JUMP TO:

Decoding Shimano’s New Power Meter Pedaling Metrics

ShimanoPowerMeter

As first reported by Cycling Tips, Shimano has released their advanced pedaling metrics, called Force Vector (no relation to Garmin Vector, also a power meter that first displayed force vectors). This is now available as a software update for their R9200P Dura-Ace and R8100P Ultegra power meters.

However, as seems to be par for the course on this train, this implementation looks like a hot mess. I don’t think even I could have predicted how horrifically this entire transition would go when the Shimano acquisition of Pioneer was first announced a few years ago, but this has surpassed even my wildest expectations for failure.

And after last summer’s mess, those expectations were raised pretty darn high. Fear not, they’ve been toppled.

The Process:

ShimanoQuickstart

First up is trying to decode the 28-step process for making this work. And to be clear, I’m not being sarcastic. There are actually 28 steps to get this working, but as I’ll show, even that is an undercount. Nonetheless, “Quick Startup” was used in the title.

At first, you might think it’s just three steps, but each three-steps are subdivided into upwards of a dozen steps, with uncounted sub-steps inside each of those.

ShimanoQuickstartV2

Thus in reality, including those sub-steps (some of which include 5-6 steps), you’re at close to 50 steps to get this working. Plus, don’t forget all the not-so-little caveats above too. Start the timer too fast? No force vectors for you!

Of course, I don’t have an R9200P power meter to test this out. Nor to test whether the R9200P or R8100P power meters are accurate at all. Despite promises last summer, then fall, then winter, for a unit to test, Shimano’s gone silent on that one (and seemingly gone silent on test units for every other media entity). But hey, maybe some bike shop in the Amsterdam area will let me test ride one for a week or so?

In any case, it appears that Shimano basically took Pioneer’s older force vector pedaling dynamics and then shoved it into their newer R9200P Dura-Ace and R8100P Ultegra power meters, via firmware update. The layout and formatting appear the same, and the fact that existing Wahoo units work with it seems to imply that nothing’s changed. Wahoo previously partnered with Pioneer to enable their pedaling metrics there.

Now again, decoding the massive instruction set uncovers some super-interesting things:

1) Enabling the pedaling dynamics disables the ANT+ broadcasting of power/cadence: This also matches with what Pioneer did four decades ago, whereby it broadcasted out on private-ANT, disabling the open ANT+ connection. It was ludicrous then, and it’s just as crazy now. This diagram attempts to explain which settings you should use. But the key thing you need to know here is that the “Bicycle Power” option over ANT+ goes away when you enable Force Vector.

ForceVectors

2) Fear not, Bluetooth to the rescue! Now, in order to deal with the fact that they turn off the ANT+ power meter profile, they instead broadcast power and cadence over Bluetooth Smart. The theory behind this is that it allows your bike computer to still get the power/cadence information. And in practice, that’s kinda true.

Edge520Nope2

Except, when it’s not. See, they list the Edge 520 Plus & Edge 820 as compatible with the new Shimano CIQ App (more on that in a second). And I’m sure that’s true. Except what’s also true is that those units don’t support Bluetooth sensors (just phones), so, a user can’t actually get their power information this way. So literally, you can’t get your power information for a power meter recorded to your head unit. But you do get pretty arrows recorded, but those won’t show up in any proper power fields.

Edge520Nope

3) The Connect IQ App! Now, good news, there’s an app from Shimano to display and save this information. They’ve released a new Connect IQ app that basically acts like a Pioneer head unit would. And to their credit, this is pretty nifty. I mean, not as nifty as just supporting the existing ANT+ standard like Favero or Garmin did, but hey, this is a close second place (in a field of two competitors). Which isn’t to say that ANT+ Cycling Dynamics would cover precisely what Shimano is trying to capture. So I actually don’t begrudge their creation of an app here. I think it’s silly, yes, but fine. They just created extra work for themselves here. Nonetheless, I do very much appreciate they aren’t trying to have people buy otherwise outdated bike computers. And, once all is said and done, everything gets transmitted to Shimano’s platform. That said, as Shimano warns in their FAQ, their self-imposed requirement for dual private-ANT & Bluetooth Smart broadcasting of your data will decrease battery life.

Garmin-Shimano

4) Or, Wahoo integration! Of course, due to Wahoo’s existing partnership with Pioneer from years ago, that supports it natively. This includes both display and recording, which then transmits it to Shimano’s platform behind the scenes where you can analyze it. Again, despite the fact that Wahoo doesn’t support the ANT+ standards here, I appreciate that they did something here (and left it here), to use. Plus, as a benefit of that existing relationship, you don’t have to pair up your power meter (again) as a Bluetooth device. Wahoo is able to decode it from the proprietary Shimano/Pioneer data stream.

Wahoo-Shimano

5) Magic Arrives: After you’ve completed your ride, using a supported Garmin device + CIQ app, or a Wahoo device, you’ll save your ride and it’ll get automatically uploaded to Shimano’s web platform.

ShimanoWebsite

You can use this site to analyze your data and do other things. Note though that none of this force vector stuff is viewable anywhere else, because it doesn’t follow any standards. Though, I think only TrainingPeaks/WKO has done anything with Garmin’s Cycling Dynamics anyways. So that’s probably not a huge loss per se. And of course, that ignores that except for bike fitting or injury recovery purposes, I’ve yet to see any real-world usage for pedaling efficiency metrics in training or racing (including Garmin, Favero, etc…). Even Wahoo said exactly as such when they launched their power meter a few months ago.

Wrap-Up:

InsertShimanoMagichere

So why bother to write up a post about Shimano’s continued confusion in this space? Well, to point out that it’s not good enough. In the same way I pointed out last week that Garmin’s RCT715 Varia Camera Radar wasn’t good enough. When major companies in this space charge you large amounts of money for their products, they should rise to a certain level of acceptability and functionality. Else, you shouldn’t buy them.

The Shimano power meter fiasco continues to be one of those examples. We still don’t know if the new power meter model is actually accurate yet (signs mostly point to no, but the data is thin). But starting today, Shimano will undoubtedly start advertising these new pedaling metric features. Except, it’s important that people understand what a mess this feature actually is – especially if you’re on a Garmin unit (in this case, through no fault of Garmin, they’re just the FedEx man here).

Perhaps Shimano will fix it, but probably not. But we shouldn’t reward companies with money for doing things poorly. Not Shimano, not Garmin, not GoPro, Wahoo, Apple, Samsung, or anyone else. No products are perfect, but this

There are good reasons to buy Shimano’s drivetrains and bike parts. I’m using the R9200 (sans-power) on a different bike and it’s great. But buying the power meter variant? I’d be saving your money and spending it elsewhere. Except for IQ2, don’t spend it there.

With that, thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

31 Comments

  1. dr_lha

    “No products are perfect, but this” – missing the end of the sentence here?

  2. Josh S

    With so many options of power meters currently on the market, I’ve given up on Shimano.

    The only positive I can take away from this is that it’s a selling feature to justify the high prices, even if we can’t get the product.

  3. Chad McNeese

    (Reposted from my FB link comment)

    Thanks for this article and the work behind it. Such a sad state of affairs that we can’t rely on products and apps like this at this point in time. We’ve some quite far in the progression from the original SRM and PowerTap hub options, but oddly, we seem to be in a rebirth of questionable products.

    Just not something I’d expect and it’s a shame we still have to tread so carefully into this area, to watch our $$$ more closely than I think we’d all hope to be the case.

  4. David E.

    Man, can the next Quarantine Corner include a discussion of whether you’ve been really cranky at home, too? 🙂 Quite the run lately. Maybe something good around the corner?

    • Haha, filmed new episode just last night!

      Fear not, I think the next slate of near-term reviews looks promising. Except tomorrow. I’ll still be cranky for that.

    • Chad McNeese

      LOL, GPLama ripping on bad air tag holders, you both on the terrible Garmin light/cam, this slamming Shim for good measure (from bad work) and more coming tomorrow… H8R’s rejoice! 😉

  5. youpmelone

    Love Shimano, Love Garmin..

    But whenever they produce an interface or software it is a guaranteed disaster until 24 months of incremental updates are done. It is almost as if they need the flogging stemming from these disasters to perform..

  6. Eli

    I’m not saying its garmin’s fault, but garmin does make it impossible to override data the device records. Connect IQ is pretty limited in this way. This is also frustrating when trying to share an ant+ sensor with more then one data field as you can’t. You can only share native supported sensors.

    Granted Shimano should probably have broadcast as two seperate device profiles, the private and the standard power profile.

    There should also be questioning into if Shimano tried to get this into the power standard (a new Data Page Number?) The current cycling dynamics just give start and end normal/peak crank position, PCO, and standing/sitting. The pioneer/shimano data is 12 vectors (power and angle its applied at) that are measured at different points around the crank. If shimano tried doing this but garmin who controls ant+ blocked it….

  7. Warren Beck

    Those are cool vector pictures on the Wahoo head units. Is there any way to get these from a Quark spider power meter? I would like to see how badly I am pedaling with my right leg….

  8. Bob

    Why would anyone buy this when they can buy a Garmin?

    • David E.

      Because, *if* Shimano can ever produce these and actually roll them out, expect to see them bundled on new bikes with the Shimano group sets at a price that will be lower than buying a separate power meter.

    • MJ

      Same reason I have the Giant power meter on my bike: no need to buy anything additionally – and in this case even cheaper than the options without PM.

      Speaking of that, I believe the Giant app also shows force vectors (I’ll have to use it one day), which would make it three.

  9. HiFromOhio

    I’m still waiting for the Sram Quarq D-Four 92 variant to be released. Ditches the stupid hook that mates to the 91 series chainrings. No reason to get a shimano PM until they can prove they actually work.

  10. Pavel Vishnyakov

    Speaking of IQ2 – it’s been a while since there was any new information about it. Is the product dead or does it just look that way?

    • Robert

      Yes – it is dead, *and* it looks that way too.

      But I do believe they will still accept your money, if you are the ever-optimistic type 🙂

  11. Tim Hezemans

    Hi Ray,

    Any idea if the ‘old’ pioneer power meter data could be captured using the Shimano connect IQ app? It is not meant to work but the Shimano power meters seems so similar to the Pioneer, I couldn’t help but wonder.

    I am a pioneer power meter user but I stopped using the force vectors since the Pioneer head unit is so much worse than a Garmin. Being able to see this data using the IQ data field would be great.

    As always thanks for the article!

    • Kirk

      I have confirmed that my pioneer power meter (Bluetooth version) displays pedaling metrics (aka force vectors) in the E-TUBE ride app on my iPhone.

    • Very interesting. Any chance you’ve got a compatible Garmin or Wahoo unit to try that?

    • Kirk

      Yeah. I thought so too. I have a Wahoo. I’ll test it later today

    • Kirk

      Looks like Shimano finally made good on a promise Pioneer made 3 years ago. The Wahoo Elemnt uploads the pedaling metrics to the Connect lab (cyclo-sphere) site which, in turn, can pass a subset of the data to Strava – no longer required to use SGX-CA600 to capture force vectors! The SGX-CA600 still functions as expected and the phone app provides same functionality. I am one (maybe the only) happy customer! This is better than I hoped for! Looks like my 3 pioneer power meters are still viable! Only gotcha, I think the latest firmware app from Wahoo included the new functionality so you need to forget and then pair your pioneer power meter after update. That did the trick for me!

    • Tim Hezemans

      That is great!

      Although I don’t own a Wahoo Elemnt but I do have two pioneer powermeters. I would be a very happy (maybe second) customer!

  12. Nate C

    And if news about Shimano taking away Di2 integration permissions on their private ANT shifting profile from Karoo/Hammerhead demonstrates the way they plan to run their business, no one should buy a Shimano power meter if they care about continuing to use these features with their head unit/watch of choice. Since it’s not using the ANT+ profile, they can do the same and revoke access.

    Not to mention all of the other downsides to using ConnectIQ apps: limited to two apps on watches, timing issue with seeing signal before starting recording, requiring use of BLE instead of ANT+ to connect to get power numbers and limit of 1 (or 2?) devices connected to power at one time which poses a problem for recording on a backup device, reduced battery life, etc.

    It’s really too bad- I have enjoyed Shimano groupsets on all of my 6 current bikes, including upgrading a tri and a road bike to Ultegra Di2. It was nice knowing that if I ever had a component failure, I could swap one from another bike. But the news this week about all of these anti-consumer decisions has me considering SRAM for future groupset choices. Hopefully if enough consumers speak with their money (and internet outrage) Shimano will re-consider, since competition is good for the industry.

  13. Kenny

    I just picked up a bike with the new Ultegra Di2 R8100. Coming from SRAM Red AXS w/power.

    Any suggestions on the best PM to pair with the R8100?

  14. John Lacey

    Not a great couple of weeks really for the Shimano walled garden with this on top of the kneecapping any of their Di2 customers who also have a Karoo. From a marketing perspective Shimano is looking increasingly like an amateur plate spinning act, it’s all going to fall if they don’t make an effort to come to the standards table and talk like adults. Are we sure that they haven’t been infiltrated by a competitor, the champagne bill at SRAM HQ must be ramping up.

  15. JJ

    It looks like they’ve revised the recommended settings on their website. It’s different from what you’ve posted.