Adding a power meter to your cyclocross or gravel bike can be intimidating - there are many options, and the complexities of drivetrain compatibility can be overwhelming. After a ton of research, I selected the Power2Max NGeco, a spider-based power meter with a claimed precision of +/-2 %. This is my review of the Power2Max NGeco power meter, considering the price, features, install process, and reliability, after 6 months of regular use.
4.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)
Just looking for the short summary? I recommend this product and would buy it again. Here are the key pros and cons of the Power2Max NGeco power meter:
- 100% reliable after 6 months of testing, including off-road use
- Huge variety of crankset compatibility
- Seamless pairing to Garmin devices, "just works"
- One of the few spider-based power meters with a version designed for Shimano GRX-equipped cyclocross and gravel bikes
- Advanced features require an additional one-time payment
- Battery life indicator not very sophisticated
- More advanced, but also more expensive than single-sided "pod" crankarm-based power meters
For more details on the Power2Max NGeco, read on.
Spider-based power with many crankset and chainring options
The NGeco is a spider-based model that replaces your existing chainring spider, or as an add-on spider for cranks sold without a spider. Power2Max offers a huge variety of fit options, including versions of the NGeco for Specialized, Cannondale, Rotor, Praxis, SRAM, Race Face, and Easton cranksets, including road, MTB, and gravel options. These meters are largely the same, just with slightly different spline patterns to support the varying mounting "standards" used across crankset brands. Sadly, although similar, they aren't identical. That means you think to think carefully about the cranks you plan to use in the future before buying any spider-based meter.
A notable downside here is that if you want to add power to an existing Shimano road/gravel/cross crankset (Dura-Ace, Ultegra, 105, GRX) spider-based power meters like the Power2Max NGeco cannot be used, because those Shimano cranksets don't have removable spiders that can be replaced. In that circumstance, options are to 1. Use a different crankset entirely, and put the Power2Max power meter on it (the option I used), or 2. Use a different type of power meter entirely, like the 4iiii or Stages models that add small sensors on to the back of existing Shimano crank arms, instead of replacing the spider.
For my application - a Time ADHX "all road" gravel bike, I elected to use the Power2Max NGeco in combination with Rotor's ALDHU 24 crankset, replacing the Shimano Ultegra crankset that came with the bike. The primary reason I chose this unique combination was the availability of "sub compact" gear ratios - a 30 tooth inner and 46 tooth outer chainring - combined with a spider-based power meter. This unique criteria is only met by a small selection of makes and models available today.
The NGeco is one of the more economical spider-based power meter options, with the spider selling for about $400-500, depending on your specific fit. You can use this option to add power to your existing crankset by removing and replacing the spider. Depending on what you own, you might be able to re-use your existing chainrings as well.
If you need an entire crankset with new chainrings, plus the power meter spider, you can expect to spend from about $600 and up for a basic, heavier aluminum crankset with the NGeco spider, or $900 and up for a racier carbon crankset, like the Rotor ALDHU carbon, with the NGeco spider installed.
NG vs. NGeco
Power2Max also offers the NG power meter, which is closely related to the NGeco I purchased. The NG, predictably, is more expensive than the NGeco, with some key differences between the two models are:
- claimed 1% precision vs. 2%
- "Base" metrics - power and cadence on the NGeco, vs. more advanced metrics on the NG. The NGeco can be upgraded in software to unlock some of those features - see "software upgrades" section, below
- CR2450 disposable coin battery on the NGeco, vs. USB rechargeable battery on the NG. It's worth noting that the coin battery on the NGeco runs for about 300 hours, vs. only 150 hours on the more sophisticated and expensive USB rechargeable battery on the NG. And of course there is no charging cable to lose...
- 5 year warranty on the more expensive NG vs. 2 year warranty on the NGeco.
The NG is significantly more expensive and seems like a product for pro cyclists and wanna-be pros. For my abilities and needs, I didn't see the need to use the more expensive NG version. YMMV.
Installation and setup
My NGeco arrived already bolted in place on the Rotor ALDHU crankset. I only needed to remove the old Shimano crankset from my bike and slide the new ALDHU crank in place. This was simpler than with some other cranks, because the ALDHU is offered in a 24mm spindle version that's a direct drop-in replacement for Shimano cranks - as opposed to competing products that use 30mm spindles, which would have required a new bottom bracket also.
Once installed, I was able to immediately activate and pair the NGeco with my Garmin Edge 530 GPS head unit. It's worth noting that unlike other brands, there is no manual daily zeroing process that needs to be done each time you start a ride. Just turn on the head unit and roll out.
I also like how there are no magnets or pickups that need to be mounted on the chainstay or BB with this type of power meter during the install process. It's one less thing to go wrong. While there is of course some installation and setup required with any meter, it's hard to imagine how it could be easier.
The NGeco offers firmware updates periodically (free) after a basic digital registration process following your purchase.
There are also paid upgrades available for the NGeco - these are one-time upgrades that can be "unlocked" permanently at any time after your initial purchase. With these upgrades paid and installed, the NGeco becomes more like the NG in terms of features: in addition to the included "power" and "cadence" metrics, "left / right balance" and "pedal smoothness" can be purchased individually.
For my needs, "power" and "cadence" were plenty; I don't see the need for "left / right balance" and "pedal smoothness", so I didn't buy the NG power meter, and have not added those features on to the NGeco meter, but they are there for users that want them.
As of this writing. those features cost 50,00 €. each (about $55 USA dollars) and can be purchased in the Power2Max iPhone or Android app.
The Power2Max NGeco has a claimed precision of +/-2 %.
The normal testing process for a power meter would be to run multiple power meters (trainer, hub, spider, pedals) side-by-side, then comparing the results side by side looking for peaks, valleys, and consistency in the data. Because the NGeco is my only power meter, I can't test it in that manner.
DC Rainmaker, a well-respected reviewer who publishes a fairly sophisticated testing protocol, gives the NGeco the "thumbs up" in the accuracy department - that's good enough for this amateur racer.
Reliability and battery life
Since the initial installation, I've found the Power2Max NGeco to be 100% reliable. If you can simply forget about it, that's the mark of a good product! It has never failed to immediately pair with my head unit or capture data. I also found the claimed battery life of 300 hours to be accurate - it ran for about 4 months before it needed to be replaced ($4)
If I have any complaint about the NGeco at all, it's the low battery warning notification. The NGeco uses a simple coin-type disposable battery, and you can monitor the battery level with LEDs on the spider. They're easy to miss, though. In a perfect world, your power meter will warn you on your Garmin / Wahoo computer that the battery needs to be charged or replaced. In my case, I did receive a low battery notification mid-ride, but the battery died entirely just a few miles later - there wasn't enough notice to proactively change the battery.
The actual battery life (4 months) was more than acceptable, but I might add a spare coin battery to my emergency toolkit just in case in the future. As an alternative, setting a 90 day reminder on your calendar for those logging heavy mileage could also work, and if you change on that interval you'll probably never see the low battery indicator ever.
I recommend the Power2Max NGeco spider-based power meter and would use it again in the future. It's one of the few options on the market available in a version specifically designed for compatibility with Shimano's GRX components, which are very popular on today's cyclocross and gravel bikes.
If spider-based power isn't for you, please see my article "How to add a power meter to your cyclocross or gravel bike" for discussion of other options, such as power meter pedals and crankarm "pods".