OMY! Sports News

36 shades of power. How to choose a suitable power meter?

This material was prepared jointly with our user and technology expert Alex. He spoke about his approach, priorities, and the main factors in choosing power meters.

Why do you need data?

I am adept at the digitalization of training and activities, so I try to get as much quality data as possible from each training session. I make sure that the so-called consistency and all loads (training load, TL) got into the PMC (performance measurement chart) for analysis and interpretation. For me, in order of priority, these are ecosystems of Garmin, Strava, and OMY! Sports and XERT.

The most common exercise metric for all activities except cycling is heart rate. In cycling, there are two whole parameters — initial work or power and heart rate.

I pay particular attention to power data in two cases:

  • When training intervals are performed with target power
  • As a result of live training or races

In the first case, I just do what is prescribed. And in the second, I study the real results, which, as a rule, gives a large amount of interesting, useful, and important information for building / updating the parameters of future training.

Where do you get power data from?

In the case of indoor training — from the smart trainer. It translates the power data to my bike computer fairly accurately. Power varies according to the gradient or even the surface of a virtual ride or simply emulates increasing effort as a function of speed. The trainer changes power quickly, which is suitable for all kinds of intervals.

In the case of a road ride, the power data is recorded in the bike’s head unit (bicycle computer or sports watch) and transferred to the ecosystem that I use to record my training results.

What bike trainers would you recommend?

I use a TACX Neo interactive trainer. In general, all leading brands — Elite, TACX, and Wahoo— have several options. If you want to dive in more, I recommend this article.

The accuracy of power meters of smart trainers are commensurate with good power sensors: the error is 1–1.5% for top models and 2–3% for 2nd tier models. But once the bike is removed from a trainer and you start to ride outdoor power data can only be measured by the power sensor on the bike.

How to choose a power meter for a bicycle?

There may be several options and selection criteria:

  • Accuracy and Reliability
  • Technological and aesthetic match to frame and transmission
  • Price
  • Some additional metrics
  • Ease of installation
  • Communication protocols

These criteria vary both from model to model, and from type to type.

What types of power meters are there?

  • Placed in the bottom bracket. Quite rare, now only Rotor InPower/2InPower. The greater complexity of the installation makes them less popular.
  • Placed on the “spider” (integrated into the system). These are the most reliable and accurate meters: Power2Max, Quarq, SRM, Rotor, and Shimano. The choice depends on your transmission type and should be carefully done beforehand. They are relatively expensive but accurate, reliable, and are usually the first choice for many athletes. Quarq, in my opinion, is the most successful and affordable. Shimano is the least. I am using Power2Max and Quarq.
  • Placed on cranks. More affordable than other models, and quite accurate. Many riders are attracted by the fact that these power meters use original cranks, which won’t ruin the look of the bike. Stages and 4iiii are the most popular.
  • Placed in the pedals. Are quite convenient and sometimes more affordable devices that have a number of important differences. For example, a more accurate measurement of the pedaling performance of each leg and other additional metrics. But the main thing is the ability to quickly switch the pedals from one bike to another. And sometimes even with a change in the type of spikes from road to MTB, such as Garmin Rally. They are also produced by Garmin, SRM, and Wahoo. The most popular and affordable is Favero Assioma Duo. The main downside is that these are probably the least accurate of all the options.
  • Placed in the wheel hub. Is a rather old system, but many used it on training wheels. The most famous representative is PowerTab.
  • Exotic options, rare but interesting models, handlebar-mounted devices for extrapolating power from speed, airflow, etc.

Choice by price.

  • In the case of an advanced approach to riding and training, I would choose the most advanced and transmission-appropriate power meter in the spider/system. Depending on your system and brand of bike, this is Quarq or Power2Max. Their cost fluctuates in a wide range from 450 euros to 1500 euros.
  • A more budget-friendly option is the crank-based. More affordable and of relatively high quality, in my opinion, is the single-sided meter from Stages, which costs starting from 300 euros.
  • A third option for me would be power meters on the pedals. They cost about 400 euros for 1 pedal.

Choose yours and have a great data-reach ride!