When you buy a complete road bicycle, including pedals, it is ready to ride. Sort of. To ride safely, you need front and rear lights and a bell. To ride for more than thirty minutes, you need bottle cages and some bottles. If you don’t want to fill your jersey pockets, you need a saddle bag to carry a spare inner tube, a multi-tool, etc. And if you want to keep track of how far and how fast you rode, you need a cycling computer.
Thus equipped, you are ready to tackle most rides. You will be tempted to upgrade various components, but you don’t need to add anything else to your bike. But when did “need” get in the way of “want?”
You may want a power meter. A valid reason to add a power meter to your bike is you are a competitive cyclist who wants to train using power. Most of us want to add power meters because they are cool pieces of technology. And we like cool technology.
Power meters came into being in 1989 when Ulrich Schoberer started selling crank spider-based power meters. At the time Schoberer Rad Messtechnik (SRM) was the only power meter game in town. And the prices were eye-wateringly high.
Since then the power meter market has grown to include hub-based, crank arm-based, bottom-bracket based and pedal-based power meters.
Examples of the various types of power meter are pictured below.
Prices have come down. SRM is still the price leader at about USD2,350 for the SRM Origin. Alternatively, a Quark DZero spider-based power meter costs USD399. At this price, you need to supply the chainrings and crank arms.
One downside of hub, spider, crank arm and bottom bracket-based power meters is that they cannot easily be switched between bicycles.
Pedal-based power meters are increasingly popular because they can be swapped from one bike to another with minimum fuss. However, power meter pedals are not available for all pedal interfaces. The Assioma Favero Duo, Garmin Vector, and SRM Look Exakt are Look pedal compatible only.
Lately, there has been a buzz around pedal-based power meters. In February, SRAM announced that it acquired Time, a French pedal manufacturer. SRAM owns Quark and Powertap. They have announced that the Powertap P2 power meter pedal will no longer be available. Will a Powertap P3 power meter pedal come soon, or even a Time pedal-based power meter?
Favero has hinted that it will launch a version of its Assioma Duo that will be compatible with Shimano SPD-SL pedal bodies.
Also, on the compatibility front, it seems Garmin is about to expand its range of power meter pedals to encompass the three most popular systems: Shimano SPD-SL road, Look Keo road, and Shimano SPD mountain bike interfaces. With a new name – Rally, instead of Vector.
Finally, Wahoo just announced the launch of its Speedplay pedal range. Wahoo acquired Speedplay two years ago, and there has been much speculation about the platform’s future. Along with four updated pedals, Wahoo announced the Powrlink Zero. Few details are available, apart from a Summer 2021 launch and the photograph below.
If a SRAM Time-compatible power meter pedal hits the market, users of almost all pedal interface types – Shimano SPD-SL, Look Keo, SpeedPlay, and Time – will have a power meter pedal option.
Price remains a barrier to entry to the world of power meter pedals. A set of SRM Exakts cost USD1,699. Garmin Vector 3s go for USD1,000. There is no word yet on the pricing for the various Garmin Rally power meter pedals. A set of Favero Assioma Duo pedals costs about USD650. The expected retail price for the Wahoo Powrlink Zero is USD1,000.
Despite being a life-long SpeedPlay user, I don’t think a set of Wahoo Powrlink Zeros will be on my Watts Next list.