Quarq Cinqo – First Impressions
There is no better way to monitor intensity while riding and analyze fitness than by using a power meter. The problem has been that the available powermeters on the market have been a bit unreliable, overly complicated, or incredibly expensive. The three main options have been Powertap, SRM, and Ergomo. With Ergomo filing bankruptcy, this leaves only SRM and powertap.
A new power meter, the Quarq CinQo, shows tremendous amount of promise in function, build quality, and simplicity. The Quarq powermeter system is comprised of two distinct products, the cinqo – which is the power measurement device and the Qranium – handlebar mounted computer. At this time only the CinQo has been produced and it integrates wirelessly with the Garmin 705 computer.
The Quarq was introduced at Interbike September 2007 and the first production models of the cinqo were shipped to customers in June of this year. CinQo is a crank based system that measures power output with strain gauges in the crank spyder. As I understand it, SRM’s patent expired this year and Quarq is using simliar technology with their system. While the CinQo is still in limited supply, Jim and Mieke Meyer of Quarq were able to provide me with a unit. The CinQo replaces the crank spyder and is currenly available for FSA team issue and SRAM S900 cranksets. Quarq is planning on introducing units compatible with more cranks in the near future.
In taking the Cinqo out of the box my first impression was, where are all of the parts? Because the unit is wireless and I received a built up set, there is very little to assemble. The powermeter is already mounted to the FSA crank, there are two magnets with double sided tape to place on the chainstay, and the FSA bottom bracket bearings are in the box. An alcohol swab is even included to clean the chainstay where the magnet mounts.
The build quality of the CinQo looks really good with the user replacable battery cover the only removable part. This watch battery cover looks like a contact lens case and should be quite waterproof. The backside of the CinQo looks to be a bonded rubber, which seems quite durable. Unlike other powermeters there does not appear to be any O-ring type seals which eventually seem to fail.
Mounting the FSA crank with the CinQo could not have been easier. Because it is a two piece crankset and uses external bottom bearings the whole assembly took about 15 minutes tops. In fact it took longer to remove the old power meter than it did to mount the Cinqo.
Mounting the Garmin 705 unit that works with the Cinqo was even easier. The 705 include a stem mount which makes for a clean installation without taking up any space on the bars..
Pairing the Garmin to work with the CinQo is quite simple. It is simply a matter of spinning the cranks backwards 2-3 times to wake the unit up and then going into the Garmin set up and having it scan for a new power meter which took about 10 seconds. The sync only has to be done once as the system will remember the settings. No speed or cadence sensors are needed as the GPS will calculate speed and the CinQo measures cadence.
After installing quite a few ergomos over the last two years the simplicity of Quarq is a welcome relief and I look forward to using the Quarq.
Over the next few weeks I will be adding an update on my impressions of the system, so stay tuned.