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Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter In-Depth Review

Garmin-Vector-3-On-Bike

It’s been exactly three months (plus a day) since Garmin announced their latest power meter, Vector 3.  With that unit they introduced a slew of both technology features and non-technology new aspects.  From a physical standpoint they got rid of the dangling pods off the side of the unit; everything is now internal.  They also went away from a 3rd party manufactured pedal, and built the whole thing from the ground up in-house.  From a technology standpoint, they increased accuracy claims to +/- 1% while also adding in Bluetooth Smart transmission, and settings configuration with your mobile phone.

The real question is – when it came to real-world usage out on the road, how would it fare?  For that, I’ve done a boatload of riding.  Four months of it in fact, well before Vector 3 even was announced.  I’ve iterated through three sets of pedals: Two pre-production sets, and then the last two months a final production set.  Vector 3 started shipping back on October 14th, 2017 at the Kona Ironman World Championships.  While production was behind schedule and at lesser volumes than Garmin had hoped, many people have seen in the last few days a significant increase in units landing in stores (finally).

Speaking of which, as always, I’ll be shipping back the two remaining test units I have of Vector 3 shortly and going out and getting my own via normal retail channels.  Just like always.  If you wanna help support the blog, hit up the links at the bottom.

With that – let’s get cookin’!

Unboxing:

First things first is to get things unboxed. In this case I’ll be doing an unboxing of the Vector 3 dual-sending set (as opposed to the Vector 3S single-sided pedal).  I’ve put together a complete unboxing video that runs through all the bits in the box, plus some installation tidbits and a brief look at Garmin Cycling Dynamics:

Want all that in non-video format instead? No problem, here ya go!

Garmin-Vector3-Box-ExternalShot

More importantly than the exterior, you’ll crack open the box and find the pedal sittin’ there looking up at ya:

Garmin-Vector3-Box-Inside

Note that if you bought a Vector 3S unit, you’ll still get two pedals.  It’s just that one of those pedals won’t have any sensors/electronics in it.  The left pedal will have sensors, and the right pedal will be a blank.  The left power will simply be doubled to produce total power (identical to how other left-only products, like Stages Power, work).

While the pedals are fully self-contained, underneath are some additional parts you may use:

Garmin-Vector3-Lower-Box-Parts

These include optional washers (if the pedal pokes through too far), as well as cleats.  These are standard Look Keo compatible cleats, so if you already have such cleats, you don’t have to switch.  But everyone likes new clean cleats, right?

Garmin-Vector3-Parts-On-Table

There’s also the cleat mounting hardware in there as well, to attach the cleats to your shoes.

Garmin-Vector3-Cleats-Washers

Then there’s, of course, the pedals themselves.  But fear not, you’re going to get so many photos of the pedals by the end of this post you’re going to be…umm…a peddler.

Garmin-Vector3-Pedals

And finally, you’ve got the paper quick-start guide.  While short, it does a good job of covering everything you’d probably need to know in a concise manner.

Garmin-Vector3-QuickStartGuide

To briefly bulletize all the things that are new in Vector 3 compared to Vector 1/2, I put together this list of sorts.  I cover most of these in more depth throughout the review, so this fits in this section more as a prelude than anything else:

 No longer using Exustar pedals: Instead, they internally developed the pedal.  The Vector team said that while Exustar served them well, their goal with the pedal body “aimed to be considered like Shimano & Look”.  You can see the new pedal just looks really clean now – and I’d say that at least from a looks standpoint they achieved that (it’ll likely take me a year or so to find out if that’s true from a durability perspective).

– Contains Bluetooth Smart: This is used both for firmware updates, as well as connectivity to head units using Bluetooth Smart (i.e. to a Polar or Suunto watch, or Zwift on iOS, or similar).

– Elimination of pods also eliminated SKU’s: If you didn’t buy Vector you may not know there were actually multiple Vector SKU’s, based on pod sizes.  This, in turn, meant bike shops had to stock these multiple SKU’s and try and figure out who might buy what size.  Vector 3 eliminates that, there’s only one SKU.

– Decreased weight: The unit now weighs 162g, versus the previous 179g.

– Changed bearing type: Previously they were bronze bearings inside, now they’re needle bearings.

– Totally different spindle body: Simply put, it’s all different both inside and out. Much of this, of course, is the result of changing everything else within the pedal, like the bearings.

– Increased rider weight: The certified weight is 105KG (231 lbs) for rider weight, previously it was 90KG (198 lbs).  That may not sound like a lot, but that’s actually a fair bit different.

– Update pedals via phone or Edge: Previously you had to use the desktop or Edge device to update your firmware.  Now you can use the Garmin Connect Mobile app to update Vector 3 firmware.  That’s due to inclusion of Bluetooth Smart.

– Slight increase in spacer size: I think Garmin learned that people put too few spacers on, so you’ll notice the Vector 3 ones are a hair bit thicker so that if someone only puts one on, it’s still safe.  Though, at the same time, spacers are no longer required.

– Slight decrease in battery life: Previously it was 150 hours on Vector 1/2, however with Vector 3 it’s roughly in the 120 hour range with Cycling Dynamics and Bluetooth Smart enabled.  If you don’t use a Cycling Dynamics capable head unit (it’s smart enough to know that now), it’ll get you closer to 150 hours again with just normal bike power.

With that, let’s see how these compare in size to other options on the market.

Size & Weight Comparisons:

PowerMeterWeigh-In

Let’s start with all the weights of comparable units.  This includes the following line-up:

– Garmin Vector 3
– PowerTap P1
– Favero Assioma

There’s no real reason to belabor this point in text, here’s the weights of each pedal, and then the total set of pedals.

PowerTap-P1-Weight-Single PowerTap-P1-Weight-Dual

Garmin-Vector-3-Weight-Single Garmin-Vector-3-Weight-Dual

Favero-Assioma-Weight-Single Favero-Assioma-Weight-Dual

For each one, I excluded spacers, since not all cranks/pedals require that.  For fun, here’s the weights of the spacers.  I just weighed one spacer from each, but obviously you need either one or two per pedal, again, depending on your cranks.

DSC_1831

Next, here’s how they look side by side.  First, front on:

PowerTap-Vector-Assioma-Front-Size

Next, spindle-side:

PowerTap-Vector-Assimoma-Spindle

Then the other side:

PowerTap-Vector-Assioma-Other-Side

And finally, the rear:

PowerTap-Vector-Assioma-Back

To state the obvious, the Vector 3 is the slimmest of the bunch from a sizing standpoint, and the P1 the chunkiest.  The photos otherwise kinda speak for themselves.

With all of our sizing goodness out of the way, it’s time to install and start using the darn things.

General Use Overview:

Garmin-Vector3-Solo

We’ll start out with getting them installed on my bike, which is virtually identical to installing any other pedal.  In general though, there are two ways you can install pedals (depending on type):

A) Using a pedal wrench, which wraps around the pedal axle
B) Using an Allen (hex) wrench, which sticks into the end of the axle

Alternatively, you can just spin it on with your hands/fingers most of the way.  But you’ll want a wrench to really tighten it up.  It doesn’t need to be gorilla tight, just normal tight.

In any event, with Vector 3, you have to use ‘Option A’ above, since the end of the pedal has the LED status lights on it, so you can’t stick a hex wrench in there.

Garmin-Vector3-Install-Pedal-Wrench

In the case of Vector 3, I use my hands/fingers to get it most of the way in the crank arm, and then a quick twist of a pedal wrench to finish the job:

Garmin-Vector3-TightenByHand

Note, while I have the large pedal wrenches like seen above that are more common, I also bought this tiny little travel bike tool which includes a mini pedal wrench.  It’s not the best pedal wrench on earth due to its size (in terms of leverage), but it’s great if you want something small for travel:

Garmin-Vector3-Mini-Pedal-Wrench

You’ll repeat installation for both sides.  Unlike past Garmin Vector pedals, there is no requirement to use a torque wrench, nor are any specific torque specifications required.  I’ve simply tightened it to what felt fine, and my accuracy numbers have been spot on every time.  Speaking of which, unlike previous generations of pedals, there’s no need to do multiple rides to ‘settle’ the unit.  I find doing a simple 4-8 second long sprint once or twice will ensure it’s nice and snug – same as most other pedal power meters.

So what about those washers/spacers that came with it?  Unlike in the past, you don’t need to install those.  However, you want to install them in two scenarios:

A) If the pedal rubs up against your crank arm
B) If the pedal spindle goes through too far and clips the chain

The spacers simply push things out.  Again, most pedal based power meters have them for the same reasons as Vector (those two listed above).

Garmin-Vector3-Spacers

While installing the pedals you’ll likely have noticed the little lights on the inside of the pedals:

Garmin-Vector3-Light-LED-Status

These are status indicators, which let you know what’s going on.  These are most useful not just for ensuring the batteries are working, but also during firmware updates.  From a handy list on the Garmin Forums, here’s what the lights mean:

3 Green Blinks: Cannot find other pedal – battery good

1 Red Blinks:
Battery low

Long series of alternating red/green blinks:
File transfer during firmware update – could be from the display unit to the left pedal. This will also be seen on both pedals at the same time when the left pedal is sending the update to the right pedal

20 Green Blinks:
File transfer/Firmware update successful

20 Red Blinks:
File transfer/Firmware update failed

That same list also details all of the Garmin Vector 3 error codes that can be generated too.

On the flipside of each pedal is the battery compartment.  In the case of Vector 3, the company is using LR44 batteries.

Garmin-Vector3-Battery-Compartment

Each pedal uses two of these batteries, which are placed in a little pod holder which slides into the pedal, sorta like peas in a pod:

Garmin-Vector3-Battery-Pods

As for using LR44 versus SR44 batteries, that’s a good question which many readers asked since launch.  I went back to Garmin on this after your questions and asked what was the difference, specifically, in their recommendation of using LR44 versus SR44 batteries.  They said they started to validate both LR44 and SR44 cells, but found “much more consistent performance” with the LR44’s than the SR44’s.  They noted that “in the validation, we found overall that the SR44’s had higher variability and some even performed worse than the LR’s”.  Interestingly, as part of that testing they did find that SR44 was giving longer battery life, but that given the variability they saw they settled on LR44’s as the official recommendation, coming in at 120 hours (on LR44’s).

Garmin-Vector3-Battery-LR44

Next, cleats.  It comes with Look Keo compatible cleats as noted, so you’re pretty much set there.  One thing that’s worthwhile pointing out is that both competitors Favero Assioma/bePro and the PowerTap P1 use slightly unique cleats that are a Look Keo variant.  This means that in theory they aren’t fully compatible with Look Keo stuff.  In practice, it varies.  I find they are compatible when they’re new – but that over time (wearing out), they become less compatible and you pop out more.  None of this affects Vector, but a lot of people ask about it, so I figured I’d mention it.  Similarly, the lack of precise compatibility doesn’t matter too much if you only have a single set of shoes…or if you just buy an extra set of cleats – they’re cheap.  Don’t let that be a hindrance to what you decide to buy (I’ve used P1’s for years with the non-conforming cleats without issues), but just be aware of it.

Garmin-Vector3-Keo-Cleats

Now that everything is installed (which btw, should only have taken about 30-60 seconds), you’re ready to pair it to your bike computer.  I’m going to use a Garmin unit here for purposes of demonstration, but it works with any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart unit, or app.  I cover which other units I’ve tested a bit later.

To start you’ll pair with your bike computer by searching for a power meter.  Vector 3 broadcasts as both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart (BLE).  In almost every scenario, most vendors will recommend using ANT+ first for power meters, unless you see issues there (primarily due to some standard quirks between companies on the BLE power meter spec).  By default, Garmin will search for ANT+ first anyway.

Garmin-Vector3-Edge-Pairing-Step1

You’ll see the ANT+ ID listed on the head unit.  That ID won’t match what’s etched on the side of the pedals, as with Vector 3 each pedal has its own unique ID.  Note that you can actually ‘de-pair’ a dual Vector 3 set into a Vector 3S and then…a secondary useless pedal.  By that, I meant that you cannot take a full Vector 3 set and put one pedal on one bike, and another pedal on another bike.  The left pedal is considered master and thus required.  In a Vector 3S kit, you’ll get the left pedal with sensors in it, and then an empty right pedal to match.

Once you’ve paired the pedal, you can go ahead and rename it as you see fit:

Garmin-Vector3-Edge-Pedal-Paired

Additionally, and this is really important, you need to set your crank length.  This is listed on the inside of your crank arm, and if you’re not sure, look for something like 172.5mm or similar.  In my case, it’s 175.0mm (but the default in the industry is shipping with 172.5mm cranks).

Garmin-Vector3-Crank-Length-Setup Garmin-Vector3-Crank-LengthSetup

And then finally, you’ll want to do a zero offset, which is a variant of doing a calibration.  As a general rule I do this prior to each ride to ensure there’s no quirks.

Garmin-Vector3-Zero-Offset-Calibration

Garmin-Vector3-CalibrationTest Garmin-Vector3-Torque-Value

Note that unlike previous Vector units, you can turn off auto zero if you’d like to.  This can be done both on the head unit, as well as the mobile app.  And as with previous Vector units, you can hang weights on them to do a static check if you’d like, as it’ll show you the torque value above.

Speaking of the mobile app, if you use Garmin Connect Mobile (Garmin’s mobile app), you can pair up Vector 3 there as well:

2017-11-30 16.25.46 2017-11-30 16.25.57 2017-11-30 16.26.02

This allows you to configure settings on the pedal and update the firmware:

2017-11-30 16.26.31 2017-11-30 16.26.41 2017-11-30 16.26.21

Additionally, if you have a recent Garmin Edge unit (1030/1000/820/520), it’ll also download updates for Garmin Vector and update the firmware when required.  Note that updating the firmware takes about 4-8 minutes, so it’s best not to do that sitting outside on a cold winter day.  Just defer the update till after the ride while you’re taking a shower or something.

Speaking of riding, let’s talk about what you’ll get while riding.  Of course you’ll get the basics like total power, as well as cadence.  And you’ll get other ANT+ standardized metrics like torque effectiveness and pedal smoothness.  These metrics are shown on pretty much any head unit/watch that supports power meters by pretty much any vendor.

But then you’ll get the Garmin Cycling Dynamics metrics as well.  These include things like platform center offset, seated time, standing time, and power phase.  These advanced metrics are shown live on Garmin Edge devices, and then on Garmin Forerunner devices you’ll get these metrics afterwards.

Garmin-Vector3-Cycling-Dynamics

Up until a few months ago, these Cycling Dynamics were only available on Garmin devices.  However, back in September Garmin started opening things up.  First, it was TrainerRoad to get the new Cycling Dynamics metrics:

And then they followed that up a few weeks later with opening up things to the ANT+ power meter working group, enabling any vendor to implement cycling dynamics into their products.  Nobody has done so yet, but it’s still early.  Read my full post on that to understand what that’ll take.

In addition to real-time display of these metrics, you’ll also get the metrics recorded for review on Garmin Connect later.  Here’s what a sample ride looks like (you can click here to view the full activity and dork around with it):

image

image

image

Note that some 3rd party apps like WKO4 also support displaying these metrics as well as SportTracks.

To summarize all of the protocols and standards that Garmin transmits upon, I’ve put together this quick list;

ANT+ Power (total)
ANT+ Power Balance (left/right)
ANT+ Cadence
ANT+ Pedal Smoothness
ANT+ Torque Effectiveness
Bluetooth Smart Power
Bluetooth Smart Power Balance
Bluetooth Smart Cadence
Garmin Cycling Dynamics (currently private-ANT)

Note that as of this writing (Nov 30th), Garmin hasn’t yet released the firmware to the public for the Bluetooth Smart power transmission pieces.  In talking with Garmin, they’re currently in a two week regression testing period, and then hope to submit for BLE certification following that (which might take another two or so weeks), thus likely not till early January for release. I’ve been running a beta firmware that opens up the Bluetooth transmission pieces.  I haven’t seen any issues with that aspect of the firmware.  Still, being this far into trainer season (January) is definitely a bummer.  Perhaps Garmin would consider opening up that release to beta users as they do with other products.

One uniquely interesting tidbit on Garmin’s Bluetooth Smart implementation is that it appears to apps as a single unit.  That’s logical you say, isn’t that the norm?  Actually, no, it’s not.  Most other power meter pedals that also transmit on Bluetooth Smart show up as both a left and a right unit.  Some bike computers and apps are smart enough to merge this data together, but most don’t.  Instead, they only permit you to connect to one side or the other (meaning you wasted your money on a dual system).  Note, this doesn’t impact ANT+.

In Garmin’s case though, when you use an app or device to connect to the Bluetooth Smart side, you see a single all-encompassing Vector 3 unit.  Take for example Zwift below (again, just on Bluetooth Smart, in this case on an iPad).

vlcsnap-2017-11-30-19h25m09s566

If using Vector 3, I get both pedals’ data.  Whereas with the PowerTap P1 or Favero Assioma, I get both the left and right pedals shown.  That means with those systems I can only connect to either the left or right side, but not both sides.  And again, if you connect over ANT+ to those pedals, this isn’t an issue.

Finally, wrapping things in the general use section up, what about less technical things?  Stuff like clipping in or float?  All that feels good and natural to me.  I’m not a huge pedal/component junkie (I’m a tech guy), but everything feels perfectly fine to me.  Additionally, since Vector’s been shipping almost two months now, I haven’t seen any complaints from anyone in this area.  I also haven’t seen any issues with wear/tear on the pedals in the four months I’ve been using them.  They’ve held up quite well, despite me treating them pretty harshly.

Power Meter Accuracy Results:

Garmin-Vector3-Pedal-GreenLight

I’ve long said that if your power meter isn’t accurate, then there’s no point in spending money on one.  Strava can give you estimated power that’s ‘close enough’ for free, so if you’re gonna spend money on something it shouldn’t be a random number generator.  Yet there are certain scenarios/products where a power meter may be less accurate than others, or perhaps it’s got known edge cases that don’t work.  Neither product type is bad – but you just need to know what those use/edge cases are and whether it fits your budget or requirements.

As always, I set out to find that out.  In power meters today one of the biggest challenges is outdoor conditions.  Generally speaking, indoor conditions are pretty easy to handle, but I still start there nonetheless.  It allows me to dig into areas like low and high cadence, as well as just how clean numbers are at steady-state power outputs.  Whereas outdoors allows me to look into water ingest concerns, temperature and humidity variations, and the all-important road surface aspects (I.e. vibrations).  For reference, the Garmin Vector 3 pedals have a claimed accuracy rate of +/- 1%.  It also does not require any magnets for cadence, while also automatically correcting for any temperature drift. Both of these are pretty common though on most power meters these days.

In my testing, I generally use between 2-4 other power meters on the bike at once.  I find this is the best way to validate power meters in real-world conditions.  In the case of most of these tests with the Vector 3 I was using the following other units on four different test bikes equipped at varying times with the following diversity of units:

4iiii Precision Dual power meter
Elite Direto Trainer
FSA PowerBox
Power2Max NG
Power2Max NG ECO
PowerTap G3 hub based power meter (two different units)
Stages Left-Only Power Meter (LR soon!)
Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017/V2 Trainer
Wahoo KICKR 2017/V3 Trainer
Wattbike Atom Indoor Bike

Given I tested these over the course of four months, I was using a lot of different gear.

In general, my use of other products is most often tied to other things I’m testing.  Also, when it comes to data collection, I use a blend of the NPE WASP data collection devices, and a fleet of Garmin head units (mostly Edge 520/820/1000/1030 units).  For the vast majority of tests on the Garmin Vector 3 I just used the Garmin Edge 1030, and a FR935 watch.  But I also recorded on apps as well, including TrainerRoad and Zwift.

DSC_1794

Note all of the data can be found in the links next to each review.  Also, at the end is a short table with the data used in this review.  I’ll likely add in other data not in this review as well.

With that, let’s get right into it and start with analyzing an indoor trainer ride from earlier this week, in this case a workout on Zwift.  Note that this particular workout also had a PowerTap PowerCal on it (non-direct force power meter), but I’m going to skip it for these charts.  This was a structured workout (Jon’s Mix, long-form variant). Here’s the DCR Analyzer file set if you want to dig yourself:

image

What we’ve got on this one is Vector 3 vs a Power2Max NG ECO vs the Wahoo KICKR3/2017.  As you can see, all three units are very close in comparison across everything (save one brief second where the NG Eco lost contact momentarily with the head unit recording it).  You do though see that the KICKR3 undercuts power slightly on the 30-second intervals for reasons I’m not super clear on.

image

The Power2Max NG ECO and Vector 3 are very close.  Note that some of the KICKR’s undercutting can be blamed on drivetrain efficiency losses (or rather, lack of drivetrain efficiency), which is typically in the 5-12w range.  Though this is a tiny bit more than that at 10-20w on 450w.

If we look at the steady-state sections, we actually see a slight flip between the P2M and KICKR3 in terms of who is highest/lowest between them.  The Vector 3 remains highest (as expected in the proper order of loses).  Note that despite how big that gap may look in the chart below, in reality if you look at the numbers we’re only talking 4-6w difference here, which is really darn close.  That’s above the margin of error for the accuracy of the two units combined.

image

For the most part the above is somewhat of a boringly clean set, so let’s shift gears to another ride…which is also boringly clean.  In the below ride, I’m using the Wattbike, and as such since I can’t swap out the cranks I can really only have two power meters (versus the 3-4 I prefer). Still, I thought I’d include it just because it looks so darn perfect.  In fact, you probably can’t even tell there’s two power meters there:

image

Save a few very tiny variances, they match up almost perfectly.  Up above you see around the 27-minute marker a tiny blip on Vector that Wattbike doesn’t follow.  That’s where I specifically applied extra pressure on Vector 3 that the Wattbike didn’t seem to catch (too short perhaps, only a second or so).

And then below, inversely, you can see on the 3rd interval I seemed to undercut it slightly, and the Wattbike appears to carry the momentum of the flywheel through that couple second sprint, when in actuality I probably didn’t – thus matching Vector 3.  But when I didn’t cut things short, the units are near perfectly matched – far more than I usually see actually.

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And again, if we look at another portion later in the workout with more repetitive intervals, it’s all the same – boringly clean.

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So let’s head outside for a moment.  This couple hour ride includes everything from city streets to cobbles to off-road riding on it.  Below I’m first showing it smoothed at 5-second intervals, but then I’ll re-smooth it again to make it easier to spot any issues.  You can dig into the full set here.

image

Here’s everything smoothed at 30-second intervals.  You can see that over the course of the entire ride, there’s virtually no moments where the three units differ in any manner. Almost the entire time they are within a couple watts of each other, with the PowerTap G3 being the lowest (as it should be).

image

Within that, if I back down the smoothing factor a bit in the graphs, I want to look at one sprint.  This is still smoothed slightly, thus the peak is actually higher than this.  But I find when comparing power meters, about a 2-3s smoothing factor for sprints helps to make it clear what’s going on.

image

In this case, the sprint is a touch over 800w.  We see the Vector 3 and P2M units very close – 6w difference on 800w (thus 0.7% apart), and the PowerTap G3 seems to shoot slightly higher.  Of course, anytime you’re talking max sprint power, it’s incredibly difficult to get units to match due to the differing transmission rates and then corresponding recording rates.  So you end up with situations like this were sub-second maxes just get averaged out to a single second, and you get slight differences.

Still, you see the overall trend on this 800w sprint, and then the following 600w efforts is very close.

And if we look at cadence on this ride, all three are nearly identical. Only a handful of times the PowerTap G3 hub gets flustered with its estimated cadence (typically when you quickly back off a sprint).  But this is well known.

image

Now, let’s look at another set – another outside ride.  This has some totally funky stuff in it that’s 100% unrelated to Vector 3, but I figured I’d use it briefly to show some data comparisons.  In short, you see how halfway through the Power2Max NG sees drops?  Something started on the most recent Edge 520 firmware with the NG ECO causing this precisely every 60 seconds for 1-2 seconds.  I hadn’t analyzed this set till later, so didn’t catch it initially since it happens so quick.

image

So instead, let’s just look at the first 45 minutes where the units are all happy.

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You can see here that things are really darn close.  If we zoom in on that sprint again, we’ll see very close alignment as well:

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As always, once you start talking few second long sprints, you get slight variances at the peak, but throughout this sprint things are very close between the units.

And then again here later in that ride on another 800w sprint:

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Ultimately I’m not seeing any issues with Vector 3 from an accuracy standpoint.  I’ve ridden across messy cobblestones, as well as rougher dirt roads – none of which have proven to be an issue.  Same goes for indoor riding, as well as both low and high cadence work.  All of it seems very solid to me.

Here’s the full table of rides since the unit started shipping (I’ve skipped including rides from previous to shipping – such as August and September), since they were on beta firmware.  Though, by and large, I saw very few accuracy issues in beta hardware/software, especially once I got into September and the issues evaporated with software updates.

Garmin Vector 3 Data Sets

Workout DateDCR Analyzer Link
Nov 27th - Zwift WorkoutAnalyze
Nov 21st - WattbikeAnalyze
Nov 19th - Outdoor LongchampAnalyze
Nov 9th - Zwift WattbikeAnalyze
Nov 7th - TrainerRoadAnalyze
Nov 5th - Outdoor LongchampAnalyze
Nov 2nd - WattbikeAnalyze
Oct 26th - WattbikeAnalyze
Oct 25th - VersaillesAnalyze
Oct 15th - Outdoor FarmsAnalyze
Oct 9th - Outdoor VincennesAnalyze
Oct 4th - Road Grand ToursAnalyze

(Note: All charts/graphs made with the DCR Analyzer. You can create your own sets and Analyzer your own workouts by hitting up the Analyzer page, which explains how the tool works.  It’s good for everything from GPS track comparisons to power meter, HR sensor, and even advanced data file comparisons. Enjoy!)

Power Meter Pedals Shoot-Out:

Earlier this fall I did a complete power meter pedal shootout.  So if you can’t decide which power meter pedal is best for you, then it’s definitely something you should check out.

There are pros and cons to each of the pedal platforms, be it price, compatibility, or sensor aspects.  I did it with a mind-boggling number of those aspects, including:

– Size/Dimensions
– Weight
– Installation requirements
– Cleat compatibility
– Float
– Stack Height
– Max Rider Weight
– Advanced analytics

And much more, all that can be found here.  Alternatively, here’s the super short comparison table of specs alone:

Function/FeatureFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 30th, 2017 @ 3:15 pmNew Window
Price$519/$799 (single/dual)$999$999
Available todayGlobalStarted shipping October 2017Global
Measurement TypeDirect ForceDirect ForceDirect Force
Attachment areaPedalPedalsPedals
Attachment limitationsLOOK KEO COMPATIBLE PEDALS ONLYLOOK KEO COMPATIBLE PEDALS ONLYLook Keo variant cleats only
Weight (additional/net)150g per pedal (inclusive of pods)161g per pedal216g per pedal
Wireless Connectivity TypeANT+/BLUETOOTH SMART (DUAL)ANT+ today (Bluetooth Smart enabled by January 2018)ANT+/Bluetooth Smart (Dual)
Unit auto-turns on when on bikeYesYesYes
BatteryFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Battery Life50 Hours120-150 hours60hrs+
User or Factory battery replacementN/AUserUser
Battery typeUSB RechargeableLR44AAA
Low Battery WarningYesYesYes
FeaturesFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Measures/Transmits CadenceYesYesYEs
Ability to update firmwareYesYesYes
Transmits Left/Right Power Balance (Measured)YesYesYes
Transmits Pedal SmoothnessYesYesYes
AccuracyFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Measures all power outputYesYesYes
Claimed Accuracy Level+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 1.5%
Includes temperature compensationYesYesYes
Supports auto-zero functionYesYesYEs
Supports manual calibrationYesYesYes
Supports hanging weights (static test)-YesNo
SoftwareFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Phone App to Configure/TestYesYesYes
PurchaseFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Amazon LinkN/AN/ALink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerFavero Assioma PedalsGarmin Vector 3PowerTap P1 Pedals
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

But what if you’re not sure you want a pedal based power meter? That’s great – there’s tons of options out there, and pedal based units are just one option (and often one of the most expensive options).  So you should check out my full 2017 Annual Power Meter Buyer Guide, which walks through every power meter on the market, and the pros and cons to each one.  It’s massive!

The full power meter buyers guide can be found here.

Summary:

Garmin-Vector3-Parts-Pile

It’s easy to say that Vector 3 is Garmin’s best power meter yet.  That’s true, but that’s also a cliché cop-out.

It’s more important instead to understand that in being their best power meter yet, they finally arrived at many of the original promises and goals of Garmin acquiree Metrigear’s founding ideas more than 8 years ago.  The goal was an easily transportable/moveable and accurate pedal power meter.  Up until now, there were always caveats with each of those aspects on Vector.  It was accurate, but only if you did X and Y.  And it was moveable, but again, only with A and B.  And it was compatible, but only with P and Q.  And it was supported on R cranks, but only with Z SKU.  Thus, it was full of ‘but only if/with’ statements.

When I first sat down to listen to Garmin’s pitch on Vector 3, they started with the common marketing sentence of ‘We wanted to address all of the past complaints’.  Mentally I rolled my eyes at the polite Canadian driven team.  But after four months of using them, it’s actually clear they did exactly that.  And your (reader) comments on them checking off all the other requirements boxes are clear too.  They went dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and even opened up Cycling Dynamics to be an open standard.  They removed all those ‘but only if’ statements with past Vector products and ended up with a clean and sleek power meter pedal that’s easily moveable between bikes, and is accurate as well.  Full stop, no more buts.

Third time’s the charm.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well. 

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $49, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Vector 3 (select dropdown for different models)
Garmin Vector 3 – European readers

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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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127 Comments

  1. Thomas

    Thanks for posting Ray :-) Now I know what to do the next hour or so ;-)

  2. FatCatNasty

    I was very interested in power pedals until i found out about the loss of around 6 degrees on bike lean angle.

  3. Richard

    Hi Ray. I couldn’t find a definitive answer on the decrease in pedal stack heights V2 compared to V3 being ‘slightly’ lower. Do you have any insight on that one?

    • The stack height for Vector 2 is 10.50mm. The stack height for Vector 3 is 12.20mm. These measurements do not include the height of the cleat.

      The Q factor for Vector 2 is 55.00mm (56.2mm with 1washer, 57.4mm with 2 washers)
      The Q factor for Vector 3 is 53mm (55mm with provided 2mm washer)

  4. Sean

    Don’t know if it’s a special deal or the new normal, but I just looked and Clever Training now says “FREE SHIPPING OVER $49”

  5. Pierre

    Great as always.
    One question regarding osymetric rings, support or not?

  6. Steve

    Have never posted here before (though always enjoy reading), but I think many folks must have the same question as me, so I’ll ask it: is there any reason to get these over the much less expensive Assiomas? So far I see differences in the appearances of the pedals (subjective), battery mechanism (subjective), and Cycling Dynamics (subjective re: usefulness). I’ve got no horse in the race, but bypassed the recent BF deals on the Assiomas because I wanted to learn more about the Vectors before choosing (first PM purchase for me). (Would love DCR’s thoughts on this–may be wrong, but I sense diplomacy because the differences seem so subtle and a matter of personal preference–as well as others’.)

    • I think you’ve summarized the differences well.

      And that’s honestly all it comes down to. Some don’t like the look of Assiomas, and some prefer varying battery technologies. The one minor one is the whole Zwift connectivity issue over BLE, which some Assioma buyers have been upset about (ANT+ is fine). But again, minor depending on your specific configuration.

      But again – really just the differences you’ve outlined for the most part (aside from some varying tiny minor tech/sizing differences outlined in detail in the other post).

    • Steve

      Thanks for the response. It’d be easier if there was a clear and compelling difference. I was hoping you might say that there was an obvious winner on build quality (though figured that assessment would take a year+) or that cycling dynamics had proved its worth as a training tool. But my sense is that it’s now a question of whether the slightly cleaner look of the Vectors is worth several hundred $$$ (we all put a lot of stock into the look of our bikes, so I guess it’s an honest choice).

    • Chris Ott

      IMHO this is rather a major issue with BLE and Strava+Zwift. I use my iPhone right on the bike and I see no point in using ANT when BLE is available.

      I think it was an important design decision for Garmin to make the pedals appear as one BT device and to strive for the official BT certificate. Another positive point is the auto calibration. All settings seem to be available from the Garmin app (no need for a separate head unit). This is all well-considered by Garmin.

      Looks or battery life are minor in my opinion. I really wanted to buy the Assiomas because of the price, but the unsolved BLE issues are a show-stopper for me. It will be the Vectors now, as soon as they are in stock.

  7. Ludovic

    Hello Ray:

    Does include the Garmin Vector 3 weight the batteries?

  8. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Glad I took a chance and got these before the in-depth review, actually just arrived and mounted them today.

    Thanks for the RT Ray!

    Might be worth mentioning the 2 different tension setting areas on the pedals? Looks like both bar and allen key tension adjustment.

  9. Jesper

    Nice review as always. thx!

    On the “hands on” post/blog, there was quite a few people asking about upgrade/trade-in deals for existing V1 and V2 customers. Have you heard anything since? (guess you would have mentioned it) Could you poke Garmin for us??
    I’m very close to the weight limit for the old Vectors, and if I got any decent amount of riding done, I’d trash at least one set of Vectors each season. On my 3rd or 4th set now. Not sure if it’s my fat legs or the wet and salty environment here in Denmark. But I’m not a happy Vector owner at all…

    PS. Small typo: …you can turn off auto zero if you’d like to. This can be __down__ both on the head unit, as well as the mobile app.
    Assume down=done?

    • Thanks!

      No, I’m not aware of any trade-in deals at all (or talks of them). To be fair, Garmin has largely phased out such offers as a company in general (as have most tech companies these days I suppose). In the case of Vector 1 to 2, it was technically a simpler problem to solve. Whereas things are substantially different from a hardware standpoint in V3.

      Thanks on the typo, fixed!

  10. Brent

    Now that they are making there pedal in house they should start focusing on a SPD version. That is the only if I have.

  11. Brad Davis

    I have an issue where I tend to destroy the clip-but that is at the back of the pedal, specifically the part that clips in to the back of the cleat. It’s not clear to me why this happens – maybe I need to clean my cleats off more often? – but it happens pretty frequently. e.g. I just destroyed a set of pedals in about 7000 kilometers. So my question is, is this part servicable / replacable on these pedals?

  12. MAGNUS

    Mine were delivered today but a bit disappointed the crows foot was no longer included. I had a set of Vector 2 pedals so I went out and bought a torque wrench to swap out as needed… Now I’m the other way around, have a torque wrench but no crows foot to install or swap… Staring at my pedals until I get a chance to stop by the LBS should be as fun as riding them.

    • GianKam

      Can you explain? Hard to understand for me.

    • Magnus had an old set of Vector 2 pedals. Those required a torque wrench, and in particular, a crows foot adapter for said torque wrench. Garmin initially didn’t include those in the box, but eventually did. All of which allowed for proper installation of the pedals, but was well beyond what you’d need to normally install pedals.

      With Vector 3 you simply need a normal pedal wrench, which are widely and easily available (and what you’d need for many other pedals too). Magnus is simply noting that now he has an overkill tool of little use, versus the cheap and easily found tool.

  13. Philip

    Hi Ray!

    I’ve got a pair of Vector 3 on pre order but I just can’t decide if I prefer the Assioma instead. Regarding durability, which ones do you think are the most durable? It does happen that pedals take a little beating, and it seems as though Favero’s design with the electronics being away from the pedal body would make them safer than the Vectors, where an impact would hit the electronics directly. What’s your take on that? There’s also the possibility to change the pedal body on the Favero’s where as I guess that the Vector’s electronics are so integrated that it is not possible on them, do you know?

    • I think they’re all pretty darn durable.

      I’d actually argue the inverse – that Favero’s pod-design makes it more susceptible to damage, because the pods have a point that could also get damaged, versus being protected inside the pedal.

      But ultimately, I’ve really seen no evidence of either design being a concern (either with Assioma or their previous generation bePro). With Vector 3 there will be service kits made available.

      Speaking of service kit – fun fact I didn’t mention in the review: Vector 3 is designed so that all the electronics are in the spindle, enabling them to more easily consider other pedal body types down the road…

    • Philip

      Ok! I’ll stick to Vector then, thanks for your reviews and the 10% discount at Clevertraining :)

    • Steven Knapp

      A good point. Assioma and Vector are both user serviceable.

      The Powertap P1 needs to be sent in for ~250USD, per their web site.

  14. Alan T.

    Hi Ray,
    Is there anything thing that the Vector 3 will not push to the BOLT? In other words, is there an advantage to pairing the Vector 3 to the 520 or other Garmin computer rather then parking w/ my BOLT ? Thank you.

    • Omar

      At this point in time, by reading Ray’s well researched reviews, the only thing you won’t get when using Vector 3 with a WAhoo Bolt is Garmin’s cycling dynamics information on the Bolt. Probably not a deal breaker for many people but worth a note. There is hope that Wahoo may implement cycling dynamics in the future now that garmin has opened them up for industry adoption (but that’s not a guarantee). At this time though, the advantage of using a Garmin 520 or similar from Garmin is the support for cycling dynamics.

    • Yup, Omar’s spot on.

      I didn’t run Vector 3 with the BOLT to my knowledge on any of my more formal tests, so if there’s any unexpected quirks, I wouldn’t have caught them. I may have paired to it here or there on a ride, but can’t remember specifically.

      I’ll probably try some Polar/Suunto via BLE units in the near future and add them in. With Polar you’ll get more detailed information on power meters than Suunto.

    • Suunto will only take a single BLE channel on SPARTAN. Polar should do both.

      Might be useful for single channel BLE to clarify what power you get (doubled one side but which side and can you choose which side Or combined)

    • That’s the key difference though with Vector 3 compared to Assioma and PowerTap P1: It shows as a single channel (with both sides within it). It’s not just doubling like the others. Thus, it’ll actually work even better for Suunto which only accepts single channel.

  15. Alexey Pal

    Thank’s for great review Ray!

    Any news on MTB (spd) version?
    I use spd pedals on all my bikes (MTB, CX, road) and will be glad to by Vector3 in Shipman a600 or XTR shell

  16. John Bru

    If you compare Vector 3 with prior versions, they look like beta products.

    I like the elimination of pods and now you don’t need a torque wrench. I’d prefer to use an allen wrench, but it’s not a big deal. LR44 batteries are not as standard as AAA from powertap, but they last longer.

    At last, pedal power meter are easily transportable/movable, but they are more exposed to falls and hits. It isn’t the best option for durability.

  17. Rodador

    What’s the reason that there isn’t Shimano compatible pedal power meter on the market? I prefer Shimano cleats because they has a larger platform and are more durable than Look Keo ones.

  18. Stuart

    Considering that I can easily find places that sell LR44 batteries for about 20 cents a pop, whereas the cheapest option I can find for SR44 is around 90 cents a pop (both AUD), I’d say it’s a good thing that Garmin have validated the LR44; I find it difficult to believe that the SR44 would last about five times longer than the alkaline option. If only I could bring myself to justify the upgrade from the Vector 2 … (sigh.)

    • Steven Knapp

      Ray, appreciate you asking Garmin about the SR44/LR44. Remain curious why the LR is more consistent… but I’m sure I can figure out a way to get over that. :)

    • Chris B.O.B.

      I’m a Garmin dealer and in speaking with them today regarding batteries they advised that the SR is the preferred battery. I wonder if something has changed in the past few days. I originally asked because Alkaline batteries (LR) leak while Silver Oxide (SR) don’t…and inside your $1000 pedals is not a good place for leaking batteries and I wanted to get their take as to preference between the two.

    • Marc Simkin

      According to the Garmin web site, either LR or SR is fine. They state they haven’t tested the SR for battery life.

      link to support.garmin.com

    • Steven Knapp

      …but expect it to be longer, as the specs would indicate.

      “SR44 batteries have not been tested for battery life however are expected to last longer that LR44 batteries.”

      All interesting. I doubt it matters much, honestly. I’ve not seen issues with charged LR batteries leaking in storage. And the battery life is solid either way.

      But then again I probably didn’t need to know my PCO is different between my left and right feet either..

  19. Peterf

    These look fantastic, but I greatly favour SPD cleats (the MTB kind).

    Is there a technical reason why nobody makes pedals with a power meter for SPD?

  20. Lorenzo Pasquale

    Hi Ray, thanks as usual for the useful review.

    I’m considering your statement ‘…nor are any specific torque specifications required.’

    Still, I DO see they’re recommending “25 lbf-ft or 34 N-m” on their quick-start guide (please, see picture #4 – link to media.dcrainmaker.com ).

    All this reminds me of the old Vector 1 installing recommendations ( link to youtu.be ).

    ‘…hand tighten those [pedals]. Achieve a nice firm tightening of the pedal, but not over tighten. Pedals don’t need to be over tightened. And if you’d like to use a torque wrench to achieve that exact 25 lbf-ft or 34 N-m, _by all means_ do so…’

    And we all know that a torque wrench was mandatory for a successfully installation of Vector 1 pedals.

    I must say it won’t bother me as I already have such a torque wrench (I bought it a few months after Vectors 1 had arrived).
    I just thought it would have been worth to point it out.

    Ciao :)

    P. S. Vector 3, here I come!

    • Yeah, I can say that they left it in there more as general guidance than anything else. In reality, there’s no reason for it, and they’ll more or less admit to the same thing when asked in a non-official capacity.

  21. Fernando Luiña Vela

    Great review, thanks

  22. Steve

    Terrific review. I’m still running my perfectly functional Edge 510, but have been shopping around for a power meter. Despite only the newer generation head units being listed as “compatible” with the Vector 3/3S’s, do you think I’d still be able to display power/cadence on that (minus all the cycling dynamics data)? There wasn’t much that I found on the Garmin forums.

    • Stuart

      They aren’t going to take a standard that has been in use since the original Vector and throw it out the window. Given that the original Vector transmitted cadence as well as power, and is listed as compatible with the Edge 510, I’m going to bet a significant sum of money against a single doughnut that the 3/3S will function in an identical fashion, at least as far as the 510 is concerned. You might miss out on some of the fancier, newer features (although the biggest is Bluetooth support – no big deal in this context), but if all I had was an Edge 510, I’d have absolutely no qualms about picking up the Vector 3.

      link to www8.garmin.com

  23. Nick

    Thanks for the review Ray!

    You mention that you tested with Stages. Any chance you can post the analyzer link for the Stages comparison?

    Thanks!

    • Let me dig around a bit. I have a Stages arm on that bike for every ride, but don’t always bother to record it, since it’s left-only and thus isn’t super interesting from an accuracy standpoint.

      I’ll dig back, as I recorded some rides in August and September with it.

  24. Jason

    Are there any limitations with oval chainrings? I recall there was an issue with high power readings in the vector 2 with oval chainrings.

  25. Marc Simkin

    Ray, any idea of what the variances between the 2 & 3? I have the 2 on one bike and the 3 will be going on the other, once I receive it. (Looks like CleverTraining will be shipping them today). I just trying to figure out if the variance will be something I will have to worry about going forward.

    Cheers

    -marc

  26. Rich Kaplan

    So now the question is pedal vs crank power. Pedal has the advantage of being swappable but I have only one road bike running time pedals and a gravel bike with spds. If money wasn’t the first consideration, how would you compare vector 3 with the new shimano and 4iii dual power meters?

  27. Ben

    I have read all your indepth reviews and find them fascinating. Just about to part with some hard earned cash for a pair of power pedals. If it was your money vector 3’s or P1’s? Can’t see much in it now.

    • Marc Simkin

      Ben:

      I went through that same debate a back in the late spring. I ended up originally picking up the Powerbeats. After 8 weeks with nothing but issues with the Powerbeats, I was able to return them and switched to the Vectors.

      I decided on the Vectors at that point because I was fulling invested in the Garmin ecosystem. I also felt that just having some of the metrics from the cycling dynamics would be interesting.

      The P1s also provide some of the same additional metrics, but only if you use a Powertap computer. Since I didn’t want to replace my computer, the Vectors were a better choice.

      If you are not after the additional metrics, then go with the one you can get the best deal on.

      -marc

  28. BobBarker2017

    Many thanks Ray for this very good and in-depth review.

    It is greatly appreciated since l have been sitting on the fence over the last couple of weeks to decide on my next power meter.

    As for Mark, I have been invested since several years in the Garmin ecosystem for cycling computers, tri-watches and over the last year and a half the Vector 2 (dual).

    Overall, never had any problems with these things and I have been satisfied. Except for the Vectors for which I had to return two sets since my first purchase in August 2016.

    The first one was defective after couple of weeks and was fully replaced by the LBS/supplier under Garmin’s warranty. The second one worked without flaws until early fall this year when I have started noticing a power output difference of 30 watts on average and much more higher during sprints when I installed the bike on the Kickr. Before that, the difference was 4 to 9 watts. Balance between the two legs was also way off.

    This second set was also declared defective by Garmin’s supplier and available for full replacement with Vector 3 if I want to through the LBS. Not bad! :)

    So, although I want to give Garmin a third chance with these pedals since I enjoy the dual pedal power, switch between bikes and cycling dynamic data, I do not want to experience a third time this kind of failure. Electronics is electronics after all and Garmin through its supplier here has stand behind its warranty policy which is a good thing. I could switch to the P1 which are bigger or a Stage/4iii but I am not a big fan of crank-based power meters.

    This review is therefore helpful to help me decide on the next step.

    Anyway, no more pods, torque requirements and several steps calibration procedure is a good start…

  29. Antonio

    What do you think about pairing the V3 with a PC8? Doable? Not a hassle like with the V2?

    • Should pair just fine as an ANT+ power meter, assuming SRM aren’t doing anything funky in the specs.

      If it was a hassle on V2, then honestly that’d be 100% SRM’s fault, since Vector follows the standards pretty clean-cutly (no other vendor has had issues there).

  30. Silviu

    Thanks for the review. After reading around on the garmin forums I’ve become aware of a potential problem with the bearings so I’ve been watching every unboxing or review on youtube on the Vector 3.
    For example:
    link to youtube.com
    On that video, from 8:40 to 9:10, the pedals appear to be way too tight. Let alone the potential fraction of a watt you’re losing because of that, I wouldn’t want to start off on a busy intersection or an incline with my pedal hanging around on that position.
    What’s your take on this? How was your set when you first got them? Did they loosen up after a while? Anyone else had this problem?

    • I don’t remember it being like that on any units I unboxed. If only for the reason that for photo purposes that stickiness would actually make my life a million times easier – since it keeps the pedal perfectly level. :)

      The very first shot in the review is from just after unboxing a pair (I take them then to look pretty still). So if it were level, it’s actually be a niftier photo. Sometimes I’ll hold it level with something just out of view.

    • Asgerhj

      I just installed mine today (ordered beginning of October…)
      Turning the cranks they behave like in the video.
      If I position the bulky part of the pedal at app. “10.30-11.30 o’clock” the pedals will balance themselves and stay in that position. Any higher or lower they will find their natural position in about 2 seconds.
      All in all I find it nothing to worry about. I’d rather describe the feel of the resistance as snug and quality. Not grindy or over tightened. Actually I believe my ultegras were about the same when new, and now they “dangle” freely.

  31. Chris

    Problem with Stages is it drops connection with the Fenix 5 when I’m riding on the aero bars. Can I expect the same issues with Vector 3?

    • Honestly, nobody can tell you the answer to that. The challenge with the Stages issue is that it’s nearly 100% bike/human configuration dependent. For some people, no issues, for others, plenty of issues.

      One tip: Some folks that are seeing Stages/Fenix 5 issues have it solved by switching over the BLE transmission from Stages to the Fenix 5.

      That said, Garmin’s Vector team is incredibly aware of the Stages issue (the Vector team largely is based out of Canada, in the same building as ANT+/Dynastream). I suspect this is something they tested a boatload. But as always…never say never.

    • David García

      I don’t think that Vector 3 will have the same reception problems as Stages with Fenix 5, because both are Garmin products and they show Vector 3 as compatible device with Fenix 5.

      If any problem should occur, Garmin should take care of that in warranty. Anyway, I think they should have tested it before releasing, as Ray says.

      I ordered Vector 3 in Clever Training (thanks to Ray 10% discount) and I have a Fenix 5. When I receive them I can tell you more about how they perform.

      Thanks Ray for your detailed in depth reviewed.

  32. Dave

    Thank you for your continued hard work. Your review helped me pull the trigger on these. Merry Christmas to me!

  33. Kyle

    Just landed in Amsterdam from Kazakhstan and looking to get these. Notice you travel here often – any bike shop recommendations?

    • Honestly, it’s gonna be really hard to find one for at least the next few weeks unless you’ve pre-ordered somewhere (a while ago). It sounds like inventory will probably catch-up around mid-December.

      Of course, sometimes you might just luck out by calling various local bike shops in Amsterdam and one might randomly have a unit that came in for a customer that then cancelled a unit…but I think it’s gonna be tough. :(

  34. Adam Wenborn

    Great review as always!

    Interesting to hear that Garmin are now manufacturing the pedal bodies in-house; do you think Garmin will release a Shimano SPD-SL compatible pedal body at some point in the future?

    • Years ago after the acquisition they talked about other pedal types that wanted to go into….and it never happened.

      But I think they’re in a much different (more mature) position than they were however many years ago that was. Both from a product standpoint, but also a manufacturing standpoint.

    • Adam

      Thanks for reply!

      Garmin, if you’re reading this, please make an SPD-SL compatible pedal body!

    • TK

      I sent an email to Garmin support asking this very same question. They replied with the below:

      Regarding your question we have no updates on if that will ever come to fruition. This year on the V3 we designed our own pedal instead of using the Exustar body. So pending the market need and response we got from the Vector 2 Shimano kit, it may be easier for Garmin to do since in house design. But as of now no information.

  35. Phil A

    The curious question is if you can use a CR1/3N battery instead of the stacked LR44 batteries? Then it would be lithium instead of alkaline.

    • Steven Knapp

      The CR1’s capacity is ~160mAh per : link to mouser.com

      LR44 is ~175mAh per : link to data.energizer.com

      While not a perfectly accurate comparison, the capacity is roughly equal. Yet the cost of the CR1 is a good bit higher (14USD for both pedals vs ~1.20USD). Other than longer shelf life I’m not sure what the benefits of the CR1 would be.

  36. Steven

    Have the P1 pedals, but thinking of selling/buying vector 3 for the increased clearance (one of my bikes has a super low bottom bracket. Also the better compatibility with regular look cleats (I have found the PowerTap P1 stock ones are prone to breakage). Saving 100 grams. Cycling dynamics. Running look keos on my indoor trainer bike and running these on the outside bike.

    The battery choice seemed silly at first, but the chance to have different bodies in the future would be nice. I’m guessing this means potentially Shimano, but one can always dream for Speedplay-esque.

  37. Pieterjan

    Hi,
    thx for the great review!
    Why would I choose a power based pedal like vector 3 over another system like power2max NGeco? looking out for a power meter but don’t know what’s more interesting.. Price for my setup would be pretty identical (need new crank for p2max). swappability between bikes isn’t an issue..

    • The main reason to purchase a pedal based power meter is really portability between bikes. The secondary reason to purchase a dual sensing unit is for accurate left/right metrics.

      For what you’re saying, I don’t see much of a reason for you to go with Vector 3 over the NG ECO.

  38. Francis

    Hi Ray,

    Stupid question. My stationary bike computer is broken. Can i use the Vector 3 to replace it? Kinda thought might as well hit two birds with one stone. Thanks

    • You could (assuming the bike just uses standard crank arm that have removable pedals). Just be aware that you won’t get speed from them. You’ll get power and cadence though.

  39. Martin

    Hi Ray – I am looking at the data sets and checking how the units compare in terms of mean max power at the 20 minute mark. All of the outside rides you did in October look pretty good, within 5 watts @ around 240 so well within spec. All the rides you did in November look a lot more suspect. I think the dropout issue you mentioned with the P2Max explains why that unit is reading low, but also the G3 looks significantly more variable in the November data.
    Can you think of any reason why this might be?

    • Indeed, the P2M dropout issue complicates some of those data sets. But I’m not seeing anything obvious/of note with respect to the G3. Which specific data set and/or time?

    • Martin

      On 10/25, 10/15, 10/9 10/4 the G3 and the Vector3 are within 1 watt at 20 minutes Mean Max Power – looks impressive almost like the Wattbike sets. On 11/5 the G3 and vector are 15 watts apart at 20 mins MMP i.e. one of the units out of spec. On 11/19 they are about 6 watts apart so just about in spec but not as impressive as the rides from October.

    • It looks like it’s good through about half-way into the workout, and then you see a bit of a slight shift after that point on the G3 vs Vector 3. I’d say the P2M and G3 agree, which they shouldn’t, which means that likely the G3 went slightly higher than it should of.

      Could have been anything from a weird autozero or something else. Not sure.

      Keep in mind that in theory, we actually shouldn’t have Vector 3 and the G3 identical (or within a watt or two). Ideally we’d be talking 5-8w of difference, with Vector 3 higher. Assuming PowerTap doesn’t slightly skew their numbers higher on their hubs…

    • Martin

      Thanks Ray, that makes sense, I came to a similar conclusion that the Vector 3 looks the more solid of the 3 units in terms of accuracy but it takes a bit of reading between the lines. I have a couple of G3’s and now and again they do seem to glitch on the offset by up to 15 watts or so easy for me to believe that the G3 was slightly out. (Would be interesting to know if PowerTap do build in a fudge factor for the drive train!)

      At the moment Vector 3’s are notable by their absence in the UK but I will take a punt on a set once they do show up here – hope that the 1% accuracy claim stands the test of time….

  40. Mike

    I recently installed my vector 3 pedals and they seamlessly paired with my edge 520, yet I can not seem to pair them to my Garmin mobile connect app on my phone. Also as you pointed out there are two different numbers on the pedals. Does it matter which one I use when attempting to pair? Also on the left pedal it’s one digit less than the right pedal. Is that right? The app asks for the seven digits so I assume it should be the right pedal. I’m “waking” them up and can see the green light but nothing. The app states it can’t find the pedals. Is there something I am not doing?

    • You should only be seeing a single number on Edge 520, not two numbers. That’d imply that the two aren’t linked.

      As for the app not finding them, I’m not entirely sure on how to troubleshoot that. I know Garmin is monitoring the comments here, but it may be faster to hit them up on the Garmin Forums for Vector, which they are hyper-aware of.

    • Omar

      See procedure to pair with Garmin connect starting at 1:30 min mark in this video:

      link to youtu.be

    • Thomas

      You must use the left pedal (this is the master pedal) to pair with the phone.

    • Mike

      The app asks for seven digits and the left pedal only has six digits. Is that right?

    • Asger

      My pedals start with a 0, thus making it 7 digits.
      But a weird thing is, that the number on the left pedal is nothing like the one reported on my Edge 1000 and the apps I’m using, which shows only 5 digits.
      (Entering the 7 digits stamped on the left pedal into the “control [kickr] with ant+ power meter” field in the wahoo Fitness app automatically converts the stamped 7 digit number to the 5 digits ant+ number)

    • Asger

      I just found the answer to my own speculation of different ANT+ IDs.
      Apparently Garmin is rolling out a new 20bit ID format.

      Details:
      link to forums.garmin.com

  41. Matthew Loggie

    Hi Ray,

    I recently received a pair of Vector 3’s and have done a few rides inside using Zwift comparing the Vectors power readings with the Tacx Neo using your analyzer software. I have found the Vectors to be running consistently lower than the Neo. Here is a public link to the charts: link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com

    Have you seen similar things when you have used the two devices and do you think I should be concerned about this consistent and pretty sizable difference?

    Thanks and I truly appreciate your hard work keeping us all informed,
    Matthew Loggie

  42. David

    Hi Ray,
    Love your work.
    Great review as usual.
    If one bought a pair of Vector3s, do you know if it would be possible to use the left and right pedals separately on 2 different bikes with separate head units?
    I like the idea if having L & R Power but bring able to use as 2 separate meters would help justify the cost over the single sided option.
    David

    • Asger

      Actually Ray states that it’s not possible in the review (just below the first picture of an Edge 1000)
      Ray, do you have any idea why this is so?

    • Asger

      Sorry, I meant below an Edge 1030..

    • In Garmin’s topology, the left pedal is considered the master/primary pedal, and thus is required. Some companies have failover type topologies (such as 4iiii with their dual cranks), though that’s more the exception than the rule.

    • David

      Oh,
      Thanks.
      I thought I read that if either pedal’s battery went flat then the other pedal could keep working on its own as a one sided meter.

    • David

      DOH. That’s quite clearly stated, isn’t it.
      Serves me right for trying to check this on my phone before posting my question.
      and then finding I can’t edit my last reply so I have to waste everyone’s time with a 2nd post to apologise for wasting everyone’s time with redundant questions. ;-)

  43. Eric

    Really great review (as always)!

    I finally received my Vector 3s this week and I have a question that I am hoping Ray or someone else can help with. For triathlon races I keep my shoes on the bike in transition for a faster T1. To practice how I race I always leave my shoes on my bike. This also saves wear on the cleats.

    My question is whether or not I can calibrate the Vector 3s with my shoes clipped in or do I need to always disengage the shoes, calibrate Vector 3s, and then reengage the shoes before I start my ride with a standard running start. Thanks in advance for the guidance!

    • Theo

      The main issue with this would be auto-zero, which could occur when your bike is in transition with the shoes attached. The weight of the shoes would affect the balance but not the total power being reported.

      So make sure auto-zero is disabled before your event. Do a manual zero calibration with the shoes detached, the night before you race, and you should be good to go.

  44. Candace Carlisle

    “Garmin hasn’t yet released the firmware to the public for the Bluetooth Smart power transmission pieces.. early January for release” would imply you can’t yet use the Vector 3’s with Zwift on an iPad (i.e. only Ant+, unless you have some sort of conversion)? If so, is Garmin still on target for a January release?

  45. S. Savkar

    Well, just installed my spanking new Vector 3s from Clever Training and tested them out on Zwift for a short spin. All seems in order.

    Been using the Powertap P1 for the last year, probably going to switch those to my wife’s bike for her, and see how things go with the V3s. Hate having to use a pedal wrench versus just a simple hex tool though, obviously because of the location of the indicator lites no way around that.

    Since I was lazy I kept my cleats for the P1’s on which seems to sort of work with the garmin, though I threw on the new cleats on another pair of shoes i had and they seem to be a far cleaner fit with the pedal. I seemed to pop out here and there with the wellgo cleats. Not terrible, just had to be a little careful.

  46. David

    I just installed a new set of Garmin Vector 3 pedals. I was surprised to see how much friction there seems to be in the bearings. Unlike the Shimano pedals that I just removed, you cannot spin these petals around with your fingers. They turn slowly, like they are moving through a dense liquid. Place them in a level position and let go, and they take about 4 seconds for the heavier heel end to fully drop. It makes me wonder how many watts will be lost due to this extra friction. I found similar complaints by other purchases on the Garmin site. Does anyone else see this as a problem?

    • S. Savkar

      I noticed the same friction in mine, initially wondered if it was a problem with the pedals, but didn’t really feel any issues while actually pedaling itself. Maybe someone else can clarify why this is the case or if there is a break in period here.

    • David

      I found this thread on the Garmin site:
      link to forums.garmin.com
      Apparently, because the pedals contain sensitive electronics, Garmin had to install waterproof seals at the spindle. Those seals impart a level of friction that you would not tolerate in a normal bike pedal. Does that really matter? If the impact is 1/10 of a watt, it should be ignored. If the impact is 5 watts, that’s unacceptable. I would like Garmin to share data to put this issue to bed.

    • The bearing seals in Vector 3, to ensure water resistance, do create the feeling of more pedal stiffness when moved by hand.  The drag is minimal when moving and causes no significant penalty in wattage while riding. The consequential power loss is less than a ¼ watt total.

    • David

      Shawn@Garmin, thank you for clarifying.

  47. Frank

    Hi Ray,
    I went out for a couple of spins with the V3, did an FTP test, that was quite similar to my results with vector 2S, so in general I was satisfied, however:
    -During the first rides I just torqued the pedals with a small wrench and they showed 50-50, 49-50 and so…balance
    -After this they started to loose, so I realized I made a mistake not torquing them harder -» torqued them not gorilla tight, but about the advised torque with my big wrench
    -Started to realize that the balance gone far to my right (43-57, 44-56)
    -Did a static calibration and the left was 0,999 of the expected the right 0,89…I guess this is not normal. I don’t want do always static calibrations, do you think it is warrant to a replacement?

    • Hi Frank-

      That’s weird, in general when you pedal on a bike the pedals will actually get tighter, so it’s odd they got looser. :-/

      On the static calibration, can you clarify the procedure you used?

      Cheers.

    • Frank

      Te static torquing that garmin advices: put on a 11 or more weight. Measure twice the shown NM on garmin. Average and calculate the expected value weight*9,81*cranklength

    • Frank

      Update: Removed the pedals, wiped off a bit of grease from the threads, torqued them snug by hand with a smaller wrench…just for feeling, not NM :)
      I was worried a bit, because the static torque test showed negative values on the right, but the left was spot on.
      I rod a bit on the rollers, one legged, both legs, different effort.
      Performed the static test again and now both sides were spot on, within 0.01 of the expected value on both sides.

      So honestly…I think it was the too much grease. And now not just Ray confirms, but I do as well: No need to torque them to 40NM anymore, just have them snug.

  48. James Burrows

    Has anyone reported any reliability issues with the Vectors? I had the first type and ended up getting my money back under warranty so am wary. Also considering the Quarq Dzero but the ease of changing bike with the Vectors is tempting – can they take the odd knock in case of an occasional ‘off’ or would you consider them prone to crash damage?

    Reliability/consistency and portability are my priorities. I have a Cannondale BB30a frame and a BSA frame and Quarq advise with Rotor BSA/BB386 bearings I can move the powermeter between bikes, obviously swapping pedals is easier but would swapping cranks be straightforward or a pain?

    • Karl

      Hi James.

      I bit like you I had reliability issues with my Vector 2 and about 6 months ago switched to a Quarq Four. The Quarq has been fantastic and has been totally reliable and I now have 100% confidence in my power meter on every ride. What a difference!!!!!

      I swap the Quarq between 2 bikes. Both Specialized road bikes which required an adapter to convert the press fit BB to GXP. Initially the adapters were a bit tight and moving the Quarq was a pain. However after ever so slightly sanding the inner surface of the adapter the Quarq can now be moved by hand without the need for a rubber mallet and the whole process from start to finish honestly takes no more than 5 mins to do methodically & carefully. This is faster than I could change my Vector 2 but obviously not as quick as Vector 3.

      So for me I am very happy to stay with the reliability and confidence of the Quarq as I think I have just had too many bad experiences with my Vector 1 and 2 upgrade kit. I contacted Quarq before purchasing and they said “no problem with moving from bike to bike on a frequent basis”.

      Just sharing my perspective but obviously others will have equally valid and different experiences.

      Good luck either way with what ever you go for.

    • James

      Hi Karl, that’s very helpful – thanks very much. Edging closer to the Quarq!

    • Do keep in mind that the core changes made to Vector 3 were largely focused on addressing some of the issues seen in Vector 1/2.

      Of course, it’s far too soon to know about long term reliability on Vector 3.

  49. David

    Hello Ray, I may have missed it but I see Questions circling but not asked that I have seen. That being, what about Bearing servicing,adjustment and replacement issues? Your site is the first I’ve read about the Garmin Vector 3. Your reviews are very informative, thanks for that.

  50. Samuel

    I wonder if this multi-tool can be used to unscrw the pedals 🤔

  51. Sam

    Thanks for the review Ray! I am going to get them ordered when my powertap p1 are returned (I had very weird issues of balance inaccuracy or battery caps not working)

    I wish I could order them with your affiliate link on Amazon! Clevertraining (UK) returns policy don’t seem as easy as the Amazon one for european (France) based customers!