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Eurobike report: Polar and Look show a pedal-based power meter

2010 Eurobike, Look 695
Look also showed a new crank system

There’s still too much tech on show at Eurobike for one reporter to manage. But a few bits and pieces jump out.

For example, a pedal-based power meter built around Look’s Keo platform and made to communicate with Polar cycling computers. According to Look representatives, early versions of the system were developed some nine years ago just to quantify the stresses exerted on pedal spindles. But a conversation with Polar around a year ago led to the collaboration that might bring to market the world’s first viable pedal-based power meter.

If you recall from Interbike last year, a company called Metrigear has been working on something similar called the Vector. It was built with Speedplay Zero pedals and relied on ANT+ wireless transmission to any compatible computer head. However, 12 months later there’s still been no announcement of pending availability, so observers might be forgiven for reacting with some initial skepticism.

Like the Metrigear, the Polar Look Keo Power system is still far from ready for delivery. Right now, the companies don’t forecast availability until spring 2011. Testing and validation in real-world conditions is still pending. Even then, estimated price for a complete system is somewhere between 1500 and 1800 Euro — that’s about $2,000, and that doesn’t include a Polar computer head.

But if it works out, the Polar Look system could be revolutionary. Similar to the Metrigear Vector, the Look system is based around strain gauges measuring deformation in the pedal spindle. Each spindle has eight strain gauges. A Polar P5 sending unit plugs into the back side of each pedal spindle (both left and right) and zip-ties to the crankarm. The Polar unit on each side is self powered with a user-replaceable, coin-style lithium battery and transmits data to a Polar handlebar computer (the CS600X, CS600, and CS500 models will be compatible). Transmission protocol is Polar’s own WIN, so unfortunately aftermarket ANT+ units like the Garmin Edge series won’t be compatible.

The companies claim total system weight at 450 grams. Each pedal weighs 170 grams, about 80 grams heavier than Look’s lightest option, the Keo Blade titanium. Compared to a standard Keo 2Max, the weight gain is only 50 grams per pedal. Add 20 grams per sending unit (one per side), and the weight penalty for portable power measurement could be as little as 140 grams.

However, we’ll have to wait and see whether the Polar Look Keo Power System project comes to fruition with actual availability.

Check the photo gallery for the pedal system and more from Look Cycles.

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