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Eurobike Power Meter Update Post: Quarq, ROTOR, Pioneer, Brim Brothers & Ciclosport

As part of my Eurobike coverage I’ve published posts for all of the power meter companies that have released new products at Eurobike this year.  Each of those companies had a separate post published on their new products.  That included the following:

SRM: New SRM PC8 had unit and rechargeable power meter
Polar/Look Keo: Update on Bluetooth Smart being added to their pedals
PowerTap: New PowerTap Hubs, Trainers, and iPad app
Power2Max: New Power2Max Type S lineup

Beyond that I wanted to briefly touch on each of the publically announced power meter brands I spent time with at Eurobike.  The only two brands not included here are Garmin Vector and Stages.  Stages wasn’t present at the show (but is at the upcoming Interbike), and I just spent time with the Vector engineering team two weeks ago asking anything and everything one could ever think of.  Nothing has changed since then.

None of the below brands had new products to announce beyond what’s already out there, but all of them had minor updates that are worthy of brief note.  At least as brief as I can be.

Quarq/SRAM Power Meters:

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I’m currently in the midst of publishing two different SRAM Quarq power meter reviews – the Quarq RIKEN, and the Quarq ELSA.  As such there isn’t any new product news to share from them, but we did have a good chat.

The one area I specifically discussed with them is their price and position.  I’ll outline in more detail my thoughts in my full “power meter market state” post scheduled for next week (I had delayed it waiting for Eurobike announcements).  However, the gist of it is that given the current price points of the RIKEN and ELSA compared to both the PowerTap and Garmin Vector – it puts Quarq in a bit of a high position relative to their offerings.  For example, the PowerTap hubs are currently at $799, RIKEN at $1,595 (starting) and the ELSA at $1,999.  Keeping in mind, Vector is sitting there at $100 more than the RIKEN, at $1,699.

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While they don’t plan any immediate moves, we did have a very good conversation with a number of people from the larger SRAM team on what my thoughts were on the power meter market at large.  We covered who the different products appealed to, and which segments (there are many within the PM market) I thought the pricing pressure would be most obvious in the coming months.

Given the significant number of power meters on the market today, and the relative stability in which these new entrants have gotten their products to – accuracy isn’t looking to be the key differentiator it may once have been a year or two ago.  Instead, features – or in some cases, perceived value of features – is becoming a key driver of purchasing.

On the bright side, they did have a video game setup (Quarqman) tied to a Quarq power meter.  I didn’t have a chance to give it a go – but I’m sure that it’ll be present at Interbike in a few weeks, thus now I have something to look forward to there.

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ROTOR Power Meter:

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The biggest news out of the Rotor camp this week was the release of a firmware update to the Rotor power system (update SW8) on Tuesday.  Up until this point things have been pretty rough with the power meter.  The information I’m hearing from many of you readers who have e-mailed me is that the SW8 firmware has made life significantly better for you.  Not perfect, but far better.

The Rotor folks echoed these sentiments, and seemed rather relieved to get SW8 out the door.  In conjunction with that they’re upping the number of units being made.  Currently that stands at 280 units/month, but starting in September they’ll be going to 800/units a month.

Right now the plan for a review is to get me a unit later in September, following Interbike.  This lines up with my other review schedules (next is Quarq RIKEN, then Garmin Vector and  Quarq ELSA).  Keep in mind that once I receive a unit there’s at least 30-45 days before a review is published for power meters due to extensive testing.  So the earliest sounds like closer to mid-November for a review assuming everything goes as planned timeline wise.

Pioneer Power Meter:

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Pioneer announced on Wednesday that their Pioneer power system is now available for purchase.  This follows the products use on Team Belkin during the Tour de France this past summer (and other events for the team).  The product was first widely announced last year at Eurobike (it was seen at various Asian trade shows prior, but without wide coverage).

The unit will retail for 2,500€  – including the head unit and installation.  Installation must be done by a certified dealer.  Currently those are limited to Belgium and the Netherlands, but they’ll be quickly expanding to other European countries in the coming weeks, starting with France and Germany.  Announcements regarding US distribution will be made at Interbike in two weeks.

The installation must be done by a certified dealer due to the use of specialized tools and curing that must be completed when the power meter is attached to a given crank arm.  The dealer training lasts one day.  The reason these can’t be simply shipped in the same manner as Stages does is that Pionner isn’t considered a dealer or distributor of the cranks/arms.  A multi-point calibration is also done onsite when a unit is installed.  Below, a portion of the large set of installation tools:

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On the head unit front, the head unit will work with other ANT+ power meters on the market today (unlike the SRM PC8).  You won’t get the same level of recording or detail.  In fact, it was interesting to learn that at present the unit records torque data every 30 degrees – thus at at even just 60RPM they’re recording 12 measurements per second.  That far exceeds anything on the market today.

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The head unit gets 12 hours of battery life before USB re-charging.  Meanwhile, the crank power meter system gets 300 hours before swapping out the CR2032’s.  It does not support o-rings.

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We talked about doing a system review down the road, but haven’t solidified an exact date this fall.  Because of the removal of other power meter units off of my bike to make way for that, companies sorta operate like aircraft coming in to land – spaced based on arrival time.

Brim Brothers Power Meter:

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While I spent time talking with the folks from Brim Brothers on Thursday, much of the news actually comes from an e-mail sent out to all folks who have registered for pre-orders.  That e-mail went out about 7 days ago.  Rather than re-summarizing what they’ve also summarized, I’m simply going to include the entirety of the e-mail here:

”I’m writing to you because you are one of the many people who pre-ordered a Zone power meter from Brim Brothers, and we want to bring you up to date with how we’re doing.

We’re still working hard, and making progress, although time is slipping past far more quickly than we planned. The Zone power meter is now in field tests, but the work of dealing with the many tasks to get it into volume production is like climbing the Alpe d’Huez or Mont Ventoux at the end of a long Tour de France stage. We can see the top, we know we’re getting there, and we just have to keep pushing!

At the moment our plan is to launch the power meter in the first few months of 2014. While that’s later than we had hoped, we’re putting a huge effort into meeting this schedule. We’re very aware that our deadline has slipped a number of times. All we can say in our defense is that the time needed to develop innovative technology and put it into production is very difficult to predict. Over the last six months the company has gone through some structural changes, and we now have extra resources and renewed commitment to our goals.

We are still not announcing a price, but we are keeping a very close watch on trends in the power meter market. Price will be announced much closer to launch.

Speedplay Zero is still the pedal/cleat system that our first version will work with.

One piece of new information I can give you now is that the Zone power meter will provide the new “torque effectiveness” and “pedal smoothness” values that some Garmin displays will be able to show. These two data values will provide a measure of your cycling style and efficiency. In general, the Zone will work with any ANT+ display that can show power and cadence, and if the display is able to show them you will also see left/right power balance, torque effectiveness, and pedal smoothness.

Lastly, we’ll be attending Eurobike on 28th and 29th August, and Interbike on 18th, 19th and 20th September. If you will be at either of those, then please let us know. We’d love to meet you and find out what you want from your Zone power meter.”

The conversations I had with them in more detail were consistent with the e-mail above.  I’m optimistic we’ll then see it on peoples bikes by next spring.  For those curious about my Brim Brothers tests ride, see this post here.

Ciclosport Power Meter:

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Finally, we’ve got the Ciclosportpower meter (CicloPower).  This bottom bracket focused unit snuck onto the show floor last year in a glass case.  This year, it’s moved onto a bike that you could step up and simply pedal.  Which, I did.  The unit measures both left and right power.

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(Sorry for the photo, I assure you that shooting the glariest screen ever with the background of another massive glass structure with sun shining in is not particularly simple.)

The consumer will be able to choose between carbon and aluminum crank arms, as well as black or silver.  The unit is wired from the bottom bracket up to the battery and transmitter pod (though, decisions haven’t been made regarding which BB’s will be accommodated).

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Once at the transmitter pod it sends the data via ANT+, including left/right power data per the ANT+ spec.

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The unit gets 50 to 200 hours of use before recharging via USB.

The unit is targeted for a mid-2014 release (summer next year), and is planned to cost 999€, including the crank and arms (but not chain rings).  The 2014 release would be for Europe, with a target of 2015 for the USA and Asia if Europe goes well.  In general, the information continues to be pretty slim about this – even during conversations with them about it.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome to Eurobike week! This week during Eurobike I’ll be tweeting from the exhibition show floor quite a bit, as well as posting frequently. Here’s a quick and handy link to all Eurobike-related posts.

30 Comments

  1. Brent

    How come there is all of a sudden an explosion of power meters. I cannot see how all or even most of the different types can survive. The early players with production volumes will be at a huge manufacturing cost advantage. Those with a high price premium surely will have to greatly reduce price. (SRM and pioneer). Its allright for SRM and others to say they re a premium product but considering that others are 1/3rd to half the cost, just as accurate and seeminly just as robust there will not be a market for so called "premium" products.

    Reply
  2. Luis

    I want to see how long the "we don't care about the others" SRM line is going to last...

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      Going by the changes in the new head unit I think they realize internally they need to change. But in the short term I think SRM is positioning themselves well as the luxury model. That will allow them to make enough profit to update their cranks in private to allow for a better release then rotor with its bugs and Garmin with the delays

      Reply
    • Chris replied

      Its been 25+ years, and SRM was the originator of the power meter craze. I think much is lost on most of us tech 'early adopters' with these new products, when appreciating the fact that SRM did all the leg work of making power accepted by first the professional teams and racers, then it had to trickle down to us consumers. The "we don't care" line, I believe, is SRM's way of way of conveying that attaching all these new "features" to headunits and measurment devices, is confusing a "training tool" with a "consumer electronic". I think there is a reason you still see SRM on damn near every professional team rider's bike! I own a power tap and have had that thing replaced many times, and a friend keeps telling me how great his SRM is - he's had his wired SRM since 2004 and its still going strong. How long does someone really expect a pair of Gamin pedals to last? or something strapped to your shoe? or zip tied onto a crank that will be upgraded or obsolete in a few years?

      Reply
  3. Consumers are going to be in power meter heaven by mid 2014.

    Reply
  4. Danny

    Any discussion about bluetooth smart integration? I know you must have asked ;)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Everyone else is looking at it (I asked about everyone), but generally holding off until head units start coming out with support for it.

      Reply
  5. Dave

    Looking forward to Ray's definitive guide to which power option to choose.

    Between cranks, pedals, shoes on top of the traditional options there are so many ways of doing it now.

    Mostly keen on some analysis of accuracy/price graphs to see where each model falls. I'm happy to sacrifice that last few % in accuracy for a big cost saving.

    The in shoe option could be great given how easy it will be to move between bikes but my head is telling me it would also be the least accurate.

    Reply
  6. Jamie

    I'd like to hear your thoughts 'interchangeable versatility' for those of us with multiple bikes with different BB's. I'd like to switch out my PT wheel and get Stages or Quarq perhaps but I have 1 bike w/BB30 and one 'standard' english threaded with Ultegra. Would a GXP or BB30 be the best choice for a quarq that I'd like to use on bikes I have now and may purchase in the future? Would a stages Ultegra or Rival arm have the most applicability across brands? I understand that adaptors will solve any incompatibilities but would like to know if there is a 'best' base choice to make?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Stuart Lynne

    Looking forward to see a side by side by side by side by side comparison for shoe + pedal + bottom bracket + crank + crank arm + hub equipped bike.

    Too bad there are no extant chain based models left. That plus wind / acceleromoter and accelerometer / wheel cadence would get us to about nine separate methods of calculating power :-)

    With two or more options for several of the locations!

    Reply
  8. HammerTime

    Regarding the Pioneer power meter, after initial installation by a trained dealer (oh yeah, there are going to be oodles of trained dealers in the U.S., LOL, but I'll reserve final judgment for the interbike announcement) what types of crank removal/reinstallation, chainring replacement,. BB, etc. operations require a Pioneer trained dealer and tools, as opposed to just standard (DA crank) mechanic capabilities?

    I don't know what issues there are preventing Pioneer from becoming a dealer or distributor of the cranks/arms, thereby allowing them to shift as much as possible of the tricky installation aspects to the Pioneer factory, as opposed to individual dealers, but I get the feeling that they'd be a lot better off having the tricky stuff done at the factory, and not at dealers.

    I just hope Pioneer can get their hands on enough zip ties to support the inevitable massive demand for these units.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There's no issues with crank removal/etc... (I asked that). It really comes down to the cementing of the Pioneer system onto the crank arm.

      They noted that interestingly, in Japan they are actually doing it all centralized. Essentially you send in your crank arms and get them back all done.

      Reply
    • HammerTime replied

      Is the (attachment of the) light green Pioneer thingy in the article picture affected by changing chainrings and require some kind of non-DA standard work to be performed?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm not clear on that.

      One of the things we talked about doing is actually sitting in on one of the local training sessions here in Paris. It's only about 3-4 hours to train them up. So I may sit in on it and effectively do my own install for a test system.

      Reply
  9. bam lemartin

    Pioneer is a big company, some fat cat is going to start counting beans, do a lean assessment and some black belt bull crap is gonna shut that mofo down in 24 hours. Simply a ridiculous model. I can live with the SRM "goldstandard stamp'' but they are truly laughing at me for when they charge on the head unit. That's head unit is ridiculously expensive and built by young asian virgin gidess'

    Reply
  10. RoadRunner

    Ray, thanks for the updates on where everyone is at. Judging by the take-up of power meters in my local club - only the really serious riders a few a couple of years ago, but now a steady increase in the lower grades - the market is definitely in a growth phase. Any word from Rotor about how they measure cadence (the issue which has been the source of their troubles)? Cheers!

    Reply
  11. Simo

    from the official release of garmin Vector now Quarq models seem too expensive for the offer..
    in my opinion 2014 power meter market will be played by low 1000eur/usd power meters like Stages, new p2m s-type for great mass users and by garmin vector for upper level users.
    Quarq should drop Riken prices to hit the p2m/stages target market.

    Reply
  12. Vi

    I cannot wait any longer for the Brim Brothers. At this point they should be refunding everybody's money. That's too long of a delay to launch a product and the interest declines after a certain period of time (Vector pedals). Too bad I was REALLY interested in the product (I'm a Speedplay user as well).

    I'm going to buy Stages.

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      How would they refund money they never took? They aren't taking money yet.

      Reply
  13. Great recap of this show. I have been thinking about getting a power meter, but it looks like more and more competition will bring prices down; guess I'll wait a little longer.

    Reply
  14. Jerome

    Hi Ray,

    Pioneer In-Depth review on your plan?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm working on it, but probably still a bit aways away. Heavy work travel means less bike time right now.

      Reply
  15. Cyrille

    Hello Ray,

    Do you have an approximative date on a full review of Rotor power meter?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Likely January or early February, work travel permitting (power meters are tougher since I have to have my bike).

      Reply
  16. Abraham

    @Rainmaker,

    Hi, in your last post you said you would probably review the Rotor Power in January or February. Do you know more about this?

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • vincent engel replied

      how about your rotor power review? somehow it seems your shifting it towards future dates every time. i think its been out since end of 2012?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The ROTOR wasn't really being shipped in bulk until this past fall. A few units went out over last summer, but then they stopped to address issues.

      There's been a series of issues along the way (mostly logistical) that have delayed things some. Now, I'm working to resolve some technical differences I've seen lately in testing. Hopefully, a review will be soon. But ultimately, if I'm going to write a review on any product, I want to validate the items I see are consistent with the product, and not just one-off items.

      Reply
    • Mike replied

      Hi,

      Are you able to enlighten us on the "technical differences" that you've seen in testing the Rotor Power meter or do I need to wait for the in-depth review to be published? I have one of these on order atm so I'm naturally curious to see how it compares with the Garmin Vector as both of these meters have independent left and right measurement.

      Many thanks.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've found it almost always registers high compared to the others - by a fair margin. In particular, I found the right sensor was being overcompensated. Which, doesn't mean my right leg is stronger, but that it was incorrectly adding wattage from the side. I was able to prove this on a CompuTrainer with a set wattage 200w (so it always stayed locked on that), where I did left/right leg drills. When on my left-leg the wattage showed 200w (and the other 3 power meters roughly matched that). However, when I did my right leg, the wattage on the ROTOR shot up by about 15%, whereas all the other PM's still maintained ~200w.

      The cause of this is unclear. I eventually completely un-installed everything and re-installed everything and it seems a little bit better. But given calibration repeatedly said I was fine, it's hard to know how a normal user would ever know.

      Reply
  17. Bob

    Any idea when Quarq is going to release an 11 speed compatible model without the need to swap chain rings? I'm really hoping they'll finally release a mid compact at the same time.

    Reply

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