If you’ve read our article on the different types of cycling power meters, you know that there are several power meter types to choose from. Each type of power meter has its own unique set of advantages and considerations. One particular type is not better than the next – rather it’s about finding the type of power meter that best suits your needs, budget, bike, etc. In this article, we wanted to focus solely on one of the most popular and widely used power meter types: power meter pedals. We will summarize the three most popular pedals and then put them head-to-head in a power meter pedals comparison.
Power Meter Pedals Comparison
Power meter pedals incorporate strain gauges inside the pedal itself. This type of power meter has been around for several years now and they are undoubtedly one of the most popular power meter types. The advantages to using a power meter pedal are several:
- Power meter pedals are one of the easiest power meters to install since they simply attach to the crank arm – basically like a normal set of pedals
- You have a very high likelihood of compatibility with your bike – unlike other power meter types which may or may not be compatible
- They can be quickly and easily moved from one bike to the next
- Since the pedals house a power sensor in each pedal, they can measure each leg’s power independently (left vs. right power measurement)
There is another advantage of going with a power meter pedal…you have options. Favero Electronics (bePRO), Garmin and PowerTap all make power meter pedals. This increases the likelihood that you can find a set of pedals that fits your needs. One more thing before we move on…cost. In general, we would put power meter pedals somewhere in the middle of the cost spectrum. As you will see below, a set of dual-sided power meter pedals costs $824 on the low end (bePRO) and $1,199 on the high end (PowerTap P1). There are a handful of power meters that can be purchased for less than this, as well as many than cost more…some substantially more. (Note you can shop for power meters by price on our site which will give you a better understanding of the price ranges.)
Ok, so let’s introduce the players and then put them head-to-head in a power meter pedals comparison.
Overview of Your Pedal Meter Pedal Options
The bePRO power meter pedals are manufactured by Favero Electronics, an Italian-based company. Like other power meter pedals, bePRO is a dual-sided system and takes power from both legs. The bePRO measures power up to 2,000 watts and cadence from 30-180 RPM. The bePRO is the most affordable dual-sided power meter on the market and one of our best selling power meters, period.
Introduced in the Spring of 2015, the PowerTap P1 features 8 strain gauges per pedal, a forged aluminum pedal body and uses proprietary, 3-bolt Keo-style cleats. The P1s transmit data via ANT+ as well as Bluetooth SMART, giving you the choice of using a traditional head unit or a smartphone as your bicycle computer. The P1s weigh 199 grams each and provide 60 hours of run time through the use of AAA batteries.
Garmin Vector 2
The Garmin Vector 2 is also a dual-sided power meter with sensors in both pedals. Garmin is on its second generation of the pedal (the previous version was just called the Vector). On the Vector 2, the pedal pods are now plastic (previously they were metal) and now attach using a small hex wrench which makes installation easier. The Vector 2 also provides access to Garmin’s advanced cycling dynamics data.
Head-to-Head Power Meter Pedals Comparison
Installation of the bePRO or Garmin Vector 2 is pretty straightforward and simple – especially when compared to other power meters, however it doesn’t get any easier than the PowerTap P1. The P1s install just like a normal set up pedals. No torque wrench or special tools necessary. If you can install a normal set of pedals…you can install the P1s. This also means they are incredibly easy to move between bikes.
The bePROs are the lightest pedal in this comparison and weigh in at 156 grams per pedal. This compares to the PowerTap P1s at 199 grams per pedal and the Garmin Vector 2s at 179 grams per pedal. The difference here is slight, but as we all know, grams can add up.
Left/Right Power Measurement
All three power meters contain a power sensor in both the left and right pedal and can therefore measure independent left/right power.
The bePRO runs off a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The P1s use AAA batteries. The Garmin Vector 2 pedals use a CR2032 battery. While all of these battery types are different, we don’t view one as being better than the next. AAA and CR2032 batteries are both cheap and easy to find. With the bePRO, you don’t have to worry about buying and replacing batteries, however you do have to remember to charge the battery regularly. We’ll let you decide if a traditional or rechargeable battery is best for you.
The Garmin Vector 2 lasts for 175 hours on a set of batteries, which gives it the best battery life of the bunch. This compares to 30 hours for the bePRO and 60 hours for the PowerTap P1. Note however that it’s a bit comparing apples to oranges when you compare battery life between a traditional battery and a rechargeable battery (bePRO). When a traditional battery runs out of life, you have to buy and install a new battery. The rechargeable battery however, just needs to be plugged in.
Ability to Easily Change Batteries
The bePRO uses a rechargeable battery that never needs to be replaced, so it wins here. Note that the process of replacing the battery in both the PowerTap P1 and Garmin Vector 2 is very simple, so this shouldn’t be much of a concern for anyone.
The PowerTap P1 wins as it transmits data via both the ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART wireless protocols, giving you the choice of using a bicycle computer, smart phone or tablet. The bePRO and Garmin Vector 2 transmit data via ANT+ only. Note however that the overwhelming majority of bicycle computers support ANT+, so you still have plenty of options with the bePRO or Garmin Vector 2…just no Bluetooth only devices.
The bePRO and Garmin claim accuracy of +/-2%, while the PowerTap claims accuracy of +/-1.5% – however this is a tie to us. The difference between +/-2% and +/-1.5% is really splitting hairs at the finest level. We consider all of these units to be equal in terms of accuracy.
Like most power meters, all three of these power meter pedals measure cadence using an integrated accelerometer type device to measure cadence, as opposed to a magnet.
Both the bePRO and PowerTap P1 have a fully integrated design – so it’s a tie for the win between these two pedals. The Garmin Vector 2 pedals however, use external pedal pods which house the batteries as well as serve as the communications device. The pedal pods attach to the spindle next to the pedal and hang down below the pedal. There is no real cause for concern regarding impact strikes while riding…however a fully integrated design is preferable in our opinion.
All three power meter pedals recommend performing a calibration (actually it’s a zero-offset) procedure before every ride. The process of zero-offsetting setting is quick and easy. See How to Zero Your Power Meter for more.
All three power meter pedals come with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Rider Weight Limit
The PowerTap P1 takes the win here as the pedal does not have a known weight limit for the rider. The bePRO comes in second with a rider weight limit of 265 lbs. The Garmin Vector 2 comes in third with a maximum rider weight limit of 200 lbs. While this seems low, we note that we have customers on the Garmin Vector 2 pedals that weigh more than 200 lbs. and they haven’t reported any issues. So we are not sure how conservative this 200 lb. cutoff is. Nor are we sure if exceeding it leads to functional issues or accuracy issues. To err on the side of caution, if do you weigh more than 200 lbs., you might want to consider the bePRO or PowerTap P1 instead.
Road vs. MTB
All three power meter pedals are made for road use only. We look forward to one of these manufacturers (or anyone for that matter) releasing a MTB-suited pedal, but we will have to continue to wait for that.
While all three power meter pedals come with a set of LOOK Keo style cleats, only the Garmin Vector 2 can be modified to fit Shimano pedals, so it takes the win here. Specifically, Garmin gives you the option of buying a DIY Vector Shimano Cartridge Kit which allows the Vector 2 hardware to be swapped into a Shimano PD-6800 pedal body. Honorable mention goes to the bePRO which, in addition to being compatible with the cleats provided with the pedals, are also compatible with original LOOK Keo cleats.
The bePRO sells for $824, while the PowerTap P1 sells for $1,199 and the Garmin Vector 2 sells for $999, so the win goes to bePRO. Note that all three manufacturers also sell a left-only power meter pedal at a lower cost. The left-only version measures power from your left leg only, and doubles this amount to derive total power (Total vs. Left-Only Power Measurement). Because there is only a power sensor in the left pedal, these left-only versions sell for less than their dual-sided counterparts. The single-sided bePRO (bePRO S) sells for $549, while the single-sided PowerTap (P1S) sells for $699 and the single-sided Garmin (Vector 2S) sells for $599. Note that with all of these single-sided power meter pedals, you have the ability to upgrade to a dual-sided system at any time by buying an upgrade pedal.
Just something to be aware of…
Stack height refers to the distance from the center of the pedal spindle to the bottom surface of the cycling shoe. The stack height on the PowerTap P1s is 14mm, which is about 3-5mm greater than most of the popular pedals on the market. (Note the stack height on both the bePRO and Garmin Vector 2 is 10.5mm). We mention this because you might need to adjust the height of your saddle ever so slightly with the P1s in order to keep your bike fit the same. This of course is not a deciding factor – rather just something we wanted to mention.
Summary – Power Meter Pedals Comparison
And the winner is…
You already know the answer here…there isn’t one. These are all great pedals and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Which pedal you ultimately choose should be based upon which features are most important to you and your budget. Moreover, they will all afford you the numerous advantages that come with using power meter pedals.
Thanks for checking out our power meter pedals comparison. If you still have questions or need some additional guidance, just give us a call. We would be happy to help!