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Power Meter Pricing Wars: Let The Games Begin

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The Winds are a Shifting:

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of notable price drops by power meter companies.  While some of these price drops may seem reactionary to news from PowerTap’s new products, or that 4iiii is now shipping Precision units – the reality is that most of these were planned months ago.  Still, like when some gives you a candy bar – it’s best not to focus on the reason, but focus on the gift.  And in this case, it’s savings.  To start off, here’s a quick summary of what’s recently dropped:

Quarq pricing by about 20%, with prices now from $1,099 (previously $1,200-$1,600)
Quarq then releasing a new aluminum RIKEN AL model, with units from $799.
Pioneer power meter by $300, with the least expensive model now at $999 (previously $1,299)
Power2Max by 20%, with the least expensive model at $599 (from $749)
ROTOR Power price reduction by 35% (quietly last month), from $2400 to $1559, and for LT from $1,490 to $1,079

Of course, price drops aren’t the only power meter news hitting the interwebs these days.  If you look at what’s happened in the last 30-45 days, there’s plenty of reasons for companies to begin jockeying around for consumers’ money this spring:

PowerTap announces new $699 chainring power meter, $1,199 pedal based power meter
ROTOR INpower starting at $779, with their crank spindle based power meter
4iiii starts shipping their $399 Precision Power unit (left side units now, dual in June)
SRM announces imminent shipping of their PC8 head unit within the month
PowerBeat announces they’ll ship media test units in May, for their $499 dual sided power meter

And of course, add to that things that are always swirling in the industry nightclub that may not yet be announced.  Oh, and it’s only early April.  We’ve still got events like the larger cycling-focused Sea Otter going on this week.  And, that also doesn’t even begin to touch on all these companies that have touted pending products:

Xpedo Thrust E power meter
Brim Brothers Zone power meter
Ashton Instruments bottom bracket unit
Luck Cycling shoe based power meter
Power Pedals unit
+ others working quietly away behind the curtain

As you can see…it’s a busy market.

I should note that not everything is decided on price of course.  But, in the power meter market these days – troublesome accuracy is becoming less and less of a concern than it was 3-5 years ago.  Quite simply companies are putting more effort and technology into ensuring units operate properly in all conditions by time they get to market.

A Historical Perspective:

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With all these price drops, I thought it would be fun to start plotting the major players on some graphs.  Of course, doing that required actually knowing prices for all these products over the last 5 or so years.  Which in turn became a never-ending data search quest.  And a bit of a definition issue.

Thus, in order to keep things simple, I put down some ground rules on pricing (I had to draw lines somewhere):

1) Non-sale prices: The lowest non-sale price for the unit within that calendar year.  I didn’t want Black Friday sales and the like hosing it up.
2) Only list/retail prices:  Some bike shops may offer discounts (i.e. the DCR Clever Training 10% deal), which would make it difficult to track all units equally.  So I excluded those.
3) Whatever model is cheapest: Finding the least expensive unit offering they have.  Most power companies have a myriad of variants available.  I just went with the cheapest unit they sold in a given category, with no accessory options.
4) US Dollars: Products are priced at all sorts of levels globally.  I just went with USD, because quite frankly I can’t keep track of hundreds of currencies and product prices in those currencies.
5) Shipping: While I do show both shipping and announced (not yet shipping) units in the first few charts, I only focus on shipping after that.

Also note that some units include things like crank arms or chainrings, while other companies don’t give options.  I realize that might make for an uneven playing field…but I kinda put that in the category of ‘you lie in the bed you make’.  Those companies certainly must understand limitations of packaged offerings and price points.

To find the prices I scoured through most of my posts where companies announced products or price drops. Then, failing that I went off to Google to find press releases where the same information was written.  Finally, I validated most of the prices with the companies directly – especially for those more than a year or so old.

I should point out however that SRM didn’t really want to ‘play’ in this exercise (despite numerous official and unofficial requests).  And while a few awesome non-SRM folks have tried to help me piece this together, I felt like the data was too unsure to include it.  Rather be safe than sorry.  So right now I’m only going with a single SRM 2015 data point.  If I can get historical base-unit USD price list data that I absolutely trust (without the head unit or accessories), then I’ll add it in.

As you might guess, I wouldn’t say I have a flawless method, but I think it’s reasonably solid.  Going forward I have the baseline to track these more easily.  The raw data starts here:

Power Meter Historical Pricing

ProductCategory/Region20112012201320142015
4iiii Precision (Left)Left-only--- $349 $399
PowerTap Hub seriesWheel Hub $899 $899 $789 $789 $789
Garmin Vector/Vector2Pedal-- $1,699 $1,499 $1,499
Garmin Vector S/2SLeft-only--- $899 $899
Pioneer PowerCrank arms- $3,100 $2,000 $1,299 $999
Polar/Look KEO PowerPedal- $2,200 $2,200 $1,999 $1,999
Polar/Look Power EssentialsLeft-only--- $1,159 $1,159
Power2MaxCrank spider $999 $999 $879 $729 $599
QuarqCrank spider $1,495 $1,495 $1,595 $1,200 $799
ROTOR PowerCrank arms- $2,400 $2,400 $2,400 $1,559
ROTOR LT/INpowerLeft-only--- $1,490 $779
SRMCrank spider $1,804
Stages PowerLeft-only- $699 $699 $699 $699
Verve InfocrankCrank arms--- $1,995 $1,995

Again, if/when I get accurate SRM data – I’m happy to add that in there. Obviously, it’s well known that SRM has previously been the most expensive option (though, they now have a unit priced below the Verve Infocrank).

Finally, for fun here’s some of the upcoming still-to-ship units from a pricing standpoint:

Power Meters Not Yet Shipping Pricing

ProductCategory/Region20112012201320142015
Brim Brothers ZonePedal---- $999
PowerTap P1 PedalPedal---- $1,199
PowerTap C1 ChainringChainring---- $699
4iiii Precision (Dual)Crank arms---- $749
Ashton IntrumentsCrank Spindle----$500 (2016)
Xpedo Thrust EPedal----$1,100
Watteam PowerBeatCrank arms----$499

Ok, with the raw data out of the way, let’s get graphical!

A Whole Lotta Charts:

First up is everything announced (shipping or otherwise) on one chart:

image

Now let’s look at just things currently shipping:

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Ok, that’s just a mess.  Instead, let’s break them out into crank region ones first (anything involving the crank spider, but not including the pedals).  It’s perhaps a bit arbitrary, but eventually you have to draw the line somewhere.  Oh, and actually shipping only from here on out.

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Then looking at the various left only solutions.  In this case you see the massive drop for ROTOR, but that’s a bit complex because they introduced a new offering (though they did drop the other one by about 40% too).  Either way, their left-only offering dropped a crapton.

Also of note is that 4iiii’s technically increased their price $50.  It wasn’t really announced, but you could have bought the non-calibration kit version for $349US before (and shared a kit with a friend), but that’s no longer an option and starts at $399US.

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And finally, by itself, the PowerTap wheel hub – because there’s nothing else in that bike component region on the market.  Interestingly, this has basically stayed fairly flat – but they just keep upgrading the model that stays at that base price.

image

Ultimately, you can see a clear downward price trend in all of these. No doubt about it.  While there have been nice 10-20% drops each year over the past few years, I think the introduction of dual-sided power meters at the ~$500-$700 level, and other full capture units (i.e PowerTap C1) helped drive prices further downward.

New Buyers Guide:

IMG_8471-2

Finally, some of you have asked for an update to my Fall 2014 Power Meter Buyers Guide.  Which, is fair.  Up until this point I’ve said there’s technically been no change – since I place very little value on company promises of pending products in this space (they’re always late). Instead I have a heavy emphasis on getting a product in my hands to test.

With last week’s 4iiii shipping, that changes that picture a bit, especially since they’re one of the two lowest cost solutions.  Of course, I’d like to finish my first phase of testing over the next few weeks before I declare suitability – after all, it must prove it doesn’t suck.  Yet, the challenge I have is where do I draw the line on waiting after that?  Do I wait for Watteam’s now scheduled media event a mere two weeks later (with units)?  Or what about PowerTap’s new units in the same timeframe?  You can somewhat begin to see my pickle.

Not the least of which is the reality that many of you are trying to pick a unit to use during the season.  And as numerous folks will correctly point out, time spent pondering upcoming units is time spent lost using one to better your training today.

Nonetheless, I think I’m going to aim for early-mid May.  It’ll be about 10 days shy of the PowerBeat event, but ultimately if I wait for that then I’m realistically looking at June.  By going with early-mid May, I can include 4iiii, PowerTap’s new offerings, and anything else that might pop up.  Once I have a chance to test PowerBeat I can back port a section into that Buyers Guide.  And of course, I expect a new guide in the fall.

With that, thanks for reading!

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61 Comments

  1. Josh Parks

    Ray –

    off and on, we’ve been talking about this for a while. Great analysis as usual. A lot of really attractive options here, with a really good number of forms. Great to see the day has finally come…

    I continue to be fascinated by the pricing of Power Meters and it will be interesting to see how consumers respond.

  2. Rene

    Hi Ray, totally love your site, I use it 100% to as guideline for buying electronic gadgets. Reason herefore is that you obviously not are in the pocket of any of the company’s that you test for. Now to the question, I’m about to bye a set of Garmin vector pedals, is now a good time, or is it better to wait a couple of months, now that the vector 2 is about to hit the marked and the watt war is on a peak??

    Regards Rene.

    • It depends. I have a gut feeling that by early summer we could see them do some sort of rebate like last fall. But that would in my mind be dependent on PowerTap shipping the P1. If PowerTap ships the P1 on time, then that effectively forces Garmin lower in price.

      Beyond that however, I would not expect any further power meter pricing changes until fall. Additionally, Garmin is really the only one that does that sort of rebate-style price drop. Given they just announced new products yesterday, I wouldn’t expect a retail-list price drop too quickly – where the rebate is more appealing to them.

  3. Squeegy

    Hi Ray, I know your focus is on road bikes but do you have any thoughts as to which power meter(s) would be best for mountain bikes. With the prices coming down it might be time to add one for my training but most of my riding is done off road.

    Thanks!!

    • pki

      I can only say that I use Stages with an XT left arm on my MTB bike and it works just fine.

    • AC

      Another stages XT user here. I would rate it as ok. Somewhat temperamental, but has gotten better with firmware updates. Customer service is good, which is nice, but it would be even better to never need it. Battery life is nowhere near the claimed 200 hours IME. 50 to 100 is more common. Still, the best option out there for MTB to date. I would look very hard at the 4iiii if I were purchasing today.

  4. Susan

    You might want to change ensure to unsure in this statement.

    “I should point out however that SRM didn’t really want to ‘play’ in this exercise (despite numerous official and unofficial requests). And while a few awesome non-SRM folks have tried to help me piece this together, I felt like the data was too ensure to include it.”

  5. Steve

    Ray I am amazed at how you can possibly do all you do and still work and sleep! All I can say is thank you because you save all us normal people time, energy and $!!! I direct every one I know with a sport gadet question to your site and suggest they use your Clever Training deal to not only support your efforts but save them money too. It’ll be a sad day when DC Rainmaker decides he’s had enough. I selfishly hope that day is not in my active lifetime. Thank you!

  6. Aitor Altuna

    Now you have a problem, with so many new power meters will you be able to do a review of each one? Just kidding, your reviews are very useful, thanks you mate!

    • Nah. I’ll pick and choose based on interest. For example, I don’t see much value in doing a full Vector 2 review. I’ll probably do some sort of post a month or so after using the pods, just in terms of how well they do or don’t work – but otherwise doing another full review seems like a waste since it doesn’t change anything with respect to accuracy.

      Thankfully however, there’s a fair bit of variety. So in most cases I can get 3-4 units on the bike at once, which makes testing a bit easier for concurrent data capture/etc… Then it just becomes a case of writing bottlenecks.

    • Don Rhummy

      Please test the claim that they improve connection to head unit. Especially indoors with competing Wi-Fi.

  7. David

    As a triathlete without a power meter on my bike, what is more important to me is how much the TOTAL cost will be to add a power meter to my bike. I need to ensure I can use it in both training and racing situations. My cranks are not compatible with virtually all crank arm units which would require upgrading the crankset + power meter. I have two sets of wheels so that makes PowerTap hubs a less than desirable option. It will be interesting to see how prices and performance trend for the chainring, bottom bracket, and pedal options.

  8. Simon Sheehan

    Was looking a the power 2 max website today, and for the less than the price for a Stages Ultegra, I could get a Power2max classic FSA Gossamer, chainrings, bolts and a bottom bracket adapter. This is helped by the euro-pound exchange rate. I’m going to sleep on it, but likely to buy tomorrow.

  9. fisao

    Copying my comment from the Quarq article, this is regarding SRM:

    I am also wondering what their reaction and strategy will be longterm. Now that reliability and accuracy are much less of a deciding factor, why would any person paying for a power meter (as in any non pro) go for an SRM that costs up to 8 times more? None of the people I know to be in the market for one are even considering any SRM products anymore because of the price difference.

    • dkrenik

      They gotta be feeling it. I’ve been using an SRM for 8+ years now. I’m looking at upgrading to something newer and another SRM is pretty much out of the picture. Not when one can get the same accuracy/reliability for ~half the price (Quark).

      SRM used to be able to claim differentiation as they used all 4 packets/sec for recording/averaging ANT+ data. Garmin addressed that gap several years ago.

  10. Gene

    ray – any chance you could update the comparison guide so an option would be Left only power meters vs left and right?
    Thanks

  11. Karsten

    Ray, thanks! You’re as awesome as usual! This is exactly the comparison that I had been secretly waiting for without actually thinking it!

  12. Turn The Damn Cranks

    What impact should we expect this to have on the used market? I keep thinking about buying a used pm, but no longer have any ideas what a fair price would be for any of them.

  13. For which date is this Watteam event scheduled?

    Do you have any info about it? Your link goes to a page that really doesn’t say anything more than “units going out to reviewers in may”. Ok…? I can’t find any more info about this event on their website, Twitter or Facebook…

  14. omgwatts

    worth noting is that the p2m ‘price drop’ is a currency adjustment, not a price drop.

    I think it is perhaps reasonable (considering the competition) to expect a real terms € drop for p2m in
    mid to late summer perhaps.

  15. shannon

    Hi Ray. Thanks for the update. I asked about this a couple weeks ago on the original price drop, but the RikenAL is very interesting.

    Also, you have none-sale price in bold for point 1. Should this be non-sale?

    Enjoy your weekend.

  16. Paul

    this is all getting a bit interesting. I’ve just ordered a new bike with shimano BB and need to interchange with my current BB30 bike with SLK carbon cranks. I was going to go dual vector but the price is still pretty high I thought they’d drop the price with V2. Working out all the options is mind boggling I was almost decided on P2M but their Euro prices now look expensive. So confusing…….

  17. Noam

    assuming that I can buy the pioneer kit for $850 , would you consider it as the best bang for my buck?
    Thanks

  18. Happy Runner

    Best guess on why SRM stonewalled you?

    • No guessing required. They don’t believe the price comparisons would be ‘fair’, in that they believe it doesn’t take into account aspects such as service/support/durability/accuracy and in some cases, bundling (i.e. how a unit is sold with/without cranks/etc…).

  19. Steven

    I really hope the 4iiii turns out well. So many manufacturers haven’t supported BLE yet. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I upgraded to the KICKR X, Wahoo cadence sensor. It’s pretty nice to be able to do everything on my iphone when my garmin edge decides to throw a temper tantrum. It’s also the least invasive for me as I don’t want to switch away from speedplays, like my king hubs, and want to be able to swap chainrings depending on the day. So before the price even comes in, it ticks the right boxes for me. Hopefully the accuracy is good.

  20. Sean

    Ray, thanks for the heads up. One of my coworkers asked me about buying a powermeter a couple of weeks ago and because I’m a long-time reader of your site I told him to wait a bit because prices would drop soon. Lucky for his wallet, he did! I look forward to the May powermeter rodeo!

    • Ian S

      I looked at the pictures of ‘Limits’ and it looks as if it changes your q factor on one side…..which was an instant turn off for me unless I’m missing something.

    • Jack

      I was going to mention this too, it was mentioned on road.cc:

      link to road.cc

      It’s US$249 (£167) which is an amazing price point (if the device actually works!). Any plans to review Ray?

    • Tim

      The end game is dual-sided power measurements (and BLE support) but for now it’s single (left) sided and they ship with a dummy right-side sensor. Q-factor difference is ~10mm per side if everything is left as-is. There’s a number of things you can do to counter that increase if you want/need to but it may prove no worse or better – that’s going to depend on a bunch of stuff obviously, and people already running spacers probably aren’t going to blink. YMMV

    • Tim

      Correction – Limits say the Q-factor increment is 15mm (i’m guessing this is per side)

  21. Brian

    Ray
    You didn’t mention the Saris Powercal this time. Having used it though last winter’s indoor season I found it to have, as in your review, excellent consistency and good enough accuracy to train with. I was able to compare myself to other riders on bkool and cycleops virtual trainers with good results. And you can’t beat the price.

  22. Any chance that you could list out which of these systems if any are compatible with the rotor elliptical rings – Q system?

    Thanks

    • That’s easy, only two:

      1) PowerTap wheel hubs (any)
      2) ROTOR power meters (any)

      Power2Max says they are compatible, but haven’t really proven they are. Thus, everyone is going with the not actually compatible aspect until proven otherwise.

    • kevin

      DC- Have rotor actually provided proof that elliptical q-rings are compatible, if so what?

    • David Ferguson

      I’m assuming this includes crank arm and pedal based systems?
      Reason? Different algorithm required with non-round rings?
      So far I haven’t noted a measurable difference in avg’s nor FTP between road (round) and tri (rotor QXL) rings with Stages, other than possibly greater fluctuations with 3 second display on QXL’s(?)

  23. Travis

    I know bashing SRM is the “cool” thing to do here just because they do not drop prices and kick out free product. I ended up on one after a bunch of Powertaps and Quarqs. I have not had to warranty it once, think about it, or lose a ride thanks to a piece of crap garmin 500 which was warrantied 3 times. It would of been cheaper and less stressful to just buy something that is proven the first time.

    • It’s not really the “cool” thing to do. Whether or not SRM adapts to the market is really up to them.

      But your experience definitely isn’t the norm (on either the PT or Garmin).

  24. Drew W

    I had a Pioneer Ultegra crank ordered & on the way to my LBS when the price drops were announced a few weeks back. I was curious if the price drop also applied to the pre-built Ultegra & Dura-Ace cranksets that Pioneer sells, or if it was just the retrofit kit. This is the reply I got back from Pioneer on Facebook:

    Hi Drew- the price drop is with the SGY-PM9100C, our power meter installation kit for consumer supplied cranks, which includes existing Shimano cranks, both the Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800. The new price does not include our “complete” power meter cranksets, the SGY-PM68 or SGY-PM90. Thanks!

    So if you have an Ultegra 6800 or DA 9000 crank already, the price drop is great news. If not, and you were looking at their full crank solution, there is no change.

  25. Ivan

    Hello Ray!

    Thanks a lot for another detailed and very handy article. We have selected it as one of the most practically useful sports gadget market reviews and translated into Russian (linking to your original article, of course).

    Best regards,
    Dr. Ivan Agafonov,
    CEO at http://www.trilife.ru
    (The biggest Russian triathlete community)

    • Hi Ivan-

      Thanks for the note here. While I’m flattered, you also copied the article outright. As I note in my FAQ, I don’t currently permit copies of articles on other sites. I’m more than happy if someone wishes to quote a paragraph and then link to my site for the rest of the information. Otherwise, it’s simply copying my work and taking credit for it.

      -Ray

    • I agree that copying an article is not a good thing, but don’t you think that translation is not the same as copy? Unfortunately, not all the Russians are good English speakers, so translating a few paragraphs and providing a link to the full English text just won’t work. Those who are good enough at English will follow the link to the original article to read it and/or comments, thus generatingextra traffic to your blog.

      Let’s figure out a clever solution to delivering your great articles to the non English-speaking communities. We can put your logo there or any more explicit credit to your blog.

  26. HA

    Hi Ray, Any updates as to when the 2015 buyer’s guide for PMs will be available? Thanks.

    • I had planned for mid-May, but that was somewhat contingent on my 4iiii’s unit working well enough to put out an in-depth review. It was also based on the hopes that the P1/C1 would be shipping soon (which, could still be the case, I’ve gotta check-in there).

      Since then, Wattteam hasn’t had a chance to come into town to show me where they are, and 4iiii’s is still sorting things out. PowerTap is pending shipping. Said differently, despite potentially having a change in the landscape – it hasn’t quite happened yet.

    • HA

      Did you get a chance to check-in with powertap regarding P1/C1 shipping dates?

    • Very shortly, but they’re waiting to announce the first unit shipping.

    • HA

      As always, thanks for the prompt responses. Now that powertap is taking pre-orders, do you envision Vector 2 price to drop to $1200?

  27. Brian

    Ray
    Have you tried the new Limits power meter yet?

  28. Kevin

    DC – I’m considering buying a P2M power meter unit to fit to my rotor crankset (UK customer) but have been holding off due to the potential onset of a PM price war. As you know we didn’t get a P2M price drop in Europe like you did in the US, as it only brought US prices in line with Europe. Do you think now is a good time to purchase a P2M or would you wait a few more months. It seems to me that the new PM products are either having teething problems once released (4iiii) or delayed release (watteam and potentially Powertap) which presumably will delay a pricing war. I guess my questions are:

    1. Does the Euro P2M still represent good value for money (considering Quarqs and others recent price drop)?
    2. Would holding off for 2-3 months more be advisable?

    Thanks.

  29. Don

    Two thoughts, first, is anyone offering a solution for carbon cranks yet? Specifically the RaceFace Next SL cranks which are about 150 grams lighter than XTR (I’m a mountain biker…). Tough choice, power on the MTB or 150grams.

    Second, I just had a thought about the BB based power meters. It would seem if you are trying to pedal in circles and pull up with your right leg on the upstroke, any power from your right leg (I know it’s a marginal amount) would actually be subtracted from the power from your left leg which is pushing down at the same time, since it would make the spindle deform less, as the left is only pushing against the resistance from the chainrings, and the right side power, not being transmitted through the spindle, is reducing the resistance from the chainring by helping out.

    Perhaps not the best explanation, but I think you, Ray, can figure out what I mean. It seems like a fundamental stumbling block to a BB-based power meter.

  30. Stewart Silverman

    Ray,
    I’m a total newbie to power meters. I own a Garmin Edge 1000, and will be starting to work with a trainer soon, in hopes of improving my mediocre rider status! He has suggested getting a power meter, so I’m wondering what you would suggest for someone just getting semi-serious about training, and looking for something compatible with my edge 1000. Not looking to break the bank either, just a power meter that will get the job done. Thanks!

    • I bought a Rotor Inpower and it does everything I need without breaking the bank. I’m not a professional athlete by any means.
      It just works and it has made a lot of difference to the way I ride and how I think about what I am doing.

      However, it is really worth understanding what is happening and how it can help you and how to use it.
      I bought a book. There are several around but this one – link to amazon.co.uk was very recent and pretty slim. Also – without trying to give offence, it was written by a Brit and I find that American writers tend to use an evangelical motivational style which tens to take up a lot of time and space and which frankly I find nauseating. Joe Friel is a good example of this – although his books and his breadth of understanding is excellent – but you generally only need to find the 30% or so of his books which is relevant and the rest you can skip.
      I don’t expect that you will regret getting a decent book. Get it even before you get the power meter.

    • I see from the context of your post that by “trainer” you mean a coach. Get a book because you will then be able to discuss what you are doing with your coach and a much higher level and you will benefit a lot more from your investment in the meter and in the coach.