Pedal Power v. Rain

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by Byron on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:12 AM

It’s that time of the year the rains are back in the Pacific Northwest. I see new product, shrug, and think, “these people don’t ride in the rain.” A power meter pickup on the top of your shoe? They’ve not spent 4.5 hours in a Seattle squall at race pace and had their equipment covered with road grime. It’s not the water alone, but the debris, brake dust, and slime that destroys equipment.

Riding in the rain is like putting your bike into a fatigue lab and the test protocol is, “worst possible conditions.” Cyclist that don’t spend their weekend hours in the wet, also don’t have rain bikes with permanent fenders. A rain bike is a B bike and is usually equipped with parts from your older bikes that you no longer care about. Why? Cause they’re going to get destroyed. By what? The rain.

Included in a rain set up is a second and third pair of shoes. Like the drivetrain, these are older shoes that have moved down the queue to the rain slot. Older shoes like Lemond’s lasted for years, newer shoes from China? One season and they’ll rot out. I’ve got multiple sets of booties and use them in different combinations, depending on the conditions. Cold, wet feet makes for the most miserable of rides. I don’t mean miserable like your suffering up a climb imagining your favorite Pro. This is call your wife, get on a bus, or limp home miserable. Look at the photos from DC Rainmaker’s post and see the cable underneath the strap that goes under the shoe? How’s that going to fare with soaking wet booties?

The new generation of power meters use cleats as the basis for their system. Before that we’ve had various flavors of bottom-bracket and chain rings. Polar’s system was based on chain vibration like a guitar string. Another is iBike’s faith-based power, that measures the world around it and reports back favorably.

I’m waiting for seat-based power so they can measure my fat ass at work, pulling a bunch of old guys around the Tuesday Worlds.

When Garmin announced their pedal-based system, most gasped at the price. So did we and the reason why is there’s a limited market for power. The pricing pits power meters against each other, slicing the pie up further, and not introducing them to a wider, more general audience. Someone considering “shoe power” is going to replace their bottom bracket or handlebar unit with pedals.

What I’d like to see the power gadget guys do is show us numbers from a stress fatigue lab; especially when they put their sensors in the most vulnerable spot. Your shoes.

The Brim Brothers haven’t announced pricing, but expect a thousand dollars or more and see DC Rainmaker’s review of the Zone. He’s enthusiastic about it.

Note: Yes DC’s name is ironic, considered the point of my post.

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Comments: 1

Portland is still pretty dry, and likewise, retail shops haven’t seen the deluge of promised entries into the power market. The latter two are quotes from this site:

2007: “Quarq hopes to have the Cinqo spider and *Qranium bike computer* available in the first quarter of 2008.”

2009: “There’s a new company called MetriGear and they’re about to revolutionize the power meter game.”

2010: “Polar and Look have worked together to announce a new Power meter that measures wattage at the pedal and speaks with the Polar head unit.”

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