Disc brake rotors are one of those parts in the tool box you can never have to many of. Especially when if you like riding extremely technical trails littered with rocks, roots and stumps that all there trying to take a bite out of your derailleur or rotors. Sometimes it only takes one bad line to put them out of wack, resulting with the dreaded and annoying rubbing noise we’re all too familiar with. So when a fresh set of rotors from Dirty Dog MTB showed at our door I was rather pleased. Even more so when I opened them up and took a much closer look at them.
These designer rotors from Bay Area Company Dirty Dog look fantastic and get a lot of attention with their unique lines. Of the two, the spider pattern is by far my favorite. The subtle lines of a web not only remind me of components a Spider-Man would run on a mountain bike, but are the most subdued. The other rotor features a skull and cross bones, and had a strong pirate theme.
The differences between the two didn’t end there. The construction of the 6″ rotors offered differ from the rest of their offerings. The smaller spider web design is stamped as opposed to laser cut. The larger rotors feature more intricate designs that take significantly longer to produce, and this additional labor is included in the price. We happy to report that not only do these unique pieces look good, but they perform as well.
While they are a few grams heavier than a stock rotor, they add a nice touch to any ride. They bolt on just like any other six bolt rotor, and didn’t have any issues lining up the caliper. Break in time was minimal.
When I was offered the option of rotor sizes, I elected to choose a 7″ and 6″ rotor. My plan was to pair them with Saint calipers for my all mountain set up. How did they work? Unfortunately I ran into a hiccup with my plan off the bat. Dirty Dog offers their 7″ rotor in a 185mm configuration. Having been away from the bike shop trenches for some time now, I forgot about the disparity between rotor sizes available on the market today. Avid brakes utilize a 185″ rotor while Shimano’s 7″ rotor comes in a 180mm. It’s a serious pain in the ass, so if you don’t already run Avid brakes, consider going with the larger 8″ rotor. Ordering up an Avid adapter (and adding to my huge stack of rotor adapters in my tool box) resolved my issue. In the meantime, I stuck the Spider 6″ rotor on my rear wheel and I was off riding.
The 6″ rotor combined with 2.35 tires on all mountain wheels and the Saint brake was awesome. The grabby, on-off feel of the Saints wasn’t there, or an issue with the smaller rotor, and it was a dialed setup. Stopping performance of the Dirty Dog Rotor was excellent, and as with any component that just works, enabled me to focus on the ride. During pit stops and rest stops along the way, it invites compliments.
When the 185mm rotor adapter finally arrived though, I ran into an issue. Because I’m currently running a carbon Nomad in a quiver killer setup, I use a set of DH wheels on this bike as well. Turns out the 6″ rotor paired with DH wheels doesn’t have the stopping power I’m accustomed to, so I swapped out the Spider rotor with the skulls.
I’m still mucking around with the set up of my all mountain ride though, and this in no way reflects on the performance of these rotors. Swapping to the 185mm rotor in the back added plenty of power, even when I’m swapped out to my heavier DH wheels and tires. With my all mountain wheels I’m feeling dialed in. (I’m running a 180mm rotor in the front as well for a 7″ & 7″ set up)
If you currently run 185mm rotors with Avid Calipers, the 7″ rotor will bolt right on. If you are tied into the 180s, with a non-Avid setup you’ll need to add an adapter to the mix as well to fit it correctly.