James RaisonComment

ZWATT Power Meter launches on Kickstarter

James RaisonComment
ZWATT Power Meter launches on Kickstarter

Danish start-up SENSITIVUS gauge has thrown their hat into the Kickstarter bicycle power-meter ring and they want you to join team ZWATT. This project is a little different to other Kickstarter-power-meters we’ve seen before. You aren’t just a backer; you’re a tester, a data source, a part of a democratic community developing ZWATT and choosing its future direction. In return, you get a competitively cheap power meter. ZWATT’s not to like about that?

Words: James Raison        Images: Supplied

ZWATT the heck are you talking about?

Zwell, they’re talking about a hardware and software package.

The hardware is two power meters and a third promised if the Kickstarter goal is sufficiently exceeded:

  1. ZIMANOX - the left crank-arm meter in the Stages/Pioneer/4iiii tradition. Power is left side only.
  2. ZPIDER - the spider-based meter in the SRM, Power2Max, Quarq style. This option gives readings on both legs.
  3. ZPINDLE - the spindle based MTB power metre in the style of… well nothing really, this is a trend-setter. The ZPINDLE will only be developed if the Kickstarter goal is well walloped.

The software is the Team ZWATT App that’ll be available for iOS and Android. It’ll connect to your power meter via Bluetooth 4.0, aka Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), aka Bluetooth Smart. Each power meter simultaneously runs ANT+ protocol so you can send data to a compatible device (Garmin, Sigma, Cateye) while the app is harvesting data through BLE.

The ZPIDER is based on an FSA Gossamer crankset.

The ZPIDER is based on an FSA Gossamer crankset.

So, ZWATT’s the deal?

Backers of the Kickstarter effectively become members of Team ZWATT and commit to the ongoing development of the software. Team ZWATT members are expected to collect data from a minimum 30 minute ride at least once per month and upload it to the cloud. That data is then used to improve the algorithms and regular firmware updates will be made. Occasionally Team ZWATT eggheads will request specific data types like climbing-focused rides, high cadence, low torque, or even something like cobblestones. It’s all about building robust algorithms.

Additionally, Team ZWATT will be able to submit ideas for future development and then have voting rights to choose the direction. So, if the community decides they want other crank arm lengths developed, more support for ovalized chainrings, or max torque display, they can exercise their democratic right and make it happen.

Hang on a second, ZWATT’s the cost?

Well, this is where it diverges again from other power meters. Backers pay a hardware fee for the power meter, then a monthly  ‘Maintenance Fee’ that pays for ongoing software development and support. The ZIMANOX is $189 USD + $4.95 USD per month, and the ZPIDER is $299 USD + $4.95 per month. The maintenance fee stops after 2 years, and your ongoing software upgrades are free. Total cost for the ZIMANOX is $417, and ZPIDER is $470 (both in USD).

Don’t be tempted to buy the meter and refuse to pay the maintenance fee, you’ll soon be left with a power-less crank arm or spider.

The ZIMANOX goes on the left side crank.

The ZIMANOX goes on the left side crank.

ZWATT’s it compatible with?

The Zimanox is a standard 172.5mm left crank arm and comes with all the compatibility that promises. The ZPIDER is installed as a disc between the spindle and chainrings and is built into an FSA Gossamer crankset compatible with BB86/30. It’s 4-bolt 110mm BCD compatible so it’ll immediately go with your Shimano rings, but not FSA.

ZWATT do we think?

Firstly, the price is very good. If it delivers on the claimed accuracy, build quality, and weather proofing then it's hard to imagine many will be unhappy.

The ZWATT model is intriguing because of the potentially massive user-base submitting data to develop and improve the algorithm. The ‘maintenance fee’ might sound strange, but it pays for ongoing support and improvements.

You just need to be willing to commit for 2 years. That's a long time in the bike industry. 

Do you want to get involved? Better head over to the Kickstarter page, backers are getting in quick!