Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garmin Vector 500 - More details

Since the announcement of the Garmin Vector 500 there has been much interest in the first commercially available pedal based cycling power meter system. It's an exciting development in the power meter space, and all over the web I have seen many questions raised about the specifics of how the Vector will work (and other related questions) - but to date have seen few answers.

DC Rainmaker has had the opportunity to interview Garmin's Clark Foy (Metrigear founder) on the topic & has answered many of those common questions.

A summary of the major points as follows:

Crash Damage:
All moving parts for the pedal are covered under warranty from Garmin.
Garmin will take a parts and accessories approach to the individual components of the Vector system (for incidents not covered under warranty).  The following components will be offered as accessories:
A) Pedal Body (outside, the PR2 platform piece)
B) Pedal Cartridge (this is what the spindle lives in)
C) Cleats (both a 6-degree cleat and a fixed cleat)
D) Pedal Pod
A, B & C may be treated as a single component.

Pedal Pod Vulnerability:
Should you break the pedal pod (transmitter), the replacement part is available as an accessory per above. Expected to be approximately $50usd (seems they will be sold in pairs).

Data Transmission:
The two pedals work as a master/slave system.  The right pedal is master, and the left pedal the slave.  From a data transmission standpoint, the left pedal sends data to the right pedal using a non-ANT+ proprietary network protocol, which is then transmitted from the right pedal to the head unit using ANT+.
When transmitted from the right pedal to the head unit using ANT+, total power is transmitted alongside of % of power of the right pedal (which allows the head unit to do simple math for the left pedal).

In the event the left pedal is broken/removed/stolen/etc, the system will still transmit right pedal power.  However, if the unit loses the right pedal it will not transmit power. 

Calibration and Auto-zero:
Unlike most of the power meters today using foil strain gauges, these use silicon strain gauges mounted in glass on stainless steal.  With this change additional manual calibration doesn’t need to occur once it leaves the factory.

Auto zero of the unit will be possible – either manually or automatically.
Power (Trainingpeaks) Mertics:
The Edge 500, 800, FR310XT and the new Forerunner to be announced will all report the TrainingPeaks metrics of TSS (Training Stress Score), IF (Intensity Factor), and NP (Normalized Power).  These will be included within the same update reportedly scheduled for later this month.

Pedal Manufacturer Support:
Doesn't seem that other pedal manufacturers will be supported (Speedplay, etc). Garmin cite commercial factors as key driver..

DC Rainmaker's original article is very thorough, and really serves to fill those gaps in the detail around this product that seem to be absent from the public arena to date.
I recommend you take a look if you are seeking the detailed lowdown around the points mentioned herein. Full credit is due to the creator of the original article..

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