It feels odd to have Pioneer in the power meter market since they’re known for making things like car entertainment systems and DJ equipment. But I was excited nonetheless to see a giant box show up one day with their power meter mated to a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 crankset as well as a Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer.
Installation on my 2010 Colnago CX-1 was fairly straight forward, provided you RTFM’d, and props to Pioneer for producing an informative installation video. As soon as I had it installed, I was off, and I’ve been using it steadily over the past few months. So far the system has worked flawlessly, minus a few hiccups that were solved by replacing the battery.
Starting it up...
And the inside view of the drive side power meter unit. Notice the slick sensor integration into the crank itself.
The SGX-CA500 is as big as my camera card reader, but I do like its size - It's just right.
The box of the Pioneer SGX-CA500 computer
The box with the power meter unit
The SGX-CA500 computer has also been easy to use and allows you to navigate via the touchscreen or with physical buttons. You don’t necessarily have to use the Pioneer computer—the power meter will pair with any ANT+ computer—but they work nicely together and help unlock the full array of metrics the Pioneer system is capable of producing.
I particularly liked that the Pioneer computer shows left and right leg output, and pedaling efficiency, live. It’s a neat feature and it helped me realize that I need to improve on my pedaling technique. Thanks to the built-in wifi, your workouts can be automatically uploaded after a ride.
CycloSphere, like Garmin’s Garmin Connect, is Pioneer’s online cloud platform where your data gets stored. It’s a treasure trove of information, but not super easy to use. I liked that you can customize what you see in CycloSphere, and I suspect it will get better over time as the Pioneer system gets more popular. Note to Pioneer: as you make improvements, I want to be able to configure my SGX-CA500 settings while plugged into my computer for better visualization.
Currently, the system is limited to Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra level cranks. At $1,849 for the Dura-Ace power meter and $299 for the computer, it’s not cheap. But if you’re into data, you should take a look. For those who already own a Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 crankset, Pioneer offers an installation service, where you can ship your existing crankarms in to be converted. This is less expensive at $999.