Having been an early innovator in the power meter market, PowerTap is aiming to reassert itself in an increasingly competitive market. The company is still keen to point out that the most accurate place to measure power is the free hub, but that other systems offer practical advantages.
To this end it has developed the P1 pedals and C1 chainrings. We will be getting our hands on the units as soon as possible in order to give a full review, but in the meantime, this here’s the lowdown on the two exciting new products.
PowerTap P1 pedals
Cycling Weekly headed over to Frankfurt for a look at this exciting new proposition in the power meter market. In firing a shot straight across the bows of the Garmin Vector and Polar/Look Keo Power pedal-based power meters, we were keen to see what sets the P1 apart from the competition.
The first thing to note is that the system is entirely self-contained with a single piece construction, unlike existing pedal based systems, and feature no pods. We like this, as the general consensus is that pods can be damaged too easily.
The next feature to note is how easy they are to install. In order to achieve accurate power measurement Garmin requires you to tighten the Vector pedals to a specific 25 lb/foot torque, requiring a torque wrench and a special tool called a crow foot adapter. In the case of Vector, this is not ideal and makes swapping between bikes not as practical as we would like.
The P1 can be screwed in at any torque and doesn’t require calculation of installation angles, making it much easier to swap between bikes. We were informed that the system will automatically calibrate after ten pedal strokes.
We didn’t get a chance to weigh the pedals, but PowerTap told us that the they weigh 398g a pair. To put that into context, a pair of Dura-Ace pedals weigh 250g and Garmin Vector pedals and pods hit the scales at 351g. So there is a slight weight penalty, but there appear to be several advantages, within the system overall.
The pedals are designed to be used with Look Keo cleats. PowerTap told us that this is because they are the most widely used cleat system and that there were licensing issues with regard to using Shimano cleats. Shimano have patents in place for their own power meter based pedals and therefore do not want other systems using their cleats.
Power is provided by two AAA batteries, one in each pedal located within compartments that sit parallel to the pedal axles. PowerTap claims that this will provide 60 hours of battery life, equating to approximately two months use for the average consumer.
Battery choice was a big design question, as greater battery life could be achieved with a coin shaped cell. AAA was chosen for its practicality and widespread availability. The connectivity is via ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, meaning that the pedals can communicate with both your smartphone and bike computer.
The unit will transmit total power and left/right power straight from the launch, with a claimed accuracy of +/– 1.5%. It is intended that future software updates will allow for more detailed pedal stroke analysis, thanks in part to the fact that each pedal features eight separate strain gauges and processors. This will offer huge versatility for future measurements.
The retail price for the P1 is expected to be £999, making it considerably cheaper than the £1350 Garmin Vectors. The single sided Vector S is available for around £800 but Powertap argues that for £200 more you can get double sided measurement with their system. A two year warranty and crash repair/replace program is also going to be put in place.
PowerTap informed us that it could release a single pedal version straight off the bat, but have no plans to. The reason for this is that the company prides itself on accurate power measurement and believes a single sided power meter to be an inferior product. A final thing to note is that the system cannot be split, meaning that it will not work with just one pedal.
Availabilty is set to be late spring 2015.
PowerTap C1 Chainrings
The C1 chainring-based system is aimed more at the entry level of the power meter market. The unit will be sold inclusive of chainrings but not the cranks. The idea is that you can add your own cranks to the system. Incase you were wondering, the crank pictured is a 10-speed Shimano 105 crank sprayed black. The RRP is set to be £600.
In common with the P1, the C1 will offer ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart connectivity but unlike the P1 will only estimated double sided power measurement. Total power will be transmitted and left/right power will be calculated via and algorithm, and is similar to Power2Max in this regard.
The C1 will be available in a five bolt 110bcd, as PowerTap believes this to be what most people in their target market will want. There will be three chainring options: 50/36, 52/36, and 53/39. There is no 34t chainring as this doesn’t leave a small enough gap for the unit to fit. It should also be noted that the system is not currently compatible with non-round chainrings, such as Q-rings.
The battery life is approximately 200 hours, courtesy of CR2032 coin cell battery and the system will also feature the same two year warranty as the pedals.
Availability is slightly later and is estimated to be early summer 2015.