Power Meter Bike Pedals: Garmin Vectors have tiny Sensors Inside

Power meters are the tool of choice for cyclists in need of an accurate measure of output and effort. The products come in a few configurations, including crank-arm, bottom bracket, and hub-based setups, each of which require special installation at a shop.

Today, Garmin announces a long-awaited option — a power meter contained completely in the pedal. The company showed us a prototype about three years ago, and now the pedal, called the Vector, is finally coming to market.

You can measure watts, right and left leg power, cadence, as well as other common stats. The pedal can determine how much force you’re applying during each stroke via integrated accelerometers and other gauges.

It costs a cool $1,699.99, making the product out of reach for the average cyclist. But the price is on par with competing systems on the market, like the LOOK Keo Road Kit.

Sensors are in the pedal

A wireless connection via the ANT+ protocol lets riders view power meter readings on a handlebar-mounted unit or a watch face.

No external sensors or parts are required. Garmin has crammed the gauges and sensors needed to measure output into the pedal.

The brand cites the Vector as having gauges that can more accurately measure power compared to existing setups. This is accomplished by “piezoresistive force sensors” that are installed in the spindle of the pedal.

Garmin touts the system “measures the microstrain on the spindle throughout the pedal stroke,” combining the figure with the distance that the crank has traveled over a period of time. This procedure lets the pedal mechanisms calculate power in watts.

The pedals are based on the LOOK Keo clipless interface. A stainless steel wear-plate and a composite base create the framework for the 152-gram pedals.

Comes with cleats and mounting hardware

Add the Vector system and the weight raises a little — the pedal is 152 grams; the pedal pod, 23 grams; and the cleats and hardware, 38 grams. This totals 213 grams per pedal.

They run off a tiny 2032 coin-cell battery. Garmin claims 175 hours of operation on each battery. You can replace it yourself when the power runs dry.

—Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.