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Pioneer announces new power meter options, head unit upgrades, bike sensor modeling

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Pioneer has been both a relative newcomer to the power meter party, but also the stable and steady entrant in terms of new products.  Each fall they’ve announced new offerings, and each spring we tend to see further updates and price adjustments.  Such has been the case for nearly three years now.

While they’re still building out consumer awareness of the brand, they’re actually putting out very solid power meter products, even used by pro teams in the Tour de France.  You’ll remember my review last summer on their 2nd generation units, which was then followed by price cuts last fall and this past spring to match others in the marketplace.  At this point, they’ve got a fairly competitive offering if you’re looking to eventually upgrade to a dual-sided platform or want more data metrics from your power meter.

Today at Interbike they’ve expanded their crank offerings with new models, as well as added new features to their head unit.  Also, they’ve demo’d a pretty cool consolidated sensor platform with rider modeling.  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

The New Crank Options:

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First up are the new crank models.  Remember that Pioneer works in one of two ways: You can either send in your existing crank arms to get a power meter added to them, or you can buy one of their ready-made units.  For the options where you send in your crank arms, Pioneer has it such that for the majority of the country if you send in your crank arms on Monday, they’ll have them back to you by Thursday with the power meter attached.

So the new models refers to either expanded compatibility options, or units they’re selling straight up with the power meter already attached.

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Here’s what’s new on tap:

Adding Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 offerings: The R9100 is the new Dura-Ace Series that Shimano announced this past summer. Pioneer will be shipping these later this fall (November) and will offer both a R9100 left-only kit for $629 (including crank arm), or the full left/right crankset for $1,499USD.  They’ll have three crank lengths on this.  What’s notable is that there is no higher cost for the R9100 compared to the previous 9000 cranks. Kinda nice.

Adding Shimano XTR, XT offerings: These will be offered as a ‘send in your own crankarm’ option, with the prices being: $999 for dual, $579 for right-only, or $499 for left-only.  Again, you supply your crank arms here.

Adding Campagnolo Potenza offerings: The company will now offer the ability for you to send in your Potenza crank arms and get a pioneer power meter installed on it.  This will mark the first power meter company to offer a Campy dual-leg option (an area many power meter companies have struggled with).  The prices will be the standard Pioneer prices for sending in your crank arms: $999 for dual, $579 for right-only, or $499 for left-only.  Again, you supply your crank arms here.

Adding Cannondale Si, Si-SL2 offerings: Just like with the Potenza above, they’ll be offering these Cannondale crankset options too.  Same prices again: $999 for dual, $579 for right-only, or $499 for left-only.  Again, you supply your crank arms here.

Adding FSA SL-K: Another carbon offering in the works by Pioneer where you send in your own arms. By now you know the drill on pricing: $999 for dual, $579 for right-only, or $499 for left-only.  Again, you supply your crank arms here.

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All of these new models will ship starting in November, or rather I suppose, they’ll allow you to ship your cranks to them for November. As is probably obvious by now – the real goal of Pioneer is to get local bike shops to up-sell power meters on new bikes.  Pioneer is basically selling an empty box to bike shops for their shelves.  Thus inventory requirements are easy to handle:

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But sometimes the easiest consumer awareness solution is a tiny piece of paper.  Pioneer has made these bike hang-tags that go on frames out on the show floor.  That’s an incredibly compelling piece of paper when you sit back and think about it.  Sure, there are other left-only offerings for less money, but they may not be compatible with all the different crank arm options (i.e. FSA, Cannondale, Campy).  So this is something bike shops can put on many bikes on their floors and get immediate traction on.

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So why is Pioneer even offering a power meter on the new Dura-Ace R9100, considering you can get one from Shimano directly?  Well, Pioneer believes they can offer a better product.  And honestly, they’re likely right.

For example, Shimano has a wired connection between left and right sides, whereas Pioneer is wireless.  Pioneer has a higher water resistance rating (IPX6 & IPX7), which means you can even use a pressure washer on the bike. Pioneer doesn’t require a magnet, whereas Shimano does.  Pioneer also gives you more data on pedaling analysis, that Shimano doesn’t.  But the biggest?  Pioneer is shipping in November, whereas Shimano is looking like April 2017 or so.

On the flip-side, Shimano does support BLE for firmware updates (but not power broadcasting), and Shimano has a higher claimed battery life (300hrs vs 180hrs).

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And just to recap the rest of the lineup, here’s things that remain the same in the Pioneer line-up.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 left Only: This stays the same at $629 as before, with 7 different crank lengths.
Shimano Ultegra 6800 Left Only: This stays at $559 (including crank), and has 4 different crank length
Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 complete set: This stays at $1,499 inclusive of crank arms
Shimano Ultegra 6800 complete set: This stays at $1,299 inclusive of crank arms
Send in your own crank arm: $999 for dual sided, $579 for the right-side kit, and $499 for the left side kit

Phew! Tons of options!  Ok, let’s talk software.

New Bike Computer Features:

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In addition to all these new cranks floating around, they’re also making some updates to their bike head unit, which they’re calling ‘Training Assist’.  These offerings are aimed at offering training plan primers, as well as workout modules.  They fall into three different categories:

Training Primer: 7 Modules
Power Training Primer: 11 modules
Pedaling Training Primer: 10 modules

The idea behind this is to introduce people to the concept of training with power.  So it goes through step by step by step in a combination of taking your existing ride data on their training platform, and then dynamically merging that into a training plan for your head unit.

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As you dive into the platform, it’ll automatically keep your workout targets in sync with your uploaded history.  So effectively, it’s coaching you.

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This actually makes a lot of sense – and is something I’ve discussed for a few years now.  Most of the power meter companies basically offload the problem of training with power to the bike head unit companies.  Those bike head unit companies in turn do nothing about it.  Sure, some might offer random training plans you can download – but that’s actually quite different than teaching a consumer how to train with power and use power for training/racing.

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Once you’ve gotten a given module setup and understand the basics, it’ll walk you through each workout in a pretty standard fashion to other head unit companies:

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They’ve also introduced the ability to setup custom intervals, as well as a new ‘MMP Test’ option, which aims to test your Mean Maximal Power.  MMP is essentially how much power you can hold for a given duration, and is often displayed in a graph like below (this one from Strava):

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The MMP values are pulled from their cloud platform, so they know your existing target values for any given MMP timeframe.

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Oh, and finally – on that manual interval option, you can specify a warm-up period, a work interval configuration, and a cool-down period.  All on the unit itself:

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All of these new options are available now, and have been in various pieces over the summer.  But they’ve continued to add new functionality, even as recently as the last few weeks.

Extended Sensor Network:

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Last but not least, Pioneer was demonstrating a proof of concept sensor system that uses numerous sensors placed on the rider and the bike to measure various data metrics.  These metrics are then fed into a computer in real time, ideally targeted at fit studios.

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There are five different sensor locations, each with different types of sensors within them:

Saddle/Seat Post: Strain gauge based (four gauges per pod)
Helmet: Gyro based
Bar Stem: Strain gauge based (four gauges per pod
Shoes: Gyro and accelerometer based
Power Meter: Strain gauge and accelerometer based

The sensors are still a bit prototype looking of course, but this gives you an idea of how they are placed around the bike or on the person.  With the person in this case being Lisa Leonard, a local Pro XTerra and mountain biker.

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As she’s riding, all of this data is shown in real-time on the screen, though slightly smoothed so it’s not too sensitive.  At this point, it’s not yet recorded.  You can see how it’s combining in multiple pieces of data into certain plots – such as the ankling angle combines power meter position data with the shoe sensor data.

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Now at this point Pioneer doesn’t have a specific timeframe or even price for the system.  Their goal here at Interbike this year is more to introduce the concept and get feedback on it, as well as to understand what the marketplace looks like for such technology.  I suspect by next Eurobike/Interbike, we’ll have a better look at what a saleable solution might be. Still, it’s cool to see companies experiment in this area

With that – thanks for reading!  Stay tuned to Twitter for all the latest news, analysis and sarcastic observations from Interbike this week!  Fear not – there’s plenty more!

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59 Comments

  1. part_robot

    Interesting indeed! Two thoughts 1) Are they supporting Cannondale SiSl2 with the dual crank option? If so, where do they put the sensor on the drive side? Due to the chainring design the only place I can see is towards the tip of the right crank arm but I can’t see signs of that from the photos. 2) is the send-it-in option available in the UK with decent lead times?

  2. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Looks like you got the Dan from GCN talking about the same thing in one of your pictures.

    The extended sensor network looks like it could have some interesting metrics.

  3. re:
    “Adding Campagnolo Potenza offerings: The company will now offer the ability for you to send in your Potenza crank arms and get a pioneer power meter installed on it. This will mark the first power meter company to offer a Campy carbon dual-leg option”

    Campagnolo Potenza crankarms are aluminum alloy, not carbon.

  4. Joel Engström

    999$ send in looks promising. Will it work on ultegra 6700? Available in the uk/europe? Price here?
    Joel

  5. mucher

    Argon 18 had a similar concept at Eurobike – a new TT bike prototype with some 22 sensors – including even one for drag coefficient – not sure if you noticed this one.

    • Was thinking of that Argon too when I read this. Personally I’d also want knee tracking and upper body angle…

      Wondering whether the P1 might actually internally be calculating the foot angle already as they have all electronics in the pedal body, or whether they’d be able to add to their advanced metrics?

  6. mwg

    Do you know if there are any plans to offer support for carbon Campagnolo? e.g. Super Record?

  7. Paul S.

    Hi Ray,
    One point to clarify, it looks like some of the options (XT, XTR, FSA SL-K and Cannondale), are only available as left-side kits, not right-only or dual-sided. link to pioneerelectronics.com

    This is an issue for me, as my MTB does not have clearance for a crank-mounted sensor/battery pod on the left side, but would on the right side since it has to clear the chain ring.

    Oh well, guess I’m still waiting for one of the bottom-bracket options to become available. /:(

    Thanks,
    Paul

  8. Joe Blough

    From Interbike in Las Vegas, welcome to the GCN Show!!!

  9. Matthew

    Ray,

    Any thoughts on the Pioneer dual legged versus the 4iiii precision-pro for Dura Ace R91000 cranks?

    • John

      4iiii doesn’t currently support Dura-Ace R9100, only 9000 or Ultegra/105.

    • John

      My bad, 4iiii dual sided power is DA 9000 only. No Ultegra/105 at this time.

    • Matthew

      Since I’m not going to get either one for 4 – 6 months (going on a new bike), I’m assuming that 4iiii will have an R9100 compatible unit (or “certify” the current one for it) out by then.

      I guess my more general question is: if I’m not going to get the Pioneer head unit (though I might get the Dash), is there any reason to pay the ~$200 more for the Pioneer over the 4iiii?

  10. David D.

    I’m glad they started to offer something for Campy owners although I just bought a PowerPod and am happy so far with the results.

  11. Erik

    Hmmm… $999 to send in my Ultegra 6800 cranks vs. $1079 for carbon crank DZero from Quarq… From what I can find the Quarq solution costs less than Ultegra 6800 crankset, let alone with Pioneer PM on it. Also, Pioneer doesn’t do BT (to include updates over BT), right? So, why choose Pioneer over Quarq? Honestly asking, since I’m making a buying decision… probably after the 26th, ;-)

    • Erik

      correction: *weighs*… as in “From what I can find, the Quarq solution *weighs* less than the Ultegra 6800 crankset, let alone with Pioneer PM on it.”

    • Paul S.

      Dual sided Pioneer vs the Quarq DZero isn’t apples-to-apples. Yes, the DZero captures all power, instead of one side and doubling it, but it still doesn’t give left/right metrics. Although left-only or right-only Pioneer isn’t the best comparison either, I think it’s closer.

      I’m not arguing Pioneer is your better choice, but if you already own the Ultegra 6800, spending $499 for left-only is certainly MUCH cheaper than the DZero!

    • Andras

      Don’t forget that for $1,079 you won’t get the chainrings, just the cranks so you still have to pay for those (i.e. +$150 if you want praxis). You can get ultegra cranksets very cheap online ($150-200) and many bikes ship with shimano cranks as default. Many people prefer shimano cranksets because of the great front shifting. So I think there is definitely a market for it.

      Also pioneer is a dual sided power meter and not a spider based one, the pedal stroke analysis feature is a plus too.. Whenever you travel you can just grab your left crank arm and use it as a single sided PM. Of course these features may or may not be important to you.

    • Erik

      Ahhh, that’s what I was forgetting: true left/right instead of the whole pedal stroke estimation bit. Thanks for pointing that out!

      Yeah, I have 6800 right now, but I also have a set of Praxis rings from a bike I wrecked (without damaging the chainrings). I definitely don’t want left-only, but I tried to think how I’d use a PM on a ride and I thought I would just end up using a total power number (w/3s smoothing), for which I don’t need true left/right (right? Am I off on how useful true left/right is?), but I would want more than just left leg x2. Also, how important is the BT part?… and then there’s weight… and the sexiness of carbon! I don’t travel and bike that much (maybe once every 3 years), but I do like the idea of being able to do that… sigh. Decisions, decisions.

    • Erik

      Just did a check on Clever Training… Pioneer does not get the DCR discount (or VIP); we’ve been assured that Quarq does. So, $971 for Quarq, $999 for Pioneer. Just more data for the analysis.

    • Andras

      Although I’ve been a happy pioneer user for more than a year now, I don’t use the left / right data regularly. It was fun to look at it occasionally and learn about my imbalance during different efforts, but that’s it. Maybe in the future.

      I’d also ask quarq about the weight of the model you want. There might be slight differences between GXP / BB30 versions.

      Good luck! I really believe that a PM is a good investment if you want to train better.

  12. John

    So firmware updates, analytics, etc. still require the Pioneer head unit? At additional cost?

    Also, no Bluetooth support (thinking Zwift for iOS)?

    Lastly, does the right-side power meter sensor support cross-sized chainrings or is 50T the minimum?

    • Steven

      This — in the post zwift on ios world — power meter on BLE will become hugely in demand.

    • Eric H.

      Yes; I believe you still need the Pioneer head unit to enable the detailed pedaling dynamics and to update the power meter firmware. Kind of annoying. Would be far more convenient to support Bluetooth for config in future versions.

      Pioneer was giving away the head unit for a while with a power meter purchase; no idea if they still do that. If you buy through a local dealer, you can probably convince them to do updates, which should happen fairly infrequently.

    • Patrick

      With the latest FW you can also see Torque Effectiveness & Pedal Smoothness on Garmin Connect when the PM is in ANT+ mode.

      Garmin Connect doesn’t show the fancy diagram/analysis that Cyclo-Sphere does but if you don’t like the Pioneer head unit you don’t have to use it. I read in the Pioneer in-depth review thread that Pioneer also has a PC updater nowadays, so you might not need the head unit for that either. Haven’t confirmed that myself though.

    • Simon

      Updater is provided on demand. You need to e-mail them. It is a simple application, allowing you to connect to crank, but after that it is one way info only though, so there is little to see what is going on.

      Also no information is provided on current version and what version is going to be uploaded etc., so it will overwrite even if the versions are the same. Not sure what happens to the calibration info.

      So it is a bit of a black box.

      Used it one time so my experience is limited. It would be good if Pioneer released the updater, incl. how to read current version and provide regular update info, incl version control etc..

      Crank (L, Ultegra) is good so far, albeit a little low on readings compared to TACX trainer. Especially on lower powers (which is where I am for now ….)

    • rockpaper

      Hi all,

      can you see Torque Effectiveness & Pedal Smoothness on the Edge 820 whilst riding?

      cheers!

  13. AECSUSN

    I never really considered Pioneer as an option for my power meter needs, until this. I may actually look into it now…good read, and thanks!

  14. Jeff

    What happen when swapping chainrings? Is it just the same, or do the electronic need adjusting / sent of for recalibration?

  15. portemat

    Looks good. Especially happy to see a SISL-2 option!

  16. DJJ

    “Pioneer doesn’t require a magnet, whereas Shimano does.” – is this correct? My understanding was that the pioneer magnet installation and placement was a major hassle so eliminating that would be a big improvement? Can someone confirm?

    • Mike

      I also saw that and was wondering the same thing. I have a Pioneer power meter on a Dura Ace 9000 crank, and definitely need the magnets. My power meter is about 1 year old. Unfortunately, the smaller adhesive magnets would not stick well to my titanium frame. So I have two bulky magnets zip-tied to my chain stays. Not the most aesthetically pleasing look. It would be a significant improvement (aesthetically) if the magnets weren’t necessary. The Stages product looks similar to the left-side unit of the Pioneer, but I don’t think they require a magnet to measure cadence.

    • Mike

      In reply to my earlier post, I contacted Pioneer to ask about this. Apparently the device can be used without magnets, but you lose the full feature set of measurements/metrics (e.g. some of the force analysis features?). The man at Pioneer made it sound like you lose a significant set of features if run without magnets. I specifically asked about their unit when compared to Stages, which doesn’t require magnets. If I understood correctly, he indicated that their left-only unit would perform like Stages (i.e. without magnets) and deliver comparable metrics.

    • If I remember correctly, a firmware update added ability to the 2nd generation to use without magnets in power meter Mode (albeit with less accuracy), and to use temporarily without magnets in pedaling monitor mode (to get you back home without completely losing power data, though you will lose the advanced pedaling vector data).

      But for whatever reason it seems not to be advertised as such at this moment and I haven’t found any mentioning of this in the current installation/operations manuals (though I haven’t searched that much…).

      link to cyclo-sphere.com says:
      […]
      *Power measurement can be done without a magnet for Power Meter mode.
      • Measurement accuracy will be improved with magnet installation.
      […]
      *If a magnet is lost, measurements other than vector will be continued.
      • The measurement of power and efficiency will continue to be transmitted and displayed.
      • This mode is designed for temporary application. Please reinstall the magnet immediately.

    • DJJ

      got it – that makes more sense. thank you Mike & Takura

  17. Bsquared

    I’ve got an old Wahoo RFLKT+ and thinking it will work as ANT+ to Bluetooth bridge if I wanted to use Pioneer with Zwift on iOS.

  18. Theo

    What is the flat pedal mounted on the bike in the picture?

  19. Simon

    @Ray: is that a new head unit (hardware and cosmetics) or is it software upgrades only? Thanks!

    Simon

  20. Matthew

    Ray,

    Any thoughts on Pioneer vs 4iiii precision pro if you aren’t using the Pioneer head unit? Any feature / accuracy benefits for the Pioneer that justifies the price premium over the 4iiii?

  21. Albert Lai

    When I bought my kit to send in my cranks, interestingly it was not an empty box, but it actually contained all the components & sensors to do the installation onto the crankset. I then shipped all the components to Pioneer to do the installation. Perhaps they this to enable a dealer to do the installation themselves, but I’m not sure why a dealership would necessarily want to take on that responsibility. Or maybe it’s just easier to track inventory that way?

  22. Sandiway Fong

    One caveat, I have the full dual-sided Pioneer powermeter (SGY-PM910H2), Ultegra edition. I’m using it with the SGX-CA500. The right side is perfect. The left side doesn’t always transmit its readings. Intermittent dropouts. So it’s annoying to see it sometimes give you full wattage credit and other times just for the right leg. (Now it could be just the install on my travel bike, a Bike Friday. The bike shop is still debugging it.)

  23. Curious if Pioneer will make the shipping of the (dual-sided) Shimano R9100 powermeter(s) in Europe in November. Reached out to Pioneer but unfortunately no response yet …

  24. David Higginson

    Strongly considering the dual leg system for my Trek Emonda SLR with Dura Ace 9000. Can anyone confirm clearance with the patch magnets?

  25. rockpaper

    Hi all,

    can you see Torque Effectiveness & Pedal Smoothness on the Edge 820 whilst riding?

    cheers!

    • Nate

      Hi have the dual leg pioneer meter running in private ant mode to get the high-frequency pedal torque vector data to the Pioneer CA500 computer, which then also broadcasts the PM data as ant+ for my Edge 810 to pick up. The Edge 810 gets Power, Cadence, and LR balance, but if I remember correctly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Torque effectiveness and pedal smoothness show up. I added the fields once, but nothing. But I can see that data on the CA500 along with the torque vectors if I want. It’s one more device to charge but once I made the initial connections, it seems to always pair up well and has been reliable. Fun for the data-nerd.

    • rockpaper

      Thanks, Nate,
      I had hoped that the Edge 820 would show the values natively in the fields available on the Edge 820 using Ant+.

      The pioneer support team have told me that the power meter will
      provide left/right pedal smoothness information when paired with ANT+ computer which supports that data field.

      Since the Edge 820 supports the field I assumed it would show it.

      not sure how important it is but that is a question for a different forum.

      cheers!

    • Am using Pioneer power meter and both Garmin and Pioneer computers.

      Short answer: Haven’t tried recently but Pioneer support is correct and they support pedaling metrics in ANT+ mode and it shows on Garmins … unless either of them did something wrong in recent updates.

      Long answer: I use them the same way as Nate (had actually requested ANT forwarding long before they implemented it) and can confirm that smoothness and effectiveness are not forwarded by the CA500. But, if I remember correctly, Pioneer did some firmware update long ago that added those two metrics to the ANT+ mode and when I tested back then they did indeed show up on the Garmin units. I don’t remember if the effectiveness values in ANT+ mode were the Garmin definition only considering tangential or the Pioneer definition including radial force; if it is the latter it’s more “complete” information but not comparable with other power meters.

    • rockpaper

      Thanks for the reply, Takura.

      If I read your long answer correctly, with recent firmware updates, the pedal smoothness and torque effectiveness (of some sort) do appear on the Garmin units using ANT+, even without using the CA500 computer.

      I do not want to buy another computer to get those values on the Edge 820.

      cheers!

  26. Mordechai Brafman

    Is the right side only option the same accuracy as a quarq style power meter?
    As opposed to left side only?

    • Rafi

      I have the same question. I got deal to buy the ride side only. Is it worth it, compared to say a power2max crank?