The “why” behind SRAM’s PowerTap acquisition
In among the flurry of news coming out of Sea Otter Classic last week was the tidbit that SRAM had purchased PowerTap from Saris. At first glance this may seem like a head-scratcher — SRAM already owns a power meter company, Quarq, so why would it need a second one?
As it turns out, SRAM is hoping that this strategic move will pay off by offering its consumers something that had been missing in its Quarq lineup: a pedal-based power meter.
“This expands our offerings available to consumers,” says Maggie Kay Mcbride, Quarq’s brand manager. “We understand some people can’t be stuck with one wheel or crank. If anything, this should make an easier journey for people looking to enter power.”
Indeed, the PowerTap purchase adds a hub-based power meter and a pedal-based power system to Quarq’s already substantial lineup. And Quarq’s power meters play nicely with SRAM’s AXS ecosystem, so it’s likely PowerTap’s power meters will be retooled to do the same in the near future.
SRAM acquired Quarq in 2011. Since then, Quarq has expanded its suite of products and has integrated them into SRAM drivetrains. So why acquire a new company rather than develop its own pedal-based system?
“It’s kind of a SRAM thing,” says Mcbride. “SRAM was built on acquisitions and I think they do a good job of embracing the brands they acquire. We’re able to do a lot of cross-development that way.”
SRAM and PowerTap will go on their own journeys during the transition, which will initially take two to four weeks to get the basics in place. The initial goal is to transfer customer support to Spearfish, South Dakota, where Quarq is based. After that, Quarq will explore options for transferring production to its own facilities.
All that means that consumers still get technical support and any relevant warranty on existing PowerTap products. And for the moment, the technology is likely to remain unchanged. “Our engineers will take a look at it and see if there are improvements we can make right off the bat,” says Mcbride, but with a big transition currently underway, don’t expect big changes quickly.
Well, except for one: PowerTap will now be called Quarq PowerTap. And Mcbride says the PowerTap chainring system will be phased out of the lineup, likely because Quarq already has this technology in its product offerings.
SRAM representatives also hinted that one area for improvement with PowerTap’s pedal-based power meters would be improving battery life.
The move makes sense for SRAM, which now boasts perhaps the widest suite of power options on the market. And the technology already exists and has been proven for several years as a PowerTap product, which means lower risk when integrating the power pedals and hubs into its existing Quarq lineup.
And for Saris, the move allows the company to refocus resources in other areas. “We can focus on the future,” says Katy Fellman, Saris’s social media and public relations manager. “SRAM’s much better prepared to handle” the size and scope of PowerTap, she says.