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Ashton Instruments previews US$500 power meter

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Ashton Instruments is currently developing a power meter that will supposedly sell for just US$500. While this particular widget is just a mock-up to show the final form factor, the promise of interchangeabilty, accuracy, and affordability are very enticing

Ashton Instruments is currently developing a power meter that will supposedly sell for just US$500. While this particular widget is just a mock-up to show the final form factor, the promise of interchangeabilty, accuracy, and affordability are very enticing
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Ultimately, Ashton Instruments says its power meter will insert into a crankset spindle and secure via a set of expanding wedges of some sort. Keep in mind that this is just a mock-up to illustrate the form factor; the actual test samples are more industrial looking at present

Ultimately, Ashton Instruments says its power meter will insert into a crankset spindle and secure via a set of expanding wedges of some sort. Keep in mind that this is just a mock-up to illustrate the form factor; the actual test samples are more industrial looking at present
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Ashton Instruments has already been bench-testing its power meter prototype with apparently very good results. Rideable samples are soon being fitted to the collegiate cycling team at MIT for further evaluation

Ashton Instruments has already been bench-testing its power meter prototype with apparently very good results. Rideable samples are soon being fitted to the collegiate cycling team at MIT for further evaluation
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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The Ashton Instruments power meter works by measuring bottom bracket torsion under load but without using traditional strain gages. The concept is certainly sound

The Ashton Instruments power meter works by measuring bottom bracket torsion under load but without using traditional strain gages. The concept is certainly sound
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Don't be too put-off by the electronics box on this test sled. It's only required to output the readings to a computer for now; all of the important electronics are housed entirely within the device itself, which is installed inside the bottom bracket spindle

Don't be too put-off by the electronics box on this test sled. It's only required to output the readings to a computer for now; all of the important electronics are housed entirely within the device itself, which is installed inside the bottom bracket spindle
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Ashton Instruments hopes that its power meter will eventually easily install into a wide range of cranksets just by securing it inside a hollow bottom bracket spindle. Plus, the target US$500 price tag would continue to push the cost barriers downward for direct-measurement power meters

Ashton Instruments hopes that its power meter will eventually easily install into a wide range of cranksets just by securing it inside a hollow bottom bracket spindle. Plus, the target US$500 price tag would continue to push the cost barriers downward for direct-measurement power meters
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Whereas once the big news in power meters was higher-end models with enhanced feature sets, the trend nowadays is lower-cost offerings that can bring the technology to more people - and US upstart Ashton Instruments is promising an all-new design that'll come in at just US$500.

Ashton Instruments is still in the final R&D phase of its as-yet-unnamed power meter and pending patent paperwork unfortunately means that certain details remain foggy. Co-founders Bill Dixon and James Schulmeister told BikeRadar, however, that the design passes over traditional strain gages in favor of some sort of solid-state sensor that will provide the same data quality but without the high associated costs.

The Ashton Instruments power meter will insert into the hollow spindles of SRAM or FSA road or mountain bike cranksets to start, using a clever plug-and-play form factor that will supposedly be easy to transfer between multiple bikes. Users would have to recalibrate the system after a transfer but otherwise, Dixon and Schulmeister say the meter can be wholly user-installed with no special tools required. In essence, it'll be no more difficult to install than the steerer tube plugs commonly used in carbon fiber forks.

Although Dixon and Schulmeister declined to give away too many technical details, they did say that the power meter worked by measuring the amount of twist in the bottom bracket spindle under power. As a result, the Ashton Instruments meter will be a left side-only device (like the Stages Cycling power meter) that will assume an even power output between both sides.

Other claimed features include magnet-free cadence sensors, user-rechargeable batteries, a weather-resistant and durable aluminum case, auto-zeroing and temperature compensation, both ANT+ and Bluetooth wireless transmission, and low weight.

Interested riders shouldn't rush to place their orders, though. While Ashton Instruments says its power meter design is quite developed and reasonably well tested at this point, the target release date isn't until some time in 2016.

Will this be a repeat of the Garmin/MetriGear snafu, or will Ashton Instruments actually be able to deliver on its heady promises? Only time will tell but Dixon and Schulmeister are certainly very cognizant of the Garmin/MetriGear story and are confident that history won't be repeated. We shall see.