We, as triathletes and cyclists, participate in one of the more expensive sports in the world. This isn’t hyperbole; anyone who has looked at the price tag of a newest carbon wunderbike or that wind tunnel defeating deep wheelset can attest that money buys speed, and more money buys more speed. So when we find the products that shave the seconds off but don’t break the bank, it reaffirms our commitment to championing the idea that you don’t have to arrive in a Porsche to podium.
Wheelbuilder’s AeroJacket Disc Cover is that product today. For around $90, Wheelbuilder will take the measurements you provide of your rear wheel and build a cover out of a thick, semi-flexible plastic that screws together just below the rim and has a single-sided cutout for the valve stem, coverable by a specially-cut sticker. If you lose that sticker don’t worry, because Wheelbuilder sends a spare and extras are available for cheap in their store.
One of the really interesting points about the AeroJacket is that the non-drive side is lenticular, meaning it has a lens shape to it; just like the big names’ discs these days. Yes, this means that in a 0 degree crosswind, it isn’t quite as fast as a flat disc, but the performance at any non-zero yaw is significantly better than the discs of yore. Simply put, lenticular, for the real world, is better. When you’re an age-grouper on a budget, the real world is all that counts.
During our time with it, the AeroJacket proved to be noticeably quicker than our Reynolds Strike wheelset is normally, handling winds from all directions with a solidity that was, frankly, surprising. The push of the wind against it was never more than a gentle reminder that we had a full disc in the rear, and the ease with which it accelerated was another pleasant surprise. In truth, we didn’t really want to take the cover off again, as there are no discernible downsides to keeping it on, other than perhaps having to buy an extra couple of stickers for the valve opening.
Wheelbuilder’s disc cover did flex visibly during rides, and we do suspect that might have some impact upon the aero advantage it brings to the table, it did not seem to flex from wind. We suspect that if we had taken a little more of an attention to detail during the install, the flex we noticed would have been lessened or perhaps eliminated altogether. In some respects, the semi-flexible nature of the product lends itself to a small obsession with fitment and getting things absolutely perfect, with the reward being a rear wheel that was, when moving, absolutely indistinguishable from a “real” disc. It is quick, stable and you’ll never have to mess with the dreaded U-brakes of modern TT and Tri bikes to swap from standard wheel to disc – that’s a feat in and of itself.
In short, the AeroJacket is without a doubt the most speed you can purchase for under $100. It might even be difficult to buy this much time on the bike leg for twice the price, short of a speed suit, which isn’t all that practical for the other two disciplines. If your spouse will put you in the dog house if you so much as look at a new set of race wheels, we humbly suggest you take a long look at the AeroJacket. For the price of bringing your lunch to the office for a week or two, a significant portion of the speed a dedicated disc would bring you can be yours. It speaks to Wheelbuilder that they do not claim anything more than that, and in this, they has delivered everything they promised. We cannot think of higher praise.