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Joule 2.0 Review

This is Cyclops has to say about their Joule 2.0.

Joule™ provides an intuitive and customizable dashboard for managing all the metrics needed to tell you what you're doing during a ride. At any moment you can see power, heart rate, cadence, speed, time and other basic data.

Knowing what to do next starts with knowing what you have done. So Joule™ provides a series of eight reports never before available. All reports are created with the help of experts and cyclists like you to ensure they provide the right data and are grouped logically, making it quicker and easier than ever to summarize your rides.

Each report also provides every ride in the context of how it compares to previous rides over key physiological time frames like two weeks, four weeks, eight weeks, six months and even a complete year. Since the reports are available at any time before, during or after your ride, you always know where you stand.

Determining what to do next is often the biggest challenge you will face in achieving ultimate performance. Joule™ provides a dedicated workout and courses feature making it easy to keep track of the next interval so you can focus on the task at hand.

The sum of all these features is the world's first cycling computer designed for cyclists who train with power. 

When we first saw a workable unit at Interbike, we were sold.   In theory, it seemed to blow away the capabilities of existing powermeter.   But would it work as advertised?   Kevin and Curt were excited to test it out. 

 

Kevin O'Connor Review

Why did you need/want the Joule 2.0?
The Joule 2.0 is a new CPU(computer head) which works with any ANT+ power measuring device, including of course the Powertap 2.4+ Hub.  I have been using the powertap hub and powetap cpu for more than 10 years.  Although there has been upgrades to the powertap cpu, the Joule 2.0 is a complete remake.  The Joule 2.0 is a "computer head" which records the data it receives from the power measuring device. 

I have never been one to use the original powertap cpu to its full potential which is why I actually wanted the Joule 2.0.  The Joule has the ability to store several workouts between downloads.  It also will give you more information than you will time to digest all in a post workout view right on the CPU.  These were the key features which sold me on trying the unit.  With the original powertap cpu you had to download each workout individually and when you "cleared" the unit before the next workout you would lose the previous workout data.  I simply don't get around to downloading after each workout.  Once a month maybe, but definitely not 6 days a week. 

What are the components/special features?
The most impressive feature of the Joule is the amount of power data it can store and “analyze”. Without downloading your workout you can look at all of the key parameters of training with power.  Of course you see current/average/max Power, speed, cadence, and HR.  But you also get Training Stress Score(TSS), Intensity Factor, Elevation gain, Max power over 5sec/1min/5min/10min/20min/40min/60min.  You essentially get everything but a graph for your workout.  And you can see all this before you walk in from your garage. 

The screen allows you to look at 6 separate fields of data.  You can choose what data you want to see and where on the screen that data is displayed.  There is always one of the 6 fields of data which is “highlighted”.  You can choose which one is highlighted.  The “highlighted” field will also show 2 more related data fields.  For instance if you have speed as one of the 6 data fields being shown on the screen and you have it “highlighted” you will see your average and maximum speed at the bottom of the screen.  If you toggle over to “highlight” power you will then see your average and max power at the bottom of the screen.  If you “highlight” ride time you will then see distance and KJ on the bottom two lines.

The screen can be completely customized so you get the information you want and have it where you want on the screen.

Pros (what you liked, what surprised you) 

I received this Joule 2.0 unit in February as a unit for me to try before they were available on the market.  I did not get an owner's manual, handlebar mount, HR strap, or anything else.  Just the CPU.  I got home and spent just 20 minutes figuring out how to set up and operate.  The software in the Joule 2.0 is incredibly intuitive.  I feel comfortable working with basic electronics (HR monitor, DVD/VCR, TV Remote, etc.) and the Joule 2.0 is as easy as they come. 

When I finish a ride and I look at my power data I can compare each piece of information to the averages for the prior 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months.  I can also compare the power information to maximum for each of the data fields.

I also found out how much ride data the Joule can store; 49.5 hours or 1040 miles.  At some point around 1,000 miles the Joule 2.0 flashed "memory full".  It still recorded the last 20 miles of that ride.  I downloaded all of the rides I had accumulated and "cleared ride data".  I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that the unit purges the huge volume of data points which give you the averages at the end of the ride.  But what is kept are all of the averages that you accumulate so you can continue to compare over the 2 week to 12 month time period.

Cons (what you didn't like, or would change and why)

I have a tough time coming up with any cons.  Perhaps the price, but even for $500 it's a case of you get what you pay for. 

The wrap up, general consensus.  Worth it for you?
There is only one way to quantify you bike workouts.  By using Power. I know exactly where I am in my fitness and where I was in my fitness.  And of course where I want to be.  There are a few ways to measure power (Saris Powertap Hub, Quarq Crank, SRM Crank) and a few ways to record power.  And they can be intermixed. 

For recording power you can even use 3 models of Garmin GPS units.  Of course SRM makes a cpu that is often used with their crank.  With the Joule 2.0 the bar has been raised for recording power.  There is no more efficient way to record and analyze your workout than with the Joule 2.0.  
 

Curt Wood Review

Why did you need/want the Joule 2.0?
A large portion of my bike training is done indoors at high intensity.  I'm kind of a 'high intesity - low volume' rider, so I really want to maximize the time I do spend on the bike.   Having always trained with power, I was intrigued by possibilities of having more data to work with on my rides.  

What are the components/special features?
I can select to view 8 fields of data at once from dozens of options.  This is a HUGE leap from being able to only view 3 fields of data at once.   I can now look at Power, Ave Power, Max Power, Cadence, Heart Rate, MPH, and still have 2 more fields to play with.    I could also track TSS (training stress score) and Normalized Power, 2 metrics used by trainingpeaks software that are very valuable for tracking workload.  

I also really liked the toggle switch on the computer which allows for a lot more control in moving my 'cursor' around and navigating the screen. 

Pros (what you liked, what surprised you)
The interval function is worth the $500 alone to me.   With the standard powertap head unit, there wasn't really a good way to track your interval workout as you're doing it.  With the Joule, you can record nearly infinite intervals and view your time duration, average watts, average HR, and average speed of both your current interval and previous intervals on the same screen.  This is invaluable if you're trying to achieve a certain wattage for your intervals, and to be able to track your progress as you go.   

Cons (what you didn't like, or would change and why)
The instructions could have been a little more helpful.... I seemed to have to figure out a number of things by trial and error.  I'm hoping they get a better manual soon.   Also, the price is a bit steep... even with my employee discount:)

The wrap up, general consensus.  Worth it for you?
100% yes.  Along the my Garmin Forerunner for running, this is another tool that I can now not go without when I'm biking.  This WILL make me faster, because I can workout smarter by tracking my progress better and staying more motivated while I'm riding.    Just like when I first started training with power, the Joule 2.0 is a game changer for me.