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Power Meters

Few things have revolutionised modern cycling like the power meter. Love them or hate them—or love to hate them—it’s now, almost, beyond debate that as a training tool they are invaluable. These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a cyclist among the professional ranks that isn’t training to power, even among amateurs they’re a common sight. If you want to ride faster, improve performance, or pace your self up a climb there’s few better tools for the job. We have a broad range of options available, from the likes of 4iiii, Garmin, and Quarq.

What’s more, they no longer remain the preserve of the elite. Over the years, brands such as 4iiii have worked hard to bring the cost of power meters down to obtainable levels. Of course, a 4iiii single-sided device on a Shimano 105 crank arm is still an investment, but one that it is that bit more affordable.

What Is A Power Meter?

In the context of cycling, it is a device that measures the power output you put through the pedals. Companies have taken different approaches to how the calculate this but, typically, it relies on the placement of strain gauges to calculate both the torque (force through the pedals) and cadence (speed you turn the pedals). The measurement is expressed in watts and can be displayed live on your bike computer or analysed in depth post-ride.

Some brands will measure this at the pedals, some at the crank arms or chainset (which can be single-sided or dual-sided). Each method has its merits and drawbacks, so there’s not necessarily something to avoid or aim for. What is important is that the device gives accurate and reliable data. Typically modern devices will boast +/-1.5% accuracy (give or take a fraction of a per cent or so).

What Is It Good For?

If you want to add structure to your training then a power meter is a vital tool in setting accurate training zones or targets. In addition to setting your zones, you can also track your weekly training stress to ensure you aren’t training too hard or too easy.

Another popular use is pacing an effort. Team Sky were infamous for staring at the watts on their bike computers wile pacing their Grand Tour contender for that year up a climb. There’s good reason this was effective. Having a target to aim for and keeping a measured pace is the most effective way to pace an effort, whether it’s a climb or a time trial.

What’s Right For Me?

There’s seemingly an endless array of options for measuring your power these days. Understandably, if you’re just starting out on your journey with watts it can be confusing. There are systems for the left crank arm, pedals, and chainset. There’s also PowerPod which estimates your watts based on calculations incorporating a variety of factors.

The right set up for you will vary. If you want to be able to easily swap your device between bikes then pedals might be the way to go. If it’s time for an upgrade of your chainset, maybe its easiest to get a chainset based system at the same time, but this system is less interchangeable between bikes. If you want the most accurate measurement, you’ll probably want a dual-sided device, as a single-sided one will simply double the reading from the left side.

Overall, an accurate power meter is vital for any cyclist who wants to ride faster and improve performance. By measuring your power output, these powerful devices allow you to pace your efforts and drastically improve cycling endurance. Similarly, they will help you to understand your abilities better, so you can go beyond your limits and make real fitness gains. So, whether you're a road racer or just enjoy pushing yourself on the bike unlock the benefits of training with power at ProBikeKit.