Wahoo POWRLINKzero power meter pedals (aka Power Link Zero)
Very exciting news today from Wahoo. They’re back. Powerplay is back. Pedals are back. And Vector has one more uber-serious competitor stacked with cash and credibility.
Most importantly of all, after the recent nonsense where the Wahoo RIVAL watch kept all vowels in the name, Wahoo has thankfully resorted back to dropping the vowel, in this case, the ‘E’. And so we have the Wahoo Fitness POWRLINKzero power meter pedals.
Quirky normality is resumed 🙂
A Quick Background
Speedplay made road pedals and cleats for 30 years, they’re the unusual-looking circular ones that you see from time-to-time. Usually, their owners have a smile on their face and are happy with the product, though I confess to limited hands-on experience myself.
Wahoo Fitness is slowly morphing into a veritable cycling empire – super-smart indoor trainers of all types, several bike computers, a triathlon watch, heart rate straps, sensors, a training platform (Sufferfest) and now PEDALS. As part of that expansion, Wahoo acquired Speedplay and their pedal business in September 2019 and there was speculation at the time that Wahoo intended to build on the pedals and take them into the power market to compete with the troubled-but-popular Garmin Vector, Favero Assioma and SRAM/Powertap, (BTW, the latter was acquired in April 2018.)
Not much appears to be happening right now but companies are jockeying to be in the best position to supply their cycling power solutions for the new-bike market and for the after-market. I’m pretty certain that there are going to be several interesting announcements over the next few months from other companies. I suspect that by the end of summer 2021 the power meter battle lines will be drawn for the next 2-3 years.
For example, since the Speedplay acquisition, we’ve not seen too much innovation in hardware in the power pedal market but we have seen PowerTap (temporarily) stepping back from P1/P2 sales and we’ve also seen Shimano acquire Pioneer (Feb 2020). It’s worth pointing out that Specialized continue to sell 4iiii crank-based solutions and also worth noting that there have been significant improvements to firmware capabilities, notably with Favero Assioma’s IAV.
Why Pedal Power?
Even 5 or 6 years ago, Garmin Vector and Favero bePro seemed to me to be ‘obviously’ the best power solution for most cyclists. Mainly because they were accurate enough and easily transferred between multiple bikes.
It was less obvious to other cyclists who could argue that a PowerTap wheel could also be easily transferred or that a crankset can probably be changed just as quickly as some pedals if you have the confidence, same BB and the right tools. There are many other subtle arguments to the merits and demerits of pedal-based power but perhaps the most compelling is the possibility of a higher degree of accuracy simply because the closer you get to the power source (feet) the less power loss there might be.
Why is accuracy important? Commercially, it’s simply because many cyclists think they want and need accuracy and, for right or wrong, that’s a super-important factor in their decision-making.
Two of the arguments against power meter pedals gradually dawn on you over the months that follow your purchase. DURABILITY…a simple little battery cover design flaw can cause all sorts of headaches (Garmin Vector) and those Look Keo type systems might be cheaper (free?) to licence but I suspect many people (me) would just rather be able to use Shimano cleats.
Hopefully, that’s set the scene for the release of the POWRLINKzero in summer 2021.
Let’s return to the here and now of 4 sets of new pedals that you can buy today.
Wahoo SpeedPlay – 4 New Models Announced
It looks like the non-power pedals retain the Speedplay brand but the POWRLINK is solely Wahoo-branded. These are today’s 4 new Speedplay models and pricing, note they are backwards compatible with the cleats you have.
- Speedplay COMP (£134.99, $/Eu149), 232g, Chromoly Spindle
- Speedplay ZERO (£199.99,$/Eu229), 222g, Stainless Steel Spindle, Standard Tension
- Speedplay AERO (£239.99, Eu/$279), 224g, Stainless Steel, Standard Tension
- Speedplay NANO (£379.99, /Eu449), 168g, Titanium Spindle, Standard Tension or Easy Tension
- Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO power meter (price to be announced, likely $1000+).
Standard tension models have a more aero dimpling effect.
It’s interesting to put these prices in perspective with competitor offerings.
Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL Carbon Pedals are £120 and Shimano Dura Ace R9100 Carbon SPD-SL Pedals are £189. I own both those Shimano models and still think the Shimano pedals are expensive at those prices, so Wahoo’s prices must be set to appeal to the existing, loyal customer base.
Turning to power meter pedals, with Favero Assioma Duo pedals coming in at £700 it might be reasonable to assume that POWRLINK will be at least £800/$1000+ and probably more like the £900 that the incoming Vector 4 will be priced at, (V3 is now typically £650). Remember the audience that Wahoo is selling to, they won’t generally be too price-conscious so that super-premium price tag might just work for them where the likes of Assioma and Vector would lose too much volume with the price-sensitive folks if they tried the same.
Wahoo SpeedPlay – What’s New?
Wahoo claims to have introduced numerous refinements to the older designs and includes these changes
- lower stack heights,
- triple-sealed bearings
- more durable and improved pedal body
- installation now with a hex wrench rather than a flat wrench/spanner.
- 4 spindle length options (Zero),
- Compatible with 3-hole and 4-holes shoes
- an adjustable float of 0-15 degrees on all models, 3-axis adjustability
- and better aerodynamics than most competitors.
From the image at the top, it looks like the POWRLINK will NOT have the power meter fully inside the spindle and will have a design similar to Assioma where a ‘hub’ buts up to the crankarm. The Assioma DOES have a minor issue there where some pedalling actions and cleat/stack combos cause the two to rub together (bad!), I’m unsure if POWRlink will face this issue…superfically it looks that it won’t as the hub appears smaller than the one from Assioma.
Wahoo POWRLINK Futures
It’s highly likely we will see the AERO pedal adapted for power. (It’s not possible on the NANO an unlikely on the COMP)
What is more likely after the AERO power version will be a move towards a redesigned GRAVEL and/or MTB PM Pedal.
Today’s new pedals look to be improved over the previous generation and the price will perhaps limit attractiveness to existing Speedplay devotees
The POWRLINK that’s set for the summer is an exciting prospect and may capture a wider audience who are already invested in the Wahoo ecosystem. It certainly will not be competing on a low-cost basis and I can’t help but very strongly suspect other compelling options are going to be made available soon by the competition.
This link will have the pre-order info when it’s up and running.
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