Review : Garmin Vector 2

Garmin Vector 2Garmin’s Vector 2 pedals are ANT+ compatible, dual-sided power meters. They are compatible with LOOK KEO cleats. They should fit into the thread of any crank but do not consider that carte-blanche to use with your MTB or with carbon cranks.

The Vector 2s are essentially the same as the Version 1 Vector but come with a much improved installation. There is also a one-sided 2s model.

This is a quick overview of the detailed review. (October 2016 using firmware v4)

Installation

Installation is straightforward. The pedals are attached as you would for any pedal. There is a recommended torque BUT, in my opinion, you just attach the pedals TIGHTLY. With the pedals horizontal you then attach each POD. Once attached, the pods will NOT touch the floor when you corner even when the pedals are vertical. Your device will take you through the settings for crank length and installation angle – I used an Edge 820. You will then calibrate the horizontal pedals before every use when unclipped to the bike.

A special firmware-updater tool is required from Garmin as well as an ANT+, USB dongle (included).

You will need a clean contact with the crank and charged batteries for the Vector 2 pedals to work. I had pairing and calibration issues with a part-flat battery.

Garmin Vector 2Positives – And Why you would buy these

  • Very easily moved between bikes and will fit all cranks
  • A one-company solution. If you bought another brand of power meter Garmin could well say that the 3rd party is at fault if there are any communication or compatibility issues.
  • Pedal-based solutions offer the only realistic opportunity to deliver the most detailed pedalling metrics, Garmin’s implementation is through their Advanced Cycling Dynamics. If you want lots and lots of extra data then the Vector 2 is your obvious choice
    • Cadence, left/right balance, Torque Effectiveness, Pedal Smoothness – these are found on other pedal power meters eg Favero’s bePRO
    • Power Phase, Platform Centre Offset (PCO), seated/standing – these are only on the Vectors. Power phase, for example, can be useful for determining if an elliptical chainring would benefit you if you apply power early or late in the pedal stroke. With the rather nice Edge 820 and other high-end Garmins you can work with PCO to use spacers on the pedals to more optimally align the left/right position of individual pedals.

Negatives

  • There are cheaper power meters and cheaper power meter pedals out there of comparable quality.
  • The pod IS one more piece to get caught and broken. If it does, however, it is not so expensive to replace as the more expensive power meter techy bits are in the pedal not the pod.
  • You will have to use LOOK/KEO cleats unless you buy the DIY upgrade for Shimano cleats.
  • You might think twice about risking damage from using your expensive pedals on your MTB for any sort of serious off-road riding. They WILL work for off-road riding but the nature of the terrain of off-road riding does also skew readings for example you can easily get 1000w spikes when hitting bumps and when not pedalling.
  • Be wary of thicknesses of different crank arms, the Vector requires an attachment on the inside of the crank. If you have a thick crank you will need the Vector with the longer thread.
  • Be nervous about carbon cranks (may not be supported) and elliptical chainrings (not supported) – to be clear the Vector WILL work in these scenarios but may consistently give inaccurate results. If you only ever have one power meter then this may be fine. (See accuracy, below)
  • Visually, it looks like the pod might hit the ground when cornering. I just can’t see it happening in reality for me, there might be one person out there using unusual long cranks in some unusual cambered road scenario. I’m confident I’ll be fine. The real risk is catching the pod when man-handling your bike into/onto a car – that kind of thing, not when riding. Consider the following image if unsure!

Garmin Vector 2

Accuracy

These are the same units as the Vector 1 giving the same accuracy. These have been extensively tested elsewhere for example <here> from BikeRadar.com, <here> from DCR,  <here> from road.cc, and <here> from bikeradar.com.

Personally, I have found a 4% under-reporting variation when compared to a ROTOR 3D+ one sided crank. You might think that is bad. However that is because I have an imbalance/injury that I am working my way through. The problem is that the ROTOR is actually doubling my strongest side whereas Vector is ‘correctly’ counting together the strong AND weak side. Clearly a single hub/wheel-based reading like the Powertap in the previous paragraph’s links gives a ‘correct’ overall power reading (but no split)

So if calibrated and installed properly and used with circular chainrings and metal cranks they will be sufficiently accurate!

If you have concerns about the L/R balance of your existing Vector pedals there are torque tests you can perform by dangling weights from the pedals whilst calibrating.

Problems

I’ve used the Vector 1s quite some time ago for several months and I’ve used Vector 2s once before. Currently  I have a loan set from Garmin which I will be using for much of the rest of the year (2016). I’ve listed in the detailed review all the problems I personally encountered. there have NOT been many and not ANY of any particular note. However I’m just a sample of 1.

The Garmin support forums DO list several problems and you are encouraged to view issues other people encounter <here>, where Vector is one of Garmin’s most active support forums.

Stated Features

  • ANT+ only operation
  • ANT+ firmware configuration via ANT+ USB dongle (supplied)
  • CR2032 battery gives over well over 150 hours of use
  • 6 degrees of float with standard cleats, medium- and zero-degree options available,
  • 213g per pedal
  • 12-15mm and 15-18mm threads available to accommodate differing crank widths. GET THE RIGHT ONE.
  • Kit available to allow upgrade from Vector 1 – essentially new pods and a new threaded bit. You keep your existing pedal platforms.
  • LEDs to give some feedback on operation (turned on/pairing/error states/calibration states)
  • Cleat tension adjusted with an allen wrench/key
  • Firmware upgradeable via the Vector Updater v3.2.1 <here>
  • Vector v4 changelog <here>

and of course Garmin Connect gives you lots of new stats

garmin-vector-stats

Clickable: Special advanced cycling dynamics stats in Garmin Connect

Pricing and availability

Availability is generally very good. Typically you will find Garmin do not allow dealers to discount Vector 2 pedals.

October 2016: garmin.com (US) shows Vector 2 at US$1000 and 2s at US460. Garmin (UK) shows £900 and £550. In Germany Eur1150 and Eur700

I partner with these guys (US-based) if you would like to help support this site. There are coupons available for powermeters on this site but not for Garmin, sorry.

power meter city

 

6 thoughts on “Review : Garmin Vector 2

  1. Thanks for your reviews. Looking forward to the detailed one. So, which one would you choose. Bepro favero at 600 £ or Garmin vector 2 at 750 £(+ I think i’d want a torque wrench)?
    Joel

    • they are both good. nearly all PMs are generally good. you’d be paying +£150 for the garmin brand and some niche/nice metrics (of which bepro has some of!). ignoring the pod, maybe the garmin is fractionally more solid but did you see my recent “bepro one year on” post…that still works! I’ve used both and would be happy with both. if you are interested in a bepro email me as I’m trying to put together a Europe deal with PMC (below). torque wrenches are for wimps, I’ve never used one and I go to sigma sport from time to time and they don’t use them either. it’s probably ‘wrong’ but, hey!

      edit: looks like we can only make the 15% deal work with bepro even in Europe (nov 2016)

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