Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Equipment - Garmin Pedal Power?

If what Look says is true, Garmin needs to redesign the pedal axle. Look had to do it too, but since they're using their own pedals, they could without rocking the boat too much. Just look at the pedals - they differ substantially from the outside (and the inside).

Note how thick the axle is towards the outside of the pedal
(Image from Look)

In comparison, the regular Keo Max's axle tapers and ends short of the outside of the pedal
(Image from Look)

Garmin is sourcing third party pedals so that makes the job of redesigning the pedal a bit more difficult.

Unfortunately for them it's not a simple thing. My understanding is that the pedal axle really can't be tapered because then it flexes too much, causing power readings all over the map. Either they need a much more rigid (or predictably flexible) material or they need to significantly beef up the axle.

It's one thing to ask a pedal manufacturer to print your name on the outside of the pedal, or use a different color plastic for the body. It's another to ask them to redesign their actual product so that it fits your needs.

If they want to stick with pedal based power (and the left/right measurements it offers), Garmin has a few choices that I see.

First, they can make their own pedal. This is pretty complex, with all the standards and cleats and all that. It also costs a lot, and, frankly, making pedals isn't Garmin's core business. Which, of course, is why the outsourced the pedal to begin with.

Second, they can partner up with a pedal manufacturer to create a new pedal specifically for the Garmin system. This obviously isn't working with the current pedal supplier. I imagine that it won't work with Speedplay, since they severed that relationship when they first bought the pedal power concept.

I do see the possibility of them teaming up with a different pedal vendor, maybe one that makes boutique type pedals, that is a direct competitor to Look/Polar, and is willing to work around Garmin's needs to market a version "1.1" of whatever pedal they currently sell.

As an industry outsider, Mavic pops to mind first. They just started making inroads into the pedal market, they are pushing hard on other gear, and they have a well established business that could support some of the R&D costs such a pedal would absorb.

Third, Garmin has literally hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, in revenue. I could see them simply buying someone who can make the pedals for them. They'd have whatever secondary business (think of someone that works with carbon, aluminum, and bearings, so maybe wheels or cranks or hubs or similar).

They'd have a built-in option to put the power elsewhere (like a better BB version or some other place no one's used yet), and they could have the company create a pedal specifically for the power system.

Again, as an industry outsider, I'm not sure who is on the market, who is willing to commit to pedal development. The company would be a smaller boutique type outfit, maybe a Chris King or an Enve.

One thing is for certain. If Garmin doesn't develop something, someone else will, perhaps someone from the list above.

Good for us riders. Bad for Garmin.


Don said...

Not to mention that Look now can refine their existing product as any returns occur. Garmin is now caught in catch up land. They should have kept quiet initially until tests were good. Since I use Keo's anyway, I was waiting to see but will likely go now with Look's product (since reviews will be out soon) even though I am not a huge fan of Polar. Nice blog entry!

Anonymous said...

What powermeter(s) do you use, and are you looking to change?

I can't decide if I'm in the market for one...not the cheapest thing in the world, and I'd want it available in the most possible configurations as possible. Which kind of rules out training/race wheels, BBs and cranks for mult bikes, right? Unless I buy dupes?

I was hopeful for a pedal system - and I guess my issue with the Looks is they don't support Ant+ - and I just bought a Garmin 500

Sounds like I should save my money and keep waiting, haha

Aki said...

I have two wired SRMs, with two BB (the spindle for the Cannondale SI SRM is different from the standard SI spindle), and two PCV heads. I was contemplating getting some kind of Ant+ crank system. I have a lot of wheels, a couple bikes.

For me a pedal system would be great. I can't do a wheel system as I'd want to get half a dozen hubs minimum. I want to have data now, and I want it to be reliable. For me that spells SRM (absolutely rock solid reliable and available now). SRM wireless (a modified Ant+ Sport protocol) would be nice, but with two working wired SRMs right now, it'll be a while before I upgrade.