Review: Verve Cycling InfoCrank Power Meter

Verve Cycling’s InfoCrank is a relative newcomer in a growing power meter market. The InfoCrank hit the shelves in late 2014 after six years of development and testing. This crank based power meter delivers what is said to be a super accurate measurement from both the left and right crank arms.

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On face value the bilateral power measurement looks to be the InfoCrank’s headline party trick, but delving deeper into the product's journey you realise this is just an ice-breaker. The crank itself has been built from the ground up as a hyper accurate power measurement device. This intent focus on accuracy results in what Verve's President, Bryan Taylor, calls a “set and forget” power meter with no need for further calibration, ever.

 

Designing from scratch meant the Verve Cycling team were able to place strain gauges in such a way that only the force which moves the bicycle forward is measured to optimise accuracy. The use of four high quality strain gauges which are compensated for temperature changes means that accuracy is unaffected by temperature fluctuations.

 

Installation


The InfoCrank unit includes the crank arms (available in 170, 172.5 and 175mm), Praxis chainrings (Compact 50/34 or Mid-Compact 52/36) and Praxis M30 Bottom Bracket (options for BB30, PF30, OSBB, BSA, BB86 frames). The crank spider has a standard 110BCD which means you’ll easily find aftermarket rings if those ratios are not to your liking. Also included is a BB tool for the Praxis BB - a nice touch since it’s a unique design.

 

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Installing the InfoCrank is no different from a typical standard bottom bracket and crank, which if you’ve got the required tools is fairly straightforward. For our test a threaded BB was used which was easily installed with the included BB tool and a rachet. From here fitting the cranks themselves requires only an 8 mm allen key to secure the non-drive side crank onto the spindle.

 

Included in the box are frame mounted magnets (stick on or BB hanger options) which help measure cadence, but thanks to a firmware update released during our test the need for magnets was eliminated. This was a welcome update as the stick on magnets weren’t sticking as well as they should and seemed a bit fiddly compared to the robustness of the rest of the package.

 


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The battery compartment for each crank arm is easily accessible on the outward side of the cranks allowing for easy replacement by the user. Each crank requires two SR44 (Silver Oxide) batteries which, although not that commonly available, InfoCrank say are good for 500 hours and are key in maintaining accuracy over time. From my experience these aren’t readily available at the typical stores you might expect to find standard watch batteries. The more commonly found and same sized LR44 batteries will power the unit as a quick fix, but Verve say won’t give the same level of accuracy as the SR44s as these batteries degrade over time. The best would be to stock up on the SR44 type which are available from various sources online and specialist retailers.

 

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The InfoCrank speaks ANT+ and should be compatible with most power capable ANT+ head units. Our test model arrived with the navi2coach GPS unit, which does not come included but is available via the same local agent as either a complement to your InfoCrank or a standalone, fully functional GPS computer (price at the time of publishing: R 4180.00). For the bulk of testing though, I had the InfoCranks paired with my trusty Garmin 510.

 

On the bike


Before stepping into the world of power, let’s take a more superficial look at the InfoCrank. Aesthetically the cranks ooze function over form with a chunky, industrial feel. Although I quite like the sturdy matte black look, the forged alloy cranks may not be to everyone’s taste. And no, they’re not available in carbon.

 

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Back to the important stuff. The multitude of metrics aside, going for a ride with the InfoCrank is no different from any ordinary ride. I say this, because typically a power meter does mean a bit of a phaf having to zero (re-calibrate) ideally before each ride - at least if you want some kind of accurate and comparable data. In this regard the InfoCrank is absolutely hassle free requiring no calibration at any time.

 

In my case pairing with the Garmin 510 was a quick task. The InfoCranks require a full pedal revolution to wake up at which point the yellow indicator LED on each crank will blink on each rotation letting you know that the unit is running. From there it is paired just like any other ANT+ sensor. Initially the only real set up required is to configure your data pages to display the real time power metrics you desire. In addition to the standard power measurements you would expect, the InfoCrank also delivers individual left / right power balance, pedal smoothness and torque effectiveness.

 


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While nice to look at on the bike, if not a bit distracting, the true value of all this data is in post-ride analysis. In this respect the InfoCrank is compatible with all major data analytics and training tools (TrainingPeaks, Golden Cheetah, Cycling Analytics, VeloPro, Strava, Garmin Training Centre). You do still need to know what you’re looking at and, whether via a coach or your own study, proper regular analysis is the answer to truly unlocking the power of all that data. Excuse the pun.

 

Accuracy


Without a lab and a few more degrees, a true test of the InfoCrank’s claimed accuracy is just not possible. InfoCrank do make some bold claims, taking aim at the original gold standard in power meters, SRM. In their latest accuracy test the InfoCrank fared incredibly well with a maximum error rate of +-0.57% for loads above 17Nm. To put that into perspective, at the top end SRM claims an error rate of +-1% and most others on the market are in the +-2% range. In other independent, more informal tests (read: a DC Rainmaker review) the InfoCrank delivered on the claims and proved to be supremely accurate.

 

 

Specifications


  • CranksDrop forged 6000 series alloy150mm Q-Factor
  • Crank lengths170, 172.5, 175 (Now),
    155, 160, 165 (coming soon)
  • SpindleM30 (Praxis M30 BB only)
  • Bottom BracketPraxis M30 BB option supplied per frame
  • Frame CompatibilityBB30, PF30, OSBB, BSA, BB86
  • Chainrings50/34 Compact Praxis52/36 Mid-Compact Praxis53/39 TA Syrius
  • BatteryUser replaceable, SR44 (Silver Oxide) also 303 or 357Battery life Over 500 hrs (operational)
  • Water resistanceIPX7, resists up to 1m immersion
  • Sampling rate256 samples per second
  • Wireless communicationsANT+ protocol
  • Power range0 - 3000 Watts
  • Cadence range10 - 200 rpm
  • WeightSpider, spindle, crank arms: 690g Chainrings, bottom brackets: approx. 300g
  • WarrantyTwo year warranty against defects
  • PriceR22 000
  • Local distributorhttp://www.blsglobal.net/




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