If you’ve read our article on the different types of cycling power meters, you know that there are many different 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: the pedal based power meter. 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
- They are compatible with virtually every bike. This is unlike other power meter types where compatibility is often a concern
- 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 (assuming you opt for the dual-sided model). This is commonly referred to as left vs. right or independent left/right power measurement
- They are a great indoor power meter option if you are looking to add power to a stationary bike
There is another advantage of going with a pedal based power meter…you have options. Most people know that Garmin and PowerTap make power meter pedals. Garmin makes the Vector 3 while PowerTap makes the P1. However a PowerTap P1 vs Garmin Vector 3 comparison would be short sided. Favero Electronics, based in Italy, makes the Assioma. It’s a terrific pedal and as you will see below, stacks up pretty favorably against the other two heavyweights.
The fact that you have three good options to choose from 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. A set of dual-sided power meter pedals costs $799 on the low end (Favero Assioma and PowerTap P1) and $999 on the high end (Garmin Vector 3). 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.
Ok, so let’s introduce the players and then put them head-to-head in a power meter pedals comparison.
Overview of Your Pedal Based Power Meter Options
The Assioma power meter pedals are manufactured by Favero Electronics, an Italian-based company. Like other power meter pedals, Assioima DUO is a dual-sided system and takes power from both legs. The Assioma measures power up to 2,000 watts and cadence from 30-180 RPM. The Assioma is the most affordable dual-sided power meter on the market. It’s also 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. This gives 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 3
The Garmin Vector 3 is also a dual-sided power meter with sensors in both pedals. Garmin is on its third generation of the pedal (the previous version was called the Vector 2). On the Vector 3, Garmin eliminated the pedal pods, improved installation and added Bluetooth SMART capability, among other improvements. In addition, like the previous generation, the Vector 3 provides access to Garmin’s suite of advanced cycling dynamics data.
Head-to-Head Power Meter Pedals Comparison
Installation used to be owned by the PowerTap P1. The P1 has always installed like a normal set of pedals. No torque wrench or special tools necessary. Just grab a hex wrench and screw them on. The previous generation Favero (the bePRO) and Garmin (the Vector 2) were a bit more work. However, tricky installation for pedals is a thing of the past. The current generation Favero (the Assioma) and Garmin (the Vector 3) now also install quickly and easily. This also makes moving the pedals between bikes a breeze, should that need arise.
We note that while the Favero Assioma is super quick to install, it does require that you register the pedals with the free Assioma app and ride for a minute or two to set the installation angles – before the pedals will send power and cadence to your head unit. These steps are very easy and we have outlined all of the Assioma set-up instructions for you.
The Assioma is the lightest pedal in this comparison, weighing in at 149.5 grams per pedal. This compares to the Garmin Vector 3 pedals at 158 grams per pedal and the PowerTap P1s at 199 grams per pedal. The difference here is slight, especially between the Assioma and Garmin, but as we all know, grams add up.
Left/Right Power Measurement
The dual-sided versions of all three power meters contain a power sensor in both the left and right pedal and can therefore measure independent left/right power. 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 Favero Assioma runs off a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The P1s use AAA batteries. The Garmin Vector 3 pedals use a LR44/SR44 battery (similar, but not exactly the same as the CR2032 battery you are probably familiar with). While all of these battery types are different, we don’t view one as being better than the next. AAA and LR44/SR44 batteries are both cheap and easy to find. With the Assioma, 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 3 lasts for 120-150 hours on a set of batteries. This gives it the best battery life of the bunch. The range here depends on if you have Cycling Dynamics and Bluetooth SMART enabled. You’ll get closer to 120 hours with these enabled and closer to 150 hours with them off.
The Vector 3’s 120-150 hours of battery life compares to 50 hours for the Favero Assioma and 60 hours for the PowerTap P1. Note however that it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges when you compare battery life between a traditional battery and a rechargeable battery (Favero). 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 Favero Assioma 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 3 is very simple. So we feel this really shouldn’t be much of a concern for anyone.
All three pedals transmit data via both the ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART wireless protocols. This gives you the choice of using the pedals with your favorite bicycle computer (aka head unit), smart phone or tablet.
The Favero claims an accuracy of +/- 1.0%, PowerTap +/- 1.5% and Garmin +/- 1.0%. However this is a tie to us. The difference between +/- 2.0% and +/- 1.0% is slight. In addition, these accuracy figures are claims. We would have to see lots of third party data verifying these accuracy levels for us to feel good about saying that one of these pedals is indeed more accurate than the next. Since the claims here are all within 0.5%, we think the other criteria on this page are more important to focus on in terms of choosing the right pedal for you.
Like most power meters, all three of these power meter pedals measure cadence using an integrated accelerometer type device, as opposed to a magnet.
All three pedals feature a fully integrated design with no external parts to attach, however Garmin takes the win here as the Vector 3 is the sleekest pedal in the bunch. In fact, Garmin went from last to first in this category. The previous generation Garmin used pedal pods that were external to the pedal body and hung from the pedal spindle. Many people didn’t like the design and it was something that prevented the pedal from being more popular. However, on the new Vector 3, Garmin locates the battery and electronics in the pedal body itself. This results in a clean, fully integrated design. They also managed to keep the pedal body very sleek and thin, which is an added bonus and makes the pedal very visually appealing when compared to the others.
Favero locates the battery and electronics in a round cylinder that sits on the spindle between the pedal body and the crank arm. The advantage to this design is that the pedal body itself is shaped very much like a normal pedal.
PowerTap locates the battery and electronics inside the pedal body like the Garmin, but they use a larger AAA battery which is located towards the bottom of the pedal body. This results in the thickest (and heaviest) pedal of the bunch. The thickness of the P1 can also decrease corning clearance slightly. While we seldom see this as a real issue, if your specialty is crits, you might want to consider the other choices.
All three power meter pedals recommend performing a calibration (more correctly refereed to as a zero-offset) procedure before every ride. The process of zero-offsetting your power meter is quick and easy.
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 Favero Assioma comes in second with a rider weight limit of 265 lbs. The Garmin Vector 3 comes in third with a maximum rider weight limit of 231 lbs. While this seems low, we note that we have customers on the Garmin Vector 2 pedals that weigh more than 231 lbs. and they haven’t reported any issues (and actually the Vector 2 pedals have a weight limit of 200 lbs.). So we think this is a fairly conservative limit. In addition, it’s worth noting that this weight limit pertains more to accuracy issues, rather than functional or safety issues. However to err on the side of caution, if do you weigh more than 231 lbs., you might want to consider the Favero Assioma 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 else for that matter) releasing a MTB-suited pedal, but we will have to continue to wait for that.
LOOK Keo Compatible
While all three power meter pedals come with proprietary, LOOK Keo style cleats, only the Favero Assioma and Garmin Vector 3 are also compatible with LOOK Keo original cleats. This is handy if you are already using LOOK Keo cleats on another bike because it means you can use the same shoes and not have to worry about swapping out your cleats.
Garmin Cycling Dynamics
The Garmin Vector 3 provides access to Garmin’s Cycling Dynamics. Cycling Dynamics provides real-time feedback on your position and pedal form. Specifically, Cycling Dynamics shows seated/standing position, Power Phase and Platform Center Offset. However, there is much debate as to whether or not information like this is meaningful. We find (and think most coaches will agree), that watts and cadence is really where you want to focus your attention. But if you’re interested in the additional data the Vector’s provide…more power to you.
Q-Rings or other non-round rings can cause your power numbers to be slightly inflated. Most studies show an impact of 1% to 4%. This is because oval rings change the velocity of your pedal stroke within each pedal revolution. Some power meters account for this, however most do not. When it comes to pedals, the Favero Assioma and PowerTap P1s do – the Vectors do not. So if you use or are looking to use an oval ring with your power meter, we would recommend either the Assioma or P1.
The Favero Assioma DUO and PowerTap P1 both sell for $799, while the Garmin Vector 3 sells for $999. The single-sided Favero Assioma (Assioma UNO) sells for $519, while the single-sided PowerTap (P1S) sells for $529 and the single-sided Garmin (Vector 3S) sells for $599. Because the single-sided Assioma is slightly cheaper than the single-sided PowerTap, we’re giving the win to the Assioma. Note that with the Assioma UNO and Garmin Vector 3S, you have the ability to upgrade to a dual-sided system at any time by buying an upgrade pedal. The PowerTap P1S doesn’t offer this option.
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 14 mm. This is about 3-5 mm greater than most of the popular pedals on the market. (The stack height on the Favero Assioma and Garmin Vector 3 is 10.5 mm and 12.2 mm, respectively). 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!