There are times when stock hardware just doesn’t cut it. Whether you want to be more comfortable, more aero, or even simply replace a part you just consider aesthetically unpleasing, there’s a company who is ready and willing to sell you your next upgrade. And there’s no company that does this with more parts better than Zipp. From wheels to shifters, tires to bars, they’ve got the carbon bits that will crank the lust-factor of your current ride to eleven faster than you can have a heart attack over the prices they command. Sometimes, though, things are expensive because they’re worth it.
Our test bike, a Cervelo P2, is a phenomenal bike. Although the Profile Design T2 it comes with as standard equipment doesn’t really fit us exactly the way we’d like. So when Zipp asked us if we wanted to give the Vuka Aero a try, we knew exactly what bike it was going on. Similar to our experience with the Vuka Stealth, we used the Vuka Fit app to get the exact parts to match our fit. And while we had used it in the past, we hadn’t for the P2, and not for this rider, so we went ahead and fired it up. Our results, below, were enlightening – the 58 might have been a smidge too large for us, as the pads would need to be placed well behind the center position in order to achieve our fit on the bike. No wonder the P2 in stock trim felt stretched out! Score one point for Zipp’s VukaFit app. Add in Vuka Race extensions and an SL Sprint stem, and we’re in business.
As with any cockpit installation, checking that the numbers in the calculator translate into real-world comfort is important, and the numbers that come out aren’t always the numbers you measure when all is said and done. We did find that there were discrepancies between the VukaFit data and what our measurements were, but they came within 1-2mm in all instances, which we’re willing to overlook. 1-2mm might make the difference to Jordan Rapp, but us mere mortals would be hard pressed to notice them visually, in terms of how it affects your fit, or otherwise. For a calculator that deals with an enormous amount of variation, including having you measure the frame stack and reach of your bike, this should be considered as spot on as you can get.
The installation itself is a relative non-event. The Vuka Aero, by virtue of not being an integrated basebar and stem, allows you to run all the wires without anything in the way, and then just bolt onto the rest of the bike when you’re ready. We cannot overstate how much hassle a non-integrated basebar saves the home mechanic. While we have spent hours cabling bikes before, the Vuka Aero was perhaps an hour, start to finish. There was a minor hiccup with the arm cup extension mounts: it is impossible to move them from their position relative to the risers once the bike is cabled. Each mount is two loops with a bar joining them, and if they overlap, then there is no way to move them such that they do not without taking the cable out of the bike entirely. Do your test fits first and you won’t have a problem. Get over-excited and put it all together and you’ll have the distinct pleasure of cabling your bike twice.
Aside from this, everything is adjustable with the bike together. The extensions are adjustable for tilt, so those of you who like a high hands position are in luck. The Vuka Aero won’t accommodate TJ Tollakson, but it’s close. Adding or removing risers is a breeze, as is moving pad position fore/aft – so long as you don’t cross the pad hardware with the extension mount on the riser – and pad width options are generous. If you want to adjust all of this during your ride, though, remember that Zipp uses Torx bolts and plan accordingly. Everything you could want to adjust is easily accessible, even with a relatively short multi-tool’s Torx driver.
On the road, the Vuka Aero is incredibly comfortable. The pads are plush, grippy, and well-cupped to cradle your forearms without getting slippery or having too much wiggle room. Shifters fall to hand right where you want them with the Vuka Race extensions. In fact, they reminded us of Felt’s excellent f-bends on their in-house Devox line – perfectly sculpted to the natural resting position with a relaxed wrist, and just long enough so that the shifters can be used without moving your forearm. The pursuits are comfortable, and the basebar’s routing doesn’t kink the brake cables, so your braking feel isn’t impacted. What will surprise, we think, is that this cockpit is UCI legal.
Zipp has managed to keep this cockpit legal by taking a somewhat different approach to the 3:1 UCI rule for tube shapes. The base bar is relatively thick, with a Kammtail design so that the virtual airfoil is much, much larger than the 3:1 it pays lip service to. This doesn’t necessarily mean much to most riders, but the upshot is that this bar is seriously fast. It’s fast, it’s comfortable, and it’s adjustable. What more could you possibly want in a bar?
In all, the Vuka Aero is an excellent bar for any non-integrated bike, and with a fit app that tells you exactly what hardware you’ll need, and how to set it up, it is difficult not to recommend it when we get asked for our advice on a new cockpit. At $722 for the basebar and extension riser hardware, you can run any extension you like with a really good base bar. For $850, it comes equipped with Zipp’s carbon extensions, which are well matched to the rest of the setup. If nothing else, Zipp is giving you the option of running your preferred hardware, and isn’t bundling it all up in an all-or-nothing package, even when nobody would fault them for doing so. The whole Vuka line is worth a look if you’re in the market, and the new Vuka Aero is worth at least two. We suspect that you’re going to see this cockpit on a lot more bikes in the coming year; ours, for starters.