Wahoo Delays POWRLINK ZERO Speedplay Power Meter Pedals

This post will be a quickie. Namely, because I only have one line of information to share, but nonetheless, for what seems like a constant flow of people – that’s the one line they want to know.

As you may remember, back in March, Wahoo announced the development of the Wahoo Speedplay-based power meter pedals, called POWRLINK ZERO. At the time, they released some initial information, though didn’t include all technical or product aspects. For example, we didn’t get things like price or accuracy levels, but did get weight (138g per pedal, excluding cleat mounting) and pedal body (Speedplay Zero).  But one other thing we got was the planned shipping date, which Wahoo stated as “Summer 2021”.

(As a reminder, Summer 2021 technically runs from June 20th to September 22nd. Fun aside: Did you know that summer doesn’t actually end at midnight, but rather at 3:21 PM? For realz. Oh, and yes, we know, Australia – your summer is coming. But Wahoo is based in Atlanta, and thus, their summer seasons are the ones that matter.)

Still, most people tend to think of summer as June/July/August, and thus the questions about whether Wahoo will ship the pedals this summer have reached never-ending status in my inbox and YouTube messages folder. And this ignores Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and carrier pigeon messages.

image

So, I asked Wahoo what the deal-e-o was.

Wahoo says they are “still actively developing the pedal”, but that “Unfortunately, it will not be available this summer as previously announced.”

They said they don’t have an updated lease timeframe at this point, or anything else to share beyond the comment above. Though, Redditors did spot the POWRLINK ZERO manual a while back on their support site.

Ultimately, power meters are hard. And pedal-based power meters are very hard. It’s even harder when it’s your first on-bike power meter, though, Wahoo does have lots of experience in power meters in trainers. As a point of comparison, one only need to look at the years of delays to get from Metrigear to Garmin Vector, or for Xpedo to give up, or for Brim Brothers to give up, or for IQ2…to…well..to who knows what’s going on there. Or the countless other technical issues along the way for virtually every company in the space…albeit except Favero and PowerTap. Both of those actually went relatively smoothly and on-time.

Oh…and finally one last preemptive comment that I keep seeing a few places: No, Wahoo did not license/acquire/etc the pod from Favero. Both Wahoo and Favero have confirmed this, and Keith Wakeham has a super-geeky deep-dive explaining this and many other things in far more detail.

With that – thanks for reading!

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25 Comments

  1. David E.

    Thanks, Ray. Fwiw, I heard from one decently connected person that the issue is precisely that Wahoo did not acquire anything from Favero. As a consequence, there’s a looming IP dispute that’s contributing to the delay. What do you make of that?

    • Firstly an application and a granted patent are different. Applications are meaningless until they are granted and 99% of the time the claims require re-writes in all jurisdictions, so what they fill is broad and patent reviewers reject. Application rewrites, but the original application is what people find. It’s harder to find the re-writes until published (though USPTO makes it the easiest, I’ve reviewed thousands on in process patents thanks to them). If they do get granted then that means they are granted in the final writing back to the application date. So if the application can’t hold it’s ground because it’s obvious (like “battery goes here” and it’s not clever) than the grant becomes much much weaker. You can’t infringe on an application, but that’s the risk. You don’t know what it will look like when granted.

      Favero has two patent family applications in process (in IT and DE so not Wahoo primary markets of the US).Remember a patent is only valid for the country it is granted it (or the EU but that’s sort of messy). The German ones are not currently granted and doesn’t look like Italian ones are either (but could be wrong). German applications have historically been used by other companies as fear mongering and nothing more because they can sit for years without activity. Contrast this to the US where you get 6 to 12 months depending on the current phase. Shimano uses this strategy on weak patents and it does scare away people because if it’s granted then it’s a strong infringement case but most of the time they are let to lapse or once reviewed and the claims are re-written they become much much much weaker patents that most won’t infringe on due to most of the primary claim being obvious.

      Patent DE202018002389U1 describes basically a pedal powermeter as not unique and then hinges it’s primary claim on the magnetic connection. DE202016000321U1 translation is very rough, but seems to hinge primarily on the location of the batteries being permanently affixed — which could be read as the encapsulation. The FCC filing looked like Wahoo’s could be replaceable in some capacity as they aren’t using this encapsulation method. So nothing critical to powermeter function, magnetic connectors are controversial in the US market due to the Apple patents so that likely won’t be granted there.

      PCT (Patent cooperation treaty) would allow them to potentially file in the US, but (and I’m less sure of this) because they filed Italy first and not with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) there are stronger limits placed on timing to get in applications related to those patent families into other countries.

      I don’t think either of favero’s fairly obvious patents would pass a review in the USPTO where it would actually have some real threat to Wahoo. The other side is if it’s granted in IT and DE then they don’t have to sell into those regions, but unless it’s covered by EU (could be wrong) they could sell into any other EU country and people could just buy them without much issue covering their US/EU/AUS market without hinderance.

    • David E.

      Very interesting. More of a reply than I expected, but I appreciate it.

  2. Will

    “still actively developing the pedal”

    So it feels fair to speculate this is not a manufacturing, supply chain, Covid issue, but something more deep rooted

    • tim

      … only to run into manufacturing or supply chain issues once done developing? 🙂

      Times like this are when I always recall an executive at a customer telling our team “is this when you tell me it’s hard” (when explaining what we were doing to try root cause or solve some complicated issue that came up).

      Partially kidding, I do like to joke and hope this turns out ok and “on time”. I switched from speedplay to Xpedo on my road bikes specifically for Assiomas a few years back. I generally like the speedplay float and engagement better (even after a few years).

      I had the old X series which were not the best cleats anyway:
      -often plugged with dirt/rocks
      -hard to walk in
      -expensive cleats that wore down easy
      -difficult fore-aft adjustment due to need to remove cleat to get at the adapter plate screws

  3. If wahoo didn’t order the MEM’s accel or gyro back in 2019 or early 2020 then probably like me. Can’t get them. Expected arrival is 2023. I’m not joking. Part shortages are worse than ever for people building electronics. I’ve been delaying one small launch and another bigger launch because I can’t get chips. MEM’s are impossible right now. Radio SOC for sports are tough due to Apple airtag using the exact same one and most of us smaller companies don’t have to forecast 1 – 2 years out over the last 10 years, now we do and it’s hard!

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      Interesting point. If true, I wonder why Wahoo would ever claim a Summer 2021 launch? Or maybe they thought they had a supplier and it fell through. Between the technical challenges and the supply chain challenges, it must be rough to ship. Good luck with your stuff.

    • Robert

      The component market situation has evolved very fast (and very badly) since early this year. It’s quite possible lead times and availability have deteriorated significantly since their March announcement.

  4. Dan

    Thanks, will still be released before iqsquare! BTW, any update on that sca…. I mean product development?

  5. thehill

    maybe they are diverting their efforts into fixing the lateral play in the axles in the new Zeros, i am going to have to send my replacements back as they have developed play as well

  6. Davie

    Wahoo must be struggling. They have not released any spindle length options to market either. A pretty fundamental fail for a pedal renowned for it’s versatility of fit options.

  7. Neil

    I am not surprised. First, they have zero experience with power or pedals in general. They killed the MTB and gravel Speedplay options, of which the Frogs had a cult following. I can’t say I wish them well since I was/am, part of that Frog cult (in addition to the Kickr, Light Actions, and Syzrs). They seem to have very few people who actually know power and pedals, so I’ll watch as I transition to other pedal//trainer options. Sad that Speedplay sold to a company like Wahoo.

    • Ben

      I was going to write something similar. Love my Frogs and mad that I can’t at least get new cleats. I had hoped for a while that they would circle back to the Frogs after they completed the power pedals, but that hope is pretty much dead at this point.

    • JibberJabba

      Here here. Still love my Frogs and will use them until they wear down to the spindle!!

      Someone needs to buy the patent and start making them again!!!

      PLEASE!!!

      #FROGCULT

  8. Brent Sword

    So actually in Australia the seasons are June/July/August. Winter is 1st of June to 31st of august with spring starting on 1st of September and summer on 1st December.

    Seems much neater than 22 of September or a date that moves around even if that changing date makes sense from an astrological reason. I didn’t realise it might be different elsewhere until you mentioned it above.

    • Robin

      I’m in NZ and we have a similar position to you in Aus, but reading that article that Ray linked, it seems there are two ways of determining the seasons. We use one way (Meteorological) and they use another (Astronomical).

      I’m with you. Our way is much simpler and more practical.

    • Paul S

      Well, the boundaries of seasons are prescribed by actual astronomical events, the equinoxes and the solstices (nothing to to with astrology), so you lose. But here in the US we do similar things. Summer is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, winter contains Christmas and snow, fall is when the leaves turn and drop. (Once they drop, it’s much more like winter than fall.) There can be warmish days in winter and coldish days in summer (I actually geared up once with my winter cycling gear in August, and I was in Ithaca NY the time it snowed on Independence Day) so the actual astronomical season boundaries don’t mean very much. The temperature isn’t going to suddenly jump/fall just because you cross the boundary.

    • Clark E

      In the states, that breakdown (June-August, etc.) is known as the meteorological season. So, meteorological summer ends in a few days, moving into meteorological fall. They usually line up with the weather better than do the astronomical seasons.

  9. Matt H

    I was pretty sure they would be available this month.
    Had even payed a down payment at my LBS who are a Wahoo Dealer.
    Was even eagle eyed enough to spot them in use here!
    link to youtu.be

  10. JD

    Woulda coulda shoulda
    Speedplay + Favero licensing agreement = product to market on time, working as it should off the block.
    But Noooo!! This is the bike industry where every brand reinvents THEIR VERSION of the wheel often by “borrowing ideas” along the way. Have an issue with that approach? No problem. See you in court. 🙂

  11. pavlinux

    No honey, no money!

  12. Neil Bell

    Very disappointing news from wahoo. I contacted them myself a few weeks ago asking for an update and was just told that “we cannot comment on upcoming product releases…”. They then sent me another email looking for feedback on my customer service interaction! 🤣 Having failed to deliver on their promise to release these this summer I think that wahoo now owe it to their customers to come clean with where they are with this product, what is delaying it and when we can realistically expect to have it. I’ve already made one significant purchase on the expectation of these being available soon (a pair of wheels for one of my bikes to replace an existing set with a powertap G3 rear hub).

  13. GLT

    We can find a variety of examples where a sports tech product was rolled out not yet fully baked and the feedback on Ray’s site was fairly definitive.

    If nothing else maybe they wanted to have one last meeting with marketing to make sure the images on the product box & glossies match the physical goods reasonable well.

  14. Matthew

    Death, taxes, and a Speedplay power meter being pushed sometime into the future…

  15. Brian Greenberg

    Subscribe me, please! :/)