The Power Pedal Maintenance Checklist
Ask any data-driven athlete, “What's the most annoying thing that can happen during a ride?” Chances are that dead power meter or head unit share the top of the list, alongside a mid-ride flat.
The good news is that these major in-ride nuisances can be prevented with some minor pre-ride maintenance. Before you clip in to your pedal-based power meter and hit the pavement, take a second to review the following checklist.
If you're training with power pedals, we're willing to bet that you want your cycling power meter to live up its accuracy claims. Keep your data reliable, clean and pin-point accurate by doing the following before each ride. Trust us, it's worth it.
Visually Inspect the Pedals
You wouldn't head out on a ride without checking your tires or PSI, so why would you skip the pedals and cleats? Before you clip in, give your pedals a visual once-over to ensure everything is looking good and clean. Keeping the pedal claw, skid plate and top of the pedal grime-free will help slow untimely wear.
And should you notice a worn-looking component, now's the time to address it. Take a look at the “As Needed” section below to see what you can do to keep your visual inspections at an A+.
Perform a Zero Offset
(aka: Calibrate Your Pedals)
A power meter can drift by 2% in a few days if it's not zeroed regularly. That means if you're looking for clean data to compare week over week, zeroing your power meter is the very best thing you can do. Plus, it's quick and easy to do from the PowerTap iOS app, Rouvy Android app or your head unit.
To calibrate the pedals, spin up your crank for at least 10 seconds. With the pedals on and paired to your head unit or app, perform the zero offset while you and your bike are at rest - meaning no weight on the pedals, feet on the ground and the bike resting against a tree or wall. And if your power meter fails to calibrate successfully, please reach out to our support team.
Check Battery Levels
Before you start your ride, we recommend taking an extra minute or two to check each pedal's battery level. After all, if there's no record of your ride – did it even happen?
If you decide to skip this step the P1 pedals will monitor battery life during the ride. Should the juice gets low, the P1 pedals will switch over to reading and doubling the power from the master pedal (left) only. Better yet, toss a set of new lithium AAA batteries in your seat pack or grab a set from the gas station during your break during long-hauls.
Don't wait until a few minutes before your first group ride of the year to tick these boxes. A strong start to your season is just a brief inspection away.
Check the Firmware
If it's been a while since you've ridden with your power pedals, the first item on your to do list is to make sure the firmware is up to date. Having the latest firmware not only ensures your power meter is sporting all the latest features, it also helps them perform as optimally as possible.
Set Your Crank Length
If you're sporting a new whip this season, made any modifications to your setup or fit, or updated your firmware, you'll need to update the crank length for the pedals. You can do this from the sensor menu on your head unit or through the PowerTap mobile app. If you're riding with the same crank length as the default setting, 172.5mm, you can skip this step.
Install New AAA Lithium Batteries
A fresh season deserves a fresh set of batteries, it's as simple as that. A new set of lithium batteries will get you through roughly 60 hours of ride time.
After you've locked and loaded your new batteries, tighten each battery cap to the recommended 3 N-m torque spec listed on the caps. If you don't have a torque wrench on hand, you can opt to lightly thumb-tighten caps instead.
Do a Seasonal Visual Check
These seasonal visual inspections are a bit different than the pre-ride checks. Start by examining wear items that are in need of replacement (see “As Needed” below). For these seasonal checks we recommend paying extra attention to the area around the battery, specifically ensuring that the little black o-ring behind the battery cover is seated properly (i.e., it is flush with the pedal casing and no little rubber bits are sticking out around the cover).
And while we're on the topic of battery caps, take a moment to make sure that the cap's threads are clean and grease-free. Doing so will keep electricity – and your data – moving and functioning properly.
End of Season? Remove the Batteries
If your power pedals are taking a break from riding for more than a month, take the batteries out of the pedals. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of damage caused by battery decay over time. And since any damage caused to the pedals by batteries is not covered by warranty, removing the batteries is one of the best things you can do.
Not all maintenance needs to be done daily, seasonally or even yearly. Yet it's important to note that like all bicycles, pedal-based power meters have components that can wear and do require some due diligence to ensure all parts are top-notch condition. Here are a few items worth keeping an eye on as one season blends into the next.
Just like with your bicycle, the more you ride the sooner you'll need to replace components and accessories. With a pedal-based cycling power meter, the following items are the most likely to wear from use and need replacing before the pedals have put in their last ride.
- Battery Caps
If you power through the 60-hour battery life frequently, you're no stranger to our orange battery caps. These caps should be replaced when they begin to round out and no longer engage with the hex key.
- Pedal Cleats
While every athlete has a preferred time to replace cleats, as general guide it's time when the cleats begin to feel looser when engaged in the pedal. Typically, the foot used to unclip/reclip at stop signs will see wear first. Our recommendation is to compare the two cleats to check for wear, and when the thickness at the toe drops below 5mm it's time for a swap. Replacement cleats are available in 0 and 6 degree float.
- Pedal Claw
Of all the replaceable parts on the power pedals, the pedal claw is the most robust. The primary indicator that it's time for a new claw is when the edge is worn enough so that it no longer engages the cleat. If you're experiencing this with older cleats, replace the cleats first, repeat with new cleats and if the claw is still not engaging chances are it's time for a new pedal claw.
While it's always good to check in on your firmware at the start of the season to ensure you're up to date, it's critical to stay current on firmware during your riding season. From bug fixes to new features to optimizing overall performance, firmware updates notifications are not to be ignored.
Some fixes are bigger than firmware updates and replacement parts. For these moments we have our global service centers. And for athletes in the USA and Europe, this pro-level treatment can be ordered via our power pedal services and include a complete pedal overhaul, pedal bearing overhaul and pedal diagnostics.
Still have questions on pedal maintenance? Drop us a line and our support team will help you out.