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Power Meters

Why a Power Meter

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. While devices like speedometers and heart rate monitors provide useful and interesting metrics, they only measure your body’s response to work, they don’t record the actual amount of work you perform. Why is this a problem? Doing too little work means you’re not getting the maximum benefit from your workout. A too strenuous an effort and you run the risk of over training and injury. A power meter gives an athlete important insight on how to improve their training and racing. Unlike speed and heart rate, outside factors such as wind and hills do not affect power output. When power is measured, your training becomes more focused and effective. Training with power is hands down the most accurate way to measure cycling performance.

Having a constant measure of power helps you: 

  • Establish your baseline fitness
  • Accurately measure even the smallest fitness gains
  • Quantify intensity, duration and frequency - instead of guessing
  • Prevent over training
  • Accurately measure energy use for nutrition planning
  • Pace properly for a successful race

What is a Power Meter

Power output, which can be measured in watts, has become an increasingly popular and important metric used by cyclists. Power meters use strain gauges to measure the torque applied through the bicycle’s drivetrain to calculate power. Power meters incorporate these strain gauges in either the hub of the rear wheel, the pedals or somewhere within the crankset. Each have their advantages and limitations. Once an athlete has decided to include power to their training and racing, they must then decide which of the unique power meters they will use.

Choosing a Power Meter

There are many great power meters available to you. How do you pick one? Ultimately the decision should be based on complimenting your bike equipment and fulfilling your needs as a rider. Considerations such as price, weight and flexibility to use your power meter on multiple bikes or during training periods and while racing are all part of the equation. Our staff of experts are available to help you find exactly what power meter is best for you. Below is a primer for the power meters we carry at Gear West.

Powertap G3 Hub                                                                                                                                                          $599.99 

Powertap sets the benchmark for accuracy and reliability. The G3 is a hub based power meter and can be built around or available as a training wheel or race wheel. A hub based power meter such as the G3 can be moved from one bike to another easily and therefore popular with anyone using multiple bikes.

Quick SpecsPowertap G3 Hub

  • Cost: Without the need for speed or cadence sensors, the Powertap G3 hub is one the least expensive power meter options 
  • Accuracy: PowerTap’s accuracy standard of +/-1.5% is the industry benchmark and is reliable in all weather conditions
  • Simplicity: Rarely needs calibration and is easy to swap between bikes
  • Options: Can be built into a simple and durable training or race wheel and also available as a pre-built wheel
  • Maintenance: User replaceable CR2032 battery
  • Weight: G3 Hub alone weighs 325 grams
  • Compatibility: ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart™ devices
  • Warranty: 2 years
 
Poweretap P1 Pedals                                                                                                                                                 $1199.99

Powertap’s P1 Pedals offer another power meter option for cyclists who want to move their power meter from one bike to another with little fuss while not restricting wheel choice. Pedal based power meters also add left/right leg power balance metrics.

Quick SpecsPowertap P1 Pedals

  • Accuracy: PowerTap’s accuracy standard of +/-1.5% is the industry benchmark and is reliable in all weather conditions
  • Details: Total power, left/right power, left/right percentage of power, cadence and other core metrics
  • Simplicity: No pods to set up/rarely needs calibration and is easy to swap between bikes, allowing the freedom to choose between training wheels or race wheels
  • Maintenance: User replaceable AAA battery (one per pedal) with 60 hours of reliable use
  • Weight: 437 grams per pair
  • Compatibility: ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart™ devices
  • Warranty: 2 years
 
Powertap C1 Chainrings                                                                                                                                            $699.99

Crank based power meters have long been popular because they don’t limit a rider’s selection of wheels. But price and battery replacement kept all but the most serious power meter proselytizers from adopting them. Powertap’s C1 Chainrings now offer a price conscience option that is compatible with a wide range of alloy and carbon cranks, making them a tremendous value for non-Shimano equipped drivetrains.

Quick SpecsPowertap C1 Chainrings

  • Accuracy: PowerTap’s accuracy standard of +/-1.5% is the industry benchmark and is reliable in all weather conditions
  • Details: Aggregate measurements of the power you’re generating in both legs while motion-based electronics eliminates additional speed and cadence sensors
  • Simplicity: Rarely needs calibration and fits a wide range of alloy and carbon cranks while allowing the freedom to choose between training wheels or race wheels
  • Options: Compatible with a wide range of alloy and carbon cranks 
  • Maintenance: User replaceable CR2032 battery with 200 hours of reliable use
  • Weight: Adds as little as 158 grams to existing crankset
  • Compatibility: ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart™ devices
  • Warranty: 2 years
 
Quarq Cranksets                                                                                                                                   Starting at $799.99

Quarq power meters measure power at the crankset spider. This is an ideal place on the bike to measure power because all of the rider’s pedaling effort flows directly through the spider and can be measured with great precision. Using a crank based power meter allows the rider to choose freely amoungst available training and race wheels. Quark combines their power measurement technology with SRAM’s topflight crank arms to create an integrated, high performance bicycle component.

Quick SpecsQuarq Cranksets

  • Accuracy: +/-1.5%. Utilizing a true measurement of power from both crank arms you can be confident in the accuracy and consistency of data
  • Details: Quarq’s Power Balance™ measurement of left and right side power & Omnical™, which tracks Calories Burned
  • Options: Quarq Red, Quarq Elsa, Quarq Rikken
  • Simplicity: LED Indicator provides confidence the unit is sending data - allows the choice between training wheels or race wheels
  • Maintenance: User replaceable CR2032 battery with 300 hours of reliable use
  • Weight: Adds between 80-100 grams to crankset weight 
  • Compatibility: ANT+™ devices
  • Warranty: 2 years
 
Stages Crank Arms                                                                                                                              Starting at $499.99

Easily the lightest weight power meter available, the Stages Power meter adds just under 20grams to a left crank arm. Easy to maintain and simple to use, Stages also offers one of the least expensive power meters on the market. Stages mounts their strain gauges on the back side of many popular non-drive side crank arms including all recent and current Shimano cranks. Stages preserves the structural and aesthetic integrity of the crank—all while seamlessly adding the ability to measure power.

Quick SpecsStages Crank Arms

  • Cost: One the least expensive power meter options available and also will provide cadence without an additional sensor 
  • Accuracy: +/- 2% Accuracy and is reliable in all weather conditions
  • Simplicity: Rarely needs calibration and Wireless firmware upgrades
  • Options: Available in all sizes manufactured by Shimano
  • Maintenance: User replaceable CR2032 battery
  • Weight: Adds just 20 grams to the weight of the crank arm
  • Compatibility: ANT+™ and Bluetooth Smart™ devices
  • Warranty: 2 years