Pedal Based Power Monitoring

by Koolstof   December 19, 2011  

Ok, this is probably a post of interest to quite a narrow audience, but as I sit here in Koolstof Towers waiting (impatiently) for delivery of our first set of Look Power Pedals for stock (due in today), I started wondering what the general concensus is out there around pedal based power monitoring.

Last week we heard that Garmin's Vector is not expecting to hit the shelves next spring due to ongoing challenges with the crystal based strain guages, so we have decided to ignore the missing ANT+ compatibility of the Look/Polar system and back them moving forward. They look (can you see what I did there?) a lot more snazzy anyway, plus the technology seems far more proven and ready to go.

With that in mind, I wondered what others peoples thoughts are on the subject of power monitoring systems generally, is there an interest in moving to pedal based systems, or are you happy with the current cranks and hub based systems out there?

Personally, I like the idea of the Look pedals, both with regards to weight, transferrability and the ability to measure individual power output of each leg. I also like the fact that the technology is sound, so I am sort of convinced.

However as a way of a test, my colleague is off to BikeRadar tomorrow to help test the accuracy and useability of all the main power players in a controlled experiment, so the results of that may or may not change my position. Watch this space.

Oh, and yeah, if anyone is after a set of Look Power Pedals drop me a message... As you can imagine I need to offer our athletes first dibs.

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There's certainly advantages to having the power measuring system in the pedals - the ability to swap between bikes for one, and the individual monitoring of each leg, like you say.

There's some issues too. There's a lot of miniaturisation to be done, which inevitably impacts on reliability, and the sealing will have to be absolutely top drawer as pedals are about the most exposed part of the bike. On top of that there's the extra degree of freedom of the pedal axle which makes power measurement much more tricky, although that's offset to an extent by the ability to give more data if you get it right.

Personally I'm not convinced that it's a better solution than improving the current crop of crank-based devices. fitting accelerometers as well as strain gauges can give cadence readings pretty easily, and a limited amount of left-right balance info; probably enough for most people. Cranks are a more stable place to measure strain and I'd expect that to be reflected in accuracy readings. Okay they're not as transferrable, but realistically most people will either a) keep them on the good bike or b) swap them from the good bike to the winter bike and vice versa once a year.

still want to try some though Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
19th December 2011 - 15:18

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Yeah, I hear you on that. I was discussing this with one of our athletes earlier, and he mentioned the possibility of putting a pressure pad into the sole of a shoe directly under the pedal cleat, plus an accelerometer, microchip + wireless transmitter. Whammo, you have something that could be 100% sealed, totally interchangeable, and hopefully built with technology that is simpler and more robust.

Only challenge would be when your shoe uppers break down after a couple of years and you need a new pair of £1000 shoes!

That said, was it Northwave or Sidi that had a shoe a few years back that you could change the sole for one of a number of stiffness settings. Similar technology could be used again. Indeed if you assumed the technology could be made, you could create an open standard that any shoe manufacturer could use.

I'm rambling now.

I look forward to seeing the test results from tomorrow.

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Koolstof's picture

posted by Koolstof [5 posts]
19th December 2011 - 15:47

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you've seen this, right?

http://brimbrothers.com/

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
19th December 2011 - 17:11

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My hope from the introduction of the pedal-based systems is that a bit more competition and more big players in the market will bring the price down and get more people to use them.

At the moment the pricing means that you can only really justify them if you are a serious racer.

I can afford them - but I wouldn't buy them, because I know everyone would be thinking I was just adding gear that was way above my ability. Like putting Recaro seats in a Mondeo.

Get the price down and I don't look like a try-hard wanker.

I don't care if they're in the pedals or the cranks or surgically implanted in my knee.

Having said that I already have a Garmin computer and I much prefer it to Polar, not just for the ANT+, so no way would I go with their system.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
19th December 2011 - 17:40

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Ref Brim brothers... yeah, so they're nearily there. I am sure they could beef up the radio signal and then mould the electronics into the sole of the shoe. Problem with this current design is that it makes you look like a tool.

I wonder... all I need is a set of carbon soled shoes, a set of the brim brothers power meters, some epoxy resin, carbon fibre and some basic tools.

Oh and time. Damn it.

Online cycle coaching and cycling equipment shop for all of your Racing, Sportive and Fitness needs.

Koolstof Coaching www.koolstofcoaching.com
Koolstof Cycle Components www.koolstof.co.uk

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posted by Koolstof [5 posts]
19th December 2011 - 18:27

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