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Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review – Zwift Gear Test

The Garmin Vector 3 pedals have undergone a dramatic change since Vector 2 – the comms pods have gone, and in has come Bluetooth, making this these pedals the first Bluetooth SENSORS from Garmin. So looks stylish, and good on paper, but should consider them fro Zwift? – Start the Zwift Gear Test!

TitaniumGeek IMG 7028 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 7028

Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review – Zwift Gear Test

The Garmin Vector line has been a slow evolution. While it is probably a little unfair to describe the first two iterations of Garmin’s power meter pedal system as clunky, the transmission pods hanging off the bottom of both the 1st and 2nd generation units proved weak spots for the pedal line. The presence of the pods also quickly dated the Garmin offerings compared to all in one competitors such as the Favero Assioma and the PowerTap P1’sTitaniumGeek IMG 1096 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1096But probably the most significant change to the Garmin Vectors is that the whole unit is now made in-house by Garmin, allowing the ditching of the power pods and an entire pedal redesign. Now taking the whole unit in-house you would have thought Garmin would consider selling a Shimano cleat version as well, but they have instead continued to opt for the Look cleats which have been present across the entire Vector range.TitaniumGeek IMG 6944 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6944With the Vector 2, Garmin released a conversion kit to allow you to swap the cartridges of the pedals into Shimano pedals. While something like that is not available as yet for the Garmin Vector 3, I honestly don’t mind using the Look Keo cleats. But I appreciate that some people have very strong views on this, as they understandably prefer to have the same cleat system on all of their bikes.

The other headline-grabbing point about the Garmin Vector 3’s is that this is the first sensor shipped by Garmin which supports broadcast over Bluetooth! SO with that bombshell, let’s get on with the test!

Garmin Vector 3 – Design

TitaniumGeek IMG 6942 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6942From the exterior, the Garmin Vector 3 is a very smooth looking pedal. There is a considerable bulge to the rear of the pedal, where we can see the Bluetooth and ANT+ logos. TitaniumGeek IMG 6951 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6951However the actual design of the Garmin Vector 3 is very clever, due to the lack of angles, it looks a much slicker unit compared to the very industrial appearance of the PowerTap P1 and the slimmer Favero AssiomaTitaniumGeek 6922A04E FD48 44B9 969D 8545D8645670 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of 6922A04E FD48 44B9 969D 8545D8645670Ok, so we know there are pedals in the box, but what else lurks inside from Garmin?.

The box is actually quite a disappointment compared to the Vector 2 box, which made it look like you were openly something rarified. Here Garmin has just put the pedals in a box. Which really shouldn’t matter… but it does in some superficial way!TitaniumGeek IMG 6958 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6958In the box, we’ve Look Keo compatible cleats, cleat fittings metalwork, manual, yellow rubber seals for changing the battery, and finally the actually Garmin pedals.

Now the power pods have gone, I really think that the Garmin Vector 3 looks a very sleek pedal and that is reflected in the slight shaving of weight dropping 17grams from the Vector 2 down to 162g per pedalTitaniumGeek IMG 6961 2 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6961 2It’s only a small design tweak, but given the sleek nature of the pedal, Garmin has increased the size of the Garmin logo which points skywards when the bike is at rest, so that people cant miss what you are packing on your steedTitaniumGeek IMG 6947 2 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6947 2As Garmin has removed the pods, it also means that the ends of the pedals are now sealed. Although if you have Vector 3s, single-sided power, one pedal will merely have flat a metal end without a need for a capTitaniumGeek IMG 6955 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6955With the removal of the pods from the Vector 2, this reduced further potential for water ingressTitaniumGeek Gubbins 1 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Gubbins 1One thing that the eagle eyes reader might have noticed is that lack of a USB charge cable, or comments of charging point, as the Garmin Vector has LR44 batteries hidden underneath a machined screw capTitaniumGeek IMG 6949 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6949A couple of twists with an allen key and you are able to remove the end with your fingers very easilyTitaniumGeek IMG 7014 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 7014Each pedal is powered by two LR44 batteries which are installed into the cap. At the bottom of the cap, you can see the yellow rubber seal, which Garmin includes two spares for.TitaniumGeek IMG 7018 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 7018The ability to swap batteries does make things easier for out on the road but is does also mean that you cant “just give things a quick top up” the night before a big ride. The addition of Bluetooth has meant a slight reduction in ride time, with the batteries needing to be replaced at 120hours rather than the 150 we saw in the last generation.

If the status lights on the Favero ASSIOMA being on the inside of the pedal were annoying. Things are just even more annoying on the Garmin Vector 3, with the end cap, actually having the LED status light shine through them. But they are not really in the best angle to be seen!TitaniumGeek IMG 1220 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1220From the Garmin Connect app, you can review at any point what the different lights meanTitaniumGeek IMG 1086 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1086The Garmin Vector 3 have waterproof seals on the spindle to protect the internals, which are now rated at IPx 7TitaniumGeek IMG 8289 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 8289As mentioned the Garmin Vector 3 has now shifted to dual channel comms, which is a huge bonus. Meaning that the power meter can be used with cycling head units such as the Bluetooth only Polar M460TitaniumGeek IMG 0116 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 0116But more importantly for Zwifters means that the Garmin Vector 3 can be used right out of the box with Zwift on iPad, iPhone or Apple TV. No more shunning of the Vectors as ANT+ only, or needing to rely on ANT+ bridges such as the 4iiii HRM now TitaniumGeek IMG 1207 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1207

Garmin Vector 3 – Specification

  • Battery: LR44 2x ~120 hours
  • Total Weight: 169 grammes.
  • Communications: ANT+, and Bluetooth Smart
  • Minimum – Maximum Power: 0-2000 Watts
  • Power Measurement accuracy: 1% – an improvement from the previous Vectors
  • Water resistance: IPx7
  • Maximum weight of the cyclist: 105kg up from 90Kg
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Compatible cleats: Look, Keo
  • Data: Power, cadence, L/R Balance, Garmin Cycling Dynamics

Garmin Vector 3 – ManualTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 19.36.40 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 19.36.40

You can download and access then Garmin Vector 3 manual from here



 

Garmin Vector 3 – Zwift Gear TestTitaniumGeek IMG 2877 1024x614 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 2877 1024x614

OK first things first, the Garmin Vector 3 pedals need to be installed… and frankly that couldn’t be easier. There is no difficulty here compared to installing any other type of regular pedal. Apply pedal wrench, tighten, look smug. DoneTitaniumGeek IMG 7022 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 7022I think that this is probably going to be one of the major advantage and attractor for people in the market for a pedal based power meter. A major draw of pedal power meters is the relative ease of swapping the system between bikes, certainly compared to crank mounted systems. Previously the Vector 2 has been a mild irritant, but now all three of the major pedal systems, are as easy as pie to install. In which case people are going to look other aspects of the systems to inform their purchases

Once the pedals are bolted on, you need to install the Garmin Connect app. Now previously I’ve had no major love for the Garmin Connect app (iOS download, Google Play download) – which was a good thing, as previously you could entirely cut Garmin Connect out of the loop, and do the setup and firmware updates from a Garmin EdgeTitaniumGeek IMG 0113 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 0113

However the latest iteration of Garmin Connect is much slicker – and it is not worthwhile keeping installed to unify your training efforts rather than just to update the firmware. Without a doubt, the new Garmin Connect is much better at actually allowing you to easily view and track your performance over timeTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 22.11.01 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 22.11.01With Garmin Connect installed, you can follow the onscreen process to connect your pedals to your phoneTitaniumGeek IMG 1103 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1103From there you are also able to install any firmware updates as may be needed by the Vectors. The Bluetooth sensor broadcast now also means that you can use cycling apps on the phone to record your ride too finally, which is also now getting a wider release from Garmin to other apps

Now whether there is a lot of training benefit to knowing things such as remembering your standing time, and seated time is still debated, I’m pretty sure that the platform off centre remains only of use for bike fitters. Regardless of the fact I only think the power phase has value, you do get richer, if not actually better, data set from Garmin’s cycling dynamics TitaniumGeek IMG 1087 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 1087Once everything is updated, you need to set the crank lengths, after that calibrate and you are good to start riding! TitaniumGeek IMG 0121 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 0121In Zwift, you see the Garmin Vector 3 broadcasting both the BLE and ANT+ protocol – so it looks like you are ready for a spin. For the first test, given the novelty, I ran Zwift using the Vectors Bluetooth streamTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 13.39.31 2 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 13.39.31 2I do all of the Zwift Gear Tests using Jon’s Mix, giving me an excellent, stable, repeatable test, which over time has built up a series of graphs that readers can use to compare different power meters and trainersTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2017 08 15 at 09.51.34 1024x616 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2017 08 15 at 09.51.34 1024x616For an accurate power meter test, you need to be taking the recordings from at least three different units, so here I’m using the Tacx Neo and the PowerTap C1 chainring for comparison. So everything calibrated and off we go!
TitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2017 08 15 at 09.51.45 1024x616 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2017 08 15 at 09.51.45 1024x616

Garmin Vector 3 Power Graphs

So how did the Garmin Vector 3 fare on Jon’s Mix? Well, the initial ride wasn’t as good as I was expecting. As you can see here the Vectors, 3’s seem to be reading a little high across the ride. Particularly on the steady state sections of the workout.TitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 18.04.46 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 18.04.46So crank lengths double checked, ensured that everything was properly zeroed and then recalibrated, and run again once more using Bluetooth, now the differences are less, but the Vector 3 is still not aligning perfectly
TitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 16.16.04 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 16.16.04The Garmin Vector 3 appears to trace fractionally higher, but when you zoom into a 5 min segment of the graph, you can see that everything is bouncing along, but that the Garmin Vectors can be seem to to now loose out fractionally – at the worst up to 23watts down in the end sprint. TitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 16.22.41 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 16.22.41

Based on this, I swapped channels to ANT+ recording, and had another look at the data. Again, the overview graph is reasonableTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 03 at 14.32.23 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 03 at 14.32.23But when you zoom in, you can see that the Garmin Vectors have a much closer alignment with the PowerTap C1 – sufficently that for most of the ride, the look like one trace. This makes sense, as the two units are both closer to the riderTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 03 at 14.38.43 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 03 at 14.38.43Yes, from a Zwift racing perspective, I’d have no issues turning up on the start line running the Garmin Vector 3 – although I’d still probably opt for running ANT+ broadcast for the most accurate results.

Garmin Vector 3 Review – Conclusion

TitaniumGeek IMG 6943 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6943

I was a bit lukewarm on the original Garmin Vector pedals. They were very expensive and had some bad stories about the metal pods. Things improved further with the Vector2. One issue that came about with the original Vectors was water getting inside the units, which is one reason that Favero opted for sealed battery units.

Some people are very fond of the PowerTap P1 pedals and the Garmin Vectors for the ability to swap batteries mid-ride, and I can see that trend continuing with the Vector 3’s. The refinement of the nature of the battery housing seen in this version, along with the sealed Vector 3 internals should reduce any moisture related issues.

That said in the Zwift world, you are dead in the water if your power meter dies! Regrettably battery life is one of the few areas where the new Garmin Vector 3 is worse than the unit being replaced, with two batteries needed for each pedal, and now a reduced 120-hour life, as supposed to the larger 150 from the Vector 2 coin cells. Thankfully,

Choosing a pedal based power meter system can be a significant choice, especially if you are like me, and wedded to a particular type of pedals (you can take my Speedplays from my cold, dead corpse!).  However, if you are happy with the Look Keo pedals, then the new Garmin Vector 3 should certainly be a power meter on your consideration list.

The price is at the higher end of the power meter pedal bracket, now that PowerTap has reduced the price of the P1. However, this is reasonably reflected in the power accuracies. Garmin has the advantage with 1% accuracy vs 2% for the Assioma and 1.5% for the PowerTap P1

Ultimately there are four areas which differ between the three rival pedals – Price, accuracy, pedal style and nature of battery. Based on price, accuracy, and ease of install I’m going to award 4/5 TG stars, and a highly recommended too (assuming you are happy with Look pedals) – the question to the consumer is which of those four points is the most important to you. Personally, I’d say that no pedal wins on all four areas. But it has to be said the Garmin Vector 3 is a very solid set of pedalsTitaniumGeek Screen Shot 2018 03 04 at 09.14.25 e1520155033471 1024x472 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of Screen Shot 2018 03 04 at 09.14.25 e1520155033471 1024x472This review has been made possible by a loaner device from CyclingPowermeters.com – who have kindly offered TitaniumGeek readers a 10% discount, through the link below – or on the sidebar!
TitaniumGeek IMG 6809 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6809So we’ve done the Assioma Pedals, now the Garmin Vector 3 – next for the roundup has to be the PowerTap P1’s – especially as they have recently undergone a price cut!TitaniumGeek IMG 6935 Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedal Review   Zwift Gear Test Cycling Gear Reviews Power Meters  Zwift Gear Test Zwift Vector powermeter pedal garmin cyclig   Image of IMG 6935



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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!