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Power Meter Options

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As technology in our everyday life advances, so does that for our bikes.  From the coaches perspective, having a rider  on a power monitoring device is an extremely valuable tool, and that is an understatement!  Riding with power allows the riders coach to see virtually every aspect of the ride or race.  When viewing the data files online, it is as if the coach is out on the ride too.  The following article opens up more options for riders to add a power meter to their bikes.
Ride Well!
Coach OB

PowerTap, SRM, Quarq, Garmin, Look, Rotor and Power2max

Just a few years ago the consumer power meter market was nearly completely dominated by just two main players: SRM and PowerTap. But this year’s Eurobike show hosted no fewer than six options that were either currently available or in final testing for pending release by spring. We also got an exclusive preview at what is looking to be another serious contender and there was at least one other player that was merely roaming the halls to gather information.

Regardless, that market is heating up in a big way.

PowerTap’s new G3

The highlight of PowerTap’s 2012 collection was its new G3 power measuring hub, which looks to have purged any niggling demons of the existing range while also providing some notable improvements.

First off, the G3 is PowerTap’s lightest option to date by far at a claimed 325g (315g with the optional ceramic bearings) – besting the current SLC+ model by up to 73g. CycleOps sticks with a 15mm aluminum axle but the all-aluminum shell boasts a slightly sleeker, constant-diameter shape and the spoke flanges have been pushed outward for better wheel stiffness.

The G3 will also be far easier to service when needed, too. The torque tube – a component of the hub that apparently is subject to extremely low rates of failure – is permanently affixed inside the hub but all of the electronics are now housed in an easily removable cap. CycleOps is still working out the details but in the event of a failure, users could simply send in the defective unit for repair or replacement, or authorized dealers might be provided with loaner caps to keep users on the road.

“Dummy” caps might also be available so that affected owners could at least still ride on the otherwise-function hubs while the electronics are at the factory. In either case, the G3 also switches to a single CR2032 battery – the same as most head units – instead of the pair of 357 cells previously required.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

All of the sensitive electronics on the new PowerTap G3 power meter are housed in the end cap, not the hub shell

Overall, CycleOps road power meter range will simplify from five models to three with the only other model offered in addition to the US$1,199 PowerTap G3 and US$1,699 G3C being the US$899 PowerTap Pro, which uses the old design but still offers ANT+ wireless transmission, a 15mm aluminum axle, and a claimed weight of 446g.

As before, CycleOps will offer complete wheels, too, with alloy clinchers from Velocity and either 45mm or 65mm-deep carbon tubulars from Enve Composites. Complete wheelsets will start at US$1,149 while a G3-based set with carbon rims will go for US$3,199 – and will weigh as little as 1,250g.

Going along with the G3 are new Joule and Joule GPS computer heads with the latter featuring tracking and simple navigation features and both offering simplified training cues and analysis features.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

3T worked with PowerTap to create a special housing for the Joule GPS computer that integrates seamlessly with the new Integra LTD stem

SRM turns 25, celebrates by donating to a worthy cause

Power measuring icon SRM is celebrating its 25th anniversary with its most comprehensive range yet that includes systems built around at least twenty different crankarm platforms.

New or updated options include Campagnolo standard and compact, FSA K-Force Light compact, SRAM S975 standard and compact, Tune Smart Foot standard and compact, Truvativ X0 2×10, Shimano Saint single-ring, and a new alloy crankset made by Tune in Asia called Engage.

Pricing is rather dear in all cases, though, ranging from €1,832.60 (FSA Gossamer) to €3,927 (Campagnolo) for just the cranksets themselves. We don’t have pricing for the THM Clavicula-based model but “more” is a likely descriptor.

If that wasn’t already enough, buyers opting to pair any of those power meters with SRM’s own PowerControl 7 computer head will be able to spring for an anodized aluminum housing instead of the standard plastic one for an additional €50 or so.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

SRM seemingly make a power meter to fit nearly every popular crankset with a removable spider

And if you’re feeling really flush, you can tack on another €200 on top of that for a limited-edition 25th-anniversary head, which will be finished in an exclusive dark red and individually numbered so you know exactly where you stand among your other 249 brethren. That extra money won’t just buy exclusivity, either – SRM will donate €400 to Plan International’s Girl Trafficking Rescue and Rehabilitation Project in Nepal for each 25th anniversary head sold.

Quarq gets dirty

Quarq has wasted little time getting cozy with its new owners, SRAM, debuting a new Quatro mountain bike power meter model based around Truvativ carbon fiber arms and either a GXP or BB30-compatible bottom bracket system.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

SRAM and Quarq debuted a new Quatro mountain bike power meter at Eurobike

SRAM will offer the Quatro with either 170mm or 175mm-long arms but only in the 26/39T X-Glide chainring combination. Claimed weight is 814g with rings and a GXP bottom bracket and Quarq PR man Troy Hoskin says each unit spends twenty minutes underwater to guarantee its weather resistance before leaving the factory (so you’ll have to excuse them if your box is wet). Suggested retail price is €1,606.

Also coming from Quarq is the new Qalvin iPhone and iPad app, which pairs to any of the company’s power meters when a suitable ANT+ dongle is added to the phone. According to Hoskins, app users can pull up a variety of diagnostic tools and even recalibrate their Quarq power meters at home – something that used to require sending the unit back to the factory in South Dakota.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

One of Quarq’s hallmarks has been user-replaceable batteries

Garmin Vector and Look KéO Power in the flesh

Not surprisingly, Garmin literally put various riders up on a pedestal to demonstrate its new Vector power measuring pedals, complete with multiple Edge computers mounted up down at eye level. While it seemed there were still some glitches to work out – former MetriGear co-founder and now-Garmin employee Clark Foy says the Vector is undergoing final testing with scheduled consumer release in March – we’re happy to say that the thing does work and it sounds like it’ll have some enticing benefits to offer, too.

Just as promised, users who have both the pedals and Edge head units will be able to display left-right power output balance in real-time – great for training or rehab from an injury. According to Foy, the pedal firmware can be updated wirelessly via ANT+ and Edge head units can be updated with additional fields, too, including metrics related to fit and efficiency. The system is also self-aligning, supposedly requiring just fifteen pedal strokes to set itself up.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

Garmin’s Vector power meter has been one of the most hotly anticipated products of recent years

Garmin will offer a comprehensive range of spare parts, too, including the pedal bodies, bearings, seals, and even power/antenna pods though we don’t expect buyers to need too many of those. Despite appearances, they’re not likely to contact the ground in a crash (lean your bike over with the cranks in various positions and see for yourself) and the aluminum backing plate is surprisingly robust.

One potential hiccup is crank fit, however. Foy says the Vector pod is designed to fit a maximum crank width of 38mm and a maximum thickness of 15mm. Most arms should fit – Foy admits he hasn’t measured Cannondale’s Hollowgram arms – but check first just to be sure.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

Look’s KeO Power pedals were shown in production form at Eurobike. We’ve got a set in our hands right now so expect a first ride review very soon

Look and Polar also jointly showed off its co-developed KéO Power pedals and in fact, we already have a early set in our hands for testing and we hope to deliver an initial report next week. Setup seems a touch tricky so far, though, and unlike the Vector pedals which can simply be screwed in as usual, the KéO Power spindles require a specific orientation in the crankarm (there’s a locknut to hold it in place), suggesting to us that its hardware – or software – may not be quite as developed as Garmin’s. Stay tuned on this one.

Rotor previews power meter concept

Rotor is tossing its hat into the power meter ring with its own 3D Power concept, based on the Italian AIP-MEP system. Taking advantage of the 3D+ crankarm’s semi-hollow design, Rotor’s design places strain gages inside the readily accessible internal channels, then attaches the antenna, battery, and circuitry to the bottom bracket end of the crankarm.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

Rotor gave us an exclusive look at their new power meter prototype. Don’t be put off by the big plastic electronics box – it’ll be much, much smaller by the time it reaches shops late next year

It’s not exactly an elegant looking piece in its current form – Rotor says the one we saw was a development mule and the electronics package will ultimately be about two-thirds smaller – but Rotor sales manager Philip Lucas says the 3D+ Power will offer some appealing features, including left vs. right balance and push vs. pull output.

“There won’t be another system that will give us the depth of info that this will,” he said.

Lucas says Rotor eventually plans to release both a consumer and scientific version of the 3D+ Power. The former will be smaller and lighter with fewer strain gages, and the electronics will feature ANT+ wireless transmission. The scientific version will more closely resemble what you see here as it will operate on both Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols for communication with a wider range of devices and additional strain gages plus a faster sampling rate will serve up more detailed information.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

You can just barely make out the tiny wires leading to the strain gages that are mounted inside the Rotor 3D+ Power’s hollow channels

According to Lucas, prototypes will be tested on the road starting in January but even if that goes well, don’t expect to see any Rotor 3D+ Power cranksets for sale until August 2012 at the earliest.

Power2max enters the fray

Relatively new to the scene is German company power2max, which houses all of its hardware in a separate chainring spider similar to SRM and Quarq. Despite its nascent status, power2max displayed an impressively broad range of fitments that include bigger names like SRAM and Rotor but also smaller players like Lightning, TA, Tune, and Bor – plus two off-road options.

Power2max offers its power meters in a wide range of accent colors, too, and pricing for standalone spiders is a comparatively reasonable €690.

Coach OB, Online cycling coach, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky