Saris to release Garmin-compatible PowerTaps

American manufacturer Saris will soon be selling wireless PowerTap power meter wheels that work with Garmin 705 GPS units. The move represents an important intersection of a GPS player and a major power meter company. Also, French wheel giant Mavic has joined the growing list of companies like Bontrager and Zipp in selling a PowerTap-hub version of its wheels.

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By Ben Delaney

The PowerTap + hub sends signals to both the PowerTap computer and the Garmin 705

The PowerTap + hub sends signals to both the PowerTap computer and the Garmin 705

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American manufacturer Saris will soon be selling wireless PowerTap power meter wheels that work with Garmin 705 GPS units. The move represents an important intersection of a GPS player and a major power meter company. Also, French wheel giant Mavic has joined the growing list of companies like Bontrager and Zipp in selling a PowerTap-hub version of its wheels.

After a 2006 release of a wireless PowerTap rear wheel hub system that worked exclusively its PowerTap handlebar/stem-mounted computer, Saris is branching out to a dual broadcasting system that also works with the Garmin 705. With the 705, Garmin offered the ability to display power (in addition to speed, altitude, GPS, etc.), but no accompanying power-measuring unit. At the 2007 Interbike, upstart company Quarq displayed a crank arm spider-based power meter that was Garmin-compatible, but that unit is not yet commercially available. Last month, SRM began selling its wireless spider-based power meter is Garmin-compatible.

Garmin’s unit — and now PowerTap’s hub — functions on the ANT+ Sport network.

“ANT is kind of like wi-fi,” said Ed Watson, a senior engineer at Saris. “You can have an open network, or a closed network. PowerTap has a closed network, and ANT+ is an open network everyone can use.”

Saris first went wireless by buying the transmission technology from a company called Dynastream, which Garmin later bought.

Four wireless, Garmin-compatible units will be available this fall, ranging from the $999 PowerTap Elite+ that features a steel axle and freehub body to the $2,099 PowerTap SLC+ that features a 15mm-wide axle and ceramic bearings. Other models include the $1,199 Pro+, which has an aluminum shell and weighs 475 grams (hub only) and the $1,599 SL+, which features a carbon shell and the wider 15mm axle and weighs 416 grams.

Mavic in the fall will be selling both clincher and tubular versions of its Cosmic Carbone deep-section wheels with a PowerTap hub. No retail price is yet available. Rear hub aside, the wheels are similar to the stock version except for the lacing pattern. The PowerTap version features radial lacing on the drive side.

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