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Brim Brothers launches $440 wearable power meter

After six years of development, Brim Brothers’ long-awaited wearable, cleat-based power meter launched on Kickstarter Thursday, quickly reaching more than 30 percent of its 100,000 euro goal.

The Zone DPMX measures power using a small plate placed between the sole of a cycling shoe and the cleat of a Speedplay pedal, replacing the four-hole to three-hole converter required to use Speedplays with three-hole shoes. A pod containing accelerometers and other gadgetry sits on top of the shoe, sending information via ANT+ to any compatible cycling computer. The system is as mobile as a pair of shoes, completely self-contained, waterproof, and, as of press time, is among the least-expensive direct-measurement power meter available.

This is not the first time Brim has launched the Zone. A promised 2014 production run and planned availability in 2015 were delayed, though the company has had working prototypes for years. The price then was $1,000, but has since dropped considerably. The company is now promising delivery to Kickstarter funders in three months’ time.

Brim Brothers is Kickstarting two models: The Zone DPMX Single, which measures power in only one cleat and will double that measurement, as Stages power meters do, and another two-foot meter called the Zone DPMX Dual, which measures power at both feet.

The Single is available for 390 euro, or about $440, and the Dual is available for 780 euro, or about $880.

How it works

The Zone cleat houses piezoceramic sensors, a more advanced version of the stuff that causes a spark in some gas lighters. When compressed or stretched, they create a current. That current can be translated into force.

The sensors are not strain gauges, as found in many power meters. Brim says they can be more accurate than strain gauges, since they are less affected by temperature swings. They’re also highly durable, a necessity, given where Brim has chosen to position them.

The cleat sensors work in tandem with a small pod placed on the top of the shoe, which measures acceleration and is responsible for calculating power and sending that figure to your cycling computer. These pods run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which last 15-20 hours between charges (a similar run time to most Garmin cycling computers, for example).

The Zone is launching with Speedplay cleats, but founder Barry Redmond has previously told VeloNews that further pedal compatibility is on the horizon.