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Quick Look: Garmin Vector power meter and Edge 200

Quick Look: Garmin Vector power meter
Quick Look: Garmin Vector power meter

A year after acquiring power meter startup company MetriGear, Garmin has announced details of the production-ready Vector pedal-based power meter.

The new meter will be compatible with Garmin’s Edge 500 and Edge 800 GPS computers. Availability is set for March 2012 and price will be $1,500, placing it squarely in the middle of power meters currently available.

The Vector will be easily swappable between bikes, as quickly as swapping any other pedal. A four-sided array of strain gauges sits inside each pedal spindle, with data sent via the ANT+ protocol from the external transmitter to a head unit on the handlebars. The external transmitter is clamped in place by the pedal itself, in between the axle and the crank arm. The pedal itself is a Look KéO-compatible platform built by Exustar for Garmin.

The transmitter sits perpendicular to the crank arm, meaning that during a pedal strike or crash it is protected by the shoe, pedal body , and crank arm itself.

By reading power out of each pedal, left and right side power output can be analyzed independently, in addition to viewing total power output.

The Edge 200

The new Edge 200 is a trimmed-down version of the Edge 500, priced down to $150. In the words of Garmin’s Justin McCarthy:  “The goal was to make a computer that was super simple and would not overwhelm someone simply looking for speed, distance and time, all with GPS. It is for the user who wants to get on the bike and ride, see where they went and how far and fast.”

The Garmin Edge 200
The Garmin Edge 200

The 200 loses ANT+ compatibility, which means no power or heart rate strap data. It does give you speed, distance, time, and calories, and is still downloadable to Garmin Connect.

It requires no extra sensors, ­ just strap it on and go. Everything is calculated with the GPS signal.

I used the 200 at the Leadville Trail 100 and had zero problems. The interface is unbelievably easy and intuitive even when deep in oxygen debt, and I never lost signal throughout the entire race. The mount is solid and the unit adds minimal weight. I had to wipe dust off the screen numerous times, but once cleared the digits are plenty big enough to read while riding.

I was a bit peeved when the computer showed 100 miles ridden and I still wasn’t finished, until I realized that the Leadville organizers aren’t very nice and the race is actually 103. Not sure I can blame that one on Garmin, though.

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