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LOOKing forward

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Jan. 24, 2012
  • Updated Jan. 25, 2012 at 2:56 PM EDT
The Look KeO Power will only be compatible with Polar CS500 and CS600 series head units, at least at first. Photo: Caley Fretz


Freiburg, Germany (VN) — Look and Polar are finally ready to ship the world’s first pedal-based power meter, the Look KeO Power. As the name suggests, the system is based around a Look KeO pedal, combining data from 16 pedal-axle strain gauges and an externally mounted Polar P5 accelerometer and sensor setup to calculate power. The system will cost $2,200.

Look and Polar invited a host of international cycling journalists to the Rad Labor test facility in Freiburg, Germany for a presentation on the new power meter.

The case for pedal-based power

Pedal-based power meters provide a solution to practical problems posed by crank-based or hub-based meters — SRM, Quarq, Power2Max, and Powertap all included. Most importantly, they are easier to install and move between bikes than a crank-based system, and they don’t limit wheel choice as a hub-based system does.

The latter is self explanatory: with a hub-based meter the only options are to lace a heavy Powertap hub into a burly training rim that isn’t ideal for racing, or into a light race rim that isn’t likely to last over extensive training, or buy two Powertaps. No solution is ideal. It is possible to buy two low-level Powertaps for the cost of a single KeO Power system, but weight remains an issue. The KeO power adds very little weight compared to a regular set of Look KeO pedals, and can actually be lighter if switching from a heavier set of pedals.

The perk of easy installation with the KeO Power has become increasingly important as the number of bottom bracket “standards” has exploded. Throwing down a few thousand dollars for a crank-based power meter becomes even less appetizing when it is far from guaranteed to work with your next frame. Plus, switching a crank-based meter between multiple bikes is a pain.

Pedal-based meters can also provide a data set not available from a crank-based or hub-based power meter: left vs. right power. This helps identify deficiencies and allow those deficiencies to be corrected.

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Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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