We put Garmin’s new power meter to the test.
Garmin vector power meter
Garmin’s long-awaited Vector power meter gives you the ability to measure power at the pedals, assess left/right leg contribution and easily swap the system between bikes. We can’t comment on long-term performance yet, as the system was only launched in August, but it certainly measures power quickly and accurately, and delivers a wealth of data to a Garmin Edge or any other ANT+ head unit.
The company claims +/-2% accuracy for the Vector, and testing the Garmin pedals alongside rival power meters from Stages and PowerTap, we found that the fluctuations in power that it recorded were consistent with the other units. We’d expect power readings to be higher with a pedal-based system than with a hub-based meter due to there being no drivetrain losses, and they were – once we’d made sure to install the pedals to the specified torque settings, aligned the ‘pods’ (each of which houses a battery and accelerometer) correctly using the supplied spacers and followed the simple calibration process.
For an accelerometer-based system, power data shows up quickly (within three revolutions), and the signal was never dropped. The left/right data is interesting and could potentially help you identify a power imbalance that you can then correct with exercise.
Unlike most other power meters, the Vector doesn’t limit you to a particular crankset or wheel (though the pods can’t currently be used with crank arms that are wider than 38mm or thicker than 15mm, such as Specialized’s FACT models and Rotor’s Flow). Weight is good, at 428g including the pedals, and so is the claimed 175-hour battery life. The system is expensive, though, and requires you to use Look Keo-style pedals and cleats.