Are you wondering which tool is the ideal cycling accessory to train with? Whether you're training for a short sprint or an endurance sportive, a power meter is an accessory that will immediately validate your training by taking it to that next level. However, power meters can come in all different shapes and sizes, can be located on different parts of the bike whilst all reading data differently - so how do you pick which power meter will be best for you?
To start with, we shall look through the benefits of training with a power meter by looking at some of the Maths and Science behind the technology so you can get a better understanding of what they are. Afterwards, we shall go through the different types of power meters, how they calculate the data and the advantages and disadvantages.
Discipline - All
Usage - Enhanced training & fitness
Key brands - Single Crank, Dual Crank, Pedals, Chainring
- - Easily connectable to Cycle Computers using ANT+
- - Small, lightweight and doesn't affect aero performance
- - Data is accurate but calculated in different ways
- - More efficient to train with than a HRM
- - Good to workout your training zone to calculate race pace
How do Power meters work?
Power meters work by measuring the force in torque, thanks to strain gauges that deflect, and combining it with angular velocity which gives you the power output in Watts. Riders mainly use their power meters to workout their FTP (Functional threshold power) which is effectively a measure of how much power you can hold over one hour... a pretty gruelling test on the legs!
Power (W) = Force x Distance / Time
What is a Watt? A Watt is effectively the energy that is required to move a set mass a certain distance so athletes will want a higher average watt output as it means they can cover more distance over a set amount of time. These statistics all come in handy when training for a race - even if the event is a short or long distance event! However, power meters can have varied accuracy depending on where they're placed on the bike
Why would I want to train with a Power meter?
The main benefit of training with a Power meter is that it can give you up to date, relevant and realistic figures whilst out on the move if you pair it, using ANT+ connection, with your Cycle Computer. Unlike a heart rate monitor, a Power meter shows the exact work you're doing at that moment whereas muscle fatigue and other factors can all have an effect on your BPM making it a more inaccurate statistic.
Once you have completed an FTP test and trained with a Power meter and its data for a few weeks, you can start to construct a training plan dedicated to you and the event you want to annihilate. When training for a long distance endurance event, knowing what your average pace and average power can come in extremely useful, giving you an advantage over other riders who won't have a clue.
What power meters are out there and where are they placed on the bike?
Single sided crank power meter - These do exactly what they say on the tin... usually located on the crank opposite to the driveside, these power meters are small, convenient and don't cost over the moon. The downside to these, even though they are accurate - they only calculate one leg's performance meaning you won't get a completely accurate reading overall as having a 48/52% balance across legs isn't uncommon. Ride on more than one bike, luckily with crank mounted power meters, you can easily interchange them between bikes in a matter of seconds.
Sram Rival DUB Left Arm Crank Power Meter
SRAM have once again knocked it out the park, lowering the barrier to entry and teaming up with the iconic Quark name to produce a new power meter platform. Letting you power every ride.
- Battery life: 400+ hours
- Weight: 40g heavier than standard crankset
- User replaceable AAA battery
- Weight: 326 g
Dual sided crank power meter - Often found on many higher end road bikes as standard, double sided crank meters use the same technology as single sided crank meters but you have the ability to measure both legs output in Watts and take an average from the two readings which makes your training and statistics just that small touch more accurate whilst being incredible value for money!4iiii Power Meters
Pedal mounted power meters - Also a popular choice in the market, Pedal power meters give the rider an easy option to measure their power whilst on the bike and easily swap pedals between bikes. Power meters like this can also be single or double sided again so it is just worth checking what you're running on your set up!
Chainring - Located on the chainring and regularly seen on older high spec models, Chainring power meters use the same formula and system that crank power meters used but just located in a different area! As there is only a chainring on the drive side, you only get one accurate reading from your right leg but the meter will often use an algorithm to guess the output of your opposite leg.Shop our range of Power Meters here