Garmin Vec­tor Ped­als

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - CONTENTS - SZ

While it took a num­ber of false starts to get the Garmin Vec­tor Ped­als to mar­ket, their ar­rival last Au­gust was worth the wait. Among the big­gest ben­e­fits of the Vec­tor over other op­tions is trans­fer­abil­ity. Swap­ping ped­als from one bike to an­other is more ef­fi­cient and eas­ier than switch­ing a crankset. While swap­ping out a wheel is equally as easy for those who train with hub-based power such as Power Tap, rid­ers are forced ei­ther to use a sin­gle wheel for both train­ing and rac­ing, or must buy two wheels with hubs. With the Vec­tor sim­ply change over the ped­als and pods.

The Vec­tor sys­tem mea­sures the force ap­plied to each pedal through sen­sors in­stalled in the pedal spin­dle and in the pod which con­tains an ac­celerom­e­ter (for cadence). This is com­bined with the dis­tance the crank trav­els to cal­cu­late power in watts. Tra­di­tional crank-based power me­ters mea­sure the force trans­ferred from the crank to the chain­ring via mul­ti­ple gauges along that con­nec­tion. The force (or torque) is then mul­ti­plied by an­gu­lar ve­loc­ity (the speed at which the crank arm is mov­ing). Pedal-based power does ef­fec­tively the same thing, but mea­sures that cal­cu­la­tion (torque mul­ti­plied by an­gu­lar ve­loc­ity) at the pedal. With two ped­als, Vec­tor mea­sures to­tal power out­put, but also out­put from each leg in­di­vid­u­ally and in real time. This has the po­ten­tial to quan­tify data more pre­cisely. Ex­actly how this could im­pact rider ef­fi­ciency in terms of bike fit and train­ing pro­grams is not yet fully un­der­stood, but could make a big im­pact on how we ride. Vec­tor is not the first pedal-based sys­tem nor is it the first to of­fer sep­a­rate left to right mea­sure­ment, but its ac­cu­racy and prac­ti­cal­ity is ex­cep­tional.

Vec­tor is com­pat­i­ble with any ant+ head unit as well as the Garmin Edge se­ries and the Fore­run­ner 910XT. While the ant+ will show cur­rent power, us­ing the ped­als with Garmin’s head units of­fers in­fin­itely more func­tion­al­ity in­clud­ing the abil­ity to sync to your smart phone for gps track­ing, al­low­ing oth­ers to fol­low your rides.

The In­side Scoop

There are two es­sen­tial bits of in­for­ma­tion about the Vec­tor Ped­als that Garmin could com­mu­ni­cate more clearly to first-time users. The first is the need to pur­chase a torque wrench to in­stall the ped­als (though a reg­u­lar pedal wrench is fine for re­moval). Pre­cisely 25 pounds of torque is needed to en­sure the pedal sen­sors will work. It would be great if the torque wrench was sold with the ped­als. Garmin could also in­clude an in­ex­pen­sive adapter (called the crow­foot) to go on the end of the torque wrench for the tight space be­tween pedal and chain­ring.

The sec­ond cru­cial piece of in­for­ma­tion is that you must up­date Garmin firmware for the equip­ment to work ac­cu­rately. This can be done by reg­is­ter­ing the prod­uct on Garmin’s web­site. You can then take ad­van­tage of the ant+ usb stick that comes with the ped­als.

Pedal in­stal­la­tion is straight­for­ward. They come la­belled left and right and must be at­tached to the pedal pods – the com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­tres run­ning in­for­ma­tion to the head unit through ant+. The pods con­tain the bat­ter­ies (one CR2032 per pod) and, un­like the ped­als, aren’t left and right spe­cific as they are de­signed to be eas­ily re­place­able. It’s im­per­a­tive that a gap is main­tained be­tween the pedal pod and the crank arm, so in­stalling two wash­ers on the out­side of the crank arm is nec­es­sary to en­sure there’s no move­ment.

The pedal pods need to be po­si­tioned so they never hit the ground. Each pod must point straight down when the crank-arm is hor­i­zon­tal.

The Garmin head units will prompt rid­ers through cal­i­bra­tion and a few easy steps to fol­low. Do the man­ual cal­i­bra­tion un­clipped and be sure to be 20 m or more away from other bikes equipped with power sen­sors, as the Vec­tor ped­als are highly sen­si­tive. Also, be sure to backpedal eight times a few sec­onds into your ride to en­sure ac­cu­rate data. Once this step is com­pleted, your Garmin will in­di­cate that cal­i­bra­tion is com­plete and your data will show up on the head unit. Vec­tor’s long bat­tery life (175 hours) means you’ll get in a lot of miles be­fore need­ing to change them, and while you’re out there, you’ll be able to chase higher and higher watts with ease and con­fi­dence.–

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