Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO Pedals Review: The PEZ First Spin
The Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO pedals are here and signify another step forward in the Wahoo cycling training ecosystem – adding on-bike power measurement to a suite of cycling training tools that sets the bar of the smart trainer/ bike computer / data capture and usage sphere for serious cyclists. Chuck Peña received one of the first sets and filed this first look review.
PEZ readers probably know I’m a big fan of Speedplay pedals (having ridden them since the ’90s and I still have several pairs of the original Speedplay X pedals). Wahoo acquired Speedplay in September 2019 and I reviewed the updated Wahoo Speedplay Zero pedals last year. My take:
What Wahoo have managed to do is take an already excellent existing product with a proven track record, update it to make it new, and yet keep it familiar. That’s about as good as it gets to not fixing what ain’t broken.
And I noted this:
Wahoo is excited to announce the world’s first dual-sided, pedal-based power meter. The highly anticipated POWRLINK ZERO will be available in the summer 2021. Wahoo indeed!
It’s taken longer than originally expected, but good things come to those who wait. The Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO pedals are now here and PEZ received one of the first sets for review.
Specs Per Wahoo:
- Speedplay Zero pedal body with cross compatible cleats (sold with standard tension)
- 55mm stainless steel spindle
- Pedal weight: 138 grams (276 grams per pair)
- Max rider weight: 250 pounds (113 kilograms)
- LED Indicators (for connection, charging, and low battery)
- Y-shaped dual-sided charger to charge both pedals simultaneously (NOTE: Wahoo also has a single-sided version that will include a charger for just one pedal)
- 75+ hours battery life
- Multi-BLE and ANT+
- +/- 1 % accuracy
- Left/right balance (NOTE: But not with single-sided version)
- Temperature compensation
- Automatic calibration
- Oval-chainring compatible
- Easy onboarding in Wahoo Fitness App
- Sensor details
MSRP – $999.99 for dual-sided, $649.99 for single-sided
What’s in the box
Y-dual charger and charging clips
Cleats and all the bits to mount them
A few comparisons to Speedplay Zero
There’s definitely a family resemblance
The obvious difference is the power pod strain gauge on the POWRLINK ZERO
The power meter hardware adds 29 grams per pedal (and my POWRLINK ZERO pedal was one gram heavier than spec)
The stack height on the POWRLINK ZERO (right) is 3mm taller than the regular Speedplay Zero (left) – when measured from the centre of the spindle.
I didn’t take any precise measurements, but the spindle length/Q-factor looks to be exactly the same (top – Speedplay Zero, bottom – POWRLINK ZERO)
Mounting the pedals
The way you identify left from right is that you can read the “Wahoo” logo left-to-right
Thread the pedal on by hand and then use an 8mm hex wrench to tighten it down (Wahoo recommends 30 Nm torque)
Wahoo specs at least 1mm space between the POWRLINK ZERO and crank arm (washers are included, if you need them)
Charging and pairing
NOTE: For my first time charging, I actually charged the pedals before I mounted them because it was just easier to connect to my computer’s USB port. But in the future, I can connect the Y-cord to an outlet extender I have that has USB ports.
Attach the charging clip to the pedal power pods. Make sure the Wahoo logo on the charging clip is facing the pedal body.
The Y-cord is long enough to connect to both pedals
Plug the cord into a USB power port to charge. Lights on the pedal power pod will flash green while charging and then turn solid green when fully charged (but will shut off after 5 seconds).
After they’re charged up, you need to pair the pedals to the Wahoo app, which I’ll illustrate with screen shots.
I added POWRLINK to the device name just so I know it’s the pedals, but that’s purely optional
You also use the Wahoo app to calibrate the pedals.
If you’re using a Wahoo bike computer, you can also calibrate on that.
NOTE: If you want the most absolute accuracy, you should calibrate the POWRLINK ZERO pedals before every ride because minute changes in temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors can affect the accuracy of any power meter. However, according to Wahoo, it’s not absolutely critical to calibrate before every ride if you’re willing to accept that your power data may be slightly off (and probably not even noticeable). Also, the POWRLINK ZERO pedals will auto calibrate before a ride if: you wake them up, put the cranks at the 12 o’clock/6 o’clock position, and hold the bike upright and stationary.
Calibration on my Wahoo ROAM
Finally, you need to pair the pedals to whatever bike computer you’re using.
If you aren’t already riding Wahoo Speedplay Zero pedals, you’ll need to mount new cleats on your shoes. If you want a more detailed “how to,” you can read my review of the Speedplay Zero pedals. But here are a few pics from the review to give you an idea what’s involved.
Attach the base plate
Fit the cleat surround
Attach the cleat (which consists of two pre-connected pieces: protector plate plus spring and housing)
Put the walkable cleat cover on
Pedaling With Power
Function-wise the POWRLINK ZERO pedals are exactly the same as the Speedplay Zero pedals. In other words, free-float (up to 15 degrees), double-sided entry so you don’t have to fuss with finding right side up (just step on the pedal to click in), and easy twist out since the cleat isn’t held in place with tension. What I wrote in my review of the Speedplay Zero pedals:
Coming from the Speedplay Xs, the new Wahoo Speedplay Zeros aren’t exactly the same from a “feel” standpoint. My Speedplay Xs are super easy to clip in and out of and the float feels buttery smooth. By comparison, the Wahoo Speedplay Zeros feel stiffer/firmer. They require noticeably more force to clip in and click out of. I felt like I had to place more of my weight onto the pedal to clip in. Clicking out required more conscious thought/effort to exert outward force. I could also feel the “hard stop” of the heel out float limit when clicking out (with the Speedplay X, it’s just continuous, smooth, and effortless float as I turn my ankle out until the cleat releases from the pedal).
Having ridden the Speedplay Zero pedals for a season now, I’m totally used to them so there’s nothing different riding the POWRLINK ZERO pedals. Clipping in and out is second nature. [NOTE: I did raise my seat 3mm since the stack height on the POWRLINK ZERO pedals is 3mm higher than the Speedplay Zero.]
The power pod is visually bulky
But I didn’t have any shoe clearance issues
Of course, what’s different is that the POWRLINK ZERO pedals measure and transmit power data. I can’t verify Wahoo’s claim of +/- 1 percent accuracy, but I would expect the POWRLINK ZERO pedals to be very accurate since they’re measuring power on both sides and at the first contact point of power transmission.
Not a test of measurement accuracy, but I’ve ridden the POWRLINK ZERO pedals on two different bikes that each have a Precision 4iiii single-side crank arm power meter (also claimed +/- 1 percent accuracy) — one bike on a trainer and the other bike IRL on the road. In both cases, the displayed power (on two different bike computers) was nearly identical. Not 100 percent perfectly in sync, but almost always within 2 watts of each other. And when they were out of sync by 5+ watts, they re-converged pretty quickly. Any differences can probably be chalked up to the POWRLINK ZERO being a dual-sided power meter vs the Precision 4iiii measuring power only on the left crank arm and doubling it for total power, different power measurement points (pedal vs crank arm), and any lag in transmitting data from the power meters to the bike computers. But my not scientifically-controlled or statistically significant data points tell me that both power meters are relatively equally accurate (or inaccurate).
Not a test of accuracy, but taco lunch ride with my wife. LEFT: 4iiii left side-only crank arm power meter paired to Hammerhead Karoo 2. RIGHT: Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO pedals power meter paired to Wahoo ROAM. Pretty close between the two so close enough for me.
For the data geeks who want to see more detail between the 4iiii (top) and POWRLINK ZERO (bottom)
Are these the pedals you’re looking for?
If you are a Speedplay devotee and want a pedal-based power meter, the simple answer is “yes.” The Wahoo POWRLINK ZERO is the only game in town.
But there are other reasons why the POWRLINK ZERO might be the right power meter choice:
- As a pedal power meter, not only can the they be installed easily, but they can be easily moved from bike to bike. So a cost-effective choice if you own n+1 bikes.
- Want to add power data riding a “dumb” trainer or stationary bike? Just spin on a pair of POWERLINK ZERO pedals.
- Changing/upgrading the grouppo on your bike? No need to buy a new power meter.
- Getting a new bike? See above.
- Taking a bike vacation (maybe to the Garda Bike Hotel) and not bringing your own bike to ride but still want to keep track of your watts? You were probably going to bring your own pedals to ride anyway, so why not make it a two-fer of pedals+power meter?
- Riding oval chainrings (I ride Absolute Black and Rotor Q-rings on different bikes)? Oval chainrings present a unique challenge when it comes to accurately measuring power throughout the pedal stroke. POWRLINK ZERO uses internal accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors to calculate crank speed in real time to provide consistent, accurate power data — even with oval chainrings.
The POWRLINK ZERO pedals are oval friendly
And for me, the POWRLINK ZERO pedals means new school meets old school. I can now ride my #steelisreal Hollands that was my race bike in the 90s with power data. #lifeisgood
Yes, that’s a downtube front shifter!
• Find more info at the Wahoo Fitness website.
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