In review: Garmin’s Vector power meter pedals

12 June 2015



Words: Andre Bekker, professional coach | Photos: Garmin & Shutterstock


Ok, so the buzz is and has been ‘power’ for cyclists. That is power meters, which give you an objective measure of your cycling performance, regardless of how you feel on the day or environmental conditions. Used by cyclists to gauge their training intensity, this tool is also very popular amongst coaches to help them train their cyclists better.

Garmin’s Vector power meter pedals

Chris Froome uses a power meter to monitor his out put, to ensure he is performing at his best.

Although the cycling world has embraced this technology for almost 20 years, the uptake for triathletes and triathlon coaches has been much slower and it’s only in the last two-odd years that they’ve started to take notice of something that a cyclist considers a basic tool. Yes, a power meter is a high-tech tool that can be daunting to install and get up and running, and selecting which one to use is made all the more difficult due to the vast number of different approaches and products available on the market and pricing. But the benefits offered make this a tool no coach or athlete should be without.

So what's the value of power to triathletes? Simple, it’s a number that they can put up and if they stick to it, they will maximise their bike leg results and time, thus setting themselves up for a good run. The number in question here is called Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and this is the maximum average power a rider can put out for 60 minutes. Everything you do with power is a function of this number.

For the past five years I’ve been using power meters in various formats that I’ve attached to different bikes and setups. Of the various setups available, I have to confess that I really liked the pedal idea – where you measure your power output at the pedal, the point of applied force. Initially, I was sceptical of this concept because I am one of those riders that needs lots of lateral movement. That is to say my feet must be able to move sideways, otherwise I get knee issues. As a result of this concern, I steered clear of Vector pedals.

However, I still liked the versatility of the Vectors, so when Garmin asked me to review a set of Vector power meter pedals, I started asking lots of questions because I need sideways movement more than anything else. The response was that you are able to change the cleats and get a wide-angle Look cleat, to give you more lateral movement - and so I was on my way.

As a coach, I don’t coach anyone without power simply because it's essential to understand the value of power and makes everything you do measurable. I am not the only one who sees the value in power. Next time you see Chris Froome going up a mountain pass and he keeps looking at his handlebars, he is actually looking at his power numbers, which tell him what he can put out and for how long he sustain it. This is key to him riding and getting the best out of himself and it also gives him confidence because he knows what he can still do. Numbers are everything for him.

I currently use a Garmin Edge 510 head unit, a cycling GPS computer used to track and manage cycling workouts and races, to display all my required functions (for example, 3-second power, percentage of FTP power and average power, together with cadence), which are all of huge importance. Having power and understanding it has often been equated to having the same benefits as taking drugs, the legal way. So I couldn’t wait to get going and produce some power numbers from the Vector to see how this data compared to that of the head unit.


What I did find amazingly easy was to sync the Vector pedals with not only my Garmin Edge 510 but also my Garmin 920XT. Remember, I’m technologically challenged. On my first few rides, I got every single number I needed, with none of the issues and complaints I usually have with other power meters.


It was very versatile, so I attached it to my time trail bike. Now if you have a crank arm, a hub or any other based power meter, this would be a major exercise. This was not the case with the Vector pedals, which were easy to change, easy to sync, easy to go and, above all, produced the same comparable numbers. Nothing challenges me more than trying to equate one power meter with the next and having all sorts of calculations and ultimately getting lost in translation.


When it comes to price, yes, they are expensive, but are they worth it? I believe so. However, what is great is that Garmin has come out with a single pedal system (only one pedal registers power data) that costs much less, thus making it more affordable and, trust me, a worthwhile investment. The single-sided version can also be upgraded to the dual-sensing option at a later stage, to give you your left/right balance and other premium features.

If you are serious about triathlon then this piece of equipment is a must for you, as you will love all the information it provides and you’ll be able to accurately track and measure your performance. How cool is that?

More information
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