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Rotor 2INpower 3D+ crankset long term review

24 Feb 2017
Verdict:

Rotor takes on the top end of the power meter market, offering accuracy, reliability and a holistic approach to ovalised chainrings

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1300

The power market has been energised over the last few years with the release of dozens of new systems. That has brought a multitude of opportunities and advantages over the two or three systems which have stood as the old guard of the market.

Many systems have focused on versatility, others on low cost. The Rotor 2INpower 3D+ crankset doesn’t look as revolutionary as some, bearing a great resemblance to the godfather of all systems, the SRM.

On closer investigation it has some very interesting advantages.

Rotor has produced a bafflingly wide range of power meters, with a wide permutation of crank-based systems as well as a power meter in the spindle itself.

The 2INpower is the most advanced and expensive Rotor’s range past or present, measuring from both legs independently.

It sits in a similar bracket to the InfoCrank or Pioneer in measuring force on both sides of a crankset, but also works uniquely to complement Rotor’s wider portfolio of products.

Rotor builds the majority of its products in Spain, using an impressive array of robots and CNC machines.

The approach has given the brand a holistic approach to the design of products, and this power meter is not only housed in Rotor’s 3D30 crankset, but is also specially designed for use with the Rotor ovalised Q-ring chainrings.

First and foremost, though, Rotor has focused on the 2INpower 3D+ crankset's accuracy as a power meter.

‘Rotor is an engineering company gone wild in the cycling industry,’ explains Lara Janssen, product manager at Rotor.

‘We’ve used opposed strain gauges in the axle and the drive side crank, that way the system automatically adjusts to temperature – essentially one lengthens while the other shortens,’ he says.

This is an important consideration, even the most accurate power meter is only as good as the weather extremes it encounters, which change the qualities of the metal on which a strain gauge is placed and will change a power reading substantially as a result.

Rotor has focused on more the basic functional performance of the cranks themselves too.

Loading much of the hardware around the axle means the extra weight for the power meter isn’t felt when pedalling, Janssen argues, ‘Rotational mass is all close to axles, therefore reducing the impact of extra weight.’

Outside the box

Aesthetics aren’t often the first thought when it comes to power meters, but much like how Apple once showed that form could sell computers as much as function, I feel that the looks of a power meter can be very important.

Rotor’s system, in my eyes, nails the aesthetics.

Now commonplace across Cervelo’s range, the 3D30 cranks have become iconic. For the Rotor 2INpower 3D+, the anodised caps to the cranks marks them as different to the standard 3D30 setup, which is understated but adds something to the standard cranks.

Impressively, it weighs only 160g of weight to the equivalent non-power Rotor chainset too.

Installation was straightforward, and took me under an hour even with my less-than-professional mechanical skills.

That said, double check your BB setup and buy any adapters (Praxis stock an adapter for virtually any BB to BB combo) in advance.

Pairing with any modern cycling computer is intuitive, and the 2INpower broadcasts in both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart so is compatible with any system.

Following that was calibration, for which I simply needed to hold the drive-side crank parallel to the floor before turning it backward and then calibration numbers began to display.

Once calibrated, the system never needs to be calibrated again, as the opposed strain gauges will take care of any subsequent atmospheric and temperature changes.

For me, the numbers were consistently accurate and never seemed to change from a -3°C Christmas eve ride to 22°C blast at altitude.

Basic maintenance is straightforward, a light on the cranks displays battery level, and charging is done straight into the crank by removing a plastic battery cap and charging the internal lithium battery.

Charging is a rarity, as the battery boasts 250 hours of life.

For all of the technical and software side of the system, there is ample material online from Rotor to assist.

Rotor is also very informative about the most technical element of the power meter, and the USP of the 2INpower 3D+ crankset – the integration of ovalised chainrings.

I had not ridden Rotor’s ovalised Q rings more than a few times before using the 2INpower system. After riding with the power-boosting rings for 10 days I begin to get a feel for them.

I then set up the Rotor 2INpower 3D+ on a turbo and downloaded Rotor’s software. For this, the best way to demonstrate the process is visually.

The cranks connect to the computer through bluetooth and then pair the two together.

Once the system is connected, a graph is generated that maps out a rider’s force curve throughout the drive phase.

This force analysis is generally beneficial for technique, and not a feature offered by every system.

It’s fairly intuitive, the curve presents as two circles, with the smaller circle inside the larger representing inefficient effort, and the goal is to reduce the size of that circle.

It is especially useful for the alignment of the Q-rings, which can be put in five different positions relative to the cranks.

To try to hone the position of my chainrings I did several tests.

First was a 30 second flat out test, and then came four intervals of seven minutes slightly above my threshold.

Interestingly, the system suggested that OCP position four was more efficient for my lighter efforts, but I was more efficient at maximal efforts in position three.

For any workout on a static trainer linked up to the machine, the option is there to record everything and retrospectively analyse different intervals.

Getting the rings in the right position did change the feel of the ride; providing more resistance in the peak of my drive phase and almost smoothing out my pedal stroke.

In truth, I’m not 100% sold on the objective benefit of Q-rings, but it was obvious how it could easily become a preference for certain riders purely for the feel of the system.

I know of several very fast racers who swear by them. But the system had other merits in the presentation of data.

Data crunching

While it may seem simple, the true isolation of left and right leg inputs is a very useful tool.

The likes of SRM, Quark and PowerTap hubs have always presented this data as a separation of the first and second 180° of the drive, which does not consider the effect of either foot pulling up or lagging on the recovery phase.

The Rotor 2INpower 3D+ crankset is one of a handful of systems that measures from separate strain gauges altogether, and so offers insight into technical problems with pedalling and natural imbalances in muscles.

I found this a huge benefit in the PowerTap P1 and Garmin Vector pedals, and plays a big part in my technical focus on my hips and back while cycling.

As such I was very happy that this data was on offer for the 2INpower, which satiated the most nerdy of analytical impulses.

There are some downsides, as it is at the more expensive end of the market, and for those who like the look of a Campagnolo or Shimano chainset switching entirely to Rotor can be a big penalty.

For some, the crankset is not an appealing site for a power meter at all – I’ve found pedal-based power meters to be far more versatile and switchable between bikes. Those systems are a little heavier, more vulnerable and often a little temperamental where crank-based systems seem to triumph in terms of reliability and consistency, though.

If cranks are the preference, those focusing on price may be lured by the slightly cheaper Verve InfoCrank, or Pioneer Dual Leg Powermeter for a dual-sided crank system.

I saw clear advantages to the Rotor over both of those systems, but partly that relies on being naturally fond of Rotor’s components, and particularly being eager to experiment with Q-rings.

Ultimately, this is an excellent power meter for anyone who wants to use the Q-ring system, and a very sound and functional system for anyone who doesn’t.

saddleback.co.uk

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