Getting up early in Vegas is always a bizarre experience. There are the guys cleaning floors, the bachelor party slowly walking back to their room after a night of debauchery, and in mid-September a bunch of bike geeks heading to Mandalay Bay Trade show floor to check out the latest from the cycling industry. After a sufficient amount of coffee, we stumbled into the trade show with an agenda filled of appointments, seminars, and vendors to visit.
As in typical years my schedule revolved around power meters, training devices, and the latest in bike fit technologies. I am not going to do a comprehensive review on the latest in power meters since DC Rainmaker did an awesome job of that on his blog but I do want to highlight a few interesting developments in the power meter market. First off, the Brim Brothers shoe mounted power meter is finally coming to market. This is a system that has a force plate mounted under a Speedplay Zero cleat with an accelerometer pod mounted on the top of the shoe. The obvious benefit of this system is the ease in switching your power meter from bike to bike without any of the compromises the left side only systems make in their data accuracy. Even if you don’t have multiple road, time trial, or triathlon bikes the $1000 price tag, ease of use, and lightweight will make the Brim Brothers system a strong player in the power meter market. Of course this is a first year product and reliability in the real world is yet to be determined. Having followed this project for a while, I am very optimistic that it is going to solid product.
The other trend we are seeing in power meters is the number of single sided systems coming to market. Garmin debuted a left side only Vector, 4iiii has a new system that can be set up single sided, Stages continues to strive in the PM market, and Rotor continues to offer a single sided option. There are positives (less cost being the biggest) and negatives (assumption of symmetry) to these systems. I do think they are going to be somewhat temporary as prices continue to drop, and coaches and athletes see the benefits in more accurate systems, but for now they are a good “gateway drug” into training with power.
This was also the first year that wearable physiological sensors officially hit the market. Moxy Monitors has a wearable muscle oxygen sensor, and BSX Insight introduced the wearable lactate threshold sensor. Measuring muscle oxygen concentration is relatively new and the usefulness of it is still be determined, but measuring lactate to determine fitness and relative intensity levels is very well established. Having the ability to train by lactate levels without having to put a drop of blood on a test strip is a very interesting concept. From a coaching perspective, having real-time lactate levels and power data would be amazing! Not only would we get the external output of an effort, but also the internal output and be able to analyze the correlation between the two over time.
On the bike fit front we continue to see new tools being offered by Retul, Cyclologic, bikefit.com, and Guru. While there are some really flashy technologies coming out, all of those companies emphasized that fitter education has to come first and the tools are secondary to the knowledge of the fitter. That is awesome to see that change from the industry and the desire to have athletes more comfortable on bikes.
The other awesome trend we are seeing in companies with contact point equipment is developing prescriptive processes to determine the best components for an athletes physiology. This is primarily driven by Specialized and their refined body geometry line, but several companies have released their own systems to size saddles, bar shapes, and insoles. The most prominent company embracing the prescriptive process is Fizik. They have a dedicated “spine system” to determine saddles and appropriate bars. Plus you can find the animal in you…
Right now all of those systems are limited to their own brand but I wouldn’t be surprised to see universal prescriptive processes coming out to determine the best equipment from a variety of manufacturers very soon.