About this project
Want to ride and train smarter with watts? Help improve the technology and make it more affordable. We want power meters on all bikes.
Introducing Team ZWATT: Share raw data for at least one 30 min ride per month as part of the worlds largest and most diverse test team dedicated to improve the technology and bring down the prices of power meters to the point where all your bikes can have one.
We have worked 3 years to develop the technology to make it really easy for brands to integrate power sensors into their crank sets. Be it as an arm-based sensor, spider-based sensor or a spindle-based. The core electronics and software algorithms are available and well understood through co-development with leading brands.
This has taught us a bunch of things about the bike industry and power meters that we want to change:
- Testing by pro riders may be extreme in power and intensity, but it’s not as diverse as the riders actually buying the products
- The difference between power meter algorithms surface when they are put in real life situations
- That is why the results generated by the pro riders testing our technology for the brands, is not nearly good enough for us
Team ZWATT will change this by crowd sourcing the data collection to help take power meter technology to the next level.
- Better algorithms
- Better price
- Better products that works better for your style of riding
These power meter models are being built specifically for Team ZWATT to gather data on the different models and to fit a wide variety of users and bikes.
We split the price in two. A low price for the hardware and a small monthly fee to cover the future development. This lowers your risk and initial investment.
We are aware that not all bikes and riders are built equally, so apologies in advance if the offered models does not fit your needs today. In order to keep prices reasonable for the smaller quantities, we can’t build as many variations as we want. The 80/20 rule kicks in here.
This campaign is not the last you see of us however, so if you have other needs or wishes, get on the Team ZWATT mailing list and be alerted when we add new options: www.teamzwatt.com - or rally together about 500 friends that want the same thing and we are all ears :)
Bike Radar:“While this is the first time we've seen power meters crowdsourcing their development data from the public, it fits nicely into a general trend of power meters getting more and more affordable…” and “We’ll be getting one in to try as soon as we can.”
DC Rainmaker: ”...as with any Kickstarter project, there are risks. But, I think they’re in a million times better spot than most tech projects I see."
3atholon: ”Waar deze meters vroeger enkel weggelegd waren voor profs, zijn er nu allerlei modellen op de markt die vaak ook in een betaalbaarder segment vallen …” [While previously these power meters were exclusively for the pros, there are now all kinds of models on the market that mostly fall into a more affordable category.]
All 3 models (ZIMANOX, ZPIDER and ZPINDLE MTB) are based on the same firmware and electronics. So all they share the specs as shown below (Note: ZPINDLE MTB is a stretch goal).
BLE is also called Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth Smart. The power meter is compatible with most bike computers, smartphones, laptops and tablets running standard apps for bike power (including Strava, Zwift and other popular apps).
This is a whole book in itself :) Let's just say accuracy is comparable to other solutions. And is even going to improve in specific areas as we get more test data from you and the other testers.
Secure update using the smartphone app. No cable required.
We have two charging mechanisms. For both you will need to use your existing phone charger with micro USB connector (or a power bank).
The ZIMANOX and ZPIDER models come with a USB charging device which attaches to the power meter using a magnet. The ZPINDLE MTB model has a cap you remove to access a micro-USB charging port.
The magnet charging device is our favorite part. Everybody told us to just use a coin cell battery, but that felt so wrong to us (something about being Danish is likely to make you very environmentally aware).
We wanted a waterproof solution, so having the connector be waterproof just made sense. See how nicely the charger hooks onto the arm with magnet here:
Red light means charging – green is fully charged (or not yet connected, but ready).
We want some of your data - remember? - this is the whole point!
This means we expect you to track and upload to our cloud server at least one 30 min ride per month using our smartphone app. The app will be available for Android and iOS.
You are more than welcome to track more rides and we will let you know when we are looking for specific types of information (like high cadence/low torque, cobble stones, climbing etc.).
There is a comment function when you upload data, so you can make notes about specific conditions or observations you make.
If you have a Shimano crankset on your road bike today, this may be the simplest option for you. Simply unscrew two hex screws on the left crank arm and pop the arm off. Replace with the ZIMANOX arm and off you go.
No matter which pledge you make for the ZIMANOX, we will get back to you and ask exactly what crank arm length you want: 170mm, 172.5mm (most popular) or 175mm.
The arm and color is designed to look best with the 105/Ultegra/Dura Ace models from Shimano, but will work equally well with other models from Shimano.
This type of power meter measures the bending and twisting of the crank arm, which is used to calculate power delivered by the left leg only. On the head unit/bike computer/app you see twice that value as a fairly accurate estimate of your total power output. This works remarkably well for most riders as the body is very symmetrical.
The ultimate in power meters is the spider based solution. This is installed as a disc (the "spider") between the spindle and the chain rings. This is where the power transitions to the chain and a great to spot to measure the total power from both legs.
This is a full 172.5mm FSA Gossamer crankset (BB386 EVO, compatible with BB86/30, PF30, BSA30, etc.) in a special version designed specifically for spider based power meters. The ZPIDER matches dual chain rings (4 bolt/110mm BCD compatible with Shimano).
The power meter is integrated in the spider. This can be installed on most newer road bikes, but you may have to switch the bottom bracket if you don't have 30mm bearings already. We have that and chain rings available for you when we deliver.
Remember to add a set of chain rings as explained below under "ADD-ONS".
Careful: FSA and Shimano 4 bolt, 110mm BCD are not the same, so don't use FSA rings here.
The Gossamer crankset retails for around DKK 1500 (approx $220 | €200) without the power meter function, so factor that in when you look at the price.
NOTE: This is a stretch goal in two ways. This model will only happen if we get significantly over-funded AND we can find the right brand to build this model with. To show your interest, select the "WANT ZPINDLE MTB" pledge and we will make sure you are the first to know if we open the ZPINDLE MTB.
This is what it will be (and we know this because we have built this in several variations with different brands)...
A complete crankset with 175mm arm length (which is the preferred length by 65%).
This type of power meter measures the torque of the crank spindle, which is used to calculate the power delivered by the left leg – just like the ZIMANOX model.
We have seen about 400h operation on the spindles we have tested over the last years, so expect to get a lot of riding between charging (see our Facebook timeline or YouTube for videos from some of the crazy testing our test riders have done on this model)
You have to use our app for iOS/Android at least once per month to collect data from a minimum 30 min ride and upload this to the cloud.
The rest of the time you are free to use Strava or whatever your favorite app is :) The firmware in the power meter works with all standard apps and BLE bike computers we have tested.
We leave the ANT+ protocol running simultaneously. So you can use your bike computer and smartphone at the same time if you want. We routinely test with Garmin, Sigma and Cateye bike computers. At the last two Eurobike shows in Germany, we took a round to verify that our power pops up on all the other bike computers we could find.
We already have a fairly complete Android app is available on Google Play. We will start to port that to iOS if we get the campaign funded.
Secure wireless firmware upgrade is part of the app, and you can easily see if there are new versions of firmware available for your type of device.
One of the great things about power meters is that the standards are fairly well defined now, so most apps and bike computers should work right away. We have tested with a bunch of head units/bike computers:
And we have tested a bunch of apps including Strava (one of our favorites) and the totally addictive training "game" Zwift (hooked up to a laptop and an advanced indoor trainer is just awesome). Here is some of the apps we have tested:
There is already lots of test data available from the last 3 years. Over the last 6 months we have been sharing some test rides on YouTube, Facebook and Strava.
Here is an example of how the ZPINDLE model compares to the well known Garmin Vector power meter pedals. We have already gone through 2 sets of pedals, 3 sets of pods and so many batteries we are embarrassed on the Vectors. We know that product inside out and how to handle it and make its data to come out OK – and we also know things it will not do well.
This is an example of a nice loop (about 22km) going north out of Copenhagen. If you want a test drive, feel free to drop by when we host our "Come-and-Try" events (visit Team ZWATT on Facebook for details). Take a test ride and see for yourself how it works :)
The data we collect
We also look one step deeper into the data. The typical power meter only gives you a data point once or 4 times per second. With the data logger in the app we collect 64 data points per second – this is a lot of data which will show more about how you pedal and what type of surface you ride.
If you want access to the data we collect from your power meter for scientific research purposes, get in contact and we can establish a data link to you for a reasonable fee.
We can work with you to extract the data you need.
In exchange for the low price, you have to pay a monthly maintenance fee. We continue to develop and improve your power meter firmware and the app, so you can view the monthly fee like any other software license… or your Netflix subscription… or gym membership. Same thing.
We continue working for you and you pay a small amount for that as long as you think you are getting something valuable in return.
Our challenge to you is to get on the bike and provide us with at least one 30 min ride tracked with our app every month. That is the valuable test data we are after, which will help us improve the technology in your power meter.
Decide the future
In addition, the maintenance fee will give you voting rights in the closed forum for Team ZWATT members. This is where we decide the future direction. You and we have lots of ideas for features to add across firmware, app and cloud service. Things like:
- Better support for oval chain rings
- Other arm lengths
- Max torque display
- Pedaling style assist
- Surface roughness logging
- Air time and landing impact logging
- etc. etc.
As voting member you can add feature requests to the list and vote for which ones gets implemented first.
The 50% discounted monthly fee is DKK 33.17 (approx $4.95 | €4.46).
If you don't upload at least one 30 min ride for that month, we can't give you the 50% discount for that month, so the fee doubles.
2 year maximum
The maintenance fee goes to zero after you paid 24 months of fees. And you can still use and get updates for your power meter.
Taking a break
If you want, you can take a break from paying maintenance fee. We will however charge an extra month fee for re-activation, so it may not always be worth it.
If you decide to not pay the maintenance fee, your power meter will continue to output cadence. Power output will however be disabled after a few rides.
If someone steals the power meter (which is something that happens - especially with arm-based that are so easy to remove), they won't have much fun out of it. After a few rides, the power will not show any more. If someone tries to register it again - we will tell you.
No monthly fee
If you prefer to avoid having a monthly fee, you can at any point just pay the remaining fees up to the 24 month maximum in one go.
A little about us:
We started 3 years ago on an effort to develop a low-cost high-quality bike power meter based on a patented optical sensor technology from Danish Technical University with a senior and very experienced team.
Unfortunately this sensor technology turned out not to be sufficiently mature yet, so we cut the ties to the university and switched to proven strain gauge sensors instead. SENSITIVUS gauge was founded to design advanced bike sensor development for brands.
The first B2B sales to leading brands showed that the technology was solid and good. The journey for any mechanical business today involves a transformation into an electro-mechanical or mechatronic type business. That is where the future of mechanics is. This is however harder than most companies realize (we come from the electronics side of things and have seen this over and over).
This has delayed the end user product introduction more than our entrepreneurial spirits can bear. The co-development projects with leading brands also taught us that the typical bike industry test process with a group of pro riders is fundamentally flawed for products involving advanced algorithms.
We just had to fix that and formed Team ZWATT.
Now, help us go all the way right here on Kickstarter!
The electronics has been iterated several times to implement small improvements. Everything seems stable and solid, yet pretty cost effective. Variations for different customer projects and prototypes have been manufactured in smaller batches.
Two larger batches have been manufactured at a great manufacturer in Latvia, where the price is competitive, quality is good and we seem to get good attention (probably due to some previous projects there – one of the advantages of being a bit seasoned).
We are on the 3rd major rewrite of the entire firmware base. Each time brought significant improvements. The central power and cadence algorithms have been iterated after real world testing numerous times and they are definitely beating some other power meters on several accounts.
On the ZIMANOX arm, the design is created with the help of STRONGLIGHT in France. They have verified the strength on a fatigue tester to the ISO standards. A few prototypes have been manufactured and tested on the bikes complete with all electronics.
Our ZPIDER design is a bit behind the schedule and will be the last to complete. A mechanical prototype has been created – this is actually the 2nd generation prototype (the first worked to our full satisfaction, but for a different crank set). FSA provides the well known and tested Gossamer crank set, so the only custom part is the 4 bolt spider.
For the ZPINDLE power meter, a road version of the spindle is already in pre-production for a leading brand. The factories used for critical processes in Taiwan and China are in place and several rounds of samples have been checked.
A functional version of the Android app is already on Google Play. You can toy around with that to get an idea. This app will see a major improvement as part of the project as well as a porting to iOS.
Server side / backend
We have the basic data collection mechanism running on the cloud service today and plan to add the billing and streamline this as part of the project.
Most of the testing so far has been on variations of the ZPINDLE power meter. This has been tested over more than 2 years in various configurations with different types of crank sets mostly on MTB where the challenges are tougher. As part of B2B customer tests, several crank set manufacturers engineering groups have tested various solutions as well.
Kickstarter asked us to provide sort of a proof that the technology works - which is fair. Actually we are glad they did. That is what makes Kickstarter a better place to back projects. So here it goes in one long rough, unrehearsed, unedited smartphone first take:
And here is another no-edit, hand-held, smartphone video showing the calibration procedure. This is required after installation and when you make mechanical changes to the crank.
We will also host our super low key come-and-try events in Copenhagen during the campaign where you can test drive it for yourself. Check Facebook for details.
Regulatory and formal testing
As for any other product with electronics and radios, regulatory testing can prove to be a problem. We have mitigated most of that risk by utilizing a pre-certified radio module. Only limited testing is thus required to get the regulatory approvals (FCC and CE markings) in most of the world. This is still a significant cost however, which requires a certain volume to justify.
Manufacturing test and calibration
We have a dual in-circuit tester (bed-of-nails) for the electronics in the ZPINDLE. Similar solutions will be created for the other circuit boards to streamline test and calibration at the PCB level.
For test and calibration of the individual cranks, we can use our CalStand developed for the ZPINDLE product.
The same machine is also being used for the ZIMANOX model. A small adaptation is required for the ZPIDER, which will come as part of the project.
Important aspects of the concept is patent pending. This seems to be important in the bike industry and we will not be left out :)
For the ZPIDER you may want some additional items: Chain rings and maybe also bottom bracket parts to match your frame.
To make it simple, you can defer this decision to a later stage. We have chain rings, BB parts, spacers and adapters available at competitive prices and can ship it with your power meter.
Don't add money now. We will ask you after the campaign what add-ons you want.
This project has been self funded with only one smaller public funding grant. The original plan was to only sell the technology B2B, but we learned the hard way that this method is dangerous for a start-up when the (few) customers are moving slower than anticipated.
We decided to take action to get the technology out to much more riders and change the way of testing to match the type of products. In this way we can help our B2B customers get better testing of the technology and we become less dependent. So this is where you and Kickstarter comes in.
To fund the manufacturing of all the power meters, we need more money than we have. So we turn to you and ask for pre-payments to fund tooling, manufacturing and materials.
We believe the backer community will be a great help in deciding the future direction and in shaping the features in both firmware and app. Help us test and improve the power meter technology of tomorrow.
Risks and challenges
Kickstarter projects are a risky undertaking and the reality is that they have the potential to encounter problems in the phases after funding.
We are extremely happy about the vote of confidence and trust our backers put in us and in our project. Experience have shown us two things: That issues _will_ arise… But also that we always find a way. As a backer you will be kept in the loop.
In the last 3 years, we have been working hard on the technology, the designs and several variations (also variations we will spare you from!). We have been testing and making adjustments in order to have an end result that is the best possible compromise.
We have been in the electronics industry since before CAD tools became standard and the combined experience of the team with both product development and manufacturing is solid.
The manufacturing partners are all in place, but as with any outsourcing things may go wrong or take longer than agreed. We will tend to make the safe decision over the fast decision, keeping in mind that everything needs to move fast.
The firmware and app (Android) is already shipped to major brands for their testing. Software development sometimes takes longer than expected, and we will need to outsource porting to iOS which is obviously a risk. We are ready to add additional resources should the need arise.
One version of the hardware (for spindle based) have already shipped in manufacturing quantities, but electronic components are notorious for unpredictable lead times. This can happen to any project including this. We will work hard to avoid problems and have material procured as early as possible.
Even though we are thinking ahead and preparing for the worst, some things may escape our control. We want to rely on our backers for support and patience if we run into difficulties, and we promise we will not stop until the project is completed!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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