Garmin Vector Pedal Power Meter Moves from Vaporware to Hardware

Garmin’s purchase of Metrigear is finally bearing fruit and bringing something to market. Thanks to tipster Uri, we spotted some pretty official looking pics, info and video on Garmin’s blog showing the new Vector pedal-based power measurement system.

The Garmin Vector measures deflection at the pedal’s spindle to determine a rider’s power. The benefits of such as system are light weight (Garmin says it’s the lightest direct-measurement power meter system for cycling on the market) and easy portability from one bike to another. The other benefit for the hardcore among us is that it presents left and right leg power measurements separately to a compatible ANT+ computer, letting you see imbalances in real time.

UPDATED: more info about rider weights, pedal options, etc. added below.

Pictures, more info and additional videos after the break…

Garmin Vector pedal based power meter for road bikes built on a Look Keo carbon pedal

From Garmin’s blog:

For many cycling enthusiasts, purchasing a power meter is an intimidating and potentially complicated process, often involving mechanical tradeoffs for their bikes. Vector simplifies the decisions and the process. Cyclists can now walk into their local bike shop, walk out with a Vector power meter in hand, and install it themselves in minutes. There’s no need for a custom order process, no need for a mechanic, and no downtime while their bike is in the shop. With integrated cadence measurement, there are no external sensors to install, and all calibration is performed before the Vector power meter hits the store shelves. Vector’s easy-to-install design makes it easy to swap between bikes, and easy to take to out-of-town events when renting or borrowing a bike. Vector’s light weight and durable injected carbon fiber pedals are LOOK Keo compatible, and its ANT+ wireless pedal pod transmitters fit most majorcranksets. Vector has also been designed to be easy to update as software enhancements are made, thanks to its ANT+ wireless technology.

That last part about software updates and ANT+ means that updating the unit can be done wirelessly. Sweet.

Garmin Vector pedal based power meter for road bikes built on a Look Keo carbon pedalFrom an aesthetic point of view, not only is the Vector probably the cleanest, most discreet direct power measurement device we’ve seen make it to market, but the integrated cadence sensor means one less antennae thing stuck to your bike. Picky riders can also keep their component and wheel selection quite personal.

Garmin Vector pedal based power meter for road bikes built on a Look Keo carbon pedal

As long as you like Look’s KEO pedals, there’s not much not to like. Just make sure you keep your inside pedal above the equator during a turn.

UPDATE #1: To clarify, these are Look-compatible pedals, not Looks. If you own KEO pedals, your cleats will work with these. The set will come with both the pedal and cleats from Garmin.

Another, perhaps unintended, benefit is that you can easily swap between riders to have you own fun little contests (we’re checking to see if rider weight factors into the measurement – normally, you do set your body weight on the bike computer)

UPDATE #2: Garmin says rider weight won’t affect power measurement when pedaling, particularly when seated. If two riders of different weight were to stand on the pedals while stationary, it would register different measurements, but when seated and pedaling, it shouldn’t affect accuracy. When standing and mashing the pedals, well, Garmin says that’s one area where the data isn’t 100% clear. They admit that they’ll be collecting tons of data over the coming months and years and refining the algorithms, and that likely there are uses for the data that probably haven’t been discovered yet. Another factor is temperature, which can affect the spindle’s malleability and therefore movement. Garmin says there’s a button to calibrate the system and reset it based on current atmosphere, etc., that keeps it reading correctly.

Here are the other videos to round out the story:

Thought we’d leave you hangin’? Price is $1,499 for the pedals and transmitter and it’ll be available March 2012. Start saving.

UPDATE #3: Garmin says they constantly listen to customer feedback. If there’s demand for other pedal systems, they could develop them. Personally, we like idea mentioned in the comments here about simply offering compatible spindle options for popular pedals. And yes, Speedplay would be nice…

Comments

Marcus - 08/18/11 - 2:41pm

I am betting (hoping) they add support for other pedal systems over time. Speedplay please :)

Michael - 08/18/11 - 4:46pm

What about a MTB option?

apsbiker - 08/18/11 - 5:50pm

I’m still holding out some hope that they’ll be able to a) make replacement axles for a few more manufacturers and b) shrink the pod or streamline it to make a chance of grounding it during a turn less likely.
$1500 is a lot to pay for something you can’t do crit racing on like you can for an SRM, Powertap, or the like, and those are about the same price (or less!) used.

nh - 08/18/11 - 5:52pm

I wonder how vulnerable they would be on a mountain bike.

alloycowboy - 08/18/11 - 6:08pm

Like anything that deals with mountain biking the Vectors pedal’s longevity will depend how you treat your bike and your body. If you treat your body and equipment like a football then neither is going to last very long.

You are still slow - 08/18/11 - 6:25pm

Not that I don’t find this an interesting idea for those into power measurement, I am, but I know it will just tell me I’m slow…

Anyway, I’m not seeing any reason, why the hanging chad unit couldn’t be flipped 180 and put “on top” of the crank to hide behind where your shoe is etc. Only downside is now the “Garmin” is upside-down.

That would eliminate any chance of pedal/vector strike, wouldn’t it?

Bo - 08/18/11 - 7:17pm

so that’s the new answer? attaching an ugly boxcar weight to a beautiful crank? One hot corner means you’re $1500 lighter. Nthx.

PowertoThePeople - 08/18/11 - 9:01pm

Why can’t the piece that hangs down, be turned upright for better clearance?

Kevin Dobo - 08/18/11 - 10:54pm

The question about mountain biking and cyclocross is a valid one. Mountain biking by nature is done over rough terrain, requiring crossings over logs, rock ledges, creek crossings, etc. Comparing it to treating “equipment like a football” is silly. Even the most careful and cautious MTB riders are going to have problems with already shallow ground clearance lessened even more by the pedals.

Aside from that it’s yet another overpriced solution for something that the vast majority of cyclists don’t need. It’s a cool, expensive toy, but one I’ll pass on, thanks.

Sevo - 08/19/11 - 1:40am

Great idea….if you never crash. And as far as “cleanest and most discreet”. Yeah….if you don’t count the fugly transmitter pod that’s just asking to get jacked up sticking out like that.

On a budget stick with Quark or Powertap. Or get it done right, and spend your money on nice wheels and an SRM…..ride cheap frames and Ultegra.

Jay - 08/19/11 - 2:01am

Bikerumor, love the site and the coverage, but this article is a little sloppy. 1. Garmin acquired Metrigear, not Metrogear. 2. The pedals are made by Exustar, and while they might be Look KEO “compatible”, that doesn’t make them KEO’s. 3. I can’t quite wrap my head around why this is the “cleanest and most discreet” system on the market. Two wireless dongles hanging below the pedal spindle is cleaner than integrating the power unit into a crankarm spider?

Maybe the Metrigear design was fraught with design problems and limitations. I don’t know. But we went from a very cool concept of a power meter integrated into one of the smallest and lightest pedal systems on the market, to a clunky, dangling pod that runs behind a low-end pedal system—yet still costs $1,500.

I like some of Garmin’s products, but this one just doesn’t seem like a winner.

Robin - 08/19/11 - 2:38am

The Vector certainly has potential. It’s relatively inexpensive (compared to power meters). It does measure the rider’s actual power output (if that’s important to someone), and it is ANT compatible. Being a pedal based system does make it more crash vulnerable than Quark, SRM, and PowerTap, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a problem. Its ANT compatible puts it ahead of the Polar/Look variant, especially if you’re using a Mac computer (Wake up, Polar: Apple is a pretty huge manufacturer and has significant market share). The Vector is certainly easy to switch between bikes (I think the pedal style, though, will rule it out for MTB use and perhaps CX use). One big plus is that this brings another player to the power meter market, which should, hopefully, drive down prices of other power meters, and this good for anyone that’ll be in the market for power meters.

I think it’ll be a generation or two before a pedal system will be available without a “pod”. After all, the manufacturers do have to make certain that the pedal sensor signal is sufficiently strong at the computer head. As for hitting the pod in aggressive cornering, that may not be a problem. Perhaps Garmin and Polar have already determined that the pedal will strike first, preventing the pod from striking. Whether that’s the case or not will be a function of pedal dimensions, pod dimensions, crank arm length, and bottom bracket height. It’s not something that can be determined by just looking at the pictures available.

For those asking if flipping the pod will work, the answer is that it doesn’t really change anything. If for example the pod is most vulnerable at 10° before BDC, flipping the pod will make it most vulnerable at 10° past BDC.

Craig - 08/19/11 - 4:59am

How familiar are people with power2max crank based power meters from Germany? Often they are overlooked but at about $990 Euro ($1400 USD) they are very good value, which I think is because they sell mainly direct . They self calibrate with every 3 seconds of coasting, have a user replaceable battery, and do not require any additional parts on the bike like sensors. There are quite a few people I hear getting them in New Zealand and Australia but I’ve searched forums and not much about them in the USA. I’ve got one through the NZ agent and couldn’t be happier with it.

Jdog - 08/19/11 - 6:47am

The looks a a super solution for $500. (and it will be $500 someday) Remember when the 1st CD players were $1000+??

For $1500 I think that Quarq might still be a better option for the near term. Especially if you already have a big commitment to another pedal style. In either case the ability to run a variety of wheels is a bonus. I often see folks training w/ pt hubs on zipp wheels. To me this is silly as it takes away the race day advantage of a race wheel. I would think bigger race day advantages might come from training on a heavy wheel and racing on a uber wheel..

I guess I was most impressed that they managed to get this so far along in development w/o spy photos showing up on the web. (or maybe I missed them).

I actually think these would fair pretty well on a road bike for durability. They would not last a month on a Mt bike though. I would also bet that Garmin will do crash replacement pricing if you demolish a set.

Thoughts on a Quarq vs the Vector??

burnsito - 08/19/11 - 7:38am

The idea is great, but people who designed it, have you ever dropped a mountain with road bike? When you draw a closed curve, the pedal is very near the asphalt. As you can see in the pictures, that distance will be greatly reduced. I bet most of you will go to the ground, besides losing the money it costs, not likely to be low (say that not lower than 1100 €).

In this picture (http://vitaeforte.com/marvin.jpg) you can see how close the pedal from the ground, even when the bike is straight …

Rob - 08/19/11 - 9:07am

It doesn’t matter which way you point the pod, the letters will be upside down at some point, and it will point straight down at either 3 or 9 o’clock….

Robin - 08/19/11 - 9:22am

Power2max seems to have a limited range of crank options. It doesn’t help that the Rotor cranks (otherwise good) are covered in hideous graphics. An option for Cannondale SI cranks, Specialized, or Lightning cranks would make them a much more appealing option. Reviews seem to indicate that performance is on par with Quarq, albeit with an addition 100+g weigh penalty (if you’re a weight weenie and consider this important). It is nice that you can do battery changes on your own and change chainrings without needing factory recalibration.

robert - 08/19/11 - 11:43am

Why not put the pedal transmitters inside the crank axle, just run some tiny wires down the crankarms tuck the unit inside the crank axle and tape down the wires, unit totally protected and less bulky, I would destroy these in the first race I did with them.

Steve - 08/19/11 - 1:14pm

I think Garmin missed the boat on this one. So disappointed! I have been eagerly waiting for this product for a long time (since Mertigear was at Interbike a couple years ago). The Exustar pedals, a $1,500.00 price tag and the funky transmitter location are a deal killer for me. By the time you add a head unit, you are looking $1,800-2,000. I think a lot of the buzz surrounding this product was associated with the sub-$1,000 price point, and making powermeters more affordable to a larger portion of the cycling community. I was expecting a whole lot more from Garmin.

Robin - 08/19/11 - 2:16pm

The vitaeforte picture is irrelevant unless it details the pedal, BB height, lean angle, crank length, or q-factor. It’s doubly irrelevant considering the dimensions of the Vector system (pedals and pod) aren’t given. With that said, it’s difficult to believe that any company–Polar/Look or Garmin–would over look such a clearance issue. It would have been found in testing. All that notwithstanding, when the pedal is at BDC, the pod can’t strike because the pod axis of symmetry is perpendicular to the crank arm. At BDC then, the only pod dimension of concern is the half-width of the bod. Even that’s inconsequential because the extreme lean angle needed to ground the pedal will mean that the pedal will strike before the side of the pod. The Pod would be in most danger of striking the ground when it is at angle defined by ± arctangent[(L/(C+w)], where L is the length of the pod from the center of it’s mounting hole to the tip of the pod, w is the half-width of the pod(a corner of the pod will touch down first), and C is the crank arm length. If the pod length is 50mm, the the half-width is 15, and the crank arm length is 175, that angle is ±14.7° from BDC. Measuring my XL Look 595, I found that the frame center to the outside face of the crank arm distance is approximately 76.2mm, and and the bottom bracket height is approximately 266mm. Using all these figures to solve for the maximum lean angle before pod contact with the ground, I found the maximum lean angle to be approximately 47.8°. At that lean angle, your tires will have lost adhesion, and recovery won’t be an option. This doesn’t into account the beveled edge or the thickness of the pod transmitter.

Robin - 08/19/11 - 2:22pm

For a bit of perspective to that 47°+ lean angle I calculated, Speedplay Zeros will tolerate lean angles up to 39° according to Speedplay, and Speedplay pedals pretty much have the max lean angle available, certainly more than Exustar or Look pedals. I think it’s probably safe to say the cornering clearance issue with the
Vectors likely doesn’t factor in to the performance equation.

Jay - 08/19/11 - 3:26pm

Tyler, thanks for updating the article to reflect the editorial niggles that I mentioned above. That goes a long way with me, and shows your commitment to distributing quality information. Cheers!

moz - 08/20/11 - 4:31am

So, if you care that much about statistics & diagrams you should have become brokers (some of you probably are) & not bikers. Unless someone of you is participating in Tour de France, why you need all this stuff.
You become better ‘skilled’ by practicing-riding & not by analyzing. Just ride your bike & have fun.

Robin - 08/20/11 - 9:06am

It’s simple geometry. Everyone learns it, and with a bit of trigonometry ( it’s a type of “math”), the whole “analysis” takes just a few minutes. You’ll find that “statistics” would be the wrong thing to use. You can look up and learn what “geometry”, “statistics”, and “trigonometry are in Wikipedia (it’s a “website” and here’s its address: http//www.wikipedia.org ) . A “diagram” is a simplified drawing to show, in this case, the “physical relationship” between various parts of a bike. Is there a diagram here somewhere?

Luckily, given the 24 hour length of a day on Earth (our “planet”), there’s plenty of time available to take 15-30 minutes and do a simple “analysis”.

As for needing a power meter or not, luckily that’s not determined by a definition of “need.” If such things were, riders would have things that were a lot more alike. After all, who really “needs” the bike they currently have and couldn’t get by with something much less expensive?

moz - 08/20/11 - 12:41pm

Then good luck at Tour de France.

ganar dinero internet - 08/21/11 - 10:46am

I would say its a preference thing. Look at the pro peloton, they don’t all sport power meters either. But as a training tool, I would say it’s as useful as other forms of data available. I would even say it could be a better form of data because other forms of data are very dependent on terrain, where as power is literally the effort you’re putting into the pedals.

Required for success? Of course not.

Is it a useful tool? Without a doubt.

Unfortunately, for the time being my decision to use or not use is limited by my checkbook.

scrubzero - 08/26/11 - 11:00am

I’ve been following the development of these since they were with Metrigear, and while it seems like a neat idea to track power at the pedal, it also creates an inherent problem that no one seems to be addressing. Deflection at the pedal will be affected by rider weight when standing (as they admit to) but doesn’t this mean that standing and coasting over cobblestones for example, will register “power” as the spindles deflect from the rough terrain? I suspect this problem will make this system completely useless for mountain bikes. A crank or hub based system is unaffected by terrain and only measures force applied to the drivetrain itself, which seems like a much more robust system imo. A chief selling point of this new system seems to be the isolation of the individual pedal strokes, but it seems that other systems could do this as well simply by tracking cadence and isolating where in the pedal stroke the shift from left to right is made. This could be done mechanically with a magnet or whatever, and the data could then be translated to left / right power by the computer. Anyway, switching from bike to bike easily seems to be the best aspect of this system, but for me, bike to bike would mean road to mountain, not road to road, so even that benefit is a wash. Appears to be a great concept at first, but I think this creates new problems while providing a benefit that I suspect could be implemented in existing systems.

alloycowboy - 08/28/11 - 12:20am

@scrubzero, when you pedal not only do the pedal axles deflect, but the whole bicycle deflects and then springs back returning most of the energy except the energy that is aborbed by elastic hysteresis as heat. (See hysteresis loop on the graph.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysteresis

Leonardo - 08/28/11 - 12:31am

I’m with scrubzero, I’m not quite sure how this system is going to work. It will obviously tell you how hard you’re pushing or pulling on the pedals and how much is coming from the left or right side. I’m skeptical of how it knows how much work is actually going into the chain. Stand on your pedal in the down position with all the load you can put on it. You’re putting a ton of load into the pedal and zero into the drivetrain. Hopefully they can make it work…but it seems more complex than they are portraying it to be.

Pete - 09/28/11 - 10:29pm

Here are a couple of thoughts. It has motion sensors and registers when the spindle is being turned, so if you are just standing and coasting it will not register power, you need to be turning the pedals for it to register power. Second, if you are crit racer you do not need to be concerned about corners, think a bit more about the tab that hangs. It will not hit. If your crank is at the 6 position, the tab will acutally be at 9. Even just before 6 oclock your shoe and the outside of the pedal will hit before the tab. Go put your shoe in your pedal and tip your bike over until it hits the ground. Look and see how much the crank is off the ground, while your shoe is leaning against the ground. The real question to ask is battery life and changing batteries. How is that done.

Cure Back Pain - 01/29/12 - 5:39am

Vector is such a great concept but I Really wish Garmin has stuck with Speedplay pedals – you know they’re the best!! I hope they’ll release a Speedplay version soon!

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.