Just as it showed up in our mailbox we got an email from Watteam telling us that the second generation of their do-it-yourself Powerbeat crankset-based power meter is shipping out to customers. After its commercial introduction in 2016, Watteam paused further deliveries when they identified an issue with their sensor’s temperature compensation. This new fine-tuned version uses a redesigned set of glue-on G2 sensors and is powered by an improved algorithm, giving cyclists better accuracy across all weather conditions and also the chance to measure pedal smoothness and torque efficiency. Take a closer look as we compare these with the first generation, see how they are supporting all their early backers, and get some actual weights after the jump…

Watteam has been working on the Powerbeat for five years now and says the latest generation has shaken out some bugs that remained in their commercial roll-out last year.

We had received a test sample of the first commercial generation last year, and while we had no problems with the simple DIY installation & setup, the power data we collected had been subject to fluctuations around large outside temperature swings, especially with carbon crank arm construction. We had been OK’ed at the time to test with carbon, but Watteam is going back to the position that the Powerbeat G2 is for hollow aluminum cranks only. The unpredictability of different carbon constructions and how the deform continues to be a tough problem to solve with the precision required for power metering.

So now we have a Shimano Ultegra crankset with the Powerbeat G2 sensors glued on, and we are ready to get it on a bike to restart testing.

Looking at the devices side-to-side, we see that the glue-on sensors have a bit different look to them. What’s on the outside though doesn’t really matter and the difference mostly corresponds to a new and slightly less complicated installation procedure. It’s inside that they get a slight change of the structure and some other material changes that took temperature drift out of the equation. The small control pods that attach to the pedal spindle look unchanged from outside.

Just as an update for those who had already bought the first generation (and to reassure those that are looking at this one), Watteam says that they are providing a pair of the new sensors to all cyclists that purchased the first ones and experience the temperature issue.

We wanted to see how much this latest iteration weighed since Watteam claims just 20g per side. The cranks we will be using this time around came with the sensors pre-glued, but we happened to have the exact same Ultegra crankset on another bike, so we cleaned the grease off of it and put the two head-to-head. That works out to just 4g per cranks for the sensor and 35g for the two control pods or 43g total on out scale.

With the update Watteam are again claiming that this it the most affordable way to get pro-level dual-sided power metering on your bike – sub $500 for real independent left and right leg measurement. So now we just need to get those pods up to a full charge, sync them with a cycling computer (it talks with both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart devices), and start cranking out some watts! Then we’ll report back as to how the data flushes out.

One remaining bit of news out of the update is that the Powerbeat G2 is said to be bringing an off-road version with it. Watteam has asked us to keep our test unit on the road (that’s so hard for us!) but it looks like the off-road version will just be a new protective cover for the brains of the system that hang below the crank arm (as well as updated measurement algorithms to deal with the added vibrations off-road). Watteam has been teasing these covers in a few colors via their social media (and in the video above), and says that they should be available later this spring.

The Powerbeat G2 is available in the US & Canada and throughout Europe & the UK. Planned expansion to markets in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore & South Africa are anticipated in summer 2017. You can buy them online directly from Watteam’s distributors and install them yourself, or have Watteam put them on your compatible cranks at one of their official shops.

Watteam.com

11 COMMENTS

    • @Matthew Yeah, it showed up to us in a box like that and I didn’t even look at it! It is an even number of teeth and ramps are on the big ring, so shifting isn’t compromised. But now that I’ve seen it, it will have to get rotated into place. Thx.

  1. Is it going to be possible to purchase a second set of sensors so the pods can be switched between bikes? Train on the road during the week, race on the dirt in the weekend, these would be perfect.

    • I can’t speak to anything officially because I don’t have any association with Watteam other than being one of the 150 or so that actually got their hands on the initial shipment; but I’d say there is a definite maybe on that one.

      With the original sensors I had a lot of issues with the sensors coming off. The glue became very hard and kinda brittle after it cured. The glue for the new sensors is more of a two part epoxy resin that looks to hold up much better, and it looks cleaner to boot. So, given the number of sensors I went through with v1, it wouldn’t surprise me if they produced more sensors than pods, thus, by my logic, opening up the possibility that they’d sell them separately at some point.

      Additionally, in both the v1 iOS app, as well as the v2 app, there are options for Bike 1 and Bike 2. In both apps this functionality is disabled and labeled “coming soon”. It seems like they are either A. making accommodations for people who purchase multiple kits, or B. planning to accommodate multiple configurations on the same pod. As swapping the pods between bikes is as easy as swapping pedals, I would hope that it’s the latter.

      The only caveat to that would be that the pods would have to be able to hold two sets of crank arm or calibration numbers, or be able to download/upload to/from the App when they are moved between bikes. If you could get your hands on a second set of sensors, you could certainly swap the pods, and then re-calibrate every time you switched bikes as the calibration only takes about 5 minutes.

      I haven’t seen where they have officially said anything on the subject, so it’s really anyone’s guess, but I would say it’s certainly possible.

      • Hey Drew, nice to hear from you!

        Lost – not yet, but we sure have plans to support this in the future. That’s why the app looks the way it looks 😉 You’ll be able to have one pair of Comp Units paired with two pairs of sensors (AKA bikes). The Comp Unit will support two calibration values, and via the app you’ll tell the Comp Units which values to use.

        For now, we can tell that when this new feature will come out, all POWERBEAT G2 customers will have the ability to upgrade, at a great price.

  2. I had the first version. Pretty much didn’t work correctly. I returned them no problem but now have the epoxy on the crank arms that I can’t get off. Not sure if the old glue would affect it if I bought the new version? Guessing they would glue up in the same spot..

    • Hey Paul,

      The first POWERBEAT version indeed had it’s issues.

      Regarding the old glue, pop us an email via our website, and we’ll send you the glue remover + instructions.

      This is true to anyone that had the first version..
      The POWERBEAT G2 sensors should be glued onto a clean surface. Make sure to remove any old residues before gluing the new sensors.

    • My guess is that it’s easier to measure the deflection of a hollow aluminum crank arm via the epoxy-mounted strain gauges compared to a solid equivalent. Could be wrong, but it sounds plausible enough

What do you think?

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