Garmin targets cyclists with Vector power meter and Edge 200 GPS

Garmin Edge 200

As consumers lean more towards smartphones for their GPS and navigation needs, GPS makers have been looking to create more special-purpose niche products that do things (and go places) where smartphones aren’t very practical. GPS maker Garmin’s latest efforts target cyclists: the Edge 200 Cycling GPS, designed with the specific needs of bike fans, and the new Vector power meter, which enables cyclists to gather detailed biometric information about their rides.

First up, the Garmin Edge 200 looks to be an introduction to cycling GPS, offering all the basics at an affordable price. The compact unit weighs just two ounces, and collects important stats about a bike ride without needing wires, sensors, and calibration—meaning it can easy be switched between bikes. Users can keep track of how fast and how far they rode, along with a Courses feature that enables users to compare (and challenge) their times on previous rides along a route.

The Edge unit can store up to 130 hours of ride data, and users can compare against locally-stored routes or against downloaded from Garmin Connect. The unit computes rides’ speed and distance, as well as the number of calories expended. Plus, it’s weather-hardy, enabling users to ride in all sorts of conditions. Garmin says it’ll be available in the third quarter of 2011 for a suggested price of $149.99.

Garmin Vector power meter

For folks who are more serious about their cycling, Garmin has also announced its new Vector pedal-based power meter, which Garmin claims is the lightest direct measurement power meter on the market—and also among the easiest to install. The idea is that users install the Vector on their pedals, and the devices collect right and left leg power balance to ANT+ compatible wireless head units so riders can obsess over every biometric detail of their ride. The Vector also ties in with Garmin’s Edge 800 and Edge 500 cycling GPS and computers, so total power, leg balance, cadence, and other real-time information can be displayed right on the Edge unit. Garmin isn’t planning to turn the Vector loose until March 2012, but that might be a good thing, since it will give cyclists a change to save their pennies: it’ll carry a suggested price tag of $1,499.99.