Garmin Vector 3 pedals: the achilles screw

A really small screw went missing on my Garmin Vector 3 pedals a month or two ago. A tiny, rare screw. But not so tiny that you don’t miss it when it’s not there.

I bought Garmin’s Vector 3 power pedals in February 2018 because I needed to replace a dead single-side power meter crank. The pedals were a revelation. I learned I’d been getting lowballed power numbers every time I stepped on my bike. I had a portable power measurement solution that fit the cleats I already had on my shoes. Awesome, right? Except that I get the distinct impression they’re winging it.

The first problem was the battery door. The version they shipped with my pedals used electrical tape to keep the batteries from short circuiting the power meter. They sent me replacements for free. But I still needed to dab baby oil between the two cells to keep them from abrading and producing a film of non-conducting zinc dust that also disables the power meter.

Then one day, I heard a squeaking coming from the general vicinity of my crankset. For one who hates unknown creaks, squeaks and clicks I’m not very good about cleaning my bike. But in this case I made an exception. Because squeaky pedals are easy.

Lo and behold there was a screw missing from the pedal. The pedals have a metal gang plate on the business side that presumably helps the cleat slide into place. It’s attached to the pedal base with three screws. And when one of them goes missing there’s enough play in the gang plate to make it squeak.

Turns out it’s a very rare screw. My bits and bobs box, my local bike shop, Home Depot, Staples, and a local computer supply store, a jewellry and watch repair store all had nothing that was even close.

Garmin support found a solution

I also submitted a ticket with Garmin. Still under warranty these pedals. I’ve always found Garmin’s service to be really good. They’re not exactly members of the Fix-it movement, but they do value their customers over their gadgets. So when something goes wrong they will make it right.

Only this time they were stumped. Refreshingly, their customer service agent told me so. Most companies would offer stony silence. But this person said they didn’t have the screws as a repair part.

I’m used to posing unsolvable questions to people — service people, retail clerks, politicians. And I’ve come to recognize “I’ll see what I can do” as a euphemism for “you’re on your own, buddy.” So I kept looking.

Walking back empty-handed from a trip to a computer supply store, I found Audio Mart, a used electronics store on Bank Street in Centretown that had a guy who was willing to go through his bits and bobs box. He found a couple of screws that were in range and sold them to me for five bucks. Possibly a lot for a miniscule cylinder of threaded metal but the pedals are worth an awful lot more than that.

One of the screws fit the hole and was the right length. Applied to the pedal, it stopped the squeaking, but it had a rounded head. I reckoned it was a matter of time before it worked its way out. Or got so worn down as to be un-serviceable. But that part where it stopped the squeaking? Did you catch that?

But here’s the punchline. Garmin got back to me. Their customer service rep said they would ship me a whole pedal body at no expense to me. And they did. And it arrived. And now I have the right screw and two extras for when another one goes.

I hope for future Vector 3 owners’ sake the Garmin’s engineering department will take a lesson from the plumbing world and discover thread tape.


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