Devon, our Technical Editor, is a bit of an audiophile. His home audio system is a lot like his race bike – the best in quality, without the hype. So, to say he is familiar with Pioneer is a small understatement – the head unit in his living room is a four-figure Pioneer Elite – but even he was a little shocked to find an email from them in his mailbox a day or so ago announcing, much to his surprise, a power meter and computer. Not just any power meter, mind you, but a true left/right, crank-based power meter that wasn’t some proprietary crank business, but a fully integrated solution with Shimano Ultegra 6800 and Dura Ace 9000. “Interested” might be under selling his reaction.
Accurate, left/right power is the Holy Grail for power data geeks – it gives the rider incredible granularity when examining how they ride, as well as an ability to tailor workouts to target their weak points. With the Pioneer power meter, not only will it record left/right power, but it will do so 12 times per rotation, every 30 degrees (pi over six radians, for those math geeks out there). Then, if you are running a Pioneer computer, display it in a gauge style format. After the ride, Pioneer has a service they are calling Cyclo-Sphere, which promises even more granular data than that. It is worth noting that the power meter will work with any ANT+ computer for left/right as well as total power. The power meter will cost you a 66g penalty to weight, or about as much as a carbon cage and the bolts to go with it. We can live with that for the claimed +/- 2% accuracy.
|Crank||Chain Ring||Arm Length in millimetres|
|Dura-Ace 9000||50 x 34||165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, 175, 177.5|
|52 x 36||170, 172.5, 175|
|53 x 39||165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, 175, 177.5|
|52 x 38||170, 172.5, 175|
|Ultegra 6800||50 x 34||165, 170, 172.5, 175|
|52 x 36||165, 170, 172.5, 175|
|53 x 39||165, 170, 172.5, 175|
The only “downside” is that the meter will only be offered in Shimano Ultegra 6800 ($1550) and Dura Ace 9000 ($1850) cranks. But with 38 different combinations of arm length and chainring sizes, we think that anyone who can’t live with this is being unnecessarily picky. The cranks will be available to purchase in mid-March.
Pioneer’s new computer has some slick features, too, and not just the left/right gauges. Wi-Fi for automatic uploading (to Cyclo-Sphere), 12 hours of operating time, micro-USB, included bar mount … this thing is loaded. For those who absolutely must have their data while on the bike, the CA500 can display nine fields at a time on the 1.87” black and white LCD touchscreen. The feature that interests us the most is the amount of derived data the computer will be able to display. Pioneer says that the unit should be able to display “pedal stroke efficiency, power loss, force-vector analysis, and torque” as fields on the unit in real-time. That, if accurate, could make for some very interesting at-home optimization of not just your pedal stroke, but potentially rudimentary position analysis. This is definitely a system we want to play around with. The CA500 will also be releasing in mid-March, and will be priced competitively against Garmin’s 510 at $300 MSRP.
Both of Pioneer’s new products appear to continue their tradition of high quality and durable offerings that have the potential to push you to the next level. With the promises being made, Pioneer is making a serious bid to become a household name in the cycling and triathlon world; and from everything we’ve seen from them in the past, don’t be surprised when they do just that. We’re looking forward to both of these products, and hopefully you’ll be able to read our First Ride in the not-too-distant future.