Garmin gives updated Vector power meter schedule (February 2013)

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[Please Note: Garmin Vector has been released, you can see my first look at it here.  In the interest of keeping things clean, I've disabled new comments here, and all comments should head over to that post.  Thanks!]

Today, on Garmin’s quarterly earnings call (for Q4FY12), they provided an update on the state of $1,500US Garmin Vector power meter, along with a few minor updates on other health and fitness initiatives.  For those just joining this long-running (and rather popular) saga, the Garmin Vector is a pedal-based power meter that had been rebranded from Metrigear after the acquisition of Metrigear in September 2010.  It wasn’t until September 2011 that timeline guidance from Garmin was given.  Since then, the release date has been pushed back frequently – though despite frequent external rumors, the project has not been cancelled.  You can read all the Vector technical deals here in this post.

Previously during the October call (Q3FY12 earnings), Cliff Pemble, President and Chief Operating Officer of Garmin, had stated the following:

“We are making progress on Vector and we’ve been evaluating new design changes and we do feel like things are looking promising and are sticking to our early next year first quarter (Q1CY13) or early second quarter (Q2CY13) deliveries.” – October 31st, 2012

The new guidance, as delivered in the presentation portion of the call today is:

“We continue to make progress with our Vector Power Meter, and anticipate it will be made available this year.” – February 20th, 2013

As a general reminder about earnings calls, in the US executives can be held criminally liable for knowingly lying in public fiscal statements.

Later during the Q&A portion of the call, an analysts asked a question on cycling computers (very generic), but as part of the answer the statement regarding release of Vector was reiterated.

“When we do come out with our Vector Power meter later in the year, we’ll have a total solution for people, a high end head unit with power meter, which is what cyclists really want.” – February 20th, 2013

The next analyst followed up with a question regarding some financial aspects of the Garmin Vector, which was answered as such:

“…we would expect the product to be in market in mid-year, but we would expect to catch some sales in the back half of the year.” – February 20th, 2013

He continued that due to being late in the cycling season, they didn’t expect to see a significant fiscal impact (sales) this season.  Just to re-iterate what they were saying in the last statement, they currently expect for the product to arrive around mid-Summer.  Though, their larger guidance simply says “this year”.

Finally, the last analyst to ask a question during the call asked about the delays of Garmin products, and why products such as Vector were delayed and what the organization has done to improve getting products to market:

“While every product has its own story….and Vector is a very complicated and precise instrument.  But we felt like we needed to take more time to meet the expectations of our customers in that particular market.” – February 20th, 2013

No additional comments or mentions about Vector was made during the presentation portion of the earnings call.  This availability guidance tracks with what I’m hearing.  I do not expect to see the Vector in consumer hands in significant quantities before Eurobike/Interbike(September).  Once you miss the spring season for cycling, you pretty much re-align marketing to the fall cycling release cycle (driven by , which leads into the holiday buying period.

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In addition to the small Vector update, they did note that they plan to continue to build out Garmin Connect and introduce more social networking features.  In fact, there was an entire slide deck focused on it – though the narrative provided no additional detail:

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I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks for reading!

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61 Comments

  1. David Tunney

    If it isn’t used in the Giro it won’t hit markets in Q3, if not in TdF won’t be 2013

    • Rainmaker replied

      There’s no correlation between the pro teams using it and being to market in a given timeframe. While use by pro teams have their place, in general, there is little for Garmin to gain technically from them at this stage.

      Marketing value is huge, but the support side of having a pro team using a product can be considerable – especially in big events.

      I’ve heard similar comments around the value (technically) from almost all other PM companies out there that have exprimented with pro teams (especially at the TdF level). Marketing value yes, technical feedback value not as much.

  2. Brett

    I just wish they could work it across some other pedal types. The initial Metrigear was Speedplay wasn’t it?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Initially yes. They’ve said that once they get the initial pedal type out the door they will be looking at other pedal types. Right now they’re just focusing their effort on one platform.

  3. Gummee!

    I thought the UCI had some kind of timeline for team gear to make it to production. No ‘prototypes’ any more. So, if someone’s using it in the pro ranks, it HAS to be out within X (?6?) mos. My google-fu is weak today. Someone is going to have to check that

  4. Eli

    With the quote “we’ll have a total solution for people, a high end head unit with power meter” and in their slide they mention creating “Strong replacement demand” I wonder if the 810/510 is that high end head unit that is supposed to create strong replacement demand or if a new head unit will come out with the vector. Hardware wise the 810 seems like it took very little work to make as its the same hardware but with a radio that supports Bluetooth in addition to Ant+ so maybe they were saving thier enginering resources for another device (although guess that other device could have been the 510 and I’m making a long shot wish) Have you heard anything?

    I wonder if they will add the ability to record R-R intervals on the 810 so it can match the functionality of the Forerunner 610/910xt. And if they will make it easier to enable R-R interval recording without using firstbeat athlete. (Would be a small hit to battery life as instead of reading the heart rate from the strap at I’m guessing ~1Hz it would record every ~4Hz, but shouldn’t be too hard to add the extra data)

    • Rainmaker replied

      Prior to that quote (or rather, as a longer part of that answer), he did call out the 510/810 as those devices. So there’s no question there.

      There are mumblings around revamping the BT chip in the devices to be BT4.0. But there’s significant conflict around whether or not to open it up to other sensors types (non ANT+).

      There’s no plans to make an 820 or 520 anytime soon. I think the focus is on improving the current units via software, though realistically with a legacy BT chip in there, they’ll be long-term hobbled unless they update that chip behind the scenes on newly shipping units. One of the primary reasons I suggested folks hold off

      Ironically, another analyst asked specifically about sensors. The execs took the direction of explaining what sensors were (a running footpod was the example they gave), rather than giving up their ideas for new sensors – or going into detail around what specifically they were talking about. They dodge the question a bit, and kinda got away with it.

      As for R-R, it’s tough. At the end of the day it costs Garmin money to enable R-R for each device (they pay a licensing fee to Firstbeat for that). And, there are differing license fees for different levels of compatibility And ultimately, I don’t think it probably makes good business sense to do so. It’s kinda funny to think about it, as Firstbeat charges both ends of the candle – the consumer for the software, and the device company. Long term, I don’t believe that business model is viable. Charging the consumer is viable, but not the device companies as margins get ever thinner.

    • Eli replied

      Thanks for responding. For revamping the BT chip does it require new hardware or is the chip capable of BT 4 but the firmware/drivers for it don’t have in enabled? Going that route would make it hard to open it up to other BTLE devices as I’m guessing there is only one low energy 2.4GHz radio so could only do one or the other and not both at the same time and they would obviously prefer Ant+

      As to improving the units through software updates is this like the fenix so using a new model? Seems like all their other sport devices only get bug fixes outside of the TSS power update to the 800/500.

      As to recording R-R, that should be free. Its described in the Ant+ heart rate monitor device profile (5.3.63) and in the FIT SDK (9.1.2.5) on thisisant so recording isn’t the issue. Sure they would need to pay if that wanted the extra fields the 610/910 have to know how hard a workout it and while I’d love that to be there it isn’t needed (they they paid to have TSS data on the device and garmin connect so this seems like a similar thing) Using the data currently may be hard as it seems like not many companies do anything with that data. But I feel once that data is easy to get by enabling an option on the device more apps will come out to use it.

  5. Larry Bard

    he swims, he bikes, he runs. He provides detailed gadget reviews. And he covers analyst calls. Impressive!!

  6. Nick

    The Vector pedals are already (finally?) being used by pros now.

    Eg:

    Those are Garmin’s Vector pedals on there. Garmin have been working on these power-measuring pedals for ages now but we’ve not heard a dicky bird about them in a while. They’re clearly not working to the required standard yet, hence the lack of a sensor and the presence of the SRM system.

    link to road.cc

    • Rainmaker replied

      Nope. Those are empty pedals.

      Team Garmin has been riding on them since last year, just Garmin branding on the outside. It may have a legit Vector spindle in it (highly unlikely), but it doesn’t really matter – since the transmitter pods aren’t on the bikes (and haven’t been). If you look in the close-up picture of the power meter, you’ll see that normally there should be two transmitter pods (about the size of a quarter each), sticking up at the point where the pedal attaches to the crank arms (on both cranks). No love…no Vector.

  7. Nick

    Does this mean that Garmin has no plans on releasing any run specific watches this year?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Earnings calls tend to focus on announced items. Obviously, unannounced items remain unannounced.

  8. glurple

    I stopped caring last year.

    Vector is dead to me.

    • djconnel replied

      I was thinking about this comment for awhile, trying to extract the constructive content, but I can discover none. Is it because you consider the goal of independent L-R power no longer useful, that the competition has already made it sufficiently available, or are you just throwing a tantrum because you expected a new thingie and didn’t get it when it was promised? I’ve seen a lot of promises in the power meter domain and very little delivery: it’s obviously extremely tough. What’s the big advancement since Greg LeMond started using SRAM in the early 1990′s? The same technology is still dominant, perhaps adding some pedal stroke symmetry analysis. Where’s Polar-Look? Where’s Pioneer? At least Stages launched, but testing done here was very unpromising. Chain and bottom bracket approaches have come and gone. I hardly blame Garmin for being careful.

    • SomeGuy replied

      I’m with glurple. I was an early sign up on the Metrigear mailing list. I watched. I waited. I wrote to them and got replies. I waited some more. Then Garmin bought them. Bingo!, I thought. A Big Gun who can push them over the last hill and get them to market, with an established distribution system! I was excited. I waited some more. I delayed buying a needed set of replacement Speedplays for almost two years…
      I’ve eagerly watched the “progress”. The only real progress I’ve noted is the estimated street price. It started around $1000 (Metrigear). Then it became $1200. (I bought new Speedplays…) Now it’s $1500 and we’re still seeing only a mock-up in their press photo.

      The Vectors are a unicorn.

    • Reto replied

      Me 3 with Glurpie. I heard the reports way back when Metrigear flashed their speedplay version in Vegas. Got on their mailing list and forgot about it for a while. I have to admit, I was a little surprised how Garmin took it’s own sweet time. So I ended up getting the SRAM Red Quarq.
      Plus one of my buddies brought up a good point. How durable is a pedal based power meter gonna be? Considering how much abuse the pedal takes you may very well have to buy new ones from time to time. We’ll see I guess.

    • glurple replied

      @djconnel

      The reason I have stopped caring is because it has been three years since Metrigear announced that the Vector pedals would start shipping. That is more time than it took me to train and prepare for the last Olympic Games.

      But to answer your question, independent L-R power isn’t useful – and has never been useful – aside from its use in injury rehabilitation.

      The real value in pedal based power meters is that they can be easily transferred between bicycles. That’s hugely advantageous for people who need to swap between road bikes, race bikes, TT bikes, and track bikes.

    • kosh replied

      I don’t believe this product will ever be released. The developers have been stringing us along for years. Stop wasting my time promoting vapourware. If it ever does appear, I’ll take a look then.

      I have zero confidence in Garmin as a company; I’ve had nothing but bad experiences from their service & support folks. Products like the Edge 500 suffered for years from software defects, many of which remain unresolved. In some ways they get worse; I downgraded from v3 to v2.4 to improve altitude graphing.

  9. Tyler

    Surely Garmin is working on releasing a Bluetooth/live-tracking running watch this year, right?
    They’re falling dangerously behind by sticking to antiquated proprietary formats, lack of social features, slow software upgrades (how about ability to create SWIM workouts for 910?), etc.
    Market is ripe for a competitor to unseat them.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I’m sure they’re working on lots of things. But earnings calls are focused on earnings, and things already announced.

  10. Tosin

    I was going to buy a powertap this month, but by the time i got back to the random $999 G3 cycleops wheelset on amazon, it was gone. Besides that, the health of my company is in question, so rather than spend the $800-1350 now, I’m still going to have to wait and just continue to use trainerroad. Do you think if Garmin sticks to sometime this year that it’s worth waiting?

    • Rainmaker replied

      It’s too early to say. I suspect that since they’ve delayed the launch to ‘get it right’, that ultimately, when it is released, they’ll ‘get it right’. As with all power meter companies there are smart people working there. But, that’s what reviews are for. :)

  11. Happy Runner

    Ray, I love ya, you know I do. But I HATE the title to this article. Unfortunately, I read the headline as: Garmin gives updated Vector power meter schedule: February 2013. Woo hoo! Scheduled release THIS MONTH! Wow! I’m dancing around the house and popping corks of the champagne. Then I sat down and actually read the article. I’m now looking for an online supply of Zoloft and Prozac to get me through the year before this thing is actually released.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry!

      Yeah, I struggled a bit with how to phrase it. I used a similar title for the November post, and I anticipate additional posts with further similar titles in the future (hopefully, not for years). I’ll ponder a better title for next quarter. :)

    • Eli replied

      Garmin Vector update (roman numeral here)

      So when we hit “Garmin Vector update L” we know its been going on far too long. ;)

  12. ian

    based on garmin’s past performance with the 705/800/810, garmin seems to release a product before it actually works. The release of all these mentioned garmin devices above had major issues that were being worked out after they sold the device. I went through 5 different 705s before they fixed some major issues, the 800 never, and still does not record power properly (adding in 2 sec of repeating the last power value when you stop pedaling) and now the 810 does this random 2 sec half power drop. Based on my previous purchases, i would not be one of the first people to buy their pedal power meters and will be sticking with my quarq power meters. Unfortunately, this is what happens when there is a lack of competition in the market place.

  13. Wass33

    I gave up on this, then I gave in and ordered a stages power meter. I will know shortly if this another over promise and under-deliver on power for the people!

  14. Wouter

    The story about Vector is a bit like Duke Numen Forever :-)
    That’s the downside of being a bit to transparent about your developments. From the outside it takes for ages, while on the inside you’re working your *ss of.

    Got my hopes on Brim Brother. (Transferrability is a plus) Though I won’t expect them in 2013 either.

  15. JH

    This is killing me.

    I got a powertap in 2010 and love power.. but have TT, Road, MTB and Tandem across Campag, Shimano and SRAM, with compact and double, and low-pro, deep-section, and disc wheels. I also had knee surgery (and the prospect of OA in the joint before too long) and am interested in looking at L/R power as I am probably pretty imbalanced.

    I’ve been holding off equipping the TT bike with crank based for two years now, but have converted to Look Keo pedals. The release dates are soon enough to make it worth waiting each time…. last chance though…

    Just venting, but thanks for the info DC, appreciated!

  16. MD

    Any more news on Vector? Living in Sweden I´ve tried to make contact with the Garmin guys but they don´t seem to know any dates. However, pretty funny, you can order them here: link to klockgiganten.se….time of delivery is unkown though so good luck with that.

    ps love your site DC

    • Rainmaker replied

      Nuttin. This is the latest update. On the bright side, the next earnings call is only about 60 days away. ;)

  17. IronNico

    Yeah, anyway I’ll go for the Power2Max with Rotor Q-rings on 3D+ for almost the same price as the unicorn promised by Garmin… Although it’s sad because I like Garmin products !

    Only low is definitely that it doesn’t shift from one bike to another so easily… =(

  18. Larry Lem

    Garmin deleted their Facebook page called “Garmin Vector”. Maybe Brim Brothers will overtake them.

    • Yea, the “Garmin Vector” – facebook side has been taken down, i dont now when, but i don’t like the fact that is happening. They have probably seen to many questions asking about the same around the release day. I hope they try integrate a under site on their Garmin facebookpage for the Vector.
      Because this is just cutting lose their buyers with no answers at all!

      Rainmaker, can you please look in to the case, why they deleted their info page on Facebook?

      For now, I just have to stick to my powertapwheel =(

    • Rainmaker replied

      I’ll ask Monday. I can almost guarantee it’s simply to reduce expectations around it and streamline the social media side.

  19. DBrookes

    Any update on the post from the 12th?

    Thanks.

  20. DBrookes

    Great review of your visit to Garmin.

  21. Chris

    Garmin held their Q1 2013 call on the 1st May, there was a brief mention of Vector by the CEO/President Cliff Pemble. “In particular, we are pleased with the progress our Vector power meter is making, which remains on track for delivery this summer”.

    Sounds hopeful.

    Though I live in the UK and have been waiting for summer for a couple of years!

    Quote found on the seekingalpha.com transcript site here: link to seekingalpha.com

    • DBESS340 replied

      Chris,

      I saw the same post & it gave me a little glimmer of hope also. I really do wonder with it being that already late in the month of May. I really do wonder when Garmin will put out another “official release date” & start taking preorders for the Vector.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I would not expect any official PR upon release of Vector. I think it’ll just probably randomly start showing up in the distribution pipeline, very quietly…just my two cents.

  22. Andre

    I don’t believe that the Garmin Vector will ever be released. A company that has passed the initial deadline by a long time and has totally cut off any information about the product says pretty much everything. They can’t pull it off.

    If the Vector ever hits the market (in the year 2100) it will be full of flaws.

    I personally have gave up the hope its as simple as that. Very bad communication.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Note that they did provide investor guidance again 10 or so days ago as part of their quarterly earnings calls. They continued the statement of ‘this summer’. (Chris provided a link to).

      Like I noted above, the way the US laws work, if they knowingly lie in investor statements, they can be held criminally liable for it. Given we’re only a month away from summer, I’d be willing to be they are further along than folks want to give them credit for (baring unexpected issues).

  23. Happy Runner

    Gee, mid-summer and I’m still Vector-less. Anything new on the earnings call front?

    Interesting that CEO’s can be held liable for false statements, but I suspect that a criminal case can’t be built around mere optimism (“looking promising,” “continue to make progress,” “anticipate release,” “expect to release mid-year”) All of these statements have the unstated theme: “we have problems right now that are not solved, but we really hope we can solve them.” Unless Garmin has actually stopped work, it appears that nothing they have said rises to the level of a statement that has enough specific facts that it could ever be actionable.

    BTW, Ray, they said “mid year.” You added [FY2013]. Maybe they meant mid-year 2018 and are way ahead of schedule! :)

    • Rainmaker replied

      Summer technically started two days ago. Though even by more traditional definitions (June/July/Aug), it’s still about a month from mid summer.

    • Chris replied

      The next (Q2 results) earnings call should be around 1st August as that was the date last year and the Q1 call this year was on the 1st May.

  24. Andre

    I assume we are still in no mans Land Vector wise. I haven’t heard anything from Garmin which means the Vector won’t make it this Cycling Season (again). No surprise but it still kinda bugs. I’m probably gonna go with another power meter, I’m more than tired of waiting.

  25. johnny Appleseed

    so much bullshit being written here… Specially on the stock market front and promises and so on…. ever heard of FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS, come on morons… In any case, not that care but new garmin power pedals coming to retailers near you, limited and demo, not for sale. Open you ears, nerds.

    • Ray Maker replied

      Hi Johnny.

      In the US (since it looks like your in Canada), statements about current product development (which is in part what Garmin discusses when they say its still active project), is subject to criminal laws if they knowingly lie. Forward looking statements are different, and would include statements about specific dates (also as Garmin noted).

      That said, a simple search online will yield you what distributors and retailers and saying about dates and availability, along with test rides.

  26. Cdub

    For what it’s worth my LBS said they’re getting a small allocation of Vector pedals “soon” and mentioned this to their Facebook community the other day. Seems like its finally upon us. Mega price tho – $1700 MSRP plus need Look KEO pedals.

  27. Hugh

    Ray,

    How’s your testing on these going? Just nod or a wink will tell me all I want to know;)

    Hugh

    • Ray Maker replied

      I don’t currently have a Vector set.

    • Happy Runner replied

      And since it’s probably a fair bet that Ray would get one for beta testing, this does not bode well for the rumours that Vector would be available for purchase “by the end of the summer.”

      Ray, when you receive pre-release units, generally speaking, how far in advance do you get them when dealing with a major company (read: Garmin).

    • Ray Maker replied

      For Garmin, it varies from 1 day to 6 weeks prior to announcement.

  28. Chris

    Q2 earnings call today, and the update on Vector was “In the second half of 2013, we anticipate delivering a number of new products to the market, including the Vector power meter, which are expected to accelerate revenue growth”. This is from a transcript just published on Yahoo Finance. There is one shop being quoted online saying they expect to have them in September.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks for the update. Looks like that’s from the release: link to finance.yahoo.com

      Since I believe the earnings call isn’t set to happen till 10:30AM Eastern, 2 hours from now: link to garmin.blogs.com

    • Chris replied

      Ray is absolutely right of course! My update earlier today was from the press release, it’s also available at the Garmin investor area link to garmin.com

      You can listen to a recording of the call now from this site, the Vector update starts at 4 minutes in:

      “The most anticipated of new product deliveries in the third quarter is the Vector power meter which is expected to accelerate revenue growth in the back half of the year. Vector has entered mass production and we expect to deliver the product to retailers soon. We are thrilled to finally cross the finish line with this new product and anticipate our customers will appreciate the unique features and value proposition that Vector brings to the cycling market”.

      A text version of the transcript should be loaded on the same Garmin site later.

      Hopefully they will deliver one to Ray soon too.

  29. Happy Runner

    Thanks, Chris. I think the quote that you transcribed is the first time that Garmin has gone from mere predictions, which would not be actionable (“looking promising,” “continue to make progress,” “anticipate release,” “expect to release mid-year”), to a concrete factual statement which, if false, could lead to liability (“has entered mas production.”). Coupled with the “finally cross the finish line” phrase, seems like Garmin is clearly indicating that there are no remaining problems and the Vector is completely ready. If not, Mr. Pemble deserves to become Mr. Madoff’s roommate.