As the power meter market continues to heat up, PowerTap has just launched a new hub that features Bluetooth connectivity and options for rims from ENVE, Reynolds, Zipp, and other top-end manufacturers. With the ability to connect with smartphones, the new GS hub weighs 320g and will sell for US$1,089. UK pricing has not been determined.
Current PowerTap wireless hubs are ANT+, meaning they are compatible with most modern head units, such as the Garmin Edge series, as well as the PowerTap's Joule and Joule GPS computers. But with an increasing number of cyclists using their smartphones as cycling computers, PowerTap and a few other companies have developed Bluetooth products to tie in with the gadgets.
True, you can plug in an ANT+ dongle to the bottom of an iPhone to make it ANT+ compatible, but such patch fixes haven’t gained widespread acceptance. And Garmin has made its latest Edge 510 and 810 Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible but is well ahead of the curve on this.
While the Bluetooth GS hub will talk with smartphones and cycling apps such as Strava, MapMyRide or the new PowerTap Mobile app, it isn’t ANT+ compatible. So, for now at least, it is one or the other.
The new PowerTap GS cap unthreads for access to the battery and a mini-USB port
Bluetooth connectivity comes via an electronics cap that screws onto the end of the hub. When removed, this cap offers access to the battery (claimed life at 350 hours) and a mini-USB port. A Bluetooth/ANT+cap could be an accessory in the future.
Featuring PowerTap’s new black-and-orange scheme, the GS hub will be offered alone, with a matching 110g front hub, and built into a few wheelsets. While the complete wheel list has yet to be finalized, PowerTap will definitely have ENVE SCS 3.4 and 6.7 sets for US$3,600, as well as PowerTap-branded wheels with Reynolds’ Pacific rims, and a full complement of Zipp carbon wheels.
DT Swiss is producing most of the hardware, including the entire front hub. While the mechanical design is final, the stickers are not production
The GS hubs will feature lots of DT Swiss hardware, including the axles, bearings, star ratchet, freehub body, end caps, and straight-pull flange. The front hub is essentially a stock 240s DT Swiss model.
Earlier this month, PowerTap announced its Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor and its PowerTap Mobile app.
What DT Swiss hubs mean for mountain bikes and disc brakes
PowerTap’s move to DT Swiss hub internals will undoubtedly be a boon for durability and perceived quality, but the collaboration could also have big implications for the power meter company’s stagnant mountain bike range, given the new engineering resources.
The biggest challenge to integrating a disc mount on any PowerTap hub has always been working around the large-diameter electronics cap, which, on the latest G3 and GS hub, houses the battery, wireless transmitter, and micro-USB port for updating the firmware. As a result, PowerTap’s current mountain bike hub relies on a proprietary two-piece rotor and is limited to a 160mm diameter.
DT Swiss star ratchet internals should mean great durability for the new PowerTap hub
PowerTap product manager Jesse Bartholomew told BikeRadar that the company is already working on a new disc-compatible model based on the GS, with the same DT Swiss star ratchet internals, axle, and bearings.
This also means instant SRAM XX1 XD driver body compatibility and implies a wide range of axle fitments for both quick-release and thru-axle applications. Riders seeking a faster engagement speed would also have the option of installing DT Swiss 36-tooth ratchet rings.
Coupled with the already available 11-speed freehub bodies, this means PowerTap’s upcoming new disc hub could find use on disc-equipped road and cyclocross bikes, as well as mountain bikes.
Bartholomew said he expects that the new hub will still rely on a proprietary rotor interface. However, the design isn’t finalized, so we're still hoping for a disc-specific electronics cap and standard six-bolt rotor compatibility.
For more information on PowerTap products see powertap.com.