Zone cleat-based power-measuring system opens pre-orders

It's just a place in the queue for the power measuring system from Brim Brothers in Dublin but they're not asking for money yet.

by nick_rearden   January 24, 2012  

The Zone power measuring system from Brim Bothers in Dublin we posted about back in July that measures your power output via special cleats has gone live today with a pre-ordering queue on their website here.

Unlike the forthcoming pedal-based Vector ANT+ based system from Garmin which works with special versions of Look Keo pedals*, and the somewhat similar-looking but non-ANT+ proprietary system from HRM specialists Polar, also in collaboration with Look, the Zone system works with an adapted version of the Speedplay pedals. Or more accurately an adapted version of the Speedplay cleats which are more or less pedal-sized. The power measurement takes place there instead of in the pedal axles, which is where the Look-based systems have their gauges.

Like the Garmin Vector, Zone is based on the ANT+ wireless data protocol which means it will work with any other ANT+ device capable of displaying power output from its software, such as a Garmin 800 or the forthcoming Bryton Rider 60 we posted about yesterday.

 

Unlike the Garmin and Polar systems, both of which are imminent and have a transmitting module in between the pedal axle and the crank, the Zone system has its pair of transmitters mounted on top of the cycling shoes with a little cable running around the side of the shoe and connecting to the cleat sensor. According to the Brim Brothers website, there is no firm date for delivery except an intention for 2012 and certainly no indication on pricing.

One advantage of Zone we can see is that moving from bike-to-bike would be a doddle, as the sensors go with you and your shoes, unlike the Garmin and Polar dual-sided systems where you would need to change pedals. For the folks using SRM and other crank and bottom bracket based sensors, the strain gauges are fixed to the bike so without changing cranks you're locked into one particular bike for power measuring. At least the CycleOps Power Tap rear wheel based system has the advantage of being easily transferrable, bike to bike.

There's also the little matter of pedal preference with existing Speedplay owners likely to be drawn towards Zone if they are already happy with their shoe and pedal set up and reluctant to mess with something quite so personal. Interestingly, one of the questions asked on the Brim Brothers website pre-order sign-up is "Do you use Speedplay pedals and cleats?" with the drop-down answers, "Yes", "No, but I'm changing to Speedplay" and "No". It will be interesting to see what they say to the people answering, "No."

The purpose of the pre-ordering process, according to Brim Brothers, is to get a place in the queue for when they become available, whenever that is, but they're not making any promises about 2012. They are, however, stressing that you don't pay anything now, you can cancel your pre-order at any time and you're not compelled to take up the offer when Brim Brothers confirm the price and delivery date.

Details: brimbrothers.com

* Update: reader westpenncyclist tells us that Exustar are now the pedal collaborator with Garmin, which explains why they've been a bit quiet on Vector since Eurobike. We're seeking official clarification.

 

15 user comments

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Hooray for speedplay compatibility! I was particularly interested in Vector before they changed the pedal platform, and I'm very keen on something that moves round all my bikes. I guess we'll have to see (a) how accurate they are in comparison with other systems and (b) whether the price is right...

posted by step-hent [697 posts]
24th January 2012 - 15:45

6 Likes

Here's something that will divide people. With all the flex and different components power needs to be transfered through before it gets put down on the road, would you rather know how much power you are putting down in leg stregth or how much power makes it to the road?

Basiclly hub based power meter or shoe based power?

Personally I'd rather know how much makes it to the road although this system will give you useable data across multiple bikes, frame materials and components.

Life behind bars.

Graham Howell's picture

posted by Graham Howell [55 posts]
24th January 2012 - 16:34

4 Likes

Surely the point of power measurement is to look at improvements from a baseline, the absolute accuracy doesn't really matter except for bragging rights. As long as it's repeatable so you can see how training is progressing, how adjustments to position and equipment affect your output etc. then it gives you the basis for improvement.

posted by jimmo62 [59 posts]
24th January 2012 - 17:19

4 Likes

What he said.

I went with a Quarq instead of waiting for the Vector, mostly to avoid possible early adoption problems and my own inability to wait for something.

It's very quick and easy to change from one bike to the other easily as quick as pedals, if not more so.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
24th January 2012 - 17:40

5 Likes

You're right jimmo and anyway I cannot imagine you're losing much *actual* horsepower between the pedals and the road imho. Well within the accuracy tolerance I'd have thought.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
24th January 2012 - 17:44

2 Likes

Graham Howell wrote:
Here's something that will divide people. With all the flex and different components power needs to be transfered through before it gets put down on the road, would you rather know how much power you are putting down in leg stregth or how much power makes it to the road?

Basiclly hub based power meter or shoe based power?

Personally I'd rather know how much makes it to the road although this system will give you useable data across multiple bikes, frame materials and components.

Graham is, presumably, happy to ignore the inherent flex in the rear wheel/tyre components.
As Jimmo stated, the real value in power measurement lies in comparative not absolute measurement of ones own power. The big advantage I see in the pedal/cleat based systems is the ability to record measurements from both legs at all points of the crank revolution; this can lead to real improvements in technique/efficiency. Anyone who has ever played on a Wattbike will know what I'm talking about.

posted by pwake [312 posts]
24th January 2012 - 18:57

3 Likes

Assuming that power meter is - first of all - a training tool (which I believe is perfectly correct), its main objective is to measure power produced by one's muscles. Therefore, the closer a power meter is to the rider's body and the less energy is wasted/scattered before measurement, the more accurate your result is.

That said, I believe Zone is (on paper) the best system available at the point. What I also love is the ease to move your power meter between bikes. Personally, I have been following them for a very long time and have signed up as soon as I have learnt they made it possible to pre-order Zone. Now it all comes down to the price...

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [197 posts]
24th January 2012 - 20:07

4 Likes

pwake wrote:

Graham is, presumably, happy to ignore the inherent flex in the rear wheel/tyre components.

Lets start work on a tyre based power meter then Tongue. My point was more the lower the number of components between meter and road the better. But yes I do like the idea of using this one to improve indvidual stoke efficiency.

Life behind bars.

Graham Howell's picture

posted by Graham Howell [55 posts]
24th January 2012 - 23:41

2 Likes

Pwake & jimmo62 are bang on. Use a PM as a comparative tool.

That way it's not necessary to have to worry whether you are loosing power through the component train as the losses should remain fairly constant.

After all, the absolute power doesn't really matter unless you are trying to get one-up on your training partners - and even then you need to divide through by your body weight as its optimising w/kg that is a large part of the goal of training on power, and a better comparison that "look at me I can do 1KW for 5 sec ..." as Nick R says, it shouldn't really be about bragging rights (unless that's what floats your boat, of course ...)

What is key is whether the power reading can be maintained for longer or acheived at a lower HR on a consistent basis, given consistent environmental conditions.

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [75 posts]
24th January 2012 - 23:57

3 Likes

The editors should post a correction here. The Garmin Vector pedal is not manufactured by LOOK. It is a LOOK-compatible pedal manufactured by EXUSTAR.

posted by westpenncyclist [1 posts]
25th January 2012 - 11:06

3 Likes

westpenncyclist wrote:
The editors should post a correction here. The Garmin Vector pedal is not manufactured by LOOK. It is a LOOK-compatible pedal manufactured by EXUSTAR.

Happy to, west. Consider it corrected. That's news to me and an interesting development but then to be fair to Garmin, I'm going from the last lot of info we had from them on Vector which was Eurobike in September. Since then they've been a bit quiet through official channels which explains why if they've had a change of heart with the co-supplier. I sincerely hope the Exustar build quality has got better from their initial efforts.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
25th January 2012 - 12:22

3 Likes

italiafirenze wrote:
What he said.

I went with a Quarq....
It's very quick and easy to change from one bike to the other easily as quick as pedals, if not more so.

Really? Don't you have to change all the chainring bolts and both the chainrings? And maybe the cranks? Plus you need one of the few Quarq-compatible BBs on all your bikes, i.e. no Shimano or Campag.

posted by nick h. [30 posts]
27th January 2012 - 17:07

3 Likes

Yay Speedplay! The best by far. Hope they stick with it. I would have bought Vector in an instant if they'd stuck with their initial Speedplay pedal plan. Such a shame.

posted by noleafclover [26 posts]
27th January 2012 - 18:28

3 Likes

Spot on jimmo. As long as the measure is consistent that is fine. Great to make it moveable bike to bike and i can keep my speedplays.

pjhw

posted by pjhwalter [11 posts]
28th January 2012 - 0:12

7 Likes

This is getting closer for me. New wheels or wait for these? Mmmmmmm . . . . ?

Cannondale Supersix Evo US Camp Edition - Campy Super Record
Cannondale Supersix Evo Team Liquigas - Campy Super Record rebuild
Pinarello Dogma 60.1 - Campy Super Record
BMC SLR02 - Shimano 105

posted by mike_ibcyclist [36 posts]
22nd January 2013 - 2:06

4 Likes