Pedal-based power meters may just be the perfect solution for bike testers, like myself. But, I’m not the only target audience. If you travel regularly and rent bikes when away from home or if you have multiple bikes and neither one has a crank-based power meter, you’ll appreciate what Wahoo is bringing to the table with their POWRLINK Zero dual-sided pedals.
Wahoo Fitness POWRLINK Zero Power Meter Pedals Features:
- Updated Speedplay construction
- Dual-sided measurement with +/- 1% accuracy
- Left/right balance with detailed metrics
- Built-in cadence measurement
- Dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth
- Standard-tension aero cleats included
- New sealed design eliminates the need for servicing
- Stainless steel spindle
- 13mm stack height
- USB charging cable included
- 250 lb. max rider weight
- Weight: 140 grams (each, actual)
- MSRP: $999.99 (single-sided is $649.99)
Flexibility of pedal power
Riding with power has been a great way to measure performance over time and understand just how deep I can go without burning out. Yes, it’s possible to mete out your efforts by gut feel, but using the right power meter has been a game changing experience for me. As I train for events, I’m able to focus on ramping up my overall power curve to get the most out of my body. More importantly, I can also pace myself on climbs during races such as SBT GRVL to save fuel in the tank for climbing up Corkscrew at mile 90.
When Wahoo acquired Speedplay pedals in 2019, little was known about their long-term vision. With a loyal following, Speedplay’s lollipop pedal design offers adjustable float (0-15 deg.) and the most cornering clearance on the market. But, it has also come with some baggage. Tops on that negative list is the complex cleat design, but it’s also a bike fitter’s dream. Some good, some bad, I guess — just take your time to get them properly installed and personalized and you’ll enjoy the beautiful float that this system provides. Below, you can see the guts of the Speedplay cleat mechanism. Once situated, a dimpled, aero cover protects the metal bits and allows for good walkability.
Wahoo took their time to perfect the POWRLINK pedals. Initial designs were seen in the wild for a long time before being available at retail. Stating the obvious, creating accurate, durable and reliable power meters isn’t a trivial undertaking. Comparing these to the Wahoo Speedplay Zero pedals, the POWRLINK Zero pedal body resembles a double-stuffed Oreo. I’m unsure why the extra 3mm thickness and 13mm vs 11.5mm stack height, but maybe it’s necessary to provide the proper leverage on the spindle-based sensors? (I got word on this and the reason is for added cleat clearance due to the thick spindle body.)
You’ll notice that Wahoo has introduced a full metal ring around the perimeter of the pedal body. In my miles of testing the new design, it provides more secure and consistent lateral float as the cleats and pedals wear in. Older pedal bodies would develop more rocker movement, which seems to be eliminated with this new design. Wahoo has also axed the grease ports of yesteryear in favor of long-lasting, triple-sealed needle and cartridge bearings for a lifetime of spinning. Now, with over 1000 miles across both the Zero and POWRLINK pedals, both have remained rock-solid.
Throughout the review period, these pedals were tested aboard the Stages SB20 smart bike, Open UPPER, BMC Roadmachine X One and the Gen-4 Trek Domane SLR 9. All of those bikes, except for the BMC, were equipped with power meters, so I was able to directly compare the data captured.
Free agent pedals
While I may have unusual pedal demands, due to the variety of bikes that come through for review, any rider with multiple road bikes can also appreciate the flexibility of a pedal-based power meter. Installing and transferring the POWRLINK pedals is a breeze. All you need is an 8mm pedal wrench. As always, do not forget to grease those threads for easy removal, when needed.
All electronics are housed in the base of the spindle and the dual charging cables clip around it to charge up both pedals at the same time. Battery life is outstanding as I’ve only had to charge them once over the course of 5 months of use (and they weren’t even low). Battery status is transmitted to all head units tested for easy monitoring.
To start broadcasting, just rotate your cranks a couple of revolutions and pair them up. Throughout several months, I’ve paired them with the Hammerhead Karoo 2 and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt 2 head units in addition to the Polar Pacer Pro and Wahoo ELEMNT Rival training watches. Signal has remained solid with no tracking gaps. Something noteworthy is that Wahoo has built the POWRLINK pedals with auto-calibration electronics. That means, there’s no need to zero them out regularly or compensate for temperature variations — it just happens automagically. Everyone appreciates fuss-free bike electronics and Wahoo leads the industry in making Apple-like experiences that are intuitive and reliable.
Let’s talk data
Of course, the most important attribute of any power meter is accuracy. Pitting the POWRLINK pedals against the top players in the industry (Quarq DZero and Stages), overall measurement is very close. I do see it just a teeny bit lower watts over those two, but it’s within acceptable margins. In my experience, no two brands of power meters measure exactly the same — that’s an unreasonable expectation. However, sprinting, climbing and rolling along in the flats all result in consistent measurements over time and aren’t so far off to cause concern. In general, Quarq is the industry standard and measured slightly higher than both the POWRLINK and Stages units I’ve tested against. Other testers have noted that same thing, but I don’t see it as a huge deal. As you’ll see, we’re talking about 2-5% variation, so nothing wild.
Alpine Loop Summit
This is a 3000 ft. ascent to the top of the Alpine Loop, so any variances will be compounded over the course of the 1 hour 10 minute climb. You will see the the POWRLINK Zero’s do measure just a little low. Again, if all you’re using is the POWRLINK, you’ll never know because that’s your reference point.
This ride is a mixed-terrain affair with a good little climb in the middle. Throughout this one, overall measurement is again close, but the POWRLINK Zero does remain just a tad lower.
A local short climb
Here is a comparison between the POWRLINK Zero and Quarq DZero. All data is within acceptable ranges to clearly measure effort.
In the end, I’m okay with the accuracy of the POWRLINK Zero pedals compared to both Quarq and Stages. It does seem to measure just a little lower, but not always. Because of that, it feels like it all comes out in the wash and I really appreciate being able to use them on a variety of bikes. Durability has been great so far and I just love how quickly they sync up with all the things.
- Easily-swapped between bikes
- Smooth, adjustable float
- Connects to everything with ease
- Long battery life
- No regular calibration needed
- Dual-sided entry is great
- Stomp entry isn’t as easy as TIME or Shimano
- Not sure why the extra stack height
The Bottom Line: Wahoo POWRLINK Zero Pedals
It hasn’t taken me long to fall in love with these pedal-based power meters. I have already been a fan of the Speedplay platform and Wahoo’s updates are great, but adding power to them is a slam dunk if you’re able to swallow the price tag. With a long battery life and fuss-free connectivity and calibration, it’s nice to just spin, connect and ride without a buzzkill connection process.
Buy Now: Visit CompetitiveCyclist.com