If you want to go fast, ride a time trial frame. If you want to go faster, get an aggressive fit. And, if you want to go really fast, get a disc. Simply put, the deeper your wheels, the less wind resistance you’re fighting, which means that the same wattage nets a high speed. Problem is, disc wheels cost money, and when you’re already on the couch for that set of 60mm carbons, another thousand (or more) isn’t going to end happily. So what is the racer on a shoestring budget to do?
Enter Wheelbuilder and their AeroJacket Disc Cover; the perfect product to save you from having to share an air mattress in the garage with the bike, by building a disc cover for just about any wheelset. With an AeroJacket you can turn your wheel into a disc for under $100. So long as you have 5mm of clearance between the largest cog and the spokes of the wheel, you can have a disc on race day and your standard wheels the rest of the time.
We procured an AeroJacket for our set of Reynolds Strikes and are very pleased with the product; there is a noticeable decrease in perceived effort, our average moving speed went up, and the weight increase in the rear seems relatively marginal. That said, the cover does deflect a bit with hand pressure, and acquires scuffs and scratches easily, but we are talking a price point that simply cannot be beat, here.
Installation was easy – remove the rear wheel, take off the cassette, fit both halves of the jacket onto the rear wheel, lining up the access hole to the valve stem, screw the halves together and re-install the cassette. Done inside of half an hour, removal is just as quick. Yes, you do have to own a chain whip and cassette lockring tool, so if you don’t own either, add another $30 to the total for both tools from your local bike shop, but since they are good to have at home you might as well not count them in the total cost.
In the coming weeks, we will be riding the AeroJacket quite a bit, but for now, we are pleased with it. Sure, performance won’t be the same as a Super 9, but for less than a tenth of the price, we get perhaps 80% of the benefit. For us, as with any racer on a budget, that can’t be ignored. If money is no object, call Zipp. If money is an object, but you’re okay with bringing your lunch to work for a bit, call FLO. If Ramen is already a staple of your diet, call Wheelbuilder and rest up; you’ll be passing a lot more expensive setups on race day.