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Here’s What Happens When You Order a $35 Power Meter

Remember IQ2? The Kickstarter-based startup that’s been trying to produce a budget power meter for about 33 months now? You might recall late spring 2019 they announced a change in direction from a small crank-arm attached pod to a full on pedal-based power meter. Then this past spring they announced a final production unit, and even sent me one to test. I tested it, and turns out – it was actually accurate in my initial testing. Also turns out, they haven’t yet shipped any meaningful quantity of units to actual real-world users. Hence, no review from me. But that’s all besides the point.

We’re not here for that. We’re here to see what happens when you order a $35 power meter.

Since two Octobers ago (the 2019 variant, pre-pandemic), Instagram and Facebook have been flooded with advertisements to pick up the IQ2 power meter from between $25 and $35. I was to the point of getting daily questions about this. Then these advertisements largely disappeared in early 2020. However, they’re back now – especially over the past few weeks.

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The sites essentially replicate the IQ2 Kickstarter pages, with the original pod-design (remember, they’ve since moved onto a pedal-based design). It says some 64,675 units have been sold – and the number of people looking at the page actually changes in real-time between a few values on a loop. Oddly, there’s always 412 units left in stock – despite 365 people currently having it in their bags [carts] at this point. From an e-commerce standpoint, this would arguably be one of the worst conversion rates out there.

Note: I’m not going to link to any of these sites, since I don’t want to give them the traffic (for what will probably be obvious reasons.)

Ordering a $35 power meter:

But ya know what? I’m gonna be one of those people. One might even say I’m gonna bag this deal!

Thus a year ago I decided to – in the name of science – actually buy one of these. Partially because I was curious if IQ2 was actually dumping failed V1 inventory into China (very plausible in my mind), and partially cause I was curious what the heck I’d really get.

So, I clicked my way from one of the numerous Instagram ads I’d been served to see what I could buy. In this case, it’s this one from the below-named company. It noted I’d “reach my optimal performance with the power meter by IQ2”. Boom – I’m ready to do this!

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And the specifications – they were clearly super legit. Mostly cause…they were a carbon copy from the original IQ2 Kickstarter page.

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Needing no further proof, I immediately pressed to add to my cart and paid via PayPal, in order to minimize any credit card type implications there.

A few moments after paying I received a confirmation e-mail with a very official looking e-mail address:

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Fast forward about a month after that, and on Nov 26th, 2019 I received a shipping confirmation via PayPal:

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Holy crap – I might actually get my very own IQ2 power meter! For a mere $34.97 no less!

One might say I was doubly ecstatic. Or Estastic².

But wait…that very next morning, hot from China, I received the shipment. Apparently, for once in my life, the e-mail system was slower than the mail system. Thus, I was now in possession of my power meter!

Receiving a $35 power meter:

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Now at first glance, this would appear to be a relatively small power meter. Also, relatively lightweight. A bit unexpected since I’d actually handled the original IQ2 power meter “prototypes” a long time ago – and certainly the entire kit would not have fit in a box roughly the size of an egg. But hey, maybe it magically morphed out of the box like one of those Chia Pets or something and becomes a power meter. Yes, you can still buy Chia Pets – in fact, even a Baby Yoda one. It costs less than this power meter.

In any case, not wanting to be a Debbie Downer, I got to opening it up. After all, I’ve been surprised before. Inside I found a plastic baggie, a 3M sticker, and a piece of paper with ‘instructions’.

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Inside that plastic baggie I’d find my power meter:

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I know…I know…this isn’t looking super great. But ya know what – power meters like those from Stages, 4iiii, and others are technically the same size and powered by the same coin cell batteries. Sure, they use fancy industrial adhesives and sand down the crank arm first using laser and such. But if I’ve learned anything as a Certified Geek – it’s that a bit of 3M tape solves everything.

With that, I got the manual cracked open. It says included is the “sensor” and the battery. Plus some troubleshooting instructions. Notably, if I have issues, I need to “let the smoothly face is facing up”. I’m not sure what a “smoothly face” is. Is that like when you get a smoothie on your face? Or when someone gets a smooth face after a facial? I need some clarity here.

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Flip the instructions over and I sense a disturbance in the force. Namely, the fact that it says this is ‘Speed & Cadence Sensor”. But this is SPD100, and undoubtedly with this being the 100th integration, it probably has a power meter built in that we just don’t know about.

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It does note that the “sensor is suitable for most standard communication protocol apps”. And – it even has a Bluetooth icon on it. Thus, I cracked open the pairing menu on the Garmin Edge 530 and got to work searching for sensors. After all, it supports ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart standard protocols for power meters. Oh, and speed, cadence, and speed/cadence combo sensors – but surely we won’t need that for this power meter. Right?

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Will look at that! It found…umm…not a power meter. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and if it found a cadence AND sensor then gosh darn it the power meter must be hidden inside of that – protocols be damned. Fun fact: This actually broadcast on ANT+. No kidding.

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With that confirmed, I installed it on my bike. Now while this company did include tape – I decided to one-up their tape scheme and use some high-quality electrical tape just in case. Just to be sure the smoothly side stayed put.

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Just to be sure for accuracy comparison’s sake – I was ready with plenty of other power meters. It was mounted atop a Quarq DZero power meter, next to a SRM X SPD power meter, and all sitting atop a KICKR V5. Oh, and the other crank arm also had another dedicated cadence sensor too. Again – just to be super sure.

And then I got to pedaling.

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Huh.

Nothing happened.

No power. No cadence. No speed. No…ummm…data.

So then I checked the sensor details:

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It’s almost as if they didn’t fully finish this part. It lacked a manufacturer ID, or battery status, or serial number. But it did say the software was halfway to version 1. Which means they did start somewhere. It’s unclear to me if being halfway finished with a product and shipping it, is different than being finished with a product and not shipping it. I suppose there’s a power meter company around here somewhere that might be able to clarify that for me.

Given my initial attempt to use standard protocols has failed, I figured I should try the app that they recommended when the “non-standard protocol” is required…again, per the manual.

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Here’s that app in the app store. Aside from the name, which I managed to find, there’s little other information in English. And by ‘little’, I mean none. But, living in a foreign country for the last decade, having things not in English is my jam – so…let’s get to installing this.

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However, the four-year-old inside of me does feel like it’s notable that this particular app is copyrighted by ‘Pooboo’. Actually, correction: POOBOO – all uppercase. Just wanted to point that out.

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After getting the app installed I was greeted with this linguistical situation:

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And thus…an issue. I can’t read any variant of Chinese writing. And I feel that after giving them $35 – I’ve probably inserted enough coins into this situation for the moment.

Now, not one to take this lying down – I immediately e-mailed the address linked to the PayPal transaction:

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To which, I immediately never heard back.

Not that I expected to. But, I did wait a while just in case. In fact, I waited so long that I entirely forgot about it until the last few weeks when people started getting scammed again – which, as a quick primer on dates means I waited a bit over a year. Though, that’s slightly less than half the duration of people still waiting for the actual IQ2 pedals.

I’m not sure if me getting a fake sensor (aka a paperweight) is better than getting nothing – but hey – from a return on investment standpoint, my $35 saved many of you from clicking the buy button on these scams. Because, as I’ve discovered again in recent weeks – a lot of people appear to believe this is real. It’s not.

So no, it’s not a mythical budget power meter. Instead, it’s a way to burn $35 and receive the world’s worst paperweight. I’d recommend just going outside and getting a rock instead. At least it’ll actually keep your real IQ2 Kickstarter payment receipt from blowing away.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found this post useful? Wanna spend far less than $35 and support the site here? You can become a DCR Supporter. It gets you actual exclusive behind the scenes DC Rainmaker content and videos, and doesn’t even claim to be a power meter. Trust me, Not a Power Meter™.

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66 Comments

  1. Chad McNeese

    Props for taking the unwarranted effort to show this what it is, a scam. 😛

    It’s undeserving of such attention other than to show how garbage like this exists and functions.

    Thanks for the time and effort behind such a waste of it all.

  2. Tom

    Thanks for an amusing read.

    Not sure what the bigger scam is, this or the actual IQ2 powermeter. Still waiting, not sure what for …

  3. LittleSaul

    As you are nearby of IQ2, have you recently tried to reach out to them and asked about an actual statement?

  4. Robert

    This is almost James Veitch-level.

    This said – getting a rock would a) not provide you with a user manual, b) not broadcast ANT+, and c) not allow you to install an undecipherable app. So there’s that to be considered in the 35 USD balance. And you *did* get a (perhaps) new CR2032 battery to boot.

  5. Nathan Brice

    Couldn’t help but notice the shiny blue SRM X SPD…. Any outlook on when we might see that review Ray? I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on this one.

  6. hdb

    At least these guys are ahead of Limits, who just took your money and shipped… Nothing. Zilch. Nada..
    (sorry 😉 )

  7. Chris Jex

    I was scammed too in October 2019. I resent it back to address in China and received a refund after 2 months

  8. sean

    I loved the box contents.

    1.
    2.
    3.
    7.

    Seems they forgot 4, 5, and 6. Literally and figuratively.

  9. TMAB2003

    PayPal should be able to refund this. And they’ll hopefully address this scammy merchant.

    • J S

      My experience with PayPal refund claims is that they tend to favour the vendor. If the vendor shipped you something, anything, PayPal will deem that as a satisfactory transaction and not give you a refund.

    • theChaparral

      They are probably way more fair than that. The same thing is heard on the seller side. You here things like “PayPal is biased on the buyer side, they can return an empty box for a full refund and there is nothing you can do about it”

  10. This was an IQ2 test. It seems that you did not pass 🙁

  11. Mikey W

    Ha – I ordered a luxury swinging camp chair. Tracked shipment from China. Here’s what I got. It amused me so I kept it.

  12. Aday

    I’m not sure which is worse, The fact that they sent you an unusable broken product for $35, or that these things repeatedly are advertised on social media sites with no implications when they turn out to be an entire scam.

    • Dan G

      This. It doesn’t seem right that these “adverts” can continue.

      I’d like to see what happens after

      a) requesting a refund through paypal
      b) complaining to whatever advertising standards agency NL has

    • I think the reality is that this sort of stuff is incredibly difficult to police – at least without much increased standards for how a business can register and sort of that initial gatekeeping, and how to scale up from there.

      Of course, maybe the issue is just more simplistic: Not allow companies from certain countries that have clear records with scams and piracy. But that’d incorrectly kill off many completely legit companies in those countries. For example, saying no companies from China would stop this scam (maybe), but would also block a major trusted company like DJI.

      I’m not sure how you add a gatekeeping level of trust there that’s meaningful that also works for small businesses too.

  13. Adrian

    A mtb version of the scam was on my faceboke page the other day.

  14. Martin

    I’m actually waiting for one of these, and emailed the company concerned the other day to see when it would ship, and got the following reply:

    Dear friend,
    Thanks for your supporting. We’re getting your order ready to be shipped. We will notify you when it has been sent. Arrival time (estimated):15-25 day. Thank you for your understanding.
    If you have any question, please feel free to contact with us.

    Best regards
    So I guess we’ll wait and see

  15. Tilghman Smith

    Perfect! I know that most of us can relate and have learned through the experience… well done! Another excellent review!

    Keep the smoothly side up!
    T

  16. GLT

    I’ll wait for the In-Depth review to see if the 3M adhesive disk was genuine & if the battery tasted bitter.

    • GLT

      Actually, close-up pictures of the back of the battery door may be helpful. Eventually these things will show up on eBay for US2.17 and if the battery door accidentally matches something else then it is good for that at least.

  17. Frank Velez

    I fell like I owe you $35 Almost bought this

  18. Phil White

    Nice job on the iQ2 review.

  19. Chris Capoccia

    Ran the Chinese screenshot through Google lens, and it’s an account setup page. You have to enter a mobile number, get a verification code or register some other way with the other buttons on the right side. So it’s not asking for money (at least not yet) but it might sell your info

  20. Tom

    Probably not an unprofitable business model to sell new, untested products to social medial influencers. There are so many out there desperate for content.

  21. Eian

    So what is a cheap power meter option?

  22. Scott Reinemann

    An amusing read, actually laughed out loud when I saw your post as I had seen these ads recently. Keep up the good work.

    The ads I saw popped up on Facebook recently and because of following your iQ2 story line over the years knew it was a scam and reported it to Facebook if that actually does anything.

    Cheers

  23. Pavel Vishnyakov

    I still remember this being discussed in a podcast…

    Curious – is it the same electrical tape that was holding the Christmas lights?

  24. Matt Fieldwalker

    ~ waves hand ~ “this is not the power meter you’re looking for…”

    😂. thanks Ray for the fun!
    Nice of you to do it for fun, so nobody else will ever do for realz.

  25. Tizzledk

    You had me at PooBoo but BooPoo might be even worse. 🙂 Just sayin’..thanks for the ‘review’. I feel bad for all the people who have been scammed and when will Kickstarter address these scams?

    • Paul S.

      Don’t see what this has to to with Kickstarter besides the scammers stealing pages from them. Seems to me that iQ2 itself is more a case of having an unrealistic assessment of their abilities to manufacturer a power meter than a scam. But the “product” Ray bought has nothing to do with iQ2 or Kickstarter.

  26. Klaus

    It will possible work when you use the red electric tape and not the black one. 😉

  27. Melle

    I’ve preordered the pedals directly at the iq2 website, so not Kickstarter. After I asked my money back they tried to persuade me not to but I insisted once. It was on my account within two days! It was probably partly your money Ray…thanks a lot!

  28. Gennaro

    I’m surprised anybody at all would fall for bargains which are literally too good to be true, but what I’m really interested in is: doesn’t PayPal offer purchase protection? Shouldn’t you be able to get your money back?

    • I might try with the PayPal protection, though honestly I sorta forgot about it last year.

    • Ian

      Normally I’d say you’ve got a good chance with Paypal – I returned some cycling clothing last year and heard nothing from the retailer. Paypal gave me a refund 14 days after I contacted them (and then a few weeks later I got another refund from retailer too!).

      However, Paypal only allow retailers to give a refund for up to 6 months. After that any money they send you counts as you selling them stuff.
      I discovered this when my 2 year old Sealskinz socks started fraying. Sealskinz offered refund or replacement under their lifetime warranty and I went with refund. Paypal charged me a fee on the refund because as far as they’re concerned I sold a pair of socks to Sealskinz.

  29. Roberto

    If you really want, it is not difficult to know everything about this company…
    宿迁市润宁网络科技有限公司 Suqian Running Network Technology Co., Ltd.
    Founded in February 2019.
    All data are available from Chinese government webites….owner, address, VAT code, maybe it would be possible to send those to ebay, paypal, Instagram, etc.. to avoid the scam keep going

  30. Joey

    Re: Facebook users, Kickstarter users, etc.
    I think P. T. Barnum had something to say toward this.

  31. Brian

    You could try to google translate app that uses a camera. Might be worth a try…

  32. dizpark

    It’s a bit like jumping from Golden State bridge, just to prove that gravity is for real.

    But I chuckled at this bit:
    >> I was curious if IQ2 was actually dumping failed V1 inventory into China (very plausible in my mind)

    vow

    Incidentally, what’s up with the real IQ2? Are they shipping finally? Does it work? Has it been reviewed? I have not followed up on that saga for a while now.

  33. Dan

    To be honest, at this point, I think you’ve done better with your $35 fake IQ2 scam than I did with my actual IQ2 order… I’m out a lot more money and getting doubtful I will ever see a product.

  34. Matt H

    Dear Sir

    Please could you refund me my 35 magic beans? I have installed the rock on my crank arm (with the smoothly face facing up as instructed) but it does not connect to my Garmin device.

    Could you also provide a mailing address where I can return the rock to?

    Regards

    Matt

  35. Steve Hellaby

    I bought these a while ago and thought that paying via PayPal I’d be protected once it was proved that this was a scam. I too found that they were indeed speed and cadence sensors and tried to contact the vendor. Having drawn a blank there I contacted PayPal to get a refund on this fraudulent transaction. PayPal insisted that I sent the items (I bought the double sided ‘power meter’) back to China recorded delivery at my own expense. Another £10 GBP down the drain! No response from the vendor so, after the requisite delay and proof of delivery sought and submitted, PayPal made me a refund. Unfortunately, even though I paid in GBP, the exchange rate had changed since the initial purchase and I was left very much out of pocket. I did complain to PayPal, on the basis that this was a fraudulent transaction, requesting a full refund and asking if the vendor would be blacklisted, but that didn’t get me any further than a link to their terms and conditions. Now avoiding PayPal whenever possible.

    • Dan G

      This prompted me to dig into PayPal Protection, which I’ve never really looked at (I avoid buying junk online).

      It requires that a request is raised within 180 days of purchase (so Ray has long run out of time), and for “Items significantly not as described”, at some point in the process proof of delivery of a return to the seller. That’s not going to be cheap when sending something to China!

      While the original item and shipping will be refunded, the return shipping won’t be.

  36. I sure hope that Baby Yoda Chia Pet link was affiliate. You’re going to make a killing on that one. (only partially joking as I really do want this for my kids. . . by kids I mean myself)

    • Matt T LeGrand

      Also, I can translate that Chinese entry form message for you. It’s requesting your bank passwords and routing numbers. Just go ahead and drop those in there and I’m pretty sure that’ll power up the powermeter. 👍 Glad I could help

  37. Krazyfrenchkanuck

    As they say in the power meter industry.

    If it smell like shit and taste like shit. It’s POOBOO.

    Keep the smoothly face up !

  38. Kalyan K

    Thanks for alerting us. Appreciate it and enjoyed reading this.

  39. IQ2backer

    there is a local saying in China, the only thing real in China is conmen (and lairs), lol.

  40. FingIQ2 Backer#1

    Thanks for the very entertaining review and making us aware of these scams. My recommendation is if too good to be true it probably is. Don’t buy these cheap products anyone, I know the risk is as low as using $35 and reward is great if it works. But there is no cheap power meter that works. Get the big brand ones like Garmin, SRAM and etc.

    As for me I also got scammed with the freaking IQ2 as one of their original backer for 2 crank arm meters. That was also too good to be true but unbeknownst to me I thought Kickstarter would guarantee the backers like PayPal discussion below.

  41. PedroM

    I hope you used a burner phone for this. One wonders how many companies sell too good to be true products that require you to download a virus…

    • Within iOS, installing an app means the app remains in the sandbox until you give it permissions otherwise (which I didn’t grant). You can read about it here: link to developer.apple.com

      Certainly, no framework is perfect, but most would agree an approved app on the iOS app store that’s then not given any permissions is a pretty safe bet.

  42. Almost you received something.
    IQ2 took our money for years and we are still waiting, for something that is different than the product that we bought.
    Total Scam

    • Paul S.

      Here’s the thing. Kickstarter is not a store. It says so itself. You’re not buying something, you’re backing it. You may never get it, and it may not in the end be exactly or even close to what you’ve backed. You want to buy a power meter? There are any number of existing power meters that you can walk into a bike shop and buy right now.

      I’ve backed something like 30 projects, and currently there’s only one outstanding (a few months late, which is typical). Many turned out not to be as useful as I thought, some I use every day, some I no longer use. Generally it works best when you back something from an existing company that has already made and delivered stuff. Power meters are hard, and iQ2 is now aware of that. Maybe they’re still trying, maybe not. If in the end they don’t deliver, them’s the breaks. I don’t see how this meets the definition of a scam.

  43. Su-Chong Lim

    This is a bit of an oddball request.

    I have been looking for a waterproof 2032 coincell battery holder for a year to do some drastic reverse engineering of a prototype crank powermeter that works ok but the form factor gets in the way of some new oval rings I want to mount (it’s complicated — don’t ask). But despite millions of ordinary (non waterproof) cheap ones available on line, I can’t seem to locate any WATERPROOF 2032 battery holders — there doesn’t seem to be a market for them. This product, useless as it is as a PM, seems to have potential to be cannibalized to use as a waterproof 2032 battery holder.

    Does anyone in North America, or even better, Canada, want to sell me their scam mini-brick?