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  1. #1
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    Power meter or not?

    Many say they work great. But is it worth it the money? I'm a avid rider just no more racing. I do train with race team with strong riders that I can keep up with. And many of them use PM because they race every weekend. So my opinion on the PM is that if anyone uses one you must be serious about riding or racing. To me cycling is still fun and I enjoy it. But a PM might be to much for many of us avid riders. I'm debating on getting one. Not sure I'll ever do it. It's just a thought now. Do any of you have one just for training and not racing? If I was to get me one it would be my training tool for Gran Fondo's and that's about it.
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  2. #2
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    I'll never race. I love power meters. They really help and they changed a lot. They taught me how to pace myself and not blow up. This lead to faster and more efficient riding. I think they are worth the money for sure.
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  3. #3
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    I don't and won't race, but have a PM on each of my bikes. Like was said, they are great for pacing on long rides or climbs. Data analysis tools will give you quantitative information about improved performance over a time interval (best 5 minute etc) and give an indication of fatigue / fitness too. Certainly not a requirement but more of a nice luxury. Personally, now that I am used to it I would definitely miss riding without one.
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  4. #4
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    PM's are for anyone. Not just racer types or pro riders. There are many racers I know that have them but, don't understand how to really interpret the data and adjust training accordingly. There are many guys I know who don't have one yet train very effectively. Kind of depends on the user I guess.

    I'd recommend reading a book or too on the subject and try and determine if you will be the kind of guy that will use the data to improve or just look at the data and move on. Either way is fine but, if better performance is what you seek, it wouldn't be logical to buy one and ignore the data.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodys737 View Post
    PM's are for anyone. Not just racer types or pro riders. There are many racers I know that have them but, don't understand how to really interpret the data and adjust training accordingly. There are many guys I know who don't have one yet train very effectively. Kind of depends on the user I guess.

    I'd recommend reading a book or too on the subject and try and determine if you will be the kind of guy that will use the data to improve or just look at the data and move on. Either way is fine but, if better performance is what you seek, it wouldn't be logical to buy one and ignore the data.
    Very good points! It's like a study of your fitness. Or taking a class on PM and data. I'll do some more research as if I'm going to do or not.
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  6. #6
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    No real downside to having a PM. I skimmed the books. I pay attention to a few things. My job is a little too detail oriented for me to get deep into power statistics.

  7. #7
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    I'm too lazy and stupid to benefit from one but there's no question that data could help with training and pacing regardless of what you are training for (race or just general riding).
    I think most people know themself well enough to know if they'd use or have an interest in the data so if you think you're type to benefit from or simply enjoy knowing power numbers I'd suggest going for it regardless of if you race or not.

    I know a few guys who've become slaves to numbers and irritate the heck out of fellow riders by talking stats all the time but other than the slight risk of becoming 'that guy' no reason not to get one if you got the $ and think you'd like to have one.

  8. #8
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    I'm toying with the idea of getting a powercal for $50 and then waiting for a crank based system to show up for under $500

  9. #9
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    "....I'm toying with the idea of getting a powercal for $50 and then waiting for a crank based system to show up for under $500..."


    For many years now I've been oogling a Power Meter, but just can't bring myself to buy one. Still, if they ever get a durable crank-based system under $500, well, I would throw caution to the wind and immediately get one. Among other things, I would love to be able to know how many watts per kilogram I can put out before I enter that zone where I am beginning anaerobic-inducing overload. As it is, despite decades or riding/racing, I am always guessing (usually too optimistically thereby reducing the effectiveness of the workout) at that threshold when out on a hard ride training day.

  10. #10
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    If you can spend the coin I would do it.
    I have one on my trainer bike and it is a great tool for intervals. I am not a racer but I do about 100 miles a week and I am much stronger because of focused training. I also have one on my main roadbike and I use it a lot....some for measured intervals and sometimes to regulate my power -either to make sure I don't blow up on a big climb or to stay right at 85% ftp so I can recover but not back off too much.
    Last edited by Donn12; 05-24-2015 at 07:08 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donn12 View Post
    If you can spend the coin I would do it.
    I have one on my trainer bike and it is a great tool for intervals. I am not a racer but I do about 100 miles a week and I am much stronger because of focused training. I also have one on my main roadbike and I use it a lot....some for ,ensured intervals and sometimes to regulate my power either to make sure I don't blow up on a big cling or to stay right at 85% from so I can recover but not back off too much.
    I think you nailed it.

    The power meter is a far more accurate way to meter out your effort on a ride than HR. I notice that many of my friends who don't use PM's start long climbs at unsustainable power levels only to suffer significantly late in those climbs. This is particularly noticeable when doing multiple mountain passes with pauses to regroup at the bottoms. Perceived effort fails miserably in the early stages of second and third climbs where going out too hot comes with an even higher price.

    In addition, the PM is a great way to track the dividends of your training during the season.

  12. #12
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    Forgot to mention - I was not really convinced until i started a computrainer class. One minute in I was sold. I realized that before I would just ride as hard as I could for two hours. Now I maintin a strong zone 2 with plenty of power in reserve.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    ... I notice that many of my friends who don't use PM's start long climbs at unsustainable power levels only to suffer significantly late in those climbs. ...
    It is possible to learn not to do that without using a power meter. A power meter might make it easier if you're a slow learner.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donn12 View Post
    Now I maintin a strong zone 2 with plenty of power in reserve.
    Hmm, and how does that help you?
    Is your training plan telling you to ride 2 hours in zone 2 and previously you rode in zone 3?

  15. #15
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    when I started the computrainer classes I got a VO2 Max test done so I had my zones defined....before that I was pretty clueless.
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  16. #16
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    Apparently, many experienced riders without power meters are "slow learners" (I wonder if there is a connection?). What frequently happens is that better riders without pm's adjust by backing down mid ride when their HR makes it clear that their pace is too hot.

    I think most knowledgeable folks agree that the fastest way to the summit of a sustained 1 hour climb will be to ride close to your FTP for the entire distance. I've not been with many riders who can do that without a pm unless they are on the wheel of a friend who is a pm user.

    To be clear, I have little doubt that many riders astraddle an internet saddle can climb the Stelvio while maintaining exactly 300 watts from bottom to top w/o a power meter.
    Quote Originally Posted by looigi View Post
    It is possible to learn not to do that without using a power meter. A power meter might make it easier if you're a slow learner.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donn12 View Post
    Forgot to mention - I was not really convinced until i started a computrainer class. One minute in I was sold. I realized that before I would just ride as hard as I could for two hours. Now I maintin a strong zone 2 with plenty of power in reserve.
    Zone 2 is essentially recovery ride zone / rest between interval zone. Unsurprising you have plenty in reserve.

    If you're not doing so already you should be following a training plan that includes workout specific cadences and required power outputs. You'll get much better results when you have a focussed training plan with the emphasis on quality not quantity.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    ...To be clear, I have little doubt that many riders astraddle an internet saddle can climb the Stelvio while maintaining exactly 300 watts from bottom to top w/o a power meter.
    I couldn't as my ftp is 220W, and the only times I climbed the Stelvio was astride a motorcycle capable of ~95kW but of course averaging much less on that climb. However, in all seriousness, I do believe it's pretty easy to learn not to overcook it at the bottom of climb without using a power meter (which I and many others managed years before the advent of PMs), but do agree that a PM makes it easier yet. And learning to do it without a PM is as skill that some find rewarding in itself. PMs are especially helpful when riding solo against the clock, as in TTs or going for Strava KOMs.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wicked2006 View Post
    Many say they work great. But is it worth it the money?
    Absolutely provided you're riding at least 1.5 hours at least 4 days a week (that's about the minimum for decent cycling fitness) and a structured training program won't detract from your enjoyment.

    You can implement a structured training plan with heart rate or even rated perceived exertion, although power is more effective because it maximizes time stressing systems of interest. It doesn't lag like heart rate or drift upwards so you can pace intervals better. It differentiates between when it feels hard because it is, it feels hard because you're fatigued but can dig deeper, and it feels hard but you can't do more and should stop since you're getting limited benefit but increasing fatigue which will limit workouts a day or two in the future. Power tells you when your current program isn't working so you can make adjustments while heart rate doesn't - starting the season I averaged the same 171 heart rate on my first 10 minute interval in a set at 200W versus 240W now, and if that's not over 250 in my next mesocycle I'll make adjustments.

    At $150 for a used wired PowerTap and new power meters (4iii) starting at $400 the price is no longer interesting compared to what many of us already spend on cycling. The incremental cost may even be negative - I have less money in my alloy PowerTap wheelset than co-workers do aluminum setups without power.

    Do any of you have one just for training and not racing? If I was to get me one it would be my training tool for Gran Fondo's and that's about it.
    Sure. Together with a structured training program that increased my power to weight ratio from under 1.9 W/kg to over 3.5, as in I can climbs hills in a 50 ring where I used to need a 30.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 05-25-2015 at 11:00 AM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    "....I'm toying with the idea of getting a powercal for $50 and then waiting for a crank based system to show up for under $500..."

    Still, if they ever get a durable crank-based system under $500, well, I would throw caution to the wind and immediately get one.
    4iiii single-sided crank arm units are $400.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by looigi View Post
    I couldn't as my ftp is 220W, and the only times I climbed the Stelvio was astride a motorcycle capable of ~95kW but of course averaging much less on that climb. However, in all seriousness, I do believe it's pretty easy to learn not to overcook it at the bottom of climb without using a power meter (which I and many others managed years before the advent of PMs), but do agree that a PM makes it easier yet. And learning to do it without a PM is as skill that some find rewarding in itself. PMs are especially helpful when riding solo against the clock, as in TTs or going for Strava KOMs.
    I gained a heck of a lot of speed when I started using a PM on my TT bike and pacing myself right.

  22. #22
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    structured training plan

    Did you create that "structured training plan" yourself or did you get it from somewhere?
    How did you create/choose it?

  23. #23
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    To expensive for me. Also If it makes my bike heavier I do no want it. The thing weighs enough already.
    Last edited by BikeLayne; 05-25-2015 at 09:56 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    The power meter is a far more accurate way to meter out your effort on a ride than HR. I notice that many of my friends who don't use PM's start long climbs at unsustainable power levels only to suffer significantly late in those climbs. This is particularly noticeable when doing multiple mountain passes with pauses to regroup at the bottoms.
    You'd be surprised that poeple with power meters do it too. I was riding with a guy I know and he said he's going for a PR on this ~20 minute climb. We hit the bottom and he attacks it way way over his threshold. When he cracks I go "why did you attack the bottom?". His reply, "I wanted to get my HR up."

    Having a power meter is one thing, but it means you still need to learn how to pace yourself. Clearly it does help, but it's not idiot proof.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeLayne View Post
    To expensive for me. Also If it makes my bike heavier I do no want it. The thing weighs enough already.
    Additional weight from a PM is minimal.

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