If you’re looking to take the next step in your training and want to use a more accurate tool than just a heart rate monitor, a power meter is the tool you’re looking for. Want to know more? Read our best power meters buying guide.
What do power meters do?
Power meters measure the force (in Watts (W)) you apply when cycling and send this data via a wireless protocol such as ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart to your compatible cycling computer or smart phone.
Why use a power meter?
Unlike heart rate, which can give you variable readings if you feel sick/fatigued, power meters always give you the same measurement which allows you to train more accurately in your zones. When you use a power meter alongside a heart rate strap it gives an even better indication of improved fitness. For example you can monitor your heart rate at a given power each week and as your fitness increase you should see your average heart rate come down for the same power output.
What type of power meters are there?
Over the years power meters have been developed to take the measurement of force from various locations on your bike. The most common areas power meters can be fitted are cranksets, pedals and rear hubs, with each having their own advantages.
Which power meter should I buy?
Good question. There are generally three main types of power meter – pedal-based, hub-based and crank-based. If you’re looking for some flexibility and want to swap your power meter between bikes, a pedal based system will be much easier. Simply attach it to the bike you’re riding on and away you go. Crank based power meters are a reliable choice, but you won’t want to chop and change them too much between bikes unless you’re mechanically minded and have time on your hands. For the most reliable system, go for a hub based power meter – they’re incredibly accurate.
Pedal based power meters
If you have more than one bike and are planning on using your power meter on both then a pedal based system would be the best option, down to its simplicity when fitting.
Here’s a look at the different types on offer:
PowerTap P1 Pedal Powermeter Set
The P1 Power meter pedals are hands down the most user friendly power meter on the market. You simply fit your pedals as normal and that is it. No additional parts or calibration required. The P1 pedals broadcast the data via Ant+ and Bluetooth Smart which allows you to connect them to most cycling computers on the market along with Bluetooth Smart compatible smart phones.
Garmin Vector Power Meter
Garmin offer their pedals in two options a left only or a left/right system depending on your budget. When paired with a Garmin device you also get additional cycling dynamics that help you assess your stroke. For those that are getting into power training for the first time the left only system would be a great choice, however for those who like all the finer details then the dual side system is a must. Garmin send their data using the ANT+ protocol.
Crank based power meters
Crank based power meters are very reliable and measure the force exerted at the crank, the power meter itself can be found on the crank spindle, crank spider or chainring.
Here’s a look at the different types on offer:
SRAM Quarq Power Meter
The SRAM Quarq power meter is one of the market leaders and for good reason. They are a reliable power meter and with a range of options there is going to be something to suit everyone’s need. The SRAM Quarq line up transmits their data via ANT+ to compatible cycling computers.
Rotor InPower Power Meter
The Rotor InPower power meter is located inside the crank arm spindle. The power meter is fitted to their tried and tested 3D+ crankset, this can be purchased as an upgrade for current 3D+ users or a complete crankset for those who are upgrading from an alternative groupset.
PowerTap Chainring Power Meter
If you want a reliable dual sided power meter on a budget then the C1 chainring is the product for you. The C1 chainrings broadcast their data via ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart allowing you to connect to most cycling computers and Bluetooth Smart compatible smart phones. The C1 is the most affordable dual sided power meter on the market. It can be fitted to various 110mm BCD crank arms. For a full compatibility chart, head to the Powertap website.
Pioneer Chainring Power Meter
Pioneer measures pedalling forces every 30˚, for 12 points of measurement per revolution. However, within those 12 points, Pioneer scans those pedalling forces an incredible 16 times, for an unbelievable 192 data points each rotation of the crank! This level of measurement is what leads to the accuracy of Pioneer power meters, as well as the basis for HDPower Metrics analysis.
Hub Based Power Meter
Hub based power meters are among the most reliable available. Located on the rear wheel the hub measures the force applied to the cassette via your pedal stroke.
• PowerTap G3 – The PowerTap hub power meter was the world’s first wireless power meter and is among one of the most reliable options on the market today. The latest version of the classic PowerTap hub is the G3. It is available in a hub only or complete wheel option. For those who use the same wheels year round the PowerTap G3 is a great choice.