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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.