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Germany's Power2Max finds need for IBDs in the US market

Published August 14, 2019
Power meter brand sells exclusively consumer direct in Europe.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN) — Power2Max, which has been offering a crank spider-based power meter since 2011, is one of the best known power meter brands in Europe but has considerably smaller visibility in North America.

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In Europe, Power2Max sells exclusively online, direct to consumers. In North America, it followed a similar strategy until early this year when it added sales through brick-and-mortar dealers.

North American general manager Michael Wegner said it took a few years for the company to recognize that it needed a different approach for North America. Americans are more likely than Europeans to pay for service: be it window washing or bike crank installation, he said. And in the U.S., there is a large population of bike coaches, who often sell power meters to their clients. Private bike coaches are much less common in Europe.

"I find Americans are much more likely to go into a shop and pay to get something installed or pay for bike maintenance. In Europe, if you know how to change a cassette, you'll never go into a bike shop," said Wegner, who moved from Germany to Vancouver in 2011 to open the North American office for Power2Max.

"We spoke to a lot of shops (in North America) to try to figure it out. We tried concept stores in the beginning, one in each region. That worked, but it didn't give us the kind of numbers we really wanted, so we said let's try something different."

Wegner said the company has been opening new retailers every week since launching dealer sales in January.

Power2Max is known to some IBDs because its meters have been spec'd as original equipment on some Cannondale road bike models and some FSA cranks. In both cases, consumers make post-purchase payments online to activate power meter features. Power2Max meters are manufactured in Germany and start under $500 in the aftermarket, making them among the more affordable power options in the aftermarket. The spider-mounted design allows Power2Max to advertise that its meters measure left and right power, something left crank power meters can't claim. Each Power2Max meter is calibrated with multiple wattages to ensure accuracy across the power range, the company said. Claimed accuracy is +/- 1% on the NG model and 2% on the less expensive NGeco models. By comparison, Stages claims 1.5% and 4iiii claims 1% on its meters.

On the NGeco models, dual-sided measurement, pedal smoothness and torque features can be unlocked with a post-purchase payment.

If price, dual-sided measurement and accuracy are among the brand's selling points, there are some downsides. Buying and installing a spider is more complicated than mounting a left crank power meter like Stages and 4iiii. Also, most Shimano cranks don't have removable spiders, making it necessary for consumers to buy a complete crankset from Power2Max if they have a Shimano-equipped bike. Both of those realities favor sales through bike shops, which can advise the customer on the correct model, possibly take a trade-in on the Shimano crankset from a new bike, and install the spider or crankset.

The company ships to U.S. and Canadian dealers from its warehouse in Vancouver. With varying crank models, crank lengths and chainring size options, plus color options on spider stickers and USB plug covers, stocking prebuilt products would require a huge inventory, so assembly and packaging is done in Vancouver. The company ships assembled products within 24 hours of order, Wegner said.

The products are not subject to a tariff when imported into Canada or the U.S., he said.

Power2Max does not have a minimum advertised price policy, but also doesn't sell to online discounters. Dealer margin at MSRP starts at about 35% on orders of one or two power meters. He said the meters are affordable enough that some dealers offer them as a free upgrade with the purchase of some high-end bike models.

"Those decisions are up to the shop, whatever you do with your customer is up to you," Wegner said.

More information: power2max.com.

A version of this story appeared first in the August 1 issue of BRAIN. 

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