TESTED: Verve Infocrank Power Meter

In the past three years we’ve seen more power meters come to market than in the previous 10 years combined. New hardware and software have not only opened the doors to more affordable options, but also to those providing many more pedaling metrics. The new InfoCrank from Verve targets something that the Australian company feels has been largely neglected on most other power meters, and that’s accuracy.

THE TECH
In what began as a project for AIS (Australia Institute of Sport), the engineers who would go on to develop InfoCrank were tasked with making a device to measure how much drift from temperature change there was with the power meters AIS athletes were using. During the project the engineers found there was a very specific strain-gauge placement location needed in order to have accurate and consistent torque measurement that wasn’t affected by drift.

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“We looked at all the load paths in the crank, and there are six different paths, yet only one of those six drives the bike forward, and that’s tangential load path,” said Verve’s Shawn Heidgen. She continued, “That’s why we placed our strain gauges along that load path, because everything else is just noise”.

The crankarm-based InfoCrank power meter uses a pair of strain gauges oriented along each of the two tangential load paths in the forged aluminum crankarm, as Heidgen previously explained, while the electronics are housed between each pair of strain gauges. Verve’s power meter design isn’t an add-on to a third-party crank like most other crankarm-based units; it’s completely integrated into the crank. And because each crankarm is independently measuring torque, the InfoCrank shows true left-/right-leg power, and with that comes a number of other metrics.

Even though those of us in Southern California don’t have to deal with rain that often, we do realize that it does rain in other parts of the world, and poor seals are still a problem with some power meters. Verve doesn’t just say that riding in the rain with the InfoCrank is okay; they take it a step further and claim it’s completely waterproof. That will undoubtedly be as much of a selling point as any of its other features for some; and fortunately, it doesn’t come at the expense of serviceability, as the batteries are user replaceable.

Verve offers the InfoCrank in both 130mm and 110mm BCD, with both sizes using Praxis chainrings. Both 30mm aluminum and 24mm steel are available for nearly universal frame compatibility. Verve does offer their own branded Navi2Coach O-Synce head unit as an option to purchase with the InfoCrank, but because the crank uses an ANT+ protocol, there are numerous other options to choose from.

THE RIDE
If you’re familiar with using a power meter, you know that doing a zero reset at the start of each ride is an important step in ensuring accurate data, but Verve claims this is an unnecessary step with the InfoCrank. That means that there is nothing necessary to do pre-ride—just get on the bike and go.

We tested the InfoCrank with both the Navi2Coach head unit that it was sent with and the more familiar Garmin 810. Each one provided the necessary features to monitor individual leg power, which is always interesting to see while riding since it gives a clear picture of the pedaling imbalances that the majority of us have. A number of brands, including Pioneer, Rotor, Polar/Look and Garmin, are offering true dual-leg measurement, while other single-sided units use an algorithm to determine balance. None of the testers were consistently 50/50 with their pedaling balance; in fact, it was closer to 45/55 for one of the riders. Even though there are other factors in pedaling efficiency, it does allow a clear snapshot into how power is being delivered to the bike.

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Functionally, we encountered zero problems with the InfoCrank; there was never a drop-off in data between the transmitter and head unit, nor did we experience any erroneous max power numbers or anything of the sort. The crank itself can’t be overlooked since it still has a simple yet highly important job to do in getting power transferred from the rider to the chain and on to the rear wheel. Between the crank and forged Praxis chainrings it performed this job just fine, even if the angular design of the cranks didn’t impress everyone in the aesthetics category.

Verve doesn’t offer their own power-analysis software, so those really looking to get the most out of the data need a subscription to Training Peaks, Cycling Analytics or a similar site.

THE VERDICT
Verve feels that accuracy is the most critical feature of their power meter. Without discounting that, we feel that usability is equally as important for those who don’t have someone to take their bike from them at the finish line and keep everything expertly tuned and maintained. Three key features we feel everyday riders will truly appreciate with the InfoCrank are: no need to regularly do a zero offset, user-replaceable battery and that it’s waterproof.

Even though it’s not the most expensive power meter on the market, it’s also far from the cheapest. The $1750 price tag puts it just above the Pioneer Dual Leg power meter and below the Rotor Power, both of which share the InfoCrank’s individual-leg-power measurement. Getting a power meter without true individual leg power can cut the price dramatically, which begs the question, how important is such a feature really? It depends on whom you ask, but there are few who can doubt the benefits of such data. It’s a logical technological progression and takes the power meter from just a tool that quantify your work to now providing a glimpse into how efficiently that work is being performed.

STATS
Price: $1750 (includes chainrings), $255 (Navi2Coach head unit)
Weight: 869 grams (includes chainrings and magnets)

Check out more from Verve at vervecycling.com

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