway and having to fix the brake rotors is far more frustrating.
The installation of a brake disc cover is usually pretty straightforward and a job that you can easily do by yourself. However, there can be some differences in the installation methods between the manufacturers.
Some might require removing the front wheel, whereas other might only include removing the old spacer and replacing it with a new mounting bracket.
The mounting bracket often comes with the brake disc cover but sometimes you need to purchase a mounting kit separately. So make sure to check if it’s included in the one you decide to get.
If you are a racer and need to change tires in racing conditions, a brake disc cover that allows an easy removal of the wheel is probably the best choice for you.
Brake disc covers are not only for protection—they are also for the looks.
Your bike may already have a stock guard installed but the aftermarket ones usually look much cooler. That being said, a brake disc cover is an easy way to add a little extra something to your dirt bike.
Most manufacturers have multiple colors to choose from so that you can color-coordinate the brake disc cover with the color of the fenders or the graphics. Only the sky is limit!
Last but not least, let’s address probably the most important factor: the material used in brake disc covers.
Brake disc covers are usually made of plastic, carbon fiber, or aluminum. The conditions you ride in pretty much determines which material you should go with.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these materials next.
Plastic Brake Disc Covers
Plastic brake disc covers are one of the most light weight solutions out there. In addition, they are the least expensive options available.
Brake disc covers made of plastic are a good option especially for the front brake that gets the most hits. They keep the brake rotor cleaner compared to not wearing any. And they help as a deflection more than anything.
However, larger rocks can wipe a plastic cover out due to their light construction. Also, remember to make sure that the plastic is not flimsy and it doesn’t fail you on the first obstacle.
Plastic brake disc covers seem to be a short-lived goods among the riders who ride the gnarly terrain. However, it’s better—and cheaper—to destroy a brake disc cover than the brake disc itself.
Acerbis has a great selection of front disc covers made of plastic. Their prices range from $32 to $65 depending on whether the mount is included or not. Click to check the selection and current prices on MotoSport.com.
Carbon Fiber Brake Disc Covers
Carbon fiber is super tough. So it provides a better protection for your brake discs against rocks, obstacles, and other dirt bikes that you may encounter on the trail or on the race track.
Carbon fiber brake disc covers are durable and also lightweight. They do not bend or get dented as easily as the plastic versions.
The lack of flexibility can sometimes also be a disadvantage and hard objects or a simple drop have reported to break the carbon fiber brake disc covers.
P3 has some great carbon fibre options to protect both the front and rear brake rotors. The prices range from $99 to $339. Click to check the selection and current prices on MotoSport.com.
Aluminum Brake Disc Covers
Aluminum brake disc covers are more robust, which means they can take harder hits and more beating.
Nowadays, also the aluminum versions are lightweight so that shouldn’t be an issue.
There is one downside though compared to plastic and aluminum brake disc covers: the aluminum ones do make more noise. Some riders can find the rattle annoying.
In our opinion, aluminum brake disc covers are a great choice especially for enduro and hard enduro riders and racers. They are least likely to bend and if they do, you should be able to bring it back into shape.
Aluminum brake disc covers work great also if you ride in wet conditions with a lot of creek or river crossings or waterfall climbs as they save the forks in the process too.
Bullet Proof Designs has the best aluminum covers for both the front and rear rotors. The prices ranges from $119 to $139. Click to check the selection and current prices on MotoSport.com.
Do I Need Brake Disc Covers on My Dirt Bike?
There are mainly two factors that affect whether you need brake disc covers on your dirt bike or not.
The first factor is the conditions you ride in and the second factor the type or level of riding you do.
We recommend brake disc covers for your dirt bike especially if you
- ride on a terrain with boulders
- ride in muddy conditions
- are a beginner rider
- practice hard enduro
- are a hard enduro racer
In general, it is much cheaper to protect the brake rotors than replace them. Brake disc covers can also take a beating so you don’t need to worry about replacing them after the first hit. In most cases, you can bend it back and just like that you are ready for the next battle.
If you ride in boulders or in muddy or desert conditions, brake disc covers make a big difference and any guard is basically better than nothing.
For someone who rides in dirt and rocks, brake disc covers are really nice and handy. They protect the rotor from unnecessary damage not to mention they look pretty cool.
One of the tasks of a brake disc cover is to keep sticks and other debris from getting tangled in the brake rotor. However, if you mostly ride through fields of straw and worry about stuff getting stuck in vents and different places, you can just opt out from getting one.
For a normal trail rider who has been riding for a while, damaging the front disc is not necessarily too common but it does happen.
Then there are riders to whom this seems to be a reoccurring problem that needs to be addressed thanks to their riding style. Not to mention the hard enduro riders that are always looking for more difficult terrain to conquer.
We recommend the brake disc covers especially for beginners who are still mostly training and who are more likely to drop their bike in the more technical sections. Usually, the front brake disc is more likely to bend with beginners, so at least consider protecting it.
Also hard enduro racers are most likely to benefit from guarding the brake rotors with the brake disc covers. In the heat of the race, the last thing you want to worry about is bending or breaking your brake rotors. We recommend plastic up front and aluminum out back.
Whether you go with plastic, carbon fiber, or aluminum brake disc covers, that depends on your personal preference, which in turn depends on where you are located and what conditions you ride in.
Our Brake Disc Cover Recommendations
For beginners, we recommend a less expensive plastic style front brake disc cover and a heavier, more robust design for the protection of the rear brake disc.
Our choice for the front brake disc protection is the Acerbis X-Brake Vented Front Disc Cover (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com). This brake disc cover is made of durable polypropylene and it features a carbon fiber like texture. It features an ample venting and provides protection also to the brake caliper. There are several cool color options to choose from. Please note that the installation requires a bike-specific aluminum X-Brake mounting kit that is sold separately.
For the rear brake disc protection, we recommend the KTM PowerParts Rear Brake Disc Guard (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com). It is a high-quality billet aluminum brake disc guard that has a replaceable lower fin. If your dirt bike is not a KTM, we recommend the same rear brake disc cover as for the hard enduro riders.
For hard enduro riders and racers, we recommend the front and rear brake disc covers from Bullet Proof Designs that are made in the USA. They are made of lightweight and durable billet aluminum and they are easy to install. There are multiple colors with and anodized finish available to match your bike.
Bullet Proof Designs Front Disc Guard (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) protects also the lower fork lug while still making it possible to adjust the compression or rebound fork through the access hole on the bottom of the guard.
Bullet Proof Designs Rear Disc Guard (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) has a one-piece design that offers added protection. It can be paired with Bullet Proof Design’s rear brake caliper guard.
Brake disc covers are an effective way to protect the brake discs as they save the brake rotors from rocks and roost and getting bent. They will also last long and save you money when you don’t need to replace the brake rotor itself.
Whether you should get brake disc covers on your dirt bike depends on the type of riding you do and the conditions you ride in.
If you ride in boulders or in muddy conditions and if you are a beginner or hard enduro rider or racer, we recommend that you protect the front and rear brake discs.
Protect your dirt bike and hit the trails!
Last updated: May 2, 2022