Friday, March 3, 2017

PowerTap P1S Troubleshooting: What the Manual Doesn't Tell You

When I received my PowerTap P1S pedals in the mail I was pretty excited. Excited to get them on my bike and start figuring out how to optimize my power output for long rides, especially half Ironman and Ironmans.

And one of the reasons I bought the PowerTap pedals was because of their easy installation which is really no different than putting on any other pedals. So after threading them into the cranks of my Canyon Aeroad, I took the bike out for a quick spin. Just to see if they worked and to prepare for the next morning's ride.

But to my dismay, nothing showed up on the screen of my Garmin 520, even after riding about 150m. This was after the usual ANT+ pairing process that we've all done. Well, not nothing, but no power reading. Cadence, however did appear. And I knew this was being transmitted by the PowerTaps and not my Garmin because I had removed the Garmin cadence sensor from my cranks.

So that meant an ANT+ signal was getting through.

Then a message appeared on the screen: "No right pedal detected". Which was fair enough, since the right pedal is a dummy and the left is the power pedal.

Then another: "Calibrate power meter". OK, I thought, and I selected it. After a few seconds the Garmin gave a seemingly-random number reading: "9".

A quick glance at the manual that came with the PowerTap and there were no references to calibration or troubleshooting ANT+ or Bluetooth connections. But then I had an idea: Download the PowerTap app and see if I could get it to connect there.

Then I'd be testing if it was an ANT+ antenna issue somewhere (either in the pedals or the Garmin). I quickly got the app installed and had the same result: Cadence showed up but no power.

Next, I called 1-800-246-5975 (the number on the PowerTap website) and was surprisingly attended to immediately by an informed and helpful human being.

He systematically walked me through a few steps:
1. Is the green light flashing on your left pedal?
2. Are you sure you have paired it with the right ANT+ ID number? Double-check.
3. Does your Garmin have the latest firmware update?
4. Do you have the PowerTap app installed and can you pair the app and the pedals?
5. If so, do you have the latest PowerTap firmware update?
6. Next, can you see a power reading on the app?
7. Can you see a cadence reading on the app?
8. Have you calibrated the pedals and did it return a figure between -26 and +26? (I may be mistaken on those values, but I think that's what he asked me.)
9. Finally, he told me that if I really couldn't get them to work, I should contact Clever Training (the shop I bought them from) and they'll be able to work out a return.

I figured I'd give it one more shot and try riding again. So I took the bike outside and starting riding circles around my condo, but nothing. I kept watching the app, kept checking the Garmin, but only cadence would come through. So it felt like it was an ANT+ issue.

My next course of action was to try to pair it to another Garmin, in this case my watch (the amazing Fenix 3 HR)...when suddenly, a power reading appeared!

It seemed that I just had to ride a bit more for it to somehow happen. The instruction manual never says this is the case, and mine may be an exception, but if you have trouble getting the power to show up, ride your bike for a few minutes longer than you may expect. I ended up having to ride 600m before it appeared.

Other than the issues getting it hooked up, I'm pretty confident this was an excellent purchase.


Post a Comment