This is an exciting and innovative time for the power meter industry, with the ANT+ standard taking hold. With all power units and head units now compatible across brands, upstarts like Garmin, Quarq, and iBike can focus their energies on just one part of the equation, while established players like SRM and Saris have realized that they have to keep improving their head units to keep pace, now that they’re no longer exclusive to their power units.
SRM is still the gold standard, bringing out new models to keep up with the influx of new cranks. Most notable is the new 7900 compatible unit, which matches the 3d profile of the chainring. They also have a new, slimmer head unit with a simple USB connection for downloading and charging.
Saris had a new PowerTap track hub on display. The hub was designed by Rich Sawiris of Wheelbuilder.com, and will be sold by both Saris and Wheelbuilder (it’ll be available from Wheelbuilder first). The hub uses splined cogs, and the lockring tightens down with a Shimano BB tool.
Saris have also addressed their weak link with two new head units, the Joule 2.0 and 3.0, with the 2.0 oriented towards outdoor riding and the 3.0 indoor, though the 3.0 is fully sealed and can certainly be ridden outside. Both promise more intuitive navigation and display a great deal more information. You can store years of rides without having to clear out the memory, so, for example, you can scroll through your peak power for 1, 2, 5, etc. minutes for your entire year right on the bike.
Quarq presses on with more crank models to accomodate different standards. On display were Specialized, Cannondale, and Lightning models, plus a new, lighter SRAM unit. Development on their original Qranium head unit has stalled, but Meyer had a prototype bare bones receiver called the Qollector. It has no display, and can be mounted on the bike as a wheel sensor. If you already have an ANT+ wheel sensor on your bike, you can just toss the Qollector in your back pocket. With 4 gigabytes of memory you can literally store a lifetime of rides on it. A receiver without a display might seem odd, but it might be a good alternative for a racer who wants to ride by feel during the race, and doesn’t want to risk damaging an expensive head unit in a crash.
Garmin’s Edge 500 loses the map display for a lighter, racier profile. At $300, it’s a very attractive alternative for those who don’t use the 705’s mapping features.
iBike skipped the show floor for a private suite, where you had to sign a non disclosure agreement to see their newest innovation. It’s due out in March 2010, and it has the potential to be a real game changer.
Speaking of game changers, all this just leads us to the REALLY exciting part…