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Sea Otter Power Meter Roundup: 4iiii Precision, Easton/Race Face CINCH, FSA PowerBox, Team Zwatt, Quarq DZero, Xpedo Thrust-E

If there was a theme for power meters at Sea Otter this week it would be re-branding.  Or rather, OEM’ing. Half of the power meter announcements were essentially just well-known bike companies offering power meters that are basically ‘powered by’ other preexisting power meter companies.  Similar to what we saw Cateye do last year with 4iiii Precision power meters.

Though not all announcements were of the rebranded variety.  For example, 4iiii did announce one new crank type, and…well…actually, ok, that’s it.  The remainder of all power meter updates were related to when companies would ship their previously announced wares.

As I expected, this Sea Otter was much lower on the power meter announcements front.  After a jam-packed 2016 year, companies seem to still be recovering from the hangover going into early 2017.  This is true both in terms of new products but also pricing shifts.  After all, many companies made product announcements in late 2016 that they’re still working to get out the door.  I do not expect any further major power meter announcements (i.e. entirely new products) until the Eurobike/Interbike timeframe at the end of summer.  So – go forth and make those power meter purchasing decisions without fear.

With that, let’s roll through these updates.  Gonna keep it quick!

Oh – and there will be one more Sea Otter tech round-up post. The other will include some new bike computer mounts, some head unit notables, and a few random sports tech things I saw.

4iiii New Precision Models

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Starting off the show, 4iiii announced that their Precision power meter is now available on Shimano’s new Dura-Ace FC-R9100 crankset.  Specifically, the left-side variant of that.  This will save you about 7g in weight over the previous FC-9000 version. The company is offering this as part of their ‘Factory Install’ option, which means that you ship your crank arms to them (versus the other where you buy a kit all-inclusive with it built on already).

The unit will set you back $399, and that’ll start shipping next month in May.

Of note is that the dual left/right side R9100 variant isn’t available yet, though not so much for tech reasons.  Rather, they (like everyone else) are simply having challenges getting sufficient quantities of the full crank-sets to be able to start shipping.  For example, 4iiii sponsored pro team Quick-Step has been running the dual R9100 setup on some bikes this spring already in major races like Flanders.

Easton/Race Face CINCH announced:

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Next up we’ve got a small gaggle of new units from Easton and Race Face, cohesively branded as their CINCH power meter.  The two brands are both owned by Fox Factory, and were side by side at Sea Otter showing off their new units.

The CINCH unit is designed to be compatible with road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes, making them a bit wider spread on the compatibility front than some other power meter companies that may target just road riders.  The main draw here is enabling both companies to offer consumers units that are compatible with their group lineups with minimal hassle to get a power meter.  And all that’s great for consumers.

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But I’m more interested in the tech side than crankset compatibility.  In this case, for reasons that are a bit weird – neither Race Face nor Easton wanted to disclose that the units were actually powered by Sensitivus (more commonly known as the company behind Team Zwatt).  In fact, you may remember this very crank from my Team Zwatt preview test last August.  As other media outlets have noted, the weird caginess about revealing the underlying power meter tech is odd, because all it does is lower expectations about the product.  In the power meter world you either have a trusted brand (or mostly trusted) with a known product, and then you have everyone else.  You don’t want to be put in the ‘everyone else’ pile.  It’s not a good part of town.

As for the tech itself, the unit is left-only as it’s placed within the bottom bracket and won’t capture the power from the right leg.  This makes the left-only nature similar to that of Stages, 4iiii Precision (non-dual), and many others offering single-sided solutions.  Though, priced from $599USD for the unit itself, it’s a bit more than those companies.

DSC_1352 DSC_1341

The power meter accuracy is stated at +/-2% and is dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart capable.  I tested all this within my earlier tests last fall, and it seems to check-out (prelim tests of course).  Further, the battery slots in at 400 hours, but is rechargeable via micro-USB port protected under a cover that seals it all in.  Interestingly, the company is the only one I know of that allows you to use a smartphone app to put the power meter to sleep during travel, to minimize battery burn (since the accelerometer would otherwise wake it up).

Finally, availability will be mid-May 2017 for the Easton branded models, and June for Race Face branded variants.

FSA PowerBox Shipping Update:

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Last fall bike component maker FSA announced they were getting into the power meter game with a new unit branded as ‘PowerBox’.  Unlike Easton/Race Face though, they were pretty open about the fact that this was powered by Power2Max’s technology.  In that case, it was Power2Max’s Type-S technology under the covers (not their newer NG platform announced in 2017 as well).

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – the Type-S is an incredibly stable and great power meter.  However, to say it’s 100% Type-S wouldn’t be entirely true.  For example, the Type-S didn’t have Bluetooth Smart.  Whereas the FSA PowerBox does.  Well…sorta.

See, the PowerBox by default will only transmit on ANT+.  However, the chipset within it is capable of dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  So they are allowing Power2Max to ‘unlock’ the Bluetooth Smart transmission for a small fee.  This fee hasn’t been announced yet, but the software update will also include additional pedal efficiency metrics.  The unlocking will be solely handled by Power2Max, using an app from them.  So you’ll basically pay Power2Max via the app and then boom – Bluetooth Smart power transmission!

So why purchase a PowerBox over others?  Well aside from stuff like crankset inclusion/compatibility, the main reason is frankly price.  Starting at $648 including the chainrings and crank arms – it’s very competitive.

As for shipping, the company says they’re getting close and hope to be shipping in the next few weeks, aiming for mid-May at the latest.

Team Zwatt Shipping Update:

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Next we’ve got a quick update from Team Zwatt, which did a crowd-funding campaign last summer.  Of course, Sensitivus is really the name behind Team Zwatt – also behind Easton/Race Face.  However, Sensitivus and Team Zwatt are one and the same entity, it’s not a separate company. Sorta like how Saris Cycling Group is the umbrella name for PowerTap/CycleOps/etc…

In any case, that de-confusion aside – the company is in the midst of shipping.  You’ll remember they launched two core variants, plus a mountain bike stretch goal (that ended up being the Race Face/Easton unit):

Zimanox: Left-only crank arm solution, doubles left-leg power
Zpider: Crank spider based, captures all power (left/right)
Zpindle MTB: Spindle solution (inside bottom bracket), doubles left-leg power (is basically Race Face/Easton).

They had some sample units with them at Sea Otter to take a look at, though, the real news is that they’re actually shipping to legit Kickstarter backers.

DSC_1365 DSC_1367

On the Zpider (spider-based) units, those are already shipping and they should have all backers cleared out by the end of April.  For the Zimanox (crank arm) units, those are in pilot production right now, and expected to ship shortly (sounded like weeks or so).

DSC_1377 DSC_1373

(Above: I’m holding the small wireless charger, it has a micro-USB port on it, and connects via the contacts you see there.)

Finally, you may also remember that Team Zwatt was a bit different than other companies in that they were also doing a subscription model for power meter ownership as well, so that’s something I’ll be looking to dive back into down the road in a review.  Speaking of which, I’m probably most interested in testing the crank spider variant, since that captures all left/right power (not separated, but total power).  Versus there’s less interest from me in doing a purely left-only unit, since those are becoming more and more commonplace.  In any case – more to come here!

Xpedo Thrust-E:

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It’s almost hard to put this section in with a straight face.  But it’s OK, because that lack of straight face would actually match that of the Xpedo reps when I asked timelines for the unit. No really, I’m actually not kidding – one rep started to giggle a bit upon the timeline question.  For realz.

Still, the official answer for availability of this pedal-based power meter is “around Eurobike”.  This continues the multi-year tradition of the answer to availability of their unit always being some variant of ‘just a few months away’.

They noted they were working through some “small items”, primarily “accuracy”.  Things in quotes were actually said.  Again, keep’in it real.

Quarq DZero Shipping Update:

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Finally, a super-brief update on Quarq DZero.  You’ll remember the company announced the DZero lineup last year at Eurobike, and started shipping around January.  Since then they’ve continued shipping, but demand has significantly outstripped supply – resulting in some pretty big delays, especially for distributors/retailers and their international crowd.

The company notes that they’ve just brought online a second full product line for DZero (pretty much unprecedented for them) and that supply will likely catch up in the May to early June timeframe.

Speaking of which, I had hoped to publish my in-depth review of DZero last week, but getting my keynote presentation put together delayed my final editing of photos. Text/analysis/photos are all done, so you’ll see that up in the next 48 hours or so.  Good stuff!  And in that related vein, similar story for ROTOR 2INPower, which also has all data/photos/etc complete, and is just awaiting some cohesive text to stick it together.

So there ya have it – power meter goodness from Sea Otter 2017! Stay tuned for another Sea Otter tech-focused round-up, plus what promises to be a busy week of other product announcements and reviews!

Thanks for reading!

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60 Comments

  1. Tim Grose

    > After all, many companies made product announcements in late 2017…
    Did you mean 2016?

  2. Karol

    Hi Ray did you get any update on when the new dura ace power meter might start shipping or if you have a review in the pipeline?

  3. Dennis Smith

    Hi Ray,
    I probably added to the Quarq D Zero shortage. I purchased 3. 2 D Fours and a D Zero Alloy. Couldn’t be happier. I look forward to your test of the unit. Thanks for the great reviews on all. Keep up the good work.
    Regards, Dennis

  4. peroni

    Bepro also have a shipping mode but it can only be toggled via their pc application.
    Oh and they have published something on FB hinting to an upcoming new product.

  5. Matthew

    Ray,

    On the head unit front: I just noticed that most retailers seem to have the Edge 1000 @ 20% off. Any thoughts on if there will be a replacement coming out soon? Or if not, will the Edge 1000 get the BLE sensor support that is available for the 935?

    • My rough understanding is that the NRF51 chipset within the FR935/Fenix5 is what’s enabling that scenario, and that’s not on the Edge 1000. Again, current understanding piecing together some different conversations.

    • Matthew

      Thanks for looking into this. I want to replace my Edge 800, but BLE sensor compatibility is a must.

      FYI: your email field is not recognized as an email field by my iPad, so the “@” symbol doesn’t show up on with the letters, nor does holding down the “.” Key bring up options for “.com”, “.org”, etc.

  6. Chris

    Hey Ray,

    I’m looking for a spider power meter for rotor 3d+ crank, Is power2max (type S or NG) the only brand compatible?

  7. RayG

    I think that ‘Factory install’ is actually where you send 4iiii your crank and they stick a PM on it. Not obvious from the name.

    And why is the Zwatt/Cinch left side only? Surely pressure on either crank with flex the spindle. Was the Ergomo dual sided (when it worked)?

  8. Greg

    Ray,

    Any info on where 4iiii is with other dual support? Like ultegra or 105 cranksets? This something they plan on supporting still?

    Thanks!

  9. Wiki

    Sounds like I was lucky to get both of my Dzero power meters months ago in little old New Zealand

  10. chup

    Heard that the Easton solution would be using aluminum alloy spindle. Would it be as soft as Cannondale ones? It would be damaged easily with not enough preload at BB…

  11. Benoit Faivre

    Hi Ray,
    I’m not sure if you had the “chance” or meeting Limits (I’m not even sure if they were presents) and if they have any update on updates and delivery for the rest of the world.

    Most likely no, but we never know :)

    Cheers,
    Ben

  12. Happy Runner

    Could you please expound a bit on “put the power meter to sleep during travel, to minimize battery burn (since the accelerometer would otherwise wake it up).” Am I draining the battery when driving cross country with my bike on the back of the car?

  13. Walter

    Any news on the MTB-version from Garmin?

  14. Irwin Smith

    I haven’t seen a 4iis Pro dual 9100 pm at tour of flanders or paris-roubaix. Backup bikes had non-pm s-works cranks by the look of it. Checking for pictures and nada. Will it look the same as the 9000? Did you see a dual sided 9100? Lots of left solutions but few Shimano dual sided. I’d wait for shimano to deliever, but lack of temperature compensation and the high weight seems little old techy. 4iiii’s temp compensation answer is a bit ambigious from months ago — seems to indicated they don’t have it because they “Don’t need it”. Does the 9100 have active temp considering their new 3d strain sensor they talk about?

  15. Laurens

    Maybe it’s time to rebrand the Xpedo Thrust-E to: Trust-Me. Or maybe that was the joke from the inception?

  16. Mordy B

    Ray, a quick look online reveals the alloy powerbox is already shipping. Is this the same product with P2M internals that you discussed?

    • Funny, their reps said they aren’t shipping yet. Odd. Perhaps they were specific to USA?

    • Damien McKearney

      Have one installed since the end of February (Ireland, shipped from Mantel in Holland) and it seems fine. No sign of the Bluetooth switch-on yet, but the unit seems 100% in other respects.

    • Mordy B

      Do you know how you fit it in your frame bottom bracket wise?
      i.e. did your bike already accept a 30mm spindle or did you have to buy the conversion BB?

    • Damien McKearney

      Crank arrives “bare”, as such, no bb of any kind included, just a couple of half-mil 30mm id shims. Crank is BB386 Evo, so theoretically fits in everything with the right adapter/bb. In my case, a couple of big spacers for a BB30 CAAD 10. Chainline and q factor were virtually unchanged from the SL-K that was in there beforehand.

  17. Nicos Loucaides

    Any news on a new version of Vectors or the Powertap pedals coming ? Its been quite some time?

  18. Casey Cook

    Surely there was a Limits booth?

    • No Limits booth to my knowledge. But as noted above, that’s not too uncommon. There were plenty of major European brands that weren’t there.

    • Eli

      Pioneer seemed quiet too

    • I think the thing to keep in mind is that most brands were actually quiet at Sea Otter this year. In fact, all but 4iiii and Easton/Race Face were quiet in terms of new stuff.

      The remainder of the brand updates here were companies updates on shipping stuff they (largely) promised to ship months ago. ;)

  19. Rhenium

    Ray,

    Whatever happened to Limits powermeter?
    After last years kerfuffle, they seem to have gone quiet?

    • Mark Rayson

      They’ve launched and shipped to UK backers back in August I believe it was. Rubbish product though, the battery caps crack when you just breathe on them, my main unit has cracked now where one of the caps is supposed to screw into it, I have an elastic band holding it all together at the moment. And that’s not to mention the fact that it’s wildly inaccurate still in my experience. Would love it if I was actually capable of putting out the Watts it thinks I am…. Limits have been talking about a firmware update since the last one they released in about Sept/Oct time but radio silence on it now. Hell they still haven’t even finished shipping to all backers from the Indiegogo campaign.

    • Mark pretty much summed it up.

    • Heath Wakefield

      Mark,
      Same experience here. Contacted them about the abysmal battery life. I can only get about two or three- 3 hr rides in before it goes low battery. Been cracking the battery caps from having to change the batteries every other ride. Contacted the manufacturer and they sent me several battery caps. Wish they would have sent me a couple packs of batteries too. I contacted them about the type of batteries I was using because there’s like 4 different types that fit and they seem to have been making a big deal about it getting the right type. Limits rep recommended taking the batteries any time the bike is not in use. That’s going to make the battery cap problem worse! All this with very unreliable Watt readings. Not happy!

  20. Eric

    Anything new from Ashton Instruments?

  21. Sean

    I have been using a Quarq Dzero for about 3 weeks and it’s currently in the process of being returned due to and error when calibrating. Not very happy, but support from ThinkFast has been good, hopefully it will be replaced without the shipping delays.

  22. wojciech

    Was thinking about type-s with either fsa or rotor cranks. Now confused with this power-box. Shall wait for it or go straight with p2m? Don’t need the bluetooth at all.

  23. Does this mean that the Power2Max Type S has any hope of being unlocked to support Bluetooth too?

  24. Patrick

    Kind of a bummer that the Xpedo delay is beyond funny now. They make excellent pedals, but the power meter pedal clearly is not a priority to them.

  25. Marshall Alexander

    Hi Ray,

    I’m a huge fan of DC Rainmaker and I’m tremendously impressed with your body of work/reviews over the years. It might be in the works, but I’m curious to know if there’s a current Rotor In2power review appearing anytime soon? It’s the only power meter for elliptical chainrings and your opinion could make a world of a difference.

    Thanks a million and keep up the great work, Marshall

  26. Lee

    Do you know if you can remove the Cinch power meter from the spindle and transfer it to another spindle? Example: you have EC90SL cranks on your cross bike and a pair of RaceFace Turbine on your mtb. Was looking for something I could swap. Would you better off buying another set of XT cranks for the cross bike and getting a 4iii?

  27. Lars

    I am a ZPIDER Kickstarter backer and have not received my ZPIDER yet, The newsletters that I receive from ZWATT do not indicate this either. So ‘cleared out by the end of April’ is not correct. I am still waiting…