In seemingly backward logic, we're here to tell you that it's possible to go faster by upgrading something that makes you slow down.
San Francisco Bay's own Dirty Dog MTB has been around since 2005 and brake rotors just so happen to be their specialty. Unlike so many companies out there that begin life with a singular purpose only to spread into multiple arenas and thus lose their focus in the process, Dirty Dog keeps it real. In fact aside from rotors of various artistic design and size, the only other products on their line consist of a skull-inspired cable guide and bar-stem.
We've been hearing great things about their trick-looking rotors in downhill applications and decided to take a look at a pair of 160mm (6-inch) Web model, which just so happens to represent the company's first foray into the classic stamping manufacturing process for rotor production (the remaining are laser cut).
Here in the mud pit that is the Northeast, we were unable to slap these beauties on a dedicated downhill rig but did have a KHS AM1000 (all-mountain) bike handy that just so happened to need some fresh discs. As such our testing would consist across sloppy mud, gooey singletrack, heavy wet clay, clumpy beach sand and a (very) little hard pack. Here's what we discovered:
We surround ourselves with fools who spend major bucks on useless little carbon fiber bits and do-dads to separate their bikes from the rest. We've yet to find an affordable modification that rivals the attention these rotors seemed to earn on the trails. Everyone from the riders of the burliest downhill bikes to weight weenies deluxe gawked, asked questions, and were generally intrigued. If you are interested in experiencing what it must feel like to be a pro rider, here's the cheapest way we know of to duplicate the effect!
While cross country/ weight weenies will undoubtedly cringe, for the type of burly usage intended for Dirty Dog's beefy rotors, they are quite light. Our 6-inchers weighed in at 109 grams. A lot of this weight shaving is attributed to the fact that the Webs are stamped. The remaining laser-cut rotors on the line are bit heavier (147 grams for the 6" on up to 248 grams for 8").
Believe it or not, switching to the Dirty Dog Webs was actually a weight-reducer as the Shimano 160mm rotors we removed weighed in at 125g a piece.
Don't let the intricate artistic style of these beauties fool you into fearing comprised stopping power. They function with the same type of aplomb we expect from traditional solid discs with the benefit of superior resistance to glazing and squeal.
Dirty Dog rotors can best be considered functional works of art. Bulletproof stainless construction coupled to rigorous R&D work all adds up to a product that performs as well as it looks. Some of the fresh laser-cut designs on Dirty Dog's line can get a little pricey (to the tune of $75 each) but a little comparative shopping yielded Webs for as little as $21. For that price you can almost consider the lightweight and attention-grabbing style as bonuses!