The first question I had when invited to Pioneer’s launch camp for their 2nd generation power meter crankset was Why cycling? Without prompting, that’s the first question they answered.
Many of their California-based employees are cyclists. Across the Pacific pond, Fujita-San and Shioda-San, two employees in their Japan office, are both cyclists, one with a son that’s turning pro. Pioneer has all the core technology in house, and those two had access to all of the different departments to pull resources together to create both the hardware and software. It’s been their pet project for almost 2.5 years. About 20 engineers worked on this second generation iteration, which fixed a lot of the issues with the first version.
What were those issues? After testing it with the Belkin pro team for two seasons and working with shops during installation, they found that it needed to be simpler. Gone are the zip ties, BB magnet ring and full shop installation. The original relied on shop employees to bond the strain gauges to the crank arms, not just bolt it on the bike. The zip ties simply weren’t elegant enough for a high end system. The magnetic ring required to determine rotational position was overkill and required modifications to the bottom bracket. And the in-shop install proved to be too much work when considering mechanic turnover and retraining, and there was always the chance for error.
My test unit is among the first 11 off their assembly line in Long Beach, CA. The parts are made in Japan, then the units and cranksets come arrive in CA and the cranksets are disassembled and prepped. They’re placed in a jig where the strain gauges are glued into place, then cured in an oven for three hours. After that, the transmitters and chainrings are installed and everything’s repackaged. Then it’s off to the shop…
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