Garmin Vector Power Meter pedals delayed to unknown date

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Just a quick bit of news from Garmin to start off your day:

“After testing our latest advanced prototypes of the Vector system, we are still not satisfied with the results. As you can imagine, Vector is a complex, precision measurement instrument and as of yet, we are unable to ensure that this device will meet the expectations of the cycling community. Presently, we cannot estimate a delivery date but we do not expect the product to be ready in the summer of 2012, as previously targeted. We understand that this is a highly anticipated product within the cycling community, but Garmin’s commitment to quality necessitates this additional delay. We will update our customers when we have additional information to share. Thank you for your understanding.”

In other words, Garmin Vector is delayed – and they are no longer setting any date for it.  This will now mark the second official Garmin delay for the product (there were previous delays prior to Metrigear being bought by Garmin back in August 2010).  Previously it was announced product would have been released back in March 2012, and then that was pushed to Summer 2012.  Now, that’s effectively been taken off the table altogether.

[Update 9:45PM Eastern]: I was able to get a bit more info regarding a few aspects.  The first is that this delay does not impact the long-promised Edge 500 TSS/NP/IF update (similar to the previously released Edge 800 update).  The latest date has the Edge 500 update occurring soon, well within the ‘spring’ timeframe.  Though, given the history here, I’ll believe it when I see it.  Similarly, the previously promised FR910XT update is also forthcoming for TSS/NP/IF, and the two device updates should be delivered at nearly the same time.  The teams working on the Edge/Forerunner firmware updates are not the same teams as Vector, and thus there’s no impact to their work streams.

Garmin declined to comment on the specific reason for the delay, though, in general they were seeing items across their internal testers who are riding day to day with Vector.  It sounded like they’ve learned a bit from some of the recent stumbles with respect to releasing products with bugs that have caused user frustration.  As many of you noted in the comments, it’s often better to get it right than try and fix a mess later.  At this point do not expect to see Team Garmin (Pro) utilizing Vector for any of the premier cycling races this summer.  They will continue to utilize the Garmin Vector branded pedal body, though no sensor data is being collected.  They have been riding this way since earlier this year (as previously noted they did use the full Vector system however at their Spain training camp back earlier this year).  Ultimately, as is often the case with pro teams, they need to focus on finished products once they get to the peak of the race season – and introducing development technology mid-stream just isn’t feasible (something I’ve heard on multiple occasions from multiple companies dealing with Pro teams).

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For those looking for advice on near-term power meter purchases – I think this would be a good time to look at other options.  For the vast majority of folks, I think the PowerTap series is the best bet.  More importantly – a steal of about $600-$700 including the wheelset (wireless ANT+ model).  After the price reductions last fall – you can easily justify two of them over the cost of other power meters.  Heck, three of them in some cases.

From there if you’re looking for a crank-based system, I’d look at either the Power2Max or one of the Quarq’s, which start at between $1500-$1800 depending on options (Quarq), and a bit below that (Power2Max – $975).  I received the Power2Max about two weeks ago and it should be going onto the bike in the next couple days – just had to finish up some other backlog items first.  But all indications that I’ve read point to a generally positive experience with it (though with some minor hiccups).  I’ve ridden a Quarq power meter for years (both The Girl and I both bought one) – and love it.  Lately, over the past month I had the chance to test out the new SRAM RED 2012 Quarq Power meter.  With the premium over the existing models (up to $2,000+), I find it hard to justify the extra cost over the existing models for the minimal extra benefits.  The newly added ‘power balance’ is not the same as left/right power, and the uses for it are fairly limited.  And while the remainder of the additions are nice (i.e. LED light for pairing, ANT+ ID on the outside, and additional compatibility) – for many, they just aren’t worth the extra dough.

Of the non-ANT+ enabled variety you’ve got the Polar/Look KEO Power Pedal system.  Topping out at between $1,900 and $2,200 it’s definitely an option.  In a twist of irony, the pedals are expected to arrive back at my place today – after a vacation in France getting their firmware updated.  For those looking for legit left/right power, this will remain the only option for the foreseeable future.

Finally, you’ve got SRM.  There’s no question SRM is good, but I do question that for 95% of the users out there, they just don’t need to spend that kind of money.  Most folks don’t correctly calibrate their power meters every ride, and thus, any additional accuracy gains that come with the SRM are usually negated by ignoring calibration on their power meter anyway.  For certain applications (i.e. track), there are obvious benefits to the SRM around recording rates, etc… – but again, for most, it’s just not applicable.

As always, if you’ve got any questions – feel free to toss them below in the comments and I’ll try and get answers.

Thanks for reading!

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46 Comments

  1. I don’t think think you should totally ignore the iBike. They are about to release a completely re-designed model (link to ibikeforum.com) in May 2012, the iBike Newton. While it may not be the PM for serious techno-weenies, it does a pretty good job if one uses it within its limitations. Also no one can beat its price, weight, and portability.

    Reply
  2. This totally didn’t make my day… I have been holding out on a power meter for almost a year… I really like the ability to easily move the vector pedals from one bike to another, especially in the winter, like moving it to my spin bike. Grrr….

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    What are your thoughts on the Brim Brothers pedals that look like they are working on. They have a functional test pair they had at a bike show.

    Reply
  4. Russell

    Bummer. Where can I find a power tap for $600-$700 including the wheel set? Haven’t been able to find one priced that low.

    Reply
  5. Bert

    Like Russell said, I haven’t found a wheel set that cheap anywhere. If so, sign me up. I would have taken that over the $1500 Vector that seems like it will never come to market. Also interested to know if you’ve heard any updates about the Zone

    Reply
  6. Very nice summary of current available options out there, specially your point about SRM accuracy and calibration. Do you have any information regarding the MTB version of the PowerTap ? I going towards them but specific information is sparse. Thank you!

    Reply
  7. I’m with Russell and Bert. Can’t find anything that cheap.

    Reply
    • go ian replied

      January 2012 I got a powertap pro+ laced to a mavic open pro wheel for $660 on competitive cyclist.com. I don’t see them there now but those deals are around.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    The 600-700 for a PT wheel set seems a bit low, but you can buy a PT wheelset based on Velocity A23s for 1100 direct from PT. It might be less with a LBS if they should discount a bit. Avialable NOW.

    Reply
  9. eric b

    I’d take exception to your point about SRM accuracy and whether or not it is necessary. The reality is that all power meters *should* be calibrated regularly, and zero offset should be checked every ride. This is true for Quarq, SRM, Powertap, etc.

    I think one key issue that you failed to consider is how stable the various options are. This is particularly important for those who are least likely to check calibration and/or zero offset.

    Most athletes never check calibration (true sense of the word, not the Garmin head unit “calibration” which is zero offset). A higher percentage DO properly check zero offset, but perhaps do not do so manually before each ride.

    Consider that stated accuracy may not be the only relevant item here. Holding the factory value for longer could have big benefit.

    Reply
  10. You forgot the polar chain sensor. It’s about half your quoted powertap price.

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  11. I guess we can forget NP for Edge500 too, since they seem to have been putting that off until the Vector release :(

    Reply
  12. Too bad about the Vector, so glad I went with Powertaps. Up to 4 now…

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I purchased my PT last year for just a little over $600.00. I think both Wheelbuilder and Competitive Cyclist had them at a blowout price around the same time last year (Aug/Sept’ish). For those of you looking, it might pay off to keep an eye on those two sites.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Hey Ray-
    What were the minor issues with the Power2Max? I’m seriously considering them right now as I think they are trying to make some headway into the market and so price is looking better than some of the others out there. PT is not really an option for me ….. two many wheels interchanging.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Any word on the Edge 500 firmware update with TSS/NP? Or has that been shelved along with the Vector?

    Reply
  16. I’m disappointed but not entirely surprised. I’m guessing they’ve got themselves into a QA nightmare. Lets hope there is not some fundamental issue that has come up in testing. My issue now is whether garmin will go ahead and release the edge 500 update to support TSS and NP. I hope so and soon.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Not happy about the delays, but happier than if they pushed out junk on time. More time to save my money for Cycleops’ new Joule and wait for Vector’s Speedplay version – unless the Power2Max is the way to go instead…

    Reply
  18. Hoping the Brim Brothers can pull off their cleat-based power measurement. If it works, it could prove to be the most elegant solution of all.

    Reply
  19. Brian

    So, I’m not sure how much weight I’d put in your evaluation, since you don’t seem to know much about SRM’s.

    You’re discounting the premier power measurement system. I would argue that most people set the zero-offset at the beginning of every ride, because they’re training with power and obviously care about the accuracy of their data. That said, the SRM has auto-set the offset for about 3+ years now.

    Cool story bro

    Reply
  20. Basil

    I have a SRM and Garmin 500 – each ride I do the calibration as described in the manual(0 offset). Reading this it implies this is not the proper way to calibrate. If so what is?

    Reply
  21. Hi All-

    Thanks for the comments, I’ve updated the post with additional info regarding the Edge/910XT firmware updates, as well as a few other updates/comments.

    RE: Power2Max

    There’s some issues with power drift. I’ll be doing some testing (primarily against a CompuTrainer), but I’ve been talking with some folks that have better access to do some tests – some of which is already published.

    RE: Brim Brothers

    I’ll give those guys a poke, and see how the world is treating them.

    Hi Brian-

    Nope, you’re misreading what I’m saying. I’m not at all discounting SRM – it’s a great platform, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

    What I’m discounting is that people actually bother to calibrate their PM’s in any way/shape/form, or, even do it correctly. Meaning, that if you’re not bothering to do so, then paying even more is futile since you’re not going to gain any additional accuracy if you’re not doing baseline tasks. Which, is exactly what folks do across all power meter types – SRM or not. And with the rise of non-SRM head units, the number of users that may be using incorrect offsets in their head units only increases.

    Now, if you have folks like you’ve noted which do care about the data at the detailed level, then yes, paying for additional accuracy can make sense.

    Reply
  22. Ray, did Garmin give any indication if they would be fixing the Instant Pace parameter on the 910xt? It needs some data averaging to address the constant +/-1 min/mile variation it currently displays.

    Reply
    • Chris Noland replied

      Yea I thought the last update was going to fizz that and man is it frustrating to see such huge swings in pace. I like to glance down to see if I am on target and sometimes it is a wtf moment. I want to setup pace alerts but figure they would be almost worthless

      Reply
  23. Anonymous

    What’s the point of having power data if you don’t care about its accuracy?
    Cheers, Alex

    Reply
  24. eric b

    thanks for this post (and your blog in general). i appreciate it.

    ray, since you posted twice saying essentially the same thing (paraphrasing: “the SRM is not worth the money as most people do not calibrate their device”), i’m inclined to post a second reply.

    above, i made the point that there are 2 points here: a unit’s accuracy AND how long it holds the settings from the factory. ironically, for someone who does NOT calibrate their device (either using garmin’s incorrect usage of the term ‘calibrate’ to mean zero offset or the proper use of the term), it is perhaps MORE important that a device holds it’s settings for the long-term.

    this alone can justify a premium.

    of course, there are benefits for all users, but the argument you make that the uninformed (or lazy) users that do not calibrate and/or set ZO before each ride are the ones who would least benefit from a more accurate system is, i think, backwards.

    in my opinion, accuracy is nice but for most people, precision is more important.

    Reply
  25. Can you say, “vaporware?” While I’m sure the technology is really tricky, it sounds like creating a solid, pedal-based PM at this price point may be beyond Garmin’s (or anyone’s) capability. Too bad, I’m sure Garmin has a lot of money invested in acquiring MetriGear and R&D. I just don’t think Vector is ever going to be “soup” and will now consider PT. Sorry, Garmin.

    Reply
  26. Anonymous

    Well, I ordered a quarq. I just can’t see putting that much money into two sets of wheels. I have a new set of training wheels and a low mileage set of race wheels. I would think a lot more people just jumped ship on waiting for these things.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    Hi Ray, did Garmin indicate if the 910 SW update will address the watch power down issues on the bike? (there’s a popular post on Garmin forum for the 910). If not can you please question them next time you speaking to those guys. Really appreciate it.

    Reply
  28. Anonymous

    I gave up on Vector when they announced that they weren’t going to support Speedplay.

    Reply
  29. Wich

    I ordered a Quarq too when I heard this news. No new release date? Give me a break. I have been waiting for Vector for nearly a year. I am fed up.

    Reply
  30. Anonymous

    Garmin lost another customer. Just ordered a Powertap…..

    Reply
  31. Anonymous

    Yeah…trial the ibike again. Except see if it will pair up with the Power2max. My ibike dash would not. Garmin 800 paired first try. Not sure why but I’d like to know from a gizmo guy why this might be. For that matter, I couldn’t get Wahoo to do it either but I heard they have a test crank and are looking into it. On a side note if you could get the Casio G-shock people to add bluetooth and/or Ant+ receiver to their new phone plus some type of app. that would be a killer combo phone/head unit.

    Reply
  32. Hi Ray, love your blog – an avid follower of your tests.
    I have had my P2M for about a month and I am extremely satisfied with the product as well as their services. Works great and looks even greater, really a no hassle installation.
    -Thought I would just point you to this one: link to o-synce.com
    At one point I contacted them for a price tag and ETA and it was due spring 2012 at around 1500 EUR. Seems, though, that that did not work out. But I still really like the fact that it has no connections to be made and the electronics is tucked away neatly.

    Ulf (Denmark)

    Reply
  33. Any info on the Edge 500 TSS update?

    Reply
  34. RE: O-Synce

    Yeah, I’m in contact with those guys. At present, they aren’t ready yet for any testing (external).

    RE: Edge 500 update

    I’ve been trading e-mails with them over the past few days, nothing concrete on that topic yet. :(

    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    I am somewhat new to all of this and am interested in purchasing a power meter. I noticed on the Garmin site about the Vector meter but it sounded like you had to have Look pedals. I have a Trek speed concept 9.9 with speed play pedals….any suggestions on a meter that would work with my bike and current pedals? Thanks

    Reply
  36. Yup, try out any of the Quarq or PowerTap lineups. Alternatively, a bit cheaper is the Power2Max – I’ve used the first two without issue, and the Power2Max is sitting at home waiting for me to install it (a BB replacement just came in today). Enjoy!

    Reply
  37. Hey Ray, have you inside sources given you any idea on how the “fix” is coming?

    Reply
  38. Nuttin but the sound of silence.

    Reply
  39. Anonymous

    just came across this blog, and just an FYI: Keep an eye our for the ROTOR Power Meter, they are claiming to have R/L power balance with electronics in the crank.

    Reply
  40. Indeed. They semi-announced them at last Interbike (kinda funny actually, they announced them, and then announced that nobody would know anything about them.

    At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see. The announcement noted that they would be including both ANT+ and BTLE (Bluetooth Smart), as well as utilizing a higher data rate option.

    Hopefully, the Left/Right power will be legit left/right power, as opposed to the updated Quarq system, which is a guesstimate based on measuring the upstroke/downstroke of the right side and doing a math guess of the left.

    I’m sure we’ll see more at Eurobike in just under two months.

    Reply
  41. Poepp

    News from Garmin concerning the vector release date:

    link to bicycleretailer.com

    Reply
  42. Anonymous

    Hi have hoy heard anything further on the vector? Really want to start training with a Power meter!

    Reply
  43. Anonymous

    Any chance that you will do a test of Ibike Newton? Is it a reliable PM?

    Reply
  44. It’s possible at some point, but things are pretty jammed up right now in the product review queue. :(

    The earliest I’d see would be early 2013 right now.

    Reply

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