“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” That phrase has jumpstarted many companies whose founders recognized the right product either didn’t exist or needed to be improved. Uli Schoberer invented the cycling power meter nearly 30 years ago, and the early commercial versions of the SRM power meter were instantly recognizable by their bare aluminum crank arms. People may not have noticed the power meter disk contained in the spider, but those simple crank arms made a statement. With its proprietary carbon crank arms and rechargeable battery, the new SRM Origin power meter signals a return to that rebellious idea that if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.
For many years, SRM engineered their power meters into other manufacturers’ cranks. Even with the release of the Origin, consumers can still purchase an SRM power meter installed in a SRAM, Specialized, Campagnolo, Rotor, or Cannondale crank. But just as consumers have struggled to keep up with ever-changing chainring setups, bolt patterns, and bottom bracket standards, SRM had to constantly reengineer the interface between their product and someone else’s crank. This resulted in cranks that were heavier than they could have been and left SRM with fewer opportunities for innovation.
Enter, the Origin. Producing their own carbon fiber cranks enabled SRM to take significant steps forward. The system (power meter + crank + spindle) is more than 100 grams lighter than any of the configurations using Cannondale, Specialized, or SRAM cranks. According to SRM, the Origin crank arms have a superior ratio of stiffness to weight, meaning there’s less sacrifice in power transfer. And perhaps most important from the consumer side, the Origin is available with a rechargeable battery.
I have had several SRMs and worked with hundreds – if not thousands – of athletes with SRMs. Battery life in the power meter (as opposed to the head unit) was always very good. It was advertised as 1900 hours of riding time, which was typically 3-5 years for amateur cyclists, and about 2 years for pros. The problem, however, was that the construction that made the power meter impenetrable to water, mud, and debris also made it impossible for consumers to change the battery on their own. This meant shipping power meters back to SRM to get batteries changed. As newer products moved to consumer-replaceable and rechargeable batteries, this infrequent inconvenience grew glaringly archaic.
The Origin’s rechargeable battery is not only more convenient for athletes, but it also extends the system’s operational lifespan. SRM claims the Origin will run for 100 hours on a full charge and is rechargeable 500 times. Fifty thousand hours is more than 26x the run time for the static battery. Put another way, if you average 15 miles per hour across all rides (races to café spins), the Origin battery will last 750,000 miles. Even though there are plenty of 10- to 15-year old SRMs still out on the road, the battery is likely should outlive the rest of the system.
Testing the SRM Origin
Five of my coaches and I have been riding on SRM Origin power meters for more than six months. In the lifespan of an SRM, six months doesn’t constitute a long-term test, but we do have some initial impressions.
Configuration and Installation: EASY
For the six of us, configuring the Origin was simple because we installed them on identical Pinarello F8 and F10 frames. Even if we’d been installing them on a variety of bikes, the Origin is a modular system that can be configured with 24 or 30mm bottom bracket spindles, fitted with standard 4-bolt 110 BCD chainrings from any brand, and set up as 170, 172.5, and 175mm crank length using Look’s Trilobe Technology.
The Origin is a wireless system, so once you have the product configured for your bottom bracket and preferences, it’s as simple as installing a crankset. The one gripe I had about installation was the need to secure a magnet to the underside of the bike’s bottom bracket shell. It used to be pretty simple when there was a cable guide down there, but with internally routed frames it means gluing or taping a magnet directly to the frame, where there’s a chance it can fall off. When I mentioned this to Uli, I got a 30-minute explanation about why having a physical reed switch in the powermeter – which requires an external magnet – is essential for reliable accuracy. It’s clear he considered all options and that gluing a magnet to the frame is the small price we pay for data that is both accurate and consistent.
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Ease of Use: Normal
Easy pairing with head units is an imperative for all power meters, and the Origin pairs with an SRM PC8 head unit and a variety of other computers, including Wahoo ELEMNT and ELEMNT Bolt, Lezyne Super GPS, and Garmin 510 and 810 as easily as any other power meter.
Data and Connectivity: Excellent
The connection between power meter and head unit is strong and secure with the SRM Origin. Across the six coaches riding the power meters, sometimes together and more often around cyclists with other Ant+ and Bluetooth paired devices, we have thus far not experienced cross talk or interference. Likewise, the connections haven’t dropped out due to weather, power lines, or whatever other gremlins have historically caused occasional data loss for all power meter brands. Data files from long rides in California downpours and sub-freezing Colorado weather look perfect. When I recently visited the SRM Service Center in Colorado Springs, I noted an image of a muddy SRM Origin taken during the 2018 Strade Bianchi. They showed me the associated power file, which showed the power meter worked flawlessly despite the conditions.
It’s an SRM. Every other power meter measures itself against SRM for accuracy, reliability, and durability, so the best statement you can make about the Origin is that it’s worthy of being an SRM. It exceeds previous models in meaningful ways, not just aesthetics or fluff. It’s lighter, stiffer, more adaptable, easily transferable between bikes, and rechargeable. Is it expensive? You bet ($2319 without chainrings), but great craftsmanship usually is. It’s also going to outlast any bike you put it on, so by the time you have to replace it the cost-per-mile or cost-per-year will be the best bargain you’ve ever had.
CEO and Head Coach of CTS
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