First look at new SRM PC8 head unit with WiFi/GPS/ANT+ & Bluetooth

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Updated August 30th, 7:58PM with clarifications/additions from SRM, see note at end for summary of changes.

Today SRM unwrapped their PC8 head unit, which is the successor to their existing PC7 head unit that’s on the market today.  The PC8 is without question the biggest technological jump we’ve seen from SRM, packing in every communications chip type that’s on the market today into a single device: GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, accelerometers, and ANT+.

To start off with a visual refresher, here’s a quick before and after comparing the PC7 to the PC8:

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The most significant changes come in the form of technical upgrades to the internal guts, namely the inclusion of a number of new communication types:

– ANT+ for connection to ANT+ speed/cadence sensors, ANT+ power meters [updated], heart rate straps, and weight scales
– Bluetooth Smart for connecting to smartphones/tablets (not planned to connect to Bluetooth sensors) [Update: Here’s a ton more detail on how that works]
– WiFi for download/upload of data, configuration of the data screens/pages

Outside of communications and sensors, there’s further changes:

– 240x400px screen, not restricted to just calculator style numbers anymore
– Backlight with light sensor (illuminates when you go through tunnel/darkness)
– Speaker
– Touch-sensitive buttons

In playing with the unit, the display is as high-contrast and sharp as it appears below.  The touch sensitive buttons though did take a bit of getting used to compared to the PC7.  You almost need to apply the mantra that ‘less is more’ when touching them.

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You’ll notice above that Bluetooth Smart is included.  Their plan by launch is to develop apps across “a number of platforms” (i.e. Android, iOS, etc…) to allow downloading of the workouts from the device to your mobile device.  Further, they plan to make use of the WiFi to allow configuration of the data fields of your unit.  I pressed for more information on how that works (i.e. desktop app, cloud service, etc…) – but the details are still being worked out.

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The unit supports multiple bike profiles, but most importantly now – unique sensor sets per each bike profile.

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On the GPS front the unit incorporates both recording of GPS tracklogs, as well as following of GPS/GPX breadcrumb trail style routes (similar to an Edge 500).  It won’t do turn-by-turn navigation like an Edge 800/810.  There is also no planned ‘workout’ type functionality (i.e. setting specific workout levels to target).

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Finally, the unit will feature a re-chargeable battery system.  It uses the same connector as their upcoming rechargeable battery SRM power meters, thus the cable can be swapped back and forth between the two.  The head unit (PC8) will get 30 hours of battery life with GPS on, and 100 hours with GPS off.  Meanwhile, the hub will get 100 hours of battery life before requiring a recharge.  The rechargeable SRM hub will be certified to 1,000 recharges (recharge cycles).

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The PC8 will be offered in both a plastic casing and an aluminum casing.  The pricing will remain the same as it is today (550€/750€) for each head unit.

I, along with another journalist that was interviewing a different SRM representative at the time, enquired about SRM’s thoughts on pricing and the greater power meter market at large (SRM is the most expensive on the market).  Specifically that given all the new entrants at lower prices (i.e. everything from Stages to Garmin Vector), as well as established players (PowerTap/Quarq), if SRM was considering lowering their prices to be more competitive – either with prices at the power meter level or the head unit level.  The answers we both got separately were a resounding, unequivocal…no.

SRM’s Sebastian Raebiger explained to me: “We want to be a high end product, with no product for the masses.”  He went on to further explain that their current production process of producing the unit wholly within Germany was the primary reason for the higher price – as well as the plans to keep it at that price point.

Both of us also further pressed for comment on SRM looking at other measurement points (i.e. pedals), or doing left/right power.  SRM representatives believe there’s no value today in measuring power elsewhere, nor in providing left/right measurement.  They did concede recovery from injury was a potential use case for left/right power measurement, but don’t see any plans to add it.  [Note: See updated comment at conclusion for further thoughts from SRM on this point.]

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Finally, the PC8’s availability is being targeted at summer May of 2014 (next year).  Given the sensors available within the unit, it’ll be interesting to see how SRM is able to develop the software and services around that suite (specifically WiFi and Bluetooth Smart) to fully take advantage of the potential there around mobile device and cloud/web connectivity.

Thanks for reading!

Updated Note Aug 30th: SRM’s Director of Sales and Marketing Mike Hall reached out to me today to provide some clarifications and additions to the features and functionality that were originally communicated to me during my talks with three different SRM reps at Eurobike.  These include the following updated:

1) The PC8 will indeed allow for all ANT+ power meters.
2) SRM will be implementing left/right balance metrics, including Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness
3) As previously noted, the Bluetooth 4.0 will be utilized for data transfers, and not sensors (including BLE HR straps)
4) The PC8 will allow workouts to be added to it and executed on it
5) The PC8 will have customizable training zones by power/HR/Critical Power/FTP
6) The PC8 will include the TrainingPeaks metrics of Normalized Power (NP), Training Stress Score (TSS), and Intensity Factor (IF)
7) They are targeting May 2014, as opposed to “Summer 2014” as previously communicated

I did want to include one additional note from Mike, which I’ve included in full below:

“The comment from Sebastian Raebiger about SRM seeing no value in left/right pedal, primarily comes from the small amount of peer reviewed research being done on training prescription (based on single leg workouts to improve ‘balance’ or performance). SRM has been working on a torque analysis system for the last 10 years, and have begun to see its successful application for bike fitting and positioning. Adding this feature to the PC8 will allow us to take that application outdoors. “

Further, their product manager of the PC8 itself will be at Interbike and he’s committed to giving me a more detailed dive into it.

Update Sept 21st, 2013: While at Interbike, I got a look at the SRM iOS app, here’s a full post on it.

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.

54 Comments

  1. Dave

    As a PC5 and PC7 owner what can I say. Massively underwhelmed.

    Reply
  2. Phil

    Is it backwards compatible with wired power meters? There was some talk about it a while back.

    Reply
  3. I use a PC6 and a Garmin 500 now. Garmin mostly for Strava, but I like having data fields at a glance from the PC6. But since I'm old (52) I can't configure a Garmin 500 in any fashion that I can read and have the data I want to see.

    It seems like the PC8 might give me the best of both worlds in one device.

    I don't understand how so many people are panning this already. For my needs with two bikes, Strava, etc. this seems like a big improvement over a PC7 (let alone my PC6) and at the same price.

    I also don't get the ask for backward compatibility to wired. Yeah, if you're on a wired SRM it would be nice, but maybe after three new generations it's time to move up to wireless. Nobody is wondering why Shimano isn't making Di2 for old 8 speed systems.

    Reply
  4. RoadRunner

    Wow, that is slick. While it doesn't tick all the boxes (lack of zone based workouts is a big one) this looks very impressive. In my mind the big advantage of the Power Control has been the crisp easy to read display. When you are slogging out an interval, you need big easy to read numbers. The PC8 display is the bomb, with all the important data centre stage and nice to know metrics (like temp and elevation) at the fringes, without having to scroll screens. Big question mark is if current and average lap power can be simultaneously displayed. Nice that prices are not going up but it is still expensive.

    Reply
  5. erock139

    The SRM system has been and always will be for ballers. There's a reason even preferred dealers only get a 30% discount on SRM - they sell regardless; clearly the demand is there. Why all the desire to have SRM bring down their prices? They're clearly in a different category and have stayed in business. Take a business class with the $$ you save on a PT, maybe you'll learn about exclusivity and a targeted audience.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not sure about a business class. I asked the question of every power meter company I talked to today (which, would be every single company on the market today). As well as discussed it with all the power meter companies I talked to that aren't on the market today, but were at Eurobike today.

      Whether or not one wants to admit it, the power meter market has changed a lot in the last 1-2 years, and will continue to change dramatically in the next 1-2 years. There's many drivers impacting price, no doubt, but in an age where information about product accuracy, capabilities and usage is much more transparent than it used to be, I think we're going to see shifts in choices based on pricing and functionality. I've yet to hear a single person in the industry state otherwise.

      Reply
  6. Randolph

    Did you take dimensions? Wondering about fitting between aero bars. Thanks for letting us know so soon....as usual

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's 1cm wider, but the same height. They noted you could mount it vertically for aerobars, and they're looking into doing some sort of display orientation change (but that's not final yet).

      Reply
  7. David

    I'm pretty sure Factor's power meter costs even more.

    I like the look of this new unit. If I had a spare stack of money, I'd get one. I've looked at enough FIT files to know that Garmins aren't perfect.

    Reply
  8. Morten Tillquist

    Does this mean that the new PC8 is fully kompetibel with Power2max, Quarq etc so you can buy a PC8 and use it together with all other manufacturers of power meter?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I asked today, the PC8 will NOT be compatible with other ANT+ power meters. It will allow you to pair it, but won't read the data stream beyond that.

      Reply
  9. Harmless Harm

    Too bad, there is no support for BT sensor support. Was hoping for BT headunit coming-out, whom can handle e.g. MIO alpha's heartrate streams.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Indeed, I swung back today and asked two further people - both confirmed no plans for BT sensor support.

      Reply
  10. Harrison

    SRMs look better and better. Shame about them refusing to reduce prices. Do you know if Quarq plans to reduce their pricing within the next year?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've got a post update coming later this afternoon with their thoughts on that (as well as everyone else's plans). Essentially if a PM company had a new product out I wrote/writing a full post (SRM/Power2Max/PowerTap), but if not a new product I've got a combodish post for everyone else with minor updates (Quarq, ROTOR, Pioneer, Brim Brothers, Cyclismo).

      In short, for Quarq, no current plans. Though we had a long and interactive discussion on the topic and the current market. They were very interested in my thoughts there.

      Reply
  11. mmf

    Thanks for the snappy review .
    Did they mention the available date for the XX1 rechargeable power crank ?

    Reply
  12. Any idea what the accelerometers are for?

    Thanks for the great reviews!

    Reply
  13. Dexter

    That's a real shame SRM won't allow 3rd party powermeters to communicate properly with the new PC8. They would sell like hotcakes if they did! It is definately an impressive unit.

    Reply
    • Ivan replied

      stay tuned - I visit the SRM booth today and hear that in fact the PC8 will use the standard ANT data stream that all other devices are using, along with their current version of offset frequencie. very excited to see this on the market!

      Reply
  14. Hi All-

    Just as a quick heads up, SRM reached out this evening and has provided updates and additions to the post. For those following along on e-mail, see the updates here: link to dcra.in

    For those viewing this comment on the page, simply scroll up.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Stuart

    Superb. Just wish they'd update the shimano 7800 cranks!

    Reply
  16. HammerTime

    Could you please clarify "2) SRM will be implementing left/right balance metrics, including Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness". Does this refer (only) to the PC8 being able to display/record left/right balance metrics, including Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness, from power meters by vendors other than SRM? Or will SRM implement these metrics in its own power meters, and if so, which, and does that require some left vs. right measuring ability, which if I understand correctly, their current power meters do not?

    Reply
    • HammerTime replied

      And to further clarify my comment seeking clarification, are these metrics even supported in the PC8 when used with an ANT+ power meter which does support them?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Since they're implementing the ANT+ spec version (they used the correct terminology), it'll work with all ANT+ PM's that transmit that data.

      As for SRM, they do some left/right stuff on some units today indoors.

      Reply
  17. John

    How will you know when the crank needs a charge? Having it die in the field is not a worthwhile trade for being able to recharge.

    Reply
  18. It sounds good with the updated information.

    This means that I will be able to use PC8 with my Power2max and QUARQ Elsa power meter.

    Some who know about PC8 will measure speed via GPS signal or do you still have a speed Senson mounted on the bike.

    Reply
  19. And will you be able to do a workout at PC8 like you can do on a Garmin Edge 810 with intervals etc.

    Reply
  20. Bas

    great article. is it right that they've revised the handlebar clip, too? looks like they added a lock clip.

    Reply
  21. Steve

    I'm very disappointed to hear they didn't include support for older wired PMs.

    Although from their response about prices, I don't suppose they care one way or the other if I (and others) are disappointed or not!

    SRM did say themselves in an interview a while ago (which appeared on their own website for a while before they deleted it) something along the lines of "we know we have lots of wired users with perfectly working PMs who require an updated PC, and we will not forget about them..."

    So they knew they had wired customers who would benefit massively, I guess they just decided to not bother in the end.

    Personally I have 2 bikes with wired SRMs and the PC5 whilst its display and info are still just about as good as a PC7 (except for altitude), is quite inconvenient to live with (transfer speeds, battery life, internal memory size etc).

    So can we hold out / hope for a BB sensor that replaces the wired one and transmits ANT+, converting our wired systems to wireless? I'd buy 2 of them and 2 PC8s if it were possible!

    Or do I need to spend £4000+ on 2 new PM's before I can use a PC8?

    Reply
  22. Nicholas

    Hi Ray.
    You may be interested to know I asked SRM in Germany regarding the rechargeable road cranks, specifically if there will be a Shimano 9000 version for example in 2014 - SRM have confirmed this will NOT happen in the near future but the PC8 will be ready in Q2. You might be able to seek more clarification on this at Interbike Ray?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nope, they'll be available starting in January 2014. They're starting with FSA/Canondale/Rotor 3D for January, but I'm getting a list of exact models and should have them within a day or two. A bit more info here for those just stumbling onto this post:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
  23. Zach Wong

    $800 for a power meter headunit? I'd rather get a power meter...

    And if they're going to target their products at the very high end of riders, I feel like they should make it look sexier. Quarq has got that down pretty well, but SRM looks ugly (imo). Whenever I see a Dura-Ace SRM crankset, I cringe. It's that bad.

    Reply
  24. Ray, did you ever get that list from SRM with an approx. timeline/schedule for the launch of the rechargeable power meters ?

    Reply
  25. El Tejan

    Are the screens customizable? That is, in the current PC7 and prior there is a "current" screen with current values of wattage, heart rate, speed, etc. There is another for "average" and one for "max/total".

    What I would really love to see would be average and current power simultaneously, especially during shorter interval workouts.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  26. Dexter

    Hi Ray

    Any insider news on the release date for the PC8? Are they on target for May 2014 still?

    Will the app be available then too?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't heard anything in a while. I'll poke and see what's up.

      Reply
    • Dave replied

      Just poking you to remind you to poke them. Please.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Poked...

      Reply
    • Robert DeRosato replied

      Did you get poked back? Any updates!?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No response to previous poke. Just poked again.

      Reply
    • Dexter replied

      Hi Ray

      Any further response back from SRM? Finally got my new Power2max Type S (3.5 month wait for delivery after ordering!) so I am looking to pair this with something a little nicer than my Edge 800...

      Cheers

      Dexter

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's currently looking like late August right now.

      Reply
  27. Nicholas

    The lack of PC8 news might be a little alarming - perhaps SRM need more development time or have some issues to iron out first?

    Normally new product releases are tested or used by sponsored World Tour teams before it is rolled out to public and the fact that PC8 hasn't appeared any where or even in spy shots might lead us to think the release date may be pushed back to the summer or beyond...?

    Reply
  28. Norm Corriveau

    August 15th according to the SRM Twitter page - link to twitter.com

    Not good.

    Reply
  29. Steve

    Whats the word on the left/right power on an SRM? Are they going to be able to get this data from existing SRM pm's (eg SRM DA 9000) or are they going to come out with a whole new line of PM's that are left/right power capable?

    Reply
  30. Bryan

    Hey Rainmaker,

    Any new word on availability for us in the US? At one point was spring, then I heard Aug 15, now I'm hearing more like Jan 2015? Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I have them on my list for August here, going into Eurobike, to see where things stand.

      Reply
  31. Jman

    So, it's 15th of August today...

    Reply
  32. steve

    At least this has given me time to save and upgrade from WiredDA-7800+PCV to now a WirelessDA-7900+PCVI.
    (Not going to buy a PC7 now, waiting for the PC8)

    2016 maybe?

    Reply
  33. EB

    Have you confirmed the breadcrumbs style navigation feature, or was that just listed as a possibility? An SRM rep is telling me they have no plans to implement any sort of turn alert or breadcrumb nav.

    Reply
  34. Audi Capellan

    I've been following this thread for a a while and the release date of PC8 keeps moving. Any new dates yet?

    Reply

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