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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Garmin vs. Pioneer Cycle Computers

    Hi,

    I'm running the 820 with the dual stage Pioneer power meter. I had the Garmin already but then added the Pioneer. I was wondering if anyone who has had experience with the two different computers might be able to comment on which would be the best way to go if someone was starting from scratch. A friend of mine wants to add the Pioneer and doesn't have a very new computer so I was thinking maybe just get the Pioneer.

    Some of the pro's with the Pioneer:

    Firmware updates
    Error Checking
    Better Calibration
    More Data

    The other day my left side meter crapped out so I called Pioneer. Basically their answer is that there's nothing that they can do if you're not running their computer so take it to a dealer. I searched within a 2 hour radius of where I am and no one seems to sound like they do much with the Pioneer. Anyhow, it turned out to be only a battery but this was a pretty crummy response from Pioneer. Basically, if you aren't running their computer and don't have the latest firmware update and can't error check the system they won't help you. Add this to the list of possible negs against running this system with the Garmin.

    Thanks -

  2. #2
    So. Calif.
    Reputation: tom_h's Avatar
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    As I understand it, the main benefit of the pioneer head unit is capturing the independent left & right leg powers for analysis in WKO4 or GC.
    Otherwise, any ANT+ head unit, including Garmins, should work fine.

    When you say:
    Firmware updates
    Error Checking
    Better Calibration
    More Data


    Are you referring to the powermeter itself or the head unit?

    "Calibration" almost always means "set zero offset" which Garmin supports, and of course Garmin head units can firmware update themselves, but not an external PM.

    If the PM needs its Pioneer head unit to update PM firmware, well, Garmin could not do that.

    You might find more info in this in-depth review, and he compares a Garmin side-by-side to the Puoneer head unit while riding w/ Pioneer PM:
    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/05/...em-review.html
    "The Pioneer Power Meter transmits in two modes: ANT+ and private-ANT. When transmitting in ANT+ mode, you can receive the data on any ANT+ head unit that supports power meters. Whereas when transmitting in private-ANT (basically a private ANT variant that Pioneer utilizes) then non-Pioneer units cannot see anything from the power meter. Itís in this private-ANT mode that you get the additional data however."

    Support issues are why I always recommend to people to stick with established PMs. eg, Quarq (unit of SRAM) has superb USA-based customer support, their phone app will perform a range of diagnostics, etc.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_h View Post

    Support issues are why I always recommend to people to stick with established PMs. eg, Quarq (unit of SRAM) has superb USA-based customer support, their phone app will perform a range of diagnostics, etc.
    Thanks for this reply. I like the Pioneer, and it works really well - I guess like a power meter should, and I get to keep my Dura Ace 9100 cranks, which I really like. Not that this is a big deal, I just like those cranks. For someone starting from scratch I'll probably recommend that they get the Quarq setup. The Pioneer support was as I wrote - less than helpful. I'm tech nut and I do all my own mechanical work. I'm not thrilled with the idea of driving for hours to find a "Pioneer Specialist" who probably really isn't one, or having to buy the Pioneer head unit just to support my gear. Owell, I've got the Pioneer and it works but I'd prefer real support.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I have both. The Pioneer head unit can control the pioneer power meter switching the mode and help with the set up calibrating magnet location etc and the Garmin can't. The Pioneer also gives you the ability to understand force / direction of force at 12 points in the crank rotation, the Garmin can't. The Garmin will give you left right balance like the Pioneer if you set the system up for ANT+, the advanced metrics require Pioneer's proprietary ANT signal which the Garmin can't pick up / interpret. The 820 does navigation, smart trainer control, has a better touch screen for making screen changes (Pioneer is very finicky).

    Net, if you want a great all around computer get the 820 it works fine with the Pioneer power meter, it just doesn't bring in all the data possible for dialing in pedal stroke. If you really want great pedaling analysis with the Pioneer power meter at the expense of an all purpose bike computer, get the Pioneer head unit. If you want it all you need both and you will have to choose what the purpose of your ride is to decide which one to use each ride.
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