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2011/2012 Look 695 SR — Power Meter Options

Last updated 2011-11-18 - Send Feedback
Related: bicycle power meter, heart rate, Road Bikes, SRM
Look 695 SR carbon fiber road bike

I consider a power meter essential on my road bikes; I use it for training and tracking calorie burn, and I consider it critical for accurate endurance pacing on long events like the Everest Challenge. It’s so useful that I will not consider a road bike without an accurate and reliable power meter. By “power meter” I mean something with power (watts), calories expended, altitude, ascent, mileage, speed, interval capability, etc. GPS is superfluous for me.

On my Trek Madone 6.9 SSL, I use the SRM 7950 power meter. It has worked very reliably for me for about 9000 miles as I write this.

Using the SRM power meter on the Look 695 SR

Confirmed with LOOK, there is an aluminum threaded bottom bracket adapter that allows the normal SRM crankset to be installed (e.g., the SRM 7900 or SRM 7950).

LOOK bottom bracket adapter: 79 grams

Since I am not comfortable with the Polar/Look pedal solution (more on that below), the SRM approach is the route I would go with the Look 695 SR. I also want the best shifting with Shimano DuraAce DI2, and that means the nice stiff DuraAce chainrings.

Look Keo Power pedals

Look Keo Power pedals with Polar head unit and transmitters

On the near-term horizon (Dec 2011) are the Look/Polar Keo Power pedals. I hear that the pedals are likely to cost in the $2000 - $2500 range, which is less than the SRM crankset and SRM Power Control 7 head unit offering.

Whether the Look Keo Power Pedals will include the Polar CS600X head unit is unclear.

Comments on the Keo Power pedal solution—

  • Perhaps even mountain bike and cyclocross bikes could use them, though it’s unclear how practical this is, because the Polar transmitters that plug into the pedals look like they might be scraped off on rocks, etc.
  • There is a separate power readout for left and right pedals, to gauge the power output from each leg independently. Useful at times, but most of the time I want one power reading, and it’s unclear if one is forced to look at two small numbers, or whether one composite and larger display is possible.
  • I’m not a fan of small screens as on the Polar 600X unit. Older eyes and dim light are a bad combination. It’s not at all clear how large or bright the screen is.

Alternative: the Garmin Vector power meter pedals. Sorry, no experience with that product as this was written.

No ANT+

I’d like to see Look make the Keo Power pedals compatible with ANT+, so that any number of head units could work with them.

Linking to a proprietary protocol like Polar WIND could be a strategic mistak for Look. But perhaps Look needed the wireless transmitter technology from Polar, and the dual power data streams might have demanded special support for capture and display.

Software support

Power is a package deal: it has to work flawlessly on the bike, and it must require minimal time and effort to be useful on my computer. If I cannot download and view the day’s workout in under a minute, it’s frustrating.

For Mac users, I deem the Polar solution marginal at best: the Polar software is only for PC users. I don’t want to run Windows in a virtualization program on my Mac (not to mention the expense and hassle and space required to set up virtualization, Windows, anti-virus, etc).

Some years ago I ran the Polar software on my Mac via Windows, and it was a constant headache. I eventually lost all my data when I inadvertently deleted the Windows partition on my laptop. By comparison, SRM has a java-based Mac program, which has usability issues, but basically gets the job done quickly and easily.

After all these years, it’s telling that Polar has not offered a Mac OS X solution. That irksome fact alone is enough to dissuade me from a Polar solution— the Polar folks have had well over a decade to figure out a solution. I still own 4 Polar heart rate monitor watches (two of them the top of the line), but I was forced to abandon them when multiple coded transmitter belts proved consistently unreliable for heart rate. Given that track record, I’m very nervous about dropping $2K or more on a Polar-based wireless solution for power, which might or might not work properly for heart rate and/or power.

While Polar does offer a world wide web offering for power analysis, the last thing I want is to be forced to upload my data and be connected to the internet just to view my power data— when I travel, I often ride where I don’t have internet access (I camp and rarely stay in town). I also inherently dislike having my data in the “cloud”, having to waste my time logging in, or waiting for a slow web site, etc.


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