When we first heard that well-known audio company Pioneer was getting into the power meter market, we were intrigued. We published our first look at the Pioneer SGY-PM900 Power Meter back in 2014, and our fascination carried over to Pioneer’s second-generation unit, the SGY-PM910H. We’ve spent quite a long time training and racing with it, and while there were a few initial bumps in the road, we’ve been very pleased with our experience. We’ve got a lot to share, so let’s get started.
Available for either Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 or Ultegra 6800 cranks, the Pioneer unit Utilizes dual strain gauges (one on both the left and right crank arms) to measure independent power data from both legs and does so 12 times per pedal rotation, or every 30 degrees. A unique feature of the Pioneer unit is that it can provide you with loads of additional data, including where power is applied in each pedal rotation, the torque location, the force angles of each pedal stroke, and the location and level of power deficiency within the pedal stroke. In other words, this data can help you better understand via a graphical model exactly where in your pedal stroke you’re generating the most (and least) power. According to Pioneer, this type of data can help riders improve their overall pedaling efficiency. And speaking of data, Pioneer will provide you with a whopping 100 different points of data. That’s quite a bit of data to consume. So if you’re a data nerd, you may have just found your perfect match.
The Pioneer power meter transmits all that data via either a private-ANT channel unique to Pioneer’s head unit, the SGX-CA500 (sold separately), or ANT+ for those who opt to use their own third-party head unit. Through our research, we determined that the torque data will only be transmitted with Pioneer’s private-ANT channel, which means you’d have to use the Pioneer head unit to take advantage of that. If that type of information is important to you, then the Pioneer head unit may be the way to go. For us, we preferred to use our own head unit. During our testing process we paired it up with a Garmin Edge 510 as well as a Garmin Forerunner 910XT. If you’re using the SGX-CA500, you can check out all of your data via Pioneer’s Cyclo-Sphere site.
Back to the power meter itself, the installation comes down to a basic crank install along with magnet placement. Pretty straightforward, assuming your bike allows for magnet clearance, which wasn’t a problem in our case (the Pioneer unit found its home on our Shiv test bike). The Pioneer drive-side pod itself nestled nicely in place as well. The pod cover is available in red or grey, but Pioneer was happy to help us color match our Shiv. Calibration was pretty straightforward as well—that process didn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. Pioneer does give you the option to calibrate with temperature points to account for differences in extreme heat and cold, but again, this was only something you’d get into if that was important to you and you were using the Pioneer head unit.
So far, so good. We gave the Pioneer unit a try with a quick trainer ride, but we did run into a problem. We noticed that the unit was only measuring power from the right and nothing from the left. We assumed this was due to magnet placement issues, but soon it became evident that the unit itself was defective. After talking through the issue with Pioneer, they sent us a replacement. Since then, we’ve never encountered the same problem. So like any tech product out there, we simply chalked it up to a chance defect.
When it comes to training tech for the bike, a power meter can be a valuable tool. It can provide you with an accurate measure to gauge your effort, which can be essential during a race or a particularly intense training session. This kind of feedback is what’s important to us. And when it comes to the Pioneer unit, we found it provided us with just that—reliable, consistent data that we could easily use to improve our training and gauge our efforts at crucial moments on race day. If you’re looking for a much deeper dive into the specifics of the Pioneer’s data output, we highly recommend checking out DC Rainmaker’s in-depth review here. We’re pretty sure this is all that you could ever want to know about the Pioneer’s capabilities, and more.
At about $1,499 (not including the head unit), the Pioneer unit is at the higher end of the crank-based power meter market—comparable to a SRAM Quark Elsa. Alternatively, products like the power2max would be on the more economical end of the spectrum. However, keep in mind that the price for the power meter drops to just $999 if you provide your own crank (which we know many have already). And while we didn’t get a chance to review their single leg option – Pioneer does offer the ability to let athletes send in either their drive side crank ($579.99) or left crank arm ($499.99). With all that in mind, we feel that the Pioneer unit is a good value. As a training or race day tool, the Pioneer power meter was a reliable, accurate partner that we’d gladly recommend. And considering the virtually limitless number of data points provided for analysis when combined with the Pioneer head unit, this may just be a match made in heaven for the data-obsessed among us.