The Watteam PowerBeat is a new crank-based power meter that enables you to keep your existing crank and pedals. It was originally announced a year ago, and is soon available to US customers for pre-order with first shipments expected by the end of the year.
The PowerBeat’s most intriguing factor is its price, with the unit holding its initially teased cost of just $499 (UK and Australian pricing and availability are still to be confirmed). This means the Watteam PowerBeat will be the first power meter on the market under the elusive $500 price point.
A compact size means a low weight
The PowerBeat, a claimed 24g per side, measures left and right power independently. Inside the weatherproof housing can be found strain gauges, accelerometers and gyroscopes (not too dissimilar from the original Garmin Vector). According to Watteam, these – together with a proprietary algorithm – provide for accurate readings of normalised, average and max power.
“Our worldwide patented sensor attaches easily to both of your crank arms. It senses your pedal stroke up to the millisecond, recording the direct and immediate torque that you apply,” a brand spokesperson said.
User friendliness is something power meter manufacturers have struggled with – some have even required a trained mechanic for battery changes and installation. Watteam said that, equipped with their instruction manuals and walkthrough Youtube videos, anyone can install and calibrate the unit.
The installation process may be clearly explained in videos, but it's still more involved than most other popular, integrated devices
While Watteam claims installation is quick and easy, the DIY attachment remains a fair bit more involved than other (more expensive) options. Included in the PowerBeat kit are two sensors that permanently attach to a bike’s crank with the supplied glue, two comp units that attach to each pedal, a USB compatible battery charger and all the tools needed to attach and calibrate the device.
Inside each comp unit is a rechargeable battery, which is said to deliver 80 hours of use.
The first PowerBeat release will be compatible with hollow alloy cranks only (in other words Shimano, FSA Energy, and a few others). Watteam originally stated the PowerBeat would be compatible with all cranks, both alloy and carbon – and now says this will happen sometime in 2016.
This delay for carbon cranks (and non-hollow alloy) isn’t too surprising, with both Stages and Pioneer having previously communicated that the structure of carbon lacks the required consistency for ultimate accuracy.
Broadcasting in both ANT+ and low energy Bluetooth, live power readings can be viewed on dedicated cycle computers or through Android or iOS smartphone training apps. Watteam will also have their own free phone app which should allow for capturing of the independent left-right data.
Future testing will prove whether this promising device is worth the savings over more expensive and integrated rivals.
For early adaptors, online registration is now open at Watteam.