Obvious Choices | The Best Power Meter Pedals?
The obvious choice of the Best Power Meter PEDALS are the Favero Assioma – either Assioma DUO or UNO, depending on your accuracy needs and budget.
As a cyclist or triathlete, if you want to TRAIN WITH POWER then getting the Best Power Meter Pedals are the most sensible first investment, especially if you have more than one bike. The initial hurdle to overcome when considering buying power meter pedals is their CONSIDERABLE COST and then numerous, detailed concerns like compatibility and battery life. Let’s assume you CAN afford a price tag of around £/$/Eu500 and upwards. This leaves the question “Which model to go for?“.
Back to pedals, let’s start of with this summary chart and then there is much more detail below
Wins on Price - Favero ASSIOMA - 95%
Wins on Accuracy - They are all similar enough - 100%
Wins on Aesthetics - Garmin Vector...just - 80%
Wins on Long Battery Life - SRM & Garmin - 85%
Wins on Extra Metrics - Garmin Vector has *ONE* MORE METRIC than Favero Assioma! - 80%
Wins on Ease of Setup & Calibration - They are all similar enough - 95%
Wins for Mountain Biking - SRM X-Power is the only choice - 95%
Background – Best Power Meter Pedals Through The Ages
Power meters are still expensive. Dial the clock back over 6 years and, unsurprisingly, they were even more expensive than now.
For cyclists who own several bikes, it just made theoretical sense to have one power meter that could be easily swapped from bike to bike. With pedals, you should get consistent readings from one, single calibrated device across several bikes AND also save yourself a pretty sum by not having to buy two, three or more power meters to cover all your bikes. Of course, you would expect to pay a premium for that one product ‘covers-all’ solution.
Garmin thought so.
Bring on Garmin’s Vector (1) at $1500 in 2013
There was clearly a big margin there for Garmin at $1500rrp but don’t forget the R&D cost. To counter that price tag, there were also many benefits from training with power and the market was steadily growing as a result. Such price tags in a growing market also sounded like a business opportunity to PowerTap, who already made bike power meters. And it also sounded like a business opportunity to Favero, who had little to do with cycling at all.
Before we knew it, the power meter pedal market had competition.
These are the timescales showing the new models:
- Garmin Vector: Q3.2013
- Garmin Vector 2: Q2.2015
- PowerTap P1: Q3.2015
- Favero bePRO: Q3.2015
- Favero ASSIOMA: Q3.2017 (Q2.2018, notable firmware update)
- Garmin Vector 3: Q4.2017
- SRM Look Exact: Q2. 2018
- PowerTap P2: Q4.2018
- SRM X-Power: Q3.2019 (MTB SPD)
Look KEO Power/Polar and shoe-based products excluded.
There are single-sided power versions available which you might want count as new models. They come with a power pedal and a non-power pedal, despite being otherwise identical.
Later in this post, we will look in more detail at some of the following points but what stands out to me the most in the evolution of the power meter pedal over recent years is:
- The designs have evolved to, err, look exactly like proper pedals. That means Garmin’s pods have vanished and are not on the Vector 3 and ASSIOMA’s hub has shrunk a little and doesn’t get in the way so much in any case.
- The designs have refined to be more easily moved from bike to bike – which, after all, is one of the key reasons why you might buy power meter pedals! Getting the pedals off was never much of a problem but aligning them on the new bike COULD take some time…but not anymore.
Current State of Play
There are still nuances between current power meter pedal models and their detailed compatibilities of advanced features with all flavours of head unit (cycling computers) and tri watches. However, the general state of play leading up to Christmas 2019 is:
- Accuracy – generally the stated average accuracy levels are ‘good‘
- Ease of Installation – pretty much as simple as it can get in the latest models
- Price – from several hundred to around one thousand Eu/$/GBP… prices should adjust downwards as time passes.
- Consolidation of features – dual transmission over ANT+ & BLE/BTLE (to cover Zwift), single-sided and dual-sided power, super-easy or zero calibration, battery type & performance, cadence, and other peripheral metrics.
- Durability/Serviceability – not widely appreciated. Changing a battery or bearing or even the initial installation might require your power meter to be sent away.
- Customer Service – generally good.
Power Meter Pedals Market Shares:
- Favero ASSIOMA – 38%
- Garmin VECTOR 3 – 49%
- PowerTap P1 – 10%
- SRM – 3%
Source: Guestimates by my online partners & Me. DCR thought Vector 3 would be higher than my original estimate due to Garmin’s better retail distribution so I factored that in – that’s probably true to some degree and could well boost Garmin up to an 80% market share.
Whilst many might note how difficult it is to bring out a new power meter that works. I’d point out that Favero did it with the bePRO and with the ASSIOMA – both of which pretty much worked as described from day 1. Yet it is Garmin’s Vector 3 that has hardware issues that require a redesigned battery cap (May 2018). That kinda negates the premium for the Garmin name, in my opinion. That just leaves its looks. Is it $280 prettier?…probably not.
Product Pricing (2019-20):
This gives you a flavour of what to expect
|Wiggle||PowerMeter 24||PowerMeter 24|
|Garmin VECTOR 3||$999||$1000||£759-789||908||£644+||Eu749+|
|Garmin Vector 4 ?|
|PowerTap P2||$899 (-10%=$810)||£649||775||£644+||Eu749+|
|SRM EXACT Single/Dual||$749-$1799 (-10%=$675)||Eu715-1259+|
|Favero Assioma Single||$459||£343+||Eu399|
|Garmin Vector 3 Single||$599||$600||£427-439||511||£386+||Eu449+|
|includes GST+ delivery||includes vat+ EU delivery
platinum level gives 0-17% off
|excludes vat+ EU delivery
club deal gives up to 20% off
|Import Taxes/Duties always Excluded|
I had a quick look in the UK at SigmaSports, Evans, SingleTrack Bikes and BikeFast and the prices are near-identical. Except for PowerTap.
Pricing in the USA tends to be more controlled by the manufacturers whereas in the EU it is more controlled by the manufacturers lowering the dealer margin, making discounting difficult. You can get a 10% store credit from here on some Garmin lines at PowerMeterCIty and your local bike shop may even give you a slightly larger discount if you bought your bike there or if you are part of a loyalty scheme like those offered by Sigma and Wiggle where you can get 12-17% respectively on some models. There is very little point in devoting too much time to shopping around in the market as it is now.
Wherever you live I would DEFINITELY buy from a dealer in your country/region. You might save $/£/eu10 by shipping from overseas but if ever a return is needed you will have notable costs.
Future of the Best Power Meter Pedals
It’s unlikely there will be an ASSIOMA 2 or a Vector 4 until 2020. Perhaps 2020 might also see a PowerTap P3, although I suspect we will have to wait until 2021 for those.
I can’t see any great new ‘invention’ to materially change pedal power meter functionality (famous last words) – although Shimano cleat support would be great.
Otherwise, I expect the evolution new models to chip away at the relatively small number of issues that need addressing, which range from: accuracy & frequency of data recording; cleat compatibility; battery type; support for carbon cranks; support for elliptical chainrings; battery life; durability; special metrics (yet more cycling dynamics); and dimensions (stack height and Q-factor).
There will be new entrants to the market. In 2018 it started with SRM and there will be more, perhaps following Wahoo’s acquisition of Speedplay.
There will also be some going out of business (WatTeam) and others merging (PowerTap).
I’d say that, for most people (including myself) that all those issues are sufficiently sorted out in the 3 major products as of now. But there ARE differences so let’s come back to the present and look at the differences that exist in more detail.
Best Power Meter Pedals – cleat choices
I like Shimano cleats. They just seem to clip in better for me and spin less when clipping in. Unfortunately, only the older Garmin Vectors supported Shimano and that was via a kit. Grrr. Cleats are going to be your biggest compromise 🙁
Because of the non-Shimano compatability, I now use the KEO GRIP grey 4.5-degree floating cleats. They seem a tad tight on the ASSIOMA and a tad looser on the Vector, although cleat wear is also a factor in any apparent tightness or looseness. They seem fine on the P1 although other reports suggest the degree of wear of the cleat might be a factor in the snugness of the fit here too.
0 degrees and 9 degrees (red) float are also available on LOOK. The meaning of the colour varies on other brands (eg Shimano red has no float whereas an Xpedo red has 6 degrees
There are probably a lot of people who would rather not use LOOK/KEO cleats but would it be a sufficiently compelling feature to get us to switch brands if someone produced an otherwise inferior but Shimano-cleat compatible alternative? Probably not.
Summary – pretty much the same across the 3 offerings: ASSIOMA and Vector are LOOK/KEO compatible. P1/P2 effectively is too.
Best Power Meter Pedals for Accuracy
There’s a whole can of worms waiting to be opened on this topic that I discussed in more detail here
With ASSIOMA’s new firmware for Q2.2018, here are current, claimed manufacturer accuracy levels which are now
- ASSIOMA – +/-1%
- Vector 3 – +/- 1%
- PowerTap P1/P2 – +/-1.5%
- SRM Exact – +/-1.5%
Even if you’ve trained hard enough to get your FTP over 300w then I reckon that 1-1.5% level of accuracy will be alright ie +/-3w to +/-4.5w. Can you spot a 3w difference on the road? I can’t. (Naturally the absolute +/- numbers get bigger with higher than FTP efforts).
Sure I could spot -3w one day and +4.5w (ie 7.5w difference) the next day. But that hasn’t happened in my experience. My experience is that the accuracy seems consistent on calibrated power meter pedals.
Favero claim with their ASSIOMA pedals that their new IAV power algorithm can deliver further increased accuracies for the vagaries of ‘normal’ cyclists’ pedalling and riding characteristics. That sounds at least plausible and therefore, by inference, you might wonder if the stated accuracies of PowerTap and Garmin are actually correct for your style.
No doubt you trust a crank-based power meter better than a pedal-based solution. Really? Then you’d better do some more detailed research on the topic of RIGHT-side power meter crank accuracy. You will be surprised at what you find and then you will probably come back and buy the Assioma.
Summary: A Pedal-based solution is fine for nearly all of us.
Power Meter Pedals – Battery Type & Battery Life
- Vector 3 – LR44 (over 100 hours)
- PowerTap P1 – AAA Lithium (60 hours)
- PowerTap P2 – AAA Lithium (60-80 hours)
- ASSIOMA – USB with custom pin connector (up to 50 hours)
- SRM Exact – 100 hours rechargeable on a 5-hour charge up
Battery life is self-explanatory and I suspect even 50 hours is sufficient for most of us. Not for all though. Garmin nails the uber-battery life with SRM being a nice second. But PowerTap wins on the practicalities of being easily able to buy a spare battery in a random French Alpine village in the middle of summer.
Summary: Generally alright for everyone but Garmin wins for those with special battery needs.
Best Power Meter Pedals for Clever Metrics & Basic Metrics
In reality and after the novelty wears off you will probably only look at POWER and CADENCE. Nevertheless, all the vendors offer you more than that.
Total/L/R power and cadence are going to be most useful and a pedal PM will save you having a pesky additional cadence sensor. In the ANT+ world, all should be good to display your power data from any pedal on devices ranging from the humble Lezyne Super GPS up to the Garmin Edge 1030. However in BLE world, even Suunto’s top-end tri-watch will only read one-side of your power (and double it) but a 3-year-old Polar V650 will happily read right and left power over BLE from the ASSIOMA, so you need to research your BLE device more carefully if you intend to send it dual-sided power data.
Most of you won’t have that problem. Phew.
The clever ANT+ metrics like Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness can be useful to spot an anomaly and, if you trust the numbers to be correct, can be further use if you can hone in on that anomaly in the Left/Right balance of the same metrics. What to do about such an anomaly is another matter entirely!! These metrics are well-supported on ANT+ compatible head units and watches but not on BLE ones.
PowerTap has some special additional metrics and Garmin + Favero have even more super-clever ones. I would say that most of these are of little use to most people. But having said that if you have a specific bike fit need or if you are contemplating setting up OCP Q-Ring positions then some of the additional metrics (PCO and Power Phase respectively) will be super-useful for very narrowly defined use-cases. IF that applies to you, you will almost certainly know what I am talking about already!
PowerTap will work on supporting additional ANT+ metrics (Advanced Cycling Dynamics) for the P2 once the AWG makes them public.
Summary: Generally alright for everyone but Vector 3 and Assioma win for those with special data metric needs.
Power Meter Pedals – Sizings, Spacings, Form
These differences range from the obvious to the very subtle. For example, Garmin has dropped the pods from the Vector 2. Also, if you look closely, ASSIOMA now effectively has an inbuilt spacer compared to the bePRO – the bePRO nearly always needed one or two washers whereas the ASSIOMA occasionally needs one washer to ensure its hub does not touch the crank arm.
The Allen key/wrench or spanner is now all that’s needed. It’s now easy to fit your power meter pedals – just like a regular pedal in fact. Apparently having the exactly correct torque is no longer as mandatory as it was with previous versions, so I just make mine ‘quite tight’ and off I go. It’s fine.
Looking at the dimensions of the products and the overall size, some may say the P1 looks slightly chunkier. It looks fine to me. Then the key physical factors of the pedals that might have a bearing on your riding are weight, Q-Factor, and Stack height. If you don’t know what the last two are they are almost certainly of no relevance to you whatsoever. Again, just don’t worry about it.
- Garmin Vector 3: 53mm
- PowerTap P1: 54mm (P3 spindle length stated as 53mm)
- Favero Assioma: 55mm
- SRM EXACT: 54.6mm
Stated Stack Heights
- Garmin Vector 3: 12.5mm
- PowerTap P1: 14mm (P2 likely similar)
- Favero Assioma: 10.5mm
- SRM EXACT 11.9mm
If you are under 100kg then the limits of rider weight will not affect you. If you are over 100kg then perhaps consider more closely the P1.
Most of us are weight-weenies to some degree. ASSIOMA & SRM EXACT are each about 305g/pair, the Vector 3 is 316g/pair (ie the same) but the P1 is over 100g heavier than the Vector 3 for a pair (The P2 is likely a tad lighter than the P1 but not as light as the others)
- Assioma: link to datasheet
- Vector 3: link to specifications
- P1: product specifications
- P2: TBC
- SRM Exact: product specs
Summary: 95% of you will be alright with the physical side of the pedals. But even I would look twice at an extra 100g on the P1. Garmin &, possibly, SRM are the prettiest
Best Power Meter Pedals by Price
Comparative prices are shown earlier but look at these headline low figures and compare those to the cost of a Stages or 4iiii left crank each at $350. There is a relatively small premium for pedals.
|Favero Assioma Single||$459|
|Garmin Vector 3 Single||$599|
PowerTap’s P2 has a price in between Garmin and Favero. Powertap is matching Garmin’s pricing when they should be matching that of the ASSIOMA if they want to regain market share. Even with the 10% discount that you will get for the P2s with PowerMeterCity, they are still more expensive than Assioma. It thus seems that PowerTap and Garmin think their brands command a premium. I don’t buy that, especially the level of premium that Garmin asks.
The consensus would be that general power meter prices will EVENTUALLY fall. When? Who knows? But price falls will probably be linked to Shimano and the main bike manufacturers (eg Specialized/4iiii) getting their act together with introducing own-branded power as a standard feature on all new, higher-end bikes/cranksets.
Competing power meter locations probably don’t affect the pricing of power meter pedals too much when it comes to periodic discounting but they will all trend in a broadly similar direction. A cheaper power meter product alternative like PowerPod/AeroPod, I suspect, has a near-zero bearing on a person’s likelihood to spend over $500 on a power meter pedal set. Whereas, a discounted single-sided, PM-Crank from 4iiii/Stages might switch the more cost-conscious buyer towards crank technology. However such price drops are hard to afford for a variety of reasons including the stock holding costs required to cater for numerous different cranks (models & sizes).
Summary Pricing: The prices aren’t going to change that much even in 2020. The SRM and P2 are still too expensive but less so with a 10% savings (below).
HOWEVER if we see a Garmin Vector 4 then the price of the Vector 3 will plumet to compete directly with the ASSIOMA with the Vector 4 probably selling from upwards of $999.
Power Meter Pedals – Other Factors
- Cornering – if you’ve never hit a pedal on the road when cornering then this is unlikely to affect you. Instead, try to put the other pedal down when cornering 😉 It might become more of an issue if you have longer cranks and if you pedal through corners.
- Charging – Having temporarily mislaid my ASSIOMA charger recently I was somewhat shocked by the potential £50 replacement cost. The earlier bePRO’s generic, micro-USB charging port and cover were alright but I was nervous about the longevity of that aspect of the product even though mine is still perfectly fine. The ASSIOMA has charging pins rather than a USB port, and that is the correct solution for a rechargeable battery-based power meter pedal in my opinion. Garmin currently has an issue with the battery cover, I would REALLY ensure that the one you buy has had this rectified or guaranteed for life that it will be fixed.
- Balance – When you are clipping in, a pedal that doesn’t naturally rest in the ‘correct’ position and spins too much becomes difficult to clip into. This is one of the drawbacks of Assioma.
- Clearance – there was a relatively minor issue with the clearance of the Vector 2 on some frames and with the width of some cranks. I don’t think that’s a factor any more with Vector 3. There is/was an issue with Favero where the ‘hub’ must never touch your shoes/cleats. This varies by shoe and requires shims in some cases, this did (kinda) affect me on the bePRO but not the ASSIOMA.
- Unified BLE channel (means that the two dual pedals appear as one device when pairing). ASSIOMA does that, PowerTap will add that to the P2 ‘in future firmware updates‘.
- Serviceability – Your pedals might need some attention if you bang them or if you wear them out through use. I have an issue on my right side that wears out that side’s bearings, albeit after LOTS of miles. I’ve not encountered that eventuality yet with any of the power meter pedals over 3 years but, as a test, I did swap out and clean the bePRO’s bearings and it was simple enough to do. Similarly changing a Vector 2 pod is a simple task as bike mechanics go. However as both the measurement and transmission components get ever-smaller and placed inside the pedal spindle then the ability of you to tinker with it might be a DIY job you’d rather entrust to the manufacturer – that is CERTAINLY the case with PowerTap, where the pedals have to be sent off to have bearings changed at $150.
- Carbon crank support – I don’t think this is an issue now with any model.
- Elliptical chainrings (eg Q-Rings) – Not an issue with the ASSIOMA or P1/P2. I think it is with Garmin. Not sure about SRM
- Single-sided vs. dual-sided – if you are concerned about accuracy and you want a single-sided solution then you might want to think more carefully as I am sure that you are not perfectly symmetrical. There is a $250-$400 premium for a dual-sided solution. Which is a lot and which also might not be worth it for many of you. Personally I DO recommend dual-sided pedals but when it comes to cranks I would go for left only, especially on Shimano cranksets.
- Upgrading from single-sided to dual-sided – whilst you will be able to do this I’d really, instead suggest waiting until you can afford dual-sided or take the jump with single-sided and then stick with them.
- Bike Swapability – yes it’s all easy now. Gone are Garmin’s tricky pods and the original bePRO’s unusual tightening routine.
- A 5-second pre-ride calibration is recommended by all 3 device manufacturers, your head unit or watch might even prompt you. All is good.
Conclusion – So, What ARE The BEST Power Meter Pedals?
Let’s say it’s Christmas. Santa has just bought you a new set of power meter pedals. You will be VERY HAPPY with any of these 4 options. You should be. Santa was very generous and you clearly avoided the naughty list this year. They are all good products and in some way or other could each be classed as ‘proven’.
If you have a VERY SPECIFIC & GENUINE requirement then the overview provided by this article might not be enough to help you choose (use the detailed review links above). However for the rest of us (99% of riders), with relatively general needs for a power meter pedal, the choice is potentially tricky only because they are all relatively similar products.
- You want data metrics you’ll never use? You buy the Garmin Vector 3 (ASSIOMA as of Q4.2018)
- Do you want the lightest? You will NOT buy the PowerTap P1, hopefully, the weight of the P2 won’t put you off.
- Do you want the prettiest? You buy the Garmin Vector 3
- Do you want the longest battery life for your round-the-world tour? You buy the Vector 3 or SRM Exact
- Do you want a name that your good cycling buddies have heard of? You buy SRM or PowerTap..but, in reality, they’ve certainly heard of Garmin and, maybe, Favero too.
- Do you want the cheapest? You buy the single-sided ASSIOMA and never look back
- No really. Do you want THE CHEAPEST? You buy a single-sided, manufacturer-refurbished unit eg PowerTap P1. Or just buy a stages/4iiii crank…or one for each bike.
- Do you want one that’s compatible? If you cycle in BLE-world, then consult with your headset/watch vendor. Otherwise, ANT+ and a BLE channel for Zwift should be good-to-go for you with any of the 4.
If you want my opinion then I would say the compelling reason to buy the ASSIOMA is the price – ASSIOMA ticks *ALL* the boxes.
If they were all the same price I’d personally still be tempted to get the ASSIOMA. I’d think it MIGHT JUST be the most accurate. They are all great companies with generally good customer service. I might be tempted to go for the Garmin because it ticks quite a few boxes on my ‘nice-to-have-but-won’t-ever-use’ data metric list but that would only be if I already had Garmin-branded everything else – which I do, but I mostly use WAHOO now for cycling.
Summary: Buy the ASSIOMA. I find it very hard to see reasons to buy any other power meter pedal. To ME it’s a no-brainer, but we all have different needs.
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