A crank-based power meter from Campagnolo is a step closer judging by a new patent published today. The patent covers a ‘Bicycle Component Made Of Composite Material and Related Manufacturing Process’ and describes details of how Campagnolo plans to insert a printed circuit board linked to a ‘force measurement apparatus’ into a crank arm.
We’ve seen enough Campagnolo power meter patents over the past couple of years to make us think that it’s not a question of if the Italian brand intends to enter this market but when. The fact that this new patent focuses so strongly on the manufacturing process suggests that plans are well developed.
US patent 11,547,004 builds on previous Campagnolo patents and features some existing drawings, but it goes further into the manufacturing process.
It says, “The technical problem at the basis of the invention is that of providing higher integration of a printed circuit board in a bicycle component, in particular in a crank arm.
“The solution is a bicycle component having structural fibre incorporated in a polymeric matrix and co-moulded with a printed circuit board. The composite material extends around and in contact with the printed circuit board.”
Campagnolo explains, “The process includes protecting a printed circuit board, inserting the protected circuit board into the mould cavity, inserting a composite material into the circuit board, and subjecting the mould cavity to a temperature and pressure profile until the composite material hardens.”
Patents will never win any awards from the Plain English Campaign but this one is reasonably clear.
Although most of the images show a left (non-drive side) crank arm, Campagnolo points out that the patent also covers a right (drive side) crank arm.
Each crank arm features recesses for sensors, “in particular strain gauges or other elongation/contraction sensors and/or temperature sensor… a recess for a printed circuit board… cables and/or flexible circuits”
We don’t need to get concerned too deeply with the specifics, it’s more the fact that Campagnolo has worked on a detailed manufacturing process that’s significant, suggesting that a launch is getting closer. Patents are only granted to designs that it’s possible to manufacture but Campagnolo has gone beyond that requirement and into specifics.
We told you way back in December 2021 that Campagnolo could be planning to add a power meter to its range after we spotted a US patent for a wake mechanism to switch an electronic device from standby mode to running mode. Campagnolo said that the electronic device in question could be a crank-based power meter.
We also told you that Campagnolo filed patents relating to power measurement back in 2019.
One European patent application was for a ‘Bicycle crank arm on the transmission side, provided with stress/strain detector for a torque meter or a power meter'.
Another patent application shows a rechargeable battery cell in the face of a crank arm body. The chainset is equipped with an electronic “detection system [that] can be used in a torque meter or in a power meter”.
> Is a Campagnolo power meter on the way? Patent application suggests crank-based system could be coming
In April 2022, we reported on a US patent for a ‘bicycle component provided with a temperature-compensated stress/strain sensor’.
Campagnolo said, “What is claimed is a bicycle crank arm comprising a main body extending along a lengthwise direction between a rotation axis and a pedal axis, the main body being made at least in part of a composite material comprising structural fibres that are incorporated in a polymeric matrix
“At least a first stress/strain sensor, supported by said body and aligned according to a direction of stress/strain to be detected and at least a first temperature sensor supported by said main body and associated with said sense stress/strain sensor were in said first stress/strain sensor and said first temperature sensor resides in non-parallel non-coincident planes.”
Campagnolo outlined many possible designs but the thrust was that the device relied on strain gauges fixed to a crank arm – either to the outside or within a cavity. Campagnolo didn’t mention options for other sites of measurement such as pedals, spider, or chainset spindle.
> Is a Campagnolo power meter getting nearer? Patent application indicates crank-based system could be in the works
The patent published today takes this design and describes the manufacturing process in more detail.
> Is a 13-speed Campagnolo road groupset on the way?
Patents get granted all the time for designs that never come to market, but given the amount of development work that Campagnolo has put into its power meter – and the fact that a major groupset manufacturer not offering power measurement makes no sense these days – we reckon that we’ll see a launch before long.
This year? Well, this is Campagnolo we’re talking about but surely even they can't spin this out much longer, so we'd say that sometime in 2023 is likely. Just don't hold us to that.
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