Powermeters were once a fringe product, reserved for fanatics, mad scientists, and oh yeah, Lance Armstrong. Over the last decade, the powermeter category has seen the emergence of many new brands and products, some of which have become permanent fixtures of the power measurement sector. This year, the two big stories were with pedal-based power meters.
The first of these systems is a combo effort by LOOK and Polar, which appears ready for production, and will work only with Polar's computers and LOOK's pedals. One nice feature of the system is that in addition to displaying total power, the user has the option to also display each leg's power contribution as a percentage (i.e., left leg 53%, right leg 47%). This can help cyclists fine-tune their form, and ensure that they are training efficiently. The whole system adds just 200g to the weight of LOOK's lightest pedals (presumably not counting the Polar computer), and it will retail for around $2000. Of the two pedal-based systems, LOOK/Polar has a clear advantage, since it's the only one ready for market.
The other big story came from Metrigear, who have been in the prototype stage with their Vector powermeter for over a year. But the cycling community was stunned and encouraged by the fact that Metrigear was just purchased by Garmin, who will likely push the project into production very soon. There are two key benefits of the Vector over its competitor. First, it is not married to either a pedal format nor a particular computer, as it's ANT+ compatible without restriction (at least, the prototypes have been). And second, it's projected to retail for about half of what the LOOK/Polar system does. Assuming both of these facts remain true through production, the Vector will be a serious competitor going forward.
Cranks and More
Although no breakthrough products arrived on the crank front, there are some incremental updates that are nevertheless exciting. Quarq told us that their iPhone platform, which already exists via a small dongle and an app, will soon be able to execute recalibrations of the powermeter. What's that mean for consumers? It means that if you replace your chainrings, or switch brands entirely, you no longer have to send the unit back to Quarq for recalibration. You just log onto your iPhone app and recalibrate remotely. Boom, as Jobs would say.
SRM also had some nice stuff on hand for the show. Our favorite piece was the new 7900 Compact powermeter, with a spider that mates beautifully with the 7900 chainrings. No longer does the 7900 ring look out of place on the SRM. Check out the gallery for more.