One For The Gearheads

I was brought up by my mother, so I lack certain manly qualities. Take my toolbox, for example; it’s a wicker basket. I don’t own one single power tool, either. Even my razor is old school.

So, bike-geeks, your comments are always appreciated on posts like this. Here you go, it’s your time to shine!

Can anyone who actually owns one of these things kindly comment on it? If you need to ask what it is, you’re not geek enough, obviously.

600-vector

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37 thoughts on “One For The Gearheads

  1. Gerry, I’ve had so many bike shop conversations about this and I’m not completely sold on the idea of watts being a useful tool for everyday riding for Joe everyday cyclist. Kevin is right, the price on these things are so high you can buy a lot of frame or other neat bike related items.
    Its one of those it’s nice to have but…Remember how long it took to get that first decent bike
    computer?

    • Pierre, I hear you. I really don’t have an unlimited amount of money to throw at gear this year, and it gets that much scarier when you throw in Power. However, to a rider, everyone I talked with at HR said it was an invaluable training tool (for training – not, as you said, for ‘Joe’). I’m sold on the concept, at least.

  2. Here is another review of the Vector: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/10/garmin-vector-review/. Cost aside, or perhaps because of it, having hit the deck on a few occasions, I would be concerned about the fact that it is rather more susceptible to damage compared to alternatives…

    On the same site, there is a review of another option: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/09/ibike-newton-power-meter-review/. A friend of mine uses it and is very satisfied with it. But then, he has a PhD in biomedical engineering, so I think he has a slightly different perspective from that of a simpleton like me… Haha!

    • No, not yet. I’d like to get some feedback from others who use them first. I’ve only spoken to one guy, and he said they were as accurate as his crank-bases system, but otherwise were very practical (he traveled with them to France and just chucked them on his rental bike). Everyone keeps talking about the cost, but I don’t see them being much more expensive that others out there.

  3. Gerry: get the power meter first, the fancy bike later. There are many opinions on power and I’m biased because I love numbers and checking reality versus perception, but I just couldn’t imagine being on the indoor trainer without a power meter… I have a powertab wheel which I use for traveling and have Quarq standard crank (the other Quarq compact crank got stolen with my bike on HR and that was Shannon’s). So I’m on the market too for a power meter and thinking about Vector, Quarq, Stages, Power2Max. They each have their pro and cons. I would buy Vector immediately if I could also use it on my cross bike (but you need an spd pedal); I still may get it for portability: New cranks like Shimano and Canondale’s actually let you swap only the rings between standard and compact. Then Vector or Stages becomes very attractive, but Stages is actually less portable than you would expect (crank dependent). (No need for two Quarq’s.)
    I only know one friend who has Vector and bought them for portability — will check with him on experience so far.

    • I was waiting for your reply with great anticipation, Jan! I’m glad you said what I needed to hear, too – I’m sure that the Power is a better investment than a bike upgrade (if I need to choose), too, so thanks for the confirmation!

      As you say, there are lots of pros and cons with all of them, it seems. Pedal-based hits me as ideal right now, but might turn if someone can convince me otherwise. Anything with cranks is a problem because I really am not ready to move on from Campy just yet. I just bought the damn thing!

      Good luck with your decision. I hope I’ll be reading all about it over on your blog.

  4. Jan & Gerry, I’m really wrestling with the same questions as you guys. I have yet to learn of first hand experience on the Vector, but I’m still “this close” to purchasing them. The main reason being portability between my two road bikes, and any rental bike. Plus it’s possible that I might be kind enough to let the lady borrow these occasionally 😉

    Being a Finn the obvious other choice would be the Polar / Look pedal. Price aside (I would get them steeply discounted) I’m not a fan of Polar in general (I believe they’re on the same train as Microsoft / Nokia etc. old school tech companies, no room for them in the future), and some friends have these (Polar / Look), and the calibration is super difficult, so they’re really not as portable as you might think.

    So it’s really up to the question if I really need the power data..

    • I guided a guy up Ventoux (3 times!) a few weeks ago who had brought his Vectors from Australia. He certainly wasn’t raving about them, but he thought they were a good portable option, for sure. He also brought along a torque wrench with 15 mm attachment to secure the pedals. They need a particular tension for calibration. Doesn’t seem overly complicated, though, and he had them on and off in no time.

      I have a Polar computer, which is great for heart rate and the other basics, but I use Strava more and more now, so moving over to Garmin makes even more sense to me now.

      Good luck with the decision. Maybe we can all order together and get a group discount 😉

      • Don’t go Garmin, use a smart phone and get IpBike app. From the money you save you can buy the watt counter/meter. IpBike works better and has more functions than the Garmin 810. All you need is Ant+ cadence/speed and heart monitor sensors. Most Sony phones have ANT+ built in but you can buy a Suunto Movestick Mini ant that connects to phones USB cable. check it out.

        • John, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you can get real-time power feedback with this thing. That’s really the whole point, for training purposes.

        • Gerry, the below is a list from http://www.thisisant.com/directory/ that list the ANT+ power meters that should work with IpBike. If there is another meter that is not listed and is ANT+ it should also work. I have contacted Ifor, the owner of the app for more info and will forward his response. Visit his website http://www.iforpowell.com/cms/ for more info. He has several apps for power meter which allows you to monitor not only your meter but also those of other cyclist around you. Sorry the list is so long. Hope this helps.

          CinQo Saturn2 for Cannondale Quarq Bike Power Meters
          CinQo Saturn2 for Specialized Quarq Bike Power Meters
          CinQo Saturn FSA Team Issue Quarq Bike Power Meters
          CinQo Saturn Lightning Carbon Quarq Bike Power Meters
          CinQo Saturn Specialized FACT Quarq Bike Power Meters
          CinQo Saturn SRAM S900 Quarq Bike Power Meters
          FSA SL-K Light Quarq Power Meter Quarq Bike Power Meters
          MTB PowerMeter Cannondale Triple SRM Bike Power Meters
          MTB PowerMeter FSA Afterburner SRM Bike Power Meters
          MTB PowerMeter FSA K-Force light Tripl… SRM Bike Power Meters
          MTB PowerMeter Tune Smart Foot Triple SRM Bike Power Meters
          Pedaling Monitor Sensor SGY-PM900H79 Pioneer Bike Power Meters
          Pedaling Monitor Sensor SGY-PM900H90 Pioneer Bike Power Meters
          power2max MTB ROTOR 3D (multiple chain… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max MTB ROTOR 3D PLUS (multiple … Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road BOR RR666 (BCD 110 or 1… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road Lightning (BCD 110 or 1… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road ROTOR 3D (BCD 110 or 13… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road ROTOR 3D PLUS (BCD 110 … Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road SRAM S900 (BCD 110 or 1… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road TA Carmina (BCD110 or 1… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road TA Vega (BCD 110 or 130… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road Tune Smart Foot (BCD 11… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max road Tune Smart Foot W (BCD … Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          power2max ROTOR Agilis (BCD 110 or 130… Saxonar power2max Bike Power Meters
          PowerCal CycleOps Bike Power Meters, Heart … , Gym/Indoor Fitne…
          PowerMeter BOR RR 688 Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Cannondale Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Cannondale Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter FSA Gossamer Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter FSA Gossamer Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter FSA K-Force Light Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter FSA K-Force Light Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Handbike SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Rotor 3D Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Rotor 3D+ Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Rotor 3D+ Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Shimano 7800 Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Shimano 7900 Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Shimano 7950 Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Shimano DuraAce 7800 Compat… SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Specialized Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Specialized Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter SRAM S975 Compact (GXP or B… SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter SRAM S975 Standard (GXP or … SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter SRM Science SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Track SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Tune Smart Foot Compact SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerMeter Tune Smart Foot Standard SRM Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap ELITE+ Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap G3 Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap G3C Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap PRO Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap Pro MTB Disc Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap Pro MTB Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap PRO Track Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap Pro+ Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap SL+ Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          PowerTap SLC+ Hub CycleOps Bike Power Meters
          Rotor 3D Quarq Power Meter Quarq Bike Power Meters
          ROTOR Power ROTOR Bike Components Bike Power Meters
          S975 Quarq Power Meter SRAM Bike Power Meters
          SRAM S2275 MTB Power Meter Quarq Bike Power Meters
          Stages Power Meter Stages Cycling Bike Power Meters

  5. Gerry,
    Ifor’s response:

    ” No problems reading a real power meter. I have full support for the latest features like pedalling efficiency and smoothness that are only available in a small number of power meters but are likely to be more common e.g. they are meant to go into the Vector with a firmware update.

    Ifor”

    One great thing about the app is the quick response time. He answered my email to him in about 5 minutes. I think anybody who tries his apps will be very surprised. Like I said, it is far better than Garmin or any other bike computers. You can try it for free but have to pay about $6 USD for the license after your wheel has made a certain number of revolutions, something like 100K.

    • John, I think I misunderstood what you’ve been talking about all the time. I figured you were telling me not to waste money on a Garmin power meter, not a computer. So this is simply an app replacement for a computer! Got it. I’ll look more closely. Thanks.

      • Sorry for the confusion. When checking out the app, if you see something that you want and is not there, contact Ifor and he will likely put it in the next version. Check out my rides on Strava to see the rides I have done using this app and the real time data (HR, Cadence, speed, elevation, slope, etc.). There is also a Strava group called IpBike so check them out as well. There are cyclist at all levels using this so you wont look out of place having your cell phone mounted on your handlebar and you will be collecting more data real time with pre-loaded color maps, voice, etc than you will with a Garmin (according to Garmin owners). As previously mentioned, you can automatically upload your rides, laps, and workouts to several websites. I use Strava, Training Peaks, and CyclingAnalytics but there are more (7 total at this time). One concern is the battery life of a phone but I have gotten 5 hours plus using my Samsung Galaxy S2 and sure it is possible to get as much as Garmin. Let me know if you have any questions. The app is user configurable with real time several screens and easier to use than it looks.

  6. One of the guys that rode the Parkway had them. It was his first experience with a power meter, so he couldn’t really say much about the accuracy compared to others, but he was satisfied. There was one technical glitch with the way it interacted with his pedals, but he was able to fix it pretty easily. He liked that you can see data from each side. That would be nice for someone like me recovering from an injury.

    • The guy I rode with last month also had a small glitch of some sort, but seemed to know how to fix it, too. Agreed that it might be useful to have both sides showing power. Similar reason for me with my arthritic left knee.

  7. Hi Gerry,
    I just got some of these myself and i’m pretty happy with them so far (only had them a couple of weeks). Unfortunately the weather has been so bad in Norway of late i’ve only used them on the indoor trainer. They were easy to fit and set up the only negative is Garmin not supplying a crows foot adapter for use with a torque wrench. Other irritation is i now have a nice set of speed play pedal sitting around not doing much. Calibration steps are simple and take next no time to do before each ride. I’ve never owned a power meter before so cant comment on how they compare to others in accuracy etc. I did my first FTP test last night which was miserable but at least now i have a baseline for my Haute Route training for next year. I’m going for the Ivan Drago (minus the drugs) rather than Rocky approach….we’ll see how it goes. My initial assessment is a lot of work is needed. Too heavy and not powerful enough. Joy.

    • Doug, thanks for the first-hand comments. I was thinking the same thing about the crows foot. I have it bookmarked on Amazon to get when I finally make the move. It seems like an obvious bit of equipment to have. I doubt that many people already have them. Good luck with the training. I hope you fair better than Drago did!

  8. I have owned one since it was released in Australia 2 months ago and have probably done 60 hours with them. I interchange them on my road bike, commute bike, etc in fact I have 6 bikes, so the vector is perfect for me. For the 1st month I used only a 15mm Park spanner to tighten the pedals and never once did I have a problem with the power numbers being too low, other then when I took it easy commuting occasionally.
    My tip is to clean the threads and the washer(s) and the crank surfaces where all mating parts will go and make sure the pod isn’t touching the crank when tightening, nothing should go wrong. It’s when folks don’t do the proper setup that problems occur.
    I personally now cant imagine my cycling without the metrics i get from a power meter. I especially am fond of the 3 second ave power whilst I’m riding on my garmin 510 and for reviewing after the ride I like the Normalized Power numbers and Training Stress Score as a weekly goal/target number i can work with.
    All cycling counts, including the commute rides as they get a TSS score as well. So now I know when I’m riding home into a headwind although my average speed might be low, I still worked hard according to my TSS. So headwinds never looked so inviting to me to ride into before now. Heart rate metrics would give you some of that as well but that is subject to too many variables outside of the ride that may effect the numbers and HR is reactive not real time.
    Cheers

    • Brett, thanks for the great comment. That thread tip is really useful, as is the positive comment on the ease of switching between bikes (you have 6!?). I’m just about ready to pull the trigger on it, but might wait till I can call it a Christmas present for myself.

      That TSS score, by the way, is something I never even thought of. That would be very useful for me. I live right where the Mistral blows.

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