How often do you race a time trial? Every weekend? Or maybe you do one or two per year?

For most recreational racers, I’d guess you’re only doing a couple time trials each year, at most. If that’s the case, you’re probably not going to shell out $1000’s to get a disc rear wheel for better aerodynamics. You’d be much better off spending your money on parts applicable to the races you actually do most often!

wheelbuilder aero disc wheel cover

But what if you could get the benefits of a solid disc wheel for under $100? That might be worth thinking about.

The website Wheelbuilder.com has an interesting solution for better aerodynamics on a budget – a disc wheel cover.

This is basically a plastic disc that attaches to a regular spoked wheel via little bolts or electrical tape. There is a 400g weight penalty for this, but once attached, your wheel will resemble a real disc wheel like you see on dedicated time trial (TT) bikes.

While the aerodynamic benefits might not be as good as a real disc wheel, the disc cover costs $89.95, which is a fraction of the cost of an aero wheel, like the $2075 Zipp Sub-9 Lenticular disc wheel. For racers doing the occasional time trial, this cover makes a lot of sense.

Wheelbuilder.com offers covers to fit many popular wheels, and they will also do custom trimmed covers for your specific wheels for $15-25 extra. (I have heard of other disc covers in the $60 price range like the CH Aero disc cover, but don’t see a reliable online source at the moment.)

But before you go rushing off to buy a disc cover, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • I have not personally used one, so I can’t comment on how well it works in practice.
  • If you do hill climb time trials, stick with your regular light weight wheels. This isn’t for you.
  • Since you have to remove your cassette to install this cover, you do need a bit of mechanical ability and a couple special tools.
  • If you don’t own an aero TT helmet, consider purchasing one of those before a disc wheel cover. It may be more beneficial.
  • If you are new to racing and not really at your peak fitness level, there is no need to shave seconds off your time by buying a disc wheel cover.

That said, the aero disc wheel cover is a pretty neat idea, and could be useful for some racers.

2 Comments
  1. Is there really that much benefit between a zipp 808 or 1080 on the rear ,nude with no cover ,and then dressed up .I can find lots of info comparing disc covered wheel with normal wheel but non that argue that disc covered wheels offer time advantage over a large deep rim like an 808 or 1080

  2. @Steve

    Good question. Personally I doubt it would be a big difference, which could explain why you’re not seeing any comparison data.

    If you already have an 808, I’d focus on getting your body as aero as possible before trying to make the wheel even more aero.

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