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Back 5.10.2016

Zipp Aerobar Analysis – Pro Triathlete Josh Amberger

Amberger: Vuka Aero is Hands Down My All-Time Favourite Bar

Australian triathlete Josh Amberger, a 70.3-distance specialist, is by nature an inquisitive guy. He’s balanced racing with studies in history and international relations. You see his analytical nature in this latest instalment of Zipp Aerobar Analysis.

By Josh Amberger

As a pro triathlete, I’ve played around with a lot of basebars and aero setups on my bike. I haven’t tried every basebar out there, but I’ve tried many. Some days I’ve spent more time on the side of the road making adjustments than turning the pedals. In this pursuit for constant improvement I’ve settled with one basebar and cockpit – the Vuka Aero in combination with carbon Vuka Ski-Tip extensions. The reason? This setup provides complete comfort and provides me with total confidence in its quality and performance. This is an incredibly fast basebar that balances all the vitals superbly.

Vuka Aero - the nitty gritty

I first saw the Vuka Aero in its prototype form in 2014 while visiting the Zipp factory in Indianapolis. My first impression of the Vuka Aero was very good. Visually it was really nice, and what struck me first was the improved form and geometry from the previous Vuka Bull base bar I was using. The Vuka Aero had drop and sweep. These two things are critical for fit and comfort. I ride with the stack as slammed as possible. The drop in the basebar complimented this, and the sweep allowed for a lower, more forward position while on the bullhorns for longer, steeper climbs.

As I held the Vuka Aero, the next thing I considered was the position of the extension mounts, specifically I wanted to know how narrow and low I could set up the extensions. The Vuka Aero comes with a stock extension mount that I replaced with Zipp’s low-stack mounts (sold separately). These allow for 12mm lower stack. Although the low mounts negate the ability to add pitch to the extension, this is something I’ve never needed. Each extension’s clamp, normal and low-stack, has the ability to be inverted for a narrower extension position. I also have the ability to raise the bar in 5-50mm spacer increments should I still be riding this basebar in 10 years time when I start to stiffen up!

The Vuka Aero doesn’t have an integrated stem like the Vuka Stealth. That was good news for me since a bar with stem wouldn’t fit on Felt IA. While Felt IA’s come with a proprietary flat bolt-on Devox basebar, Felt also offers a 31.8mm clamp stem which allows riders to integrate other basebars like the Vuka Aero.

Vuka Aero and Vuka Extensions - comfort and practicality is key

This is a very stiff basebar. The Vuka Aero uses the same SRAM® Exogram™ technology that we see in the industry leading SRAM Red cranksets. It also has a stem center cap that bolts over the stem’s handlebar clamp. The center cap provides a clean and aero finish, but also serves a purpose to increase the stiffness by another 5 percent. While being ultra stiff, this in no way compromises the comfort of the basebar. The Vuka aero uses the same luxury ultra-soft Zipp arm rests that we all love. These arm pads provide a lot of dampening of rough road surfaces that would normally be transferred to the rider through lesser arm rests.

In tactile terms, the basebar is comfortable to hold and grip. The bullhorns are finished with a coarse grip that makes running bar tape optional, even with sweaty hands in the heat of battle. Extensions also are relevant to talk about here. I chose the carbon Vuka Ski-Tip Extension, also finished with the same coarse grip. The Ski-Tip Extensions position my hands in a perfect position relative to the shifter. My wrists are not jammed and twisted but neutral and comfortable.

When I don’t have to focus on how uncomfortable I am, I can ride fast. I have no distractions or excuses. I can honestly say the Vuka Aero basebar and Vuka Ski-Tip extensions meet my standards for comfort.

A small but also important consideration for the basebar is the quality of the hardware used for the setup. The T25 bolt head is highly resistant to stripping and is found on most multi-tools, which makes the setup easy to adjust on the road. A packet of Zipp carbon paste is also supplied with every basebar, which you use to coat the clamp contact points on the Vuka extensions to reduce the chance of the extensions or base bar shifting on impact with a pothole or poorly paved surfaces.

SRAM Red eTap, Vuka Aero, Vuka Extension and Vuka BTA - a few more considerations…

Recently I built my new 2016 Felt IA and am fortunate enough to be piloting it with the new SRAM RED eTap groupset. I’ve found that the Vuka Aero has a really good option for mounting the Blips needed to shift from the bullhorns. It has a cable exit just rearward of a normal hand position, which allows for easy routing of the Blip wire to a more forward position, which can then be covered by bar tape. The other end of the Blip wire comes out with the brake cable and runs straight up to the BlipBox™, hidden from the wind and clean to the eye.

I also choose to run a Zipp Vuka Alumina BTA Mount with Quickview on my Ski-Tip Extensions for a no-fuss, easy to use hydration and computer mount solution. Paired with the Zipp Vuka Carbon Bottle Cage, the BTA mount is a simple aero solution to an old and nagging problem, getting it all there in the one spot where it’s needed in a clean and presentable manner.

Follow @JoshAmberger on Twitter and @Josh_Amberger on Instagram

Use Zipp’s free VukaFit software tool and app to dial in your aero position

Previous Aerobar Analysis Features

Pro triathlete Jordan Rapp

Pro cyclist Hugo Houle of AG2R LA MONDIALE

Pro triathlete Haley Chura