Cheap Mylar Wheel Covers

According to the rules...

Wheel covers are legal in events sanctioned by USA Cycling and American Bicycle Racing among others, as well as in events run by most other bike racing organizations in the US. They are not legal in UCI events or in events run by organizations that enforce UCI rules. So they're legal in events that 99.9% of us in the US enter, and mostly prohibited otherwise.

This is for a track wheel. This works for road wheels but it's more work. I ride wheel covers on my road bike as well. I weighed the expense vs. weight vs. durability arguments between home-made mylar and purchased covers and decided to buy a set of CH covers. If CHs came dished for track wheels I wouldn't bother with any of this.

Once the covers are attached you will no longer be able to easily true the wheel. Use a wheel built by someone you have confidence in.

For road wheels you need to use a V section rim. This is so you have some rim surface other than the braking surface to attach the mylar to.

WHEEL The finished product.

I only have pictures of the finished product. I've had two seasons of use out of this wheel and didn't feel like ripping it apart just to show the intermediate steps. If I ever wreck it and have to do this again I'll be sure to document the process.

This should not be considered gospel. It's what I did and it worked for me. My cosmetics suck and I've seen other wheels where the cosmetics didn't suck so if you know anyone into model airplane contruction don't be afraid to ask their advice.

  1. Cut out the cover sections. Be sure to account for the dish i.e. don't just lay a rim on the sheet and cut out that amount. You need more.

  2. 'Dish' the cover section. What I did was to make a pass around the edge with the iron, shrinking it down a little bit. The mylar will pucker a little bit when you do this. There is probably a better way to do it.

  3. Glue one of the small rings to the center of the cover section. Make very sure you know where the center is. Cut out the center of the cover section to match the center of the ring.

    HUB That's the lid from a yogurt container under the mylar at the hub. It provides a surface to glue the mylar to and the lip holds the fabric clear of the spokes.

  4. Apply adhesive to the rim and cover section. For a track rim just slop it onto the rim sidewall. For road wheels it's probably best to mask off the contact strip to avoid getting adhesive on the braking surface. I do know one guy though that used the braking surface for attachment on a TT wheel, figuring he'd only use the rear brake in an emergency.

  5. Stretch and attach the cover section to the rim. You'll know right away if you got the dish right in step 2. Trim the excess mylar.

    When I used Fast Tack as the adhesive I cut tabs along the edge of the cover section at the spoke holes. I stretched the tabs over the spoke holes and attached them to the opposite rim bed. If you do this at the spoke holes you don't lose any tire adhesion surface. But the cover still crept and loosened.

    RIM Maybe someone who built model planes as a kid would do better at the cosmetics than I did. If there's a way to dish the cover without puckering I don't know what it is.

  6. Glue the valve access ring to the inside of the cover. Cut out the mylar in the center of the ring.

    VALVE Valve access. That's another food container ring under there. You only have to do this to one side of the wheel.

  7. Repeat with the other cover section.

  8. Iron the mylar until smooth and taut.

Maintained by Bob Schwartz
Last modification: 20-Jan-99

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