Here’s the thing with aero bars – it’s not their shape that matters, it’s yours. In other words, while one model may have a fraction of an aerodynamic advantage over another in a wind tunnel without a rider, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the position they allow you to achieve – their ability, or lack thereof, to put your body in a balanced mixture of low drag, power and comfort.
With this in mind, the Zipp Vuka Alumina aero bar system is great. It’s adjustable six ways to Sunday: length, relative width and angle of the extensions; width, height, fore/aft and angle of the pads; angle and – with the freedom to use any stem – height and fore/aft of the base bar.
Compare this to the aero bars I’d been using before. With a monocoque base bar/stem, the bar’s angle and fore/aft were fixed. I had to adapt my position to those bars as much as I adjusted the bars to fit me.
Graduated marks on the extensions simplify left/right setup: graduated marks on the extensions simplify left/right setup Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
Graduated marks help with left/right setup
Since achieving the sweet spot of aerodynamics, power and comfort is nearly impossible to do on your own, I went to fitter Ivan O’Gorman at Retül to get the Zipp’s dialed in. I expected him to make some tweaks on the bar and call it good. Instead, he started with the saddle height and position.
O’Gorman laughed at my previous position – my hips were too far back and too low, my back was bent – and overhauled the whole thing by inches. With all the adjustment possibilities in the Zipp Vuka Alumina system, he was able to handle such drastic changes without problem. I ended up in a position he liked and that, just as importantly, felt comfortable, sustainable and fast to me.
Zipp engineers developed the Vuka Alumina system in conjunction with a number of professional fitters, and my experience with Retül’s O’Gorman showed the efficacy of their end product.
Yes, you can buy carbon fiber versions of this system that weigh a few grams less and look a bit sexier. But we’d recommend you invest the cash in a professional fit instead. Because without a good fit, you’re defeating the purpose of aerobars.
Internal routing keeps things clean. finishing plugs for the extensions are available – the shift cable housing pops out the center – but we found the cable routing was smoother without them: internal routing keeps things clean. finishing plugs for the extensions are available – the shift cable housing pops out the center – but we found the cable routing was smoother without them Ben Delaney/Future Publishing
Internal routing keeps things looking neat and clean
The Vuka pieces are sold separately.
The US$80 / 72 Euro / £59.99 base bar weighs 250g in its 42cm (o-to-o) width, with a 31.8mm clamp.
The US$120/ 107 Euro / £89.99 Clip works with any 31.8mm base bar. The above-bar system weighs 310g, and the below-bar set 295g. The arm rests can be further raised with US$25 / 18 Euro / £17.98 Vuka Alumina Risers that come in 10, 25 and 50mm heights.
Finally, the US$55 / 49 Euro / £39.99 extensions come in two options: a single-bend Race (175g) and the gentle S-curve Ski-Tip (185g).
Click through our image gallery (above right) for more information on the adjustment options.