Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Garmin Vector Pedals

So I took the plunge and invested in a power meter for my bike.  And, when I say investment, I really mean it.  They are not cheap.  I was able to find a decent deal online for the Garmin Vector pedals at $1500.  See what I mean?  An 'investment'...

This post is kind of a review, but also a 'lessons learned' about the Garmin Vector.  My reasoning for buying the Vector was because it was just as much as the crank set power meters, but I could move them around if I wanted.  I had contemplated the Stages power meter (PM), was actually really close to buying them, but then decided that 1) I just bought a new crankset and I didn't want to pay extra to replace one of the cranks and 2) it would be harder to sell if/when I decided to sell them.  This is because with the Stages, you have to pick the right crank, or buy the whole crankset which makes it almost as much as the Vectors or any other power meter.  So, if I just bought the one crank, in order to sell it I would have to find someone that needed that specific brand crank and size.  If this is confusing, you can check out the purchasing options of Stages here.

On to after the purchase.  I got my pedals on Tuesday and was super excited until I spent 2 hours trying to get my old pedals off.  They were on so tight neither Daniel nor I could get them off.  I was sweaty and aggravated and wanted to throw my bike across the room.

I didn't though.  On Wednesday I took my bike to the closest bike shop around me first thing when they opened, smiled big, and asked them to please help me take off my old pedals and put on the new ones.  They did.  All was good in the world again to me.  That is, until I got home and realized that I am an idiot.  I put my bike in my car, laying it down on one side  Well, it put so much pressure on the pod that it snapped!  I didn't notice when I first put my bike in my car, but as soon as I pulled it out, I knew exactly what I did.

Here's a picture of what the pod is (not broken, not on my bike):

My next course of action was to super glue it.  Which worked, but I had to apply about 5 coats and wait about 4 hours.  I put one end of the tape on the back of the pod and the other end on the pedal to hold the pod in place so the glue could dry.  It lasted through a 75 min indoor trainer session Wednesday night and about 1.5 hours of a close to 2 hr ride on Saturday.  On Wednesday I did two other things.  1) emailed Garmin, told them my story, and asked them if they would send me a free or discounted pod this one time.  They emailed me back on Sunday (yeah, 4 days later) and said they would this one time send me a free pod replacement.  Minor points deduction for the delayed response (this is only because they do say the will get back to you in about 2 or 3 days) but major points added for sending me a replacement pod.  2) I ordered a pod online that I could get in a few days.  I ended up getting the one I ordered online on Saturday.

After a little lounging around I got to work putting on the new pod.  Here is where the 'lessons learned' starts to really kick in.
Lesson 1) You really have to put a lot of elbow grease (weight) into getting the pedals off.  I was getting sweaty again and on the verge of tears.  I was literally standing on the wrench and pushing down with my foot.  

After about 20 minutes of trying to get the pedal off it finally budged and I was stupid happy.

Lesson 2) When removing or installing pedals, think of removing the pedals as requiring you to loosen the pedals by turning in the same direction as pedaling backward.  And, to tighten go the same direction as pedaling forward.  All of the videos and tutorials that I watched and read online kept saying that you need to turn the pedals clockwise on the non-drive chain side (side without the chain) and turn it counter-clockwise on the drive chain side.  For me, this was kind of confusing.  I know what clockwise and counter-clockwise are.  For whatever reason, it would just get mixed up in my head.  Then I watched one video that mentioned the pedals are self-tightening, so when you pedal they automatically tighten some.  Which is why the pedals can get on so tight (Lesson #3 here).  And, why for me it seems more logical to think of it as tightening is the same way as pedaling forward and loosening is the same way as pedaling backward.

Lesson 4) Power meters don't like to talk to your Garmin 910xt or any other wrist GPS device when it's on your wrist, especially when you're outside.  When I was riding indoor on Wednesday, I was getting pretty steady data.  I didn't really know what to expect, so I thought getting a couple of 2 or 3 second drops a minute was ok.  I went for an outdoor ride on Saturday and got hardly any readings at all.  I figured it was because the broken pod that was super glued just wasn't working right.  But, Saturday I put on the new pod, re-calibrated and rode on Sunday.  Sunday I got about 10 minutes worth of power data out of an hour ride.  Can you feel my frustration at this point?  I went online and scoured the internet forums for something, anything, that would help me.  I finally came across a forum where it was an actual Garmin support staff answering the questions.  Someone had the same problem as me and it turns out that when you wear the watch on your wrist, the signal can't reach the watch as well as if it were in the middle of the handlebars.  It semi-works indoors because the signal can bounce off the walls and then eventually hit the Garmin (hence why I was some worthwhile readings on Wednesday night).      

So, after all of this, I will try one more ride indoor and one outdoor using the power meter tomorrow and Thursday with my watch on the bike in between my bars.  Not sure where I'm going to put it, but I'll try to finagle something and will post my outcome.  Wish me luck!          

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