Power Meter Pedals | New power pedals from Garmin and Speedplay
Measuring power and using that data to inform your training is one of the best ways to reach your performance goals. While there are several ways to measure or estimate horsepower, the most accurate is usually to measure a rider’s output somewhere between the pedal and the rear hub. But traditional power meters that attach to the rear hub or crank arm may be less ideal as they have to adapt to ever-changing standards and drivetrain technologies on a bike. So it can be argued that the best place to measure power is inside the pedal, because if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about a bike, it’s the way a pedal threads. in a crank. For this reason, there are a plethora of new pedal-mounted power meters out there now, or soon to be available, a good thing for most riders, not just pro level riders.
This year, Wahoo Fitness, which acquired Speedplay in 2019, unveiled a power-meter version of its Speedplay pedals. Garmin has launched its line of Rally power meter pedals, a system that features interchangeable Shimano SPD-SL and SPD (dirt) bodies in addition to Look Keo bodies. And SRAM acquired the pedals business from Time, which is especially important as SRAM also bought PowerTap from Saris in 2019. This latest news heavily hints at an upcoming power pedal from SRAM with a Time mechanism – the PowerTap P2. now discontinued used a Keo Mechanism look, a system on which almost all electric pedals were based at once. These options join the excellent Favero Assioma (my favorite) and the X-Power of SRM (gravel) and EXAKT (road). There’s also a new company called IQ Square, which touts its quite inexpensive electric pedals – around $ 450 for a double-sided power supply – for road and mountain, although it has yet to deliver a product. . That’s at least five pedal systems to choose from, six though SRAM offers road and mountain versions of a Time power pedal. The proliferation of these pedals seems to solve a very real problem for riders who wanted to train with power but were put off by the price or complexity of many hub or crank mounted systems. These platforms, imperfect as they are, are attractive because the benefits of training with power data are so great. Before power, cyclists based their training on heart rate. But the heart rate takes a while to increase and is subject to variables in the human body. Stress, hydration, sleep, and even the amount of coffee you’ve drunk can all affect your heart rate for any given effort, making data comparisons difficult. Power, on the other hand, is not as sensitive to variables, and it provides instant information about a rider’s effort. This makes training more focused and precise, and provides athletes with a clearer picture of their effort during a race. “Power data comes down to 100% objective performance,” says Frank Overton, founder of FasCat Coaching.
Arguably the best place to measure power is inside the pedal, because if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about a bike, it’s the way a pedal threads through. a crank.
As power meters have become an important training and racing tool, the number of options in the market has rapidly increased. After all, the power meter is a fairly simple device: strain gauges measure deflection to determine the force, in Newton meters, applied by the rider. Force times cadence (rpm) equals watts. But that’s the easy part. The tricky part is figuring out how and where to pack strain gauges, electronics, and batteries into something lightweight, durable, and weatherproof that fits within the narrow confines of a bike, while still delivering data. consistent and precise over long periods of time.
Schoberer Rad Messtechnik (SRM) founder Ulrich Schoberer is generally credited with popularizing – and patenting – the idea in 1986 with his iconic crank that had a power meter in the spider. SRM claims this is the first product to allow riders to measure their power output in watts while riding. At first the pros only used the SRM on their training bikes – they thought the system was too heavy to run with – but then it got lighter and the UCI implemented its weight limit of 6.8 kg (the minimum weight for any bicycle used in a UCI- sanctioned event, to which many bicycles were subjected, requiring riders to add weight), so power began to creep its way onto racing bikes as well. Now, it’s almost impossible to find a professional rider or serious hobbyist who doesn’t want power data available on every ride.
From this first crank-spider system, power meter manufacturers have developed devices that adapt to the hub, crank, crank axle and, more recently, pedals. But like everything, which is better is a matter of opinion. You can get into the weeds about the placement of the power meter – some argue that it is best measured at the start of the power flow (the foot), while others argue that the hub is better because it is closest to where the power translates into forward movement.
But some of the biggest challenges for most power meter locations are the ever-changing standards and technologies that affect a bike’s drivetrain area. For example, if you bought a PowerTap power meter hub for your road bike in 2016, it was probably designed for a QR axle and rim brakes spaced 130mm apart. Good luck fitting it for a 2021 road bike. And if you’ve purchased a left crank with a power meter inside, the shape of your next bike’s base may make your power meter incompatible. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you recently bought a bike, and the installer recommended 170mm cranks, and your power meter has 172.5mm arms. Congratulations on your $ 1,000 clipboard. You bought a power meter crank for an 11 speed drivetrain with a BB30 axle and a 130mm BCD five-arm spider? It probably won’t work on a new Specialized Tarmac SL7 with a SRAM Red AXS drivetrain.
The only thing that hasn’t changed in all this madness is the way the pedals attach to the cranks, which is why I think power meter pedals are the best and longest lasting measurement investment. power. You can put new power pedals on a 1980 Motobecane team champion as easily as you can put them on that new tarmac.
The universal adaptability of electric pedals means there are fewer obstacles to installation and you don’t have to create a ton of variations to cope with all the different crank lengths, chainring sizes , BB standards, transmissions and frame standards. Plus, you can easily move the pedals from bike to bike and from outdoor bike to indoor bike, so all of your data comes from the same power meter, which trainers love. . “If you introduce variability from different power meters, you introduce an error,” says Overton.
There are of course drawbacks to electric pedals. Power meters are precision measuring instruments, a category of products that generally have poor resistance to abuse. And the pedals get stoned. “Go take a look at your pedals and tell me you want some expensive gear out there,” Overton warns. And, rightly or wrongly, the category always arouses some skepticism in early attempts, like those from Garmin and Look.
But those concerns shouldn’t do much to slow the progress of the electric pedals. Of all the current systems, this is the easiest to change bikes and the best way to protect your expensive investment from ever-changing frame and drivetrain standards.