On paper, The power-measuring Garmin Vector pedals have always had the look of a market-leading solution. The idea seemed perfect – a pedal-based power meter, capable of independently Garmin Vector 3 Black Friday Deals 2021 measuring the output of each leg, and all while being easily changeable between bikes and fully integrated into Garmin’s head unit hardware and software.No doubt plenty of deep-pocketed riders duly snapped them up. However, early generations were plagued with glitches, and the practicalities of the pedals were always more complex than we’d hoped. Still, to be fair, the Vectors nevertheless outdid their Look Polar forebears on all fronts.
Sandwiched between the pedals and the crank arm, the ANT+ pods that communicated with the head unit proved easy to break or snappable during installation. Communication was often patchy, with unexplained drop-offs in readings. The minimum torque for an accurate reading was also impractically high.
Things improved with the Garmin Vector 2.0, in which we were offered a better looking and more affordable package. Yet the switching the pedals between bikes and the vulnerability of the pods meant the system still lacked finesse.
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Now ditching the pods, and looking indistinguishable from a conventional pedal, with the Garmin Vector 3.0 we seem to finally have a near-faultless offering.
After three months of testing, it looks very much like the pedals have lived up to our highest expectations.In many ways, power meters based within pedals make very little sense. Two separate power meters are needed, which need to be in constant unhindered communication, both properly calibrated and both using separate battery systems. All at a highly vulnerable spot, at risk of damage through pedal strikes.
As previously mentioned, the main appeal of quick installation and switching between bikes was hindered by a fiddly ANT+ pod and a 35Nm minimum torque installation for the pedals. That torque was required for an accurate reading, and required an enormous torque wrench and a huge amount of force.
It was sometimes simply impossible to achieve this level of torque when mounting the pedals. Specifically, when travelling with my bike it would be impractical to take a sufficiently long torque wrench and Crow’s Foot adapter
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The result of that was that tightening the pedals to the absolute maximum with a relatively small spanner would cost a dozen watts or so. It was a frustrating flaw that has thankfully been eradicated by the new Garmin Vector 3 pedals.Garmin still recommends a minimum torque of 35Nm for the new Vector pedals, but crucially, this minimum torque does not affect the power measurement accuracy.I tightened these pedals to a slim 6Nm or so, without any detectable shift in accuracy.‘A big goal was to simplify the installation to just putting the pedal on like any other pedal,’ says Andrew Silver, Product Manager at Garmin.Indeed, the pedals are not only easily installable but take away power altogether and they have an excellent engagement system as well as a stiff sensation of power transfer – they’re essentially good pedals.
Now the experience is so much more pleasing than having to manage the pods as well,’ Silver adds, ‘and makes Vector 3 truly transferable between bikes.’ I was able to switch these back and forth just as quickly as any other pedal – a big advantage over other power meters, considering the difficulty of removing a crankset or even the possible brake adjustments necessary for a wheel change.So the pedals have clear usable and functional advantages as pedals purely. But these aren’t pedals with the added perk of measuring power, they’re a set of very The installation process is beyond simple – it’s totally intuitive. A very neat LED indicator sits on the end of the pedal spindle. It flashes red to verify it’s active and Once paired, the pedals put out power data in ANT+ and BlueTooth smart, making them readable to virtually any and every portable device.
There is no initial calibration process, aside from a manual zero to let the pedals know there isn’t a load on them, but even without this a fairly accurate power number will still be generated.A small factor to remember before jumping in to use the pedals is that the spindle is fairly long. This is to ensure that there’s enough engagement in the thread across different crank lengths. It’s important to make sure that this won’t strike the chain when in the lowest gear.With the Garmin Vector 2 pedals, this overlap was more of a problem, and once saw me slice the ANT+ pods straight off.The other installation difference is that the battery no longer sits in the pods, of course, but inside the pedal body. Garmin has sided for two small LR44 batteries rather than bulky AAA or wider CR3032.These are secured with a metal battery seal than needs to be released or tightened with a hex key.The battery life is less than previously, at only 120 hours, and indeed I’ve worked Screwed in, installed, and powered up, the pedals are ready to deliver power readings. Yet the real charm of the Vector pedals is that these aren’t just about a simple wattage score, but a bounty of deep data is on offer.Dynamic dataThere are numerous advantages to pedal-based measurement, and one of the biggest is that as the pedals measure power directly from the source, there is a huge
amount more data availale.That data is also unaffected by the action of the other leg or transmission losses.Garmin’s Vectors have for several generations offered in-depth pedal stroke analysis known as Cycling Dynamics. This has comprised a force (Power Phase) graph through the drive as well as Pedal Centre Offset, a sitting/standing comparison and of course a left-right analysis.The Power Phase metric is one I find fairly useful, as well as the less graphic Power Phase Peak, which tends to demonstrate how smooth and well developed the pedal stroke is.While I’m not the type of rider who spends hours perfecting my pedal stroke, when this graph seriously disintegrates it’s a good sign of fatigue, and a great focus point.That brings us to the great left-right debate. While I’ve written more in-depth on this, to put it simply – a dual-sided power meter offers a much richer level of analysis and technical training than a one-sided system.
A one-sided system is fine for a general fitness and training tool, but spend time with a system like the Garmin Vector 3 and it becomes obvious very quickly how much more scope there is for technical improvement.Plugging the data from a ride into a program like TrainingPeaks WKO4, and the number of metrics that can be generated on left-right balance or upstroke drag are extensive. For data obsessives, this is a real treasure trove.Having spent months with the pedals, I was too occupied by the on-screen data to considr the more advanced metrics, but happy to know they were there.For those who suffer data overload, the pedals can simply be trusted for a reliable 3-second average reading.That brings us to the big A-word, the question of the Vector 3’s accuracy.AccuracyThe Vector 3 pedals are by Garmin’s measure twice as accurate as the Vector 2 pedals. ‘We are meeting 1% force accuracy specification which is an improvement on the Vector 2’s which were at 2%,’ says Silver.
The pedals were exactly where I would expect them to be for one-minute max, FTP efforts and absolute maximum wattage (measured against indoor lab testing on calibrated static units). Crucially, they were thoroughly consistent in terms of average wattage output over my favoured climbs and local loops.In terms of accuracy, though, I’d argue that would-be power user’s behaviour is more important than hardware. For instance, the Vector 3 pedals require a manual zero (often called zero offset) to adapt to weather and atmosphere changes.
If this isn’t done every ride (and also done in the appropriate temperature – ie outside on the road not in your hallway before leaving) then there’s be much more than a 1 or 2% loss to accuracy.A handful of power meters have developed temperature and pressure adjustments that eradicate the need for a manual zero, and perhaps this will be the next step for the Vector pedals. That said, a manual zero still remains normal practice even with an SRM (which offers automatic offset, but a manual zero still is recommended to improve accuracy).When properly zeroed, the Garmin Vector 3 pedals simply never gave me any irrational or inaccurate readings. Under-torquing, or temperatures at either end of the scale, didn’t skew the readings either.The real test, then, was whether they would hold up under stressful riding conditions. Stress testing These pedals have been thoroughly used. In three months I’ve had them, I genuinely believe they’ve experienced three years of normal wear. I’ve ridden them in By some oversight, I found myself on a gravel riding trip in South Africa on terrain that looked more like a trail centre than the gentle bridleways of Surrey that I had expected.
Through a slight misinterpretation of the terrain, Garmin Vector 3 Black Friday Deals 2021 I was the only rider in the group without MTB pedals and I was fearful for their longevity in the coming days.