Shimano bolsters power meter business with acquisition of Pioneer

by James Huang


Pioneer Electronics today announced that it signed an agreement this past December to sell the cycling part of its business to Shimano. According to the official release, the sale includes “pedaling monitors, cycle computers, and other related products,” along with all associated assets.

Effective March 2020, Shimano will take over sales of all Pioneer power meters and computers. At that time, Pioneer’s Cyclo-Sphere web service will also transfer over to Shimano, and will eventually transition to a new service developed by Shimano. Until then, however, Pioneer will continue to sell existing product “while supplies last”, and service of units already out in the field will continue to be handled by Pioneer through the end of their warranty period. (You can check out Pioneer’s FAQ on the sale here.)

Pioneer says it will also service product that is out of warranty after the transfer date for a fee. Product manuals will continue to be available on the Pioneer web site for the foreseeable future as well.

Long-term, however, things are decidedly less clear — but also more interesting.

Shimano getting back into the computer game?

It seems like a foregone conclusion that the acquisition of Pioneer will somehow be used to improve Shimano’s power meter hardware. Exactly how is still to be determined, but it should nevertheless be pointed out that Pioneer’s flagship dual-sided power meter (which is built around a Dura-Ace crankset) is significantly more affordable than Shimano’s, and Pioneer also offers an Ultegra-level dual-sided power meter, which Shimano has yet to do. Also conspicuously missing from Shimano’s power meter catalog are any single-sided units, which Pioneer has also offered at both the Dura-Ace and Ultegra levels.

Shimano currently offers its own power meter at the Dura-Ace level and with dual-sided measurement. Perhaps singled-sided models are pending, along with Ultegra and maybe 105 versions, too? Time will tell.

Things become more interesting when you start considering head units, too.

Shimano hasn’t produced its own cycling computer since the ill-fated Flight Deck wired models. Since then, the company has instead decided to work with third-party companies, such as Garmin and Wahoo, to display information from its popular Di2 electronic groupsets.

Notably, Shimano’s purchase of Pioneer’s cycling products doesn’t just include power meters. The computers are part of the package as well, and Pioneer’s SGX-CA600 has been reasonably popular given its information-rich graphical display. Perhaps Shimano will continue to develop Pioneer’s computer family, and maybe even make it so its own power meters offer similar visual data? And what about Pioneer’s recent partnership with Wahoo, which allowed owners of those computers to also display similar information as the SGX-CA600?

Wahoo Fitness and Pioneer announced a new integration partnership at the 2018 Interbike show. It was the first time a non-Pioneer head unit was able to display the power meter’s full suites of power metrics. Where this relationship goes now that Shimano has taken over Pioneer’s cycling business remains to be seen.

Finally, there’s Pioneer’s Cyclo-Sphere online power data analysis software, which Shimano will also take over next month. Shimano hasn’t announced its intentions there, but the company currently doesn’t offer anything similar, and it seems unlikely that it’d pull the plug on that aspect altogether. That said, Shimano also doesn’t have much of a history in this arena, so it remains to be seen where this will go.

So many questions, so few answers. Stay tuned.

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