I’m sure that if you asked cyclists for the highlights of their Christmas lists, power meters would’ve been pretty high on that list. Sadly however, for most of us a power meter is more of a “wish list” type of thing. Right now most ‘traditional’ power meters tend to be a little out of reach for most of us, or if nothing else, at least a very sincere investment.
Outside of price, the other main problem I’ve had with the traditional crank or hub-based power meters is the difficulty managing one power meter over multiple bikes, especially if you’re racing in multiple disciplines.
There is currently only one system to my knowledge that circumvents this problem in a moderately elegant manner – the iBike power meter. I won’t go into detail about it but you can watch a review of it from Competitive Cyclist here. There is however, some exciting new technology on the horizon. Which I’m very happy about – competition breeds innovation, and will hopefully start to bring down the price point a little bit over the next few years.
The exciting new technology I refer to is the Metrigear Vector, and there’s a number of reasons I’m stoked about it.
- The measurement system is integrated into the pedal spindle, with a small battery pack which attaches to the crank arm.
- Has the ability to measure the forces from each leg
- Weighs less than 50g (for both pedals)
- Communicates via ANT+
- Measures cadence without the need of a cadence sensor
- Easily transferrable between bikes (ie. as easy as swapping pedals)
The bottom two features are the main differentiators for me – Since I ride/race multiple bikes and dislike cluttering my bike with various wires and sensors.
The other thing that I really like is the transparency of the company and the insight they give into the development process. Browsing their blog you can really get a sense for not only the cool piece of hardware that they’re creating, but the culture of the people working on the project. For me, it’s always nice to get a sense of what the company is all about… And from my perspective it’s a fun bunch of folks… Anybody who names their test machines FrankenRider and Son-of-FrankenRider can’t be that bad ;-)
For those not sold on the iBike solution, this is the first model that I’ve seen that comes even remotely close to its transferability/portability. With that said, the Metrigear Vector, like other power meters is not for the faint of pocketbook. They’re currently estimating a $1,000 USD price at launch and that’s without a computer/head unit to sync with – you’ll still need a Garmin 505, 705, or something similar to pull in the data. Sounds like a deal-breaker? Consider this:
- The Metrigear Vector and a Garmin 505 have a combined total of $1,249.99 USD. Compared to a PowerTap PRO+ at $1,199.99 USD – that’s only a $50 difference.
- You now get to choose the depth of functionality in your head unit (ie. whether or not you want a mapping unit like the Garmin 705)
- The Metrigear Vector is shooting to be just shy of 10% of the weight of a PowerTap (50g vs. 466 for the PRO+)
Suddenly the pendulum swings the other way.
I’m excited to see not only more precise and smaller power meters, but also, slightly different evolutions of how power can be measured. Who knows what the future holds… Perhaps, there’s just some fancy insoles for our shoes that measures power and pulls our heart rate through the sole of our foot ;-)