Velocomp Powerpod Unboxing and Review

You can find the company website here

And you can find a Kickstarter page (no longer active, but has a nice intro video. Since posting this, the intro video is also available on Youtube.) here

So, I ordered a Powerpod from Velocomp Thursday (May the 4th), and this afternoon I received an email from the company saying the package was out for delivery! Whoa! That’s pretty fast Amazon Prime-esque delivery times. Actually maybe even faster considering it was delivered < 48 hours after I placed the order. I walk up to my mailbox and the USPS person handed the package to me. Really impressive.

This is what the box looks like from the outside,

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The packaging is very minimalistic – which I actually like. Also for a small company starting out, this is to be expected.

Now, I was considering a Pioneer power meter, and I wasn’t discouraged by the price so much as the fact that I owned two bicycles – and one of them is a Campy Athena Crank. So, I was really undecided on (A) Which bike to get the power meter for, and (B) How do I get power data if I ride the other bike ? Anytime I have to make a decision that involves more than a simple yes or no, I just put off the decision making way into the future. 🙂 Enter the Powerpod, and the fact that it can be used on multiple bikes easily, and I was immediately sold.

How I chanced upon the Powerpod was, I was reading an article that Apple might be working on a patent for power generation based on a wind sensor, and someone in the comment section pointed out that someone already had a fully baked product out there that did the exact same thing. I google the company’s name, and voila, DC Rainmaker has an article on it. Now, I was kinda introduced to the Wahoo ecosystem by reading DC Rainmaker’s posts as well, and that has worked out marvelously for me. I love all of the Wahoo items I have. I love the heart rate sensors, the speed and cadence sensors, the Wahoo Elemnt. I even briefly owned a Kickr snap, but did not enjoy riding on a trainer.

Back to the Powerpod, I am unboxing the product as I type this post. First things first – I am slightly disappointed that the usb port does not have a rubber cover to it. I am wondering now if this is going to be waterproof. I remember reading in DCR’s article that he it can be ridden in the rain without issues. I might have to fashion some kind of rubber washer for it, or maybe just stick some black electric tape over the usb port.  {Since writing this post, I contacted Velocomp, and they assured me that the USB port and the wind port are both waterproof. In fact, I did earlier read in the comments section that you just rinse them out if they ever get dust on them. I feel more confident now that this will work in rain and such without problems. } However, they did have a picture showing which way the connector needed to go. Considering established companies like Gopro can’t get this right, (not for the USB cable itself, but for the battery and SD Card) I guess, you need to give them points for it. The usb is also micro-USB which is what most electronics products come with. They could move to USB-C and that would take the hassle out of the connector not being reversible, but not a big deal, considering this is for charging and not data transfer. I meant to say not massive amounts of data transfer like video from a camera, but I have been corrected that the USB port is indeed used for data transfer, when you hook it up to your computer to get advanced raw data analysis. 

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I already have a K-edge Wahoo/Gopro combo mount on one of my bikes, and noticed the Powerpod comes with another mount. Considering my Campy bike is EPS and has very less cabling in the front, I think I’ll use the regular adapter with this.

Instructions:

  1. There is installation instructions stuck to the inside of the box.
  2. The rest of the instructions are printed out on paper and included in the box.

Btw, I put the Powerpod on charge just a while back, and looks like it is fully charged and ready to go.

You can find the instructions here

I skipped two pages of advanced instructions for now. I’ll get to that at a later point in time.

Pairing to Speed and Cadence Sensors:

I own Wahoo speed and cadence sensors – so I’m going to proceed to pairing the powerpod with them. Ok, so I brought the sensors alive, pressed on the button for 4 seconds, and it blinked green, followed by solid green, followed by orangish blinking ?? Did I actually pair it ? I’m going to try again.

Ok, it seemed to do the same thing again. Blinking green followed by solid green, followed by blinking amber/orange. I guess it’s paired. We’ll figure it out. Took all of 5 minutes really. The sensors did pair correctly, so, there was no cause for concern there really.

Folks over at Velocomp tell me that,

  1. Blinking Green – Searching for sensors
  2. Solid Green – Speed sensor paired.
  3. Orange 3 flashes – Cadence and or heart rate strap paired.

Ah, so that’s what it was – I tried pairing the Speed and Cadence sensor at the same time. So, the Solid Green was the Speed sensor getting paired, the 3 Orange flashes was the Cadence sensor getting paired. 

Apparently, pairing a heart rate sensor is also supported, and is valuable in gathering useful data. I’m going to check this out as well.

Pairing to my Wahoo Elemnt bike computer:

You’re supposed to do this from the Elemnt. Ok, I was able to go the menu, Sensors, Add Sensor, and it took less than 30 seconds to pair to the Elemnt. It’s now added to the Elemnt. The Powerpod has a Solid Yellow light on, indicating that it is now ready to be calibrated.

At this point, I need to take a break to clean my bicycle 🙂 It’s the weekend you know. I think once I have it spotless and lubed, I’ll attach the Powerpod to it, and go ahead with Calibration after that.

Ok, here’s an odd thing – while I have shut down my bike computer, and wandered off into corners of the internet, the Powerpod’s LED is still solid amber. Looks like it needs to be calibrated 🙂 How do I shut this thing off ? Ok, apparently if I go about wandering the internet, it should power off in 20 minutes. …. And it did shut itself off – no worries there.

… … …

Calibration:

So, I attached the Powerpod to the K-edge mount a day after I started with the process, and turned the power button on, and started my Wahoo Elemnt up. I initially did not see any indication of anything going on, but as soon as I started riding, the Watts started going from 0-100, which was basically the calibration completion process.

One of the issues is with my particular bike is even with the K-edge mount, a couple of cables still end up touching the power meter. Considering this is a 105 bike, and does not have cables in front of the hoods (like Tiagra, Sora …etc), I am a little annoyed by this. I am also a little worried about if this will affect actual power numbers. I haven’t tried the provided mount yet – that might actually be better in terms of nothing contacting it.

Folks over at Velocomp were kind enough to suggest that I either use a zip-tie or actually trim the cables – which to be honest, is a very reasonable suggestion. My bike does have unnecessarily long cables!

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Test Ride:

So, as the caibration was going on, this was my test ride 0. When I see the ride on Strava, it has power numbers. You’ll see “Weighted Avg Power” instead of “Estimated Avg power” and also Avg and Max power numbers. Fig below shows a workout with power numbers, and another for comparison without the power numbers.

Endomondo showed no power data whatsoever. Apparently, there is no support as you will find in their forums. Bummer. Now, both my Strava and Endomondo account are not Premium. I am sure with a Premium Strava account, you’d be able to see Power charts and such.

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The Wahoo Elemnt App did a nicer job of giving more details for free.It has, Power Zones, Power Metrics, Power Curve (which for this ride is bogus), and Avg and Max Power per Lap.

I am interested in it recording the power numbers with both my Wahoo Elemnt, and possibly also my iPhone. I’ll see how the data from the two compare. (Ironically the only app that will let me record view the power numbers on my iPhone will also have to be a Wahoo app, since I do not have a premium subscription to Strava.)

More after a few more rides, and collecting some meaningful data…

 

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