Zipp Vuka Alumina Review

 May 26, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

The highly adjustable, super affordable Zipp Vuka Alumina

Aerobars are perhaps my favorite category of triathlon equipment. And the industry offerings just seem to get better and better as the years roll on. I'm excited to get a good, thorough look at Zipp's new offering for 2012, the Vuka Alumina lineup. At its core, the Vuka Alumina features a budget-priced base bar, onto which you can put a new set of clip-ons that will accept any 22.2mm extension. Simple enough, right?

Moreover, because the clip-ons are just round bar clamps, they'll work on any 31.8mm bar, like Zipp's own carbon Vuka Bull. And they'll accept carbon extensions as well (which Zipp also makes). So on the budget end, you can make a complete system for about $255, which weighs just about 700 grams, and has as much or more adjustability than anything else on the market. Spend a little more on carbon extensions or bars, and you can get the weight down to about 620 grams. The overall setup might not be the most aero solution out there, but it's still very clean, and VERY adjustable.

But those are just numbers, and a bird's eye view of the system. What's this setup actually like? What are its unique merits? In short, there's actually nothing that's shockingly new about any of these parts. Rather, the Vuka Alumina setup represents a very refined, well-thought-out system that works very coherently with itself, and also fits very well within a larger ecosystem. On the next page, we'll start to delve into the new system. But before we get there, I have to address something that may be very confusing to the uninitiated, regarding extension standards.

The 22mm Debacle

Zipp has also released a whole new lineup of extensions, this time all at 22.2mm in diameter

There's a bit of a strange situation in the industry as far as aerobar extensions are concerned. You see, there are plenty of extensions built on the so-called "22mm standard," but the problem is that there are actually three standards: 22.0mm, 22.1mm, and 22.2mm. And although only 0.2mm separates the three types, it can cause problems depending on what you're using. For example, Zipp's original Vuka Clip was built to accept 22.0mm bars, and had a hard time opening up wide enough to accept the larger types. You'd have to sand down the bars, or risk damaging them when you struggled to jam your bars into the clips. On the other hand, trying to use a 22.0mm bar in a port designed to accept the larger types could result in bar slip. These problems don't always crop up, but when they do, they're rather annoying.

The new Vuka Alumina clip, as well as all the new extensions, are built around a 22.2mm design. Zipp's official position is that you have to use 22.2mm extensions, and that the smaller versions are not compatible. However, in my personal experience, you CAN use the smaller extensions just fine. I tested down to 22.0mm, and the clips didn't slip for me. But if you decide to mix and match, just be aware of the potential pitfalls.

Dizzy yet? There won't be any more talk about extension diameter, I promise. So let's dive right in, starting with what's at the heart of this system, the Vuka Alumina Clip.

Tags » aerobars,  extensions,  zipp
  • The Vuka Alumina can be set up in a wide variety of ways. Low and narrow, tall and wide, whatever you want.
  • The Vuka Alumina base bar features an aero profile and straight hand holds that angle upwards by 5 degrees.
  • The frontal profile is rather clean, but still has a bulge for the large 31.8mm stem clamp.
  • Here's an idea of what kind of range the Vuka Alumina setup can have. It's a chameleon.
  • The Vuka Alumina Clip is pretty simple, and works very well. The inner diameter is bored out to allow the arm cup clamp to rotate.
  • The arm cups are enormous, and very comfortable.  On the left is the Pro Missile Evo bar, and on the right, the Vuka Alumina Clip.
  • Four width settings per side mean it's easy to dial your fit. Every bolt on the bar is a Torx T25, meaning you'll need to keep that tool in your kit.
  • Zipp very cleverly put each set of bolts on a different plane, such that nothing gets obscured by anything else. That means you can access any bolt at any time.
  • The arm cup clamps can move anywhere along the extensions - inside the extension clamp, behind it, ahead of it, or even straddling it as shown here.
  • Zipp has also revamped its extension lineup. The carbon extensions have also been upgraded with the textured ends that used to be exclusive to the VukaShift bars.  This can eliminate the need for bar tape.
  • The new Race bend is Zipp's re-imagining of the traditional S-bend.  Above is the new Race bend, below the original VukaShift.
  • Here's a comparison of the three versions of the Vuka Race bend.  Top, the VukaShift version, with integrated shift bosses.  It terminates in roughly a 20-degree rise.  Center, the carbon version, ending in roughly a 10-degree angle, but having already gained 52mm of rise.  Bottom, the alloy version which takes a slightly different path to its terminus, but is otherwise identical to the carbon version.
  • This is how I've set up my own set of Vuka Alumina bars.  I put the arm cups clear of the extension clamp, so that I can rotate it down, to just touching the bar.
  • My low-stack setup is sleek and works very well.
  • With the cups rotated down, the cups actually sit just below the extensions. With the cups below the extensions, a straight bar works really well.
  • Here are the ergonomics of a straight extension with cups sitting just below. My arms are relaxed, hands basically resting right on top of the shifters.
  • To rotate the cups down, their clamp must be clear of the extension clamp, either behind or ahead.
  • You can add stack to the bars via these custom risers, which raise both the extensions and arm cups together, preserving whatever relationship you established with them.
  • This setup is on the extreme side, but shows what you can do with the risers, tilt adjustment, etc.  Want to test out a TJ Tollakson high-hands setup?  It's no problem for the Vuka Alumina.
  • I'm using the Vuka Alumina with Zipp's Service Course SL stem, in a -17 degree rise, 90mm long.

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