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I'm new to road cycling (10 months and going strong!) I've read quite a bit about how power meters can really help you improve, but here's the deal. I'll be 54 this year and have no intention of competing (the occasional sportive notwithstanding), how much will this help me? I'm somewhat financially stable, so the cost is not that big an issue for me. Can someone out there give a good enough reason to take the plunge? Many thanks!:)

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Nick T [970 posts] 2 years ago
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Do you want to be able to spend hours looking at your numbers and analysing your rides, possibly with a view to structured training plan development? If so then yes, you'll get value from it so get one if it's what you want. Do you just want to look at another number on your computer screen and say " wow, 200 watts!"? Again, if you get a thrill from this then why not? It's your money. That's pretty much the only two reasons to buy one, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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Jtyler24 [3 posts] 2 years ago
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I think you should go for it! If you like doing specific training, like intervals and that kind of thing, it gives you a much better idea of how hard to work and makes it much easier to push yourself a little hard in the interval and so make the the training more effective.

Its also a great pacing tool while doing the sportive or any event you want to do cos you know how many watts you can push and for how long.

I would say however, have you got a heart rate monitor? if not id suggest going for that first, you can make some great fitness gains from that kind of training and it can be used for guidance as to your pacing. The next step after that certainly would be a power meter.

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 2 years ago
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Nope, cannot see any reason for it, put it towards some upgrades to your bike if you really want to spend cash.

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 2 years ago
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Nope, cannot see any reason for it, put it towards some upgrades to your bike if you really want to spend cash.

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rnarito [46 posts] 2 years ago
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I do have a heart rate monitor. It has worked well for me as I can gauge my efforts, however when doing intervals (especially at the start), my heart rate takes a few minutes to match my physical output. I have heard this is not the case with a power meter.

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giobox [360 posts] 2 years ago
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Heart rate based training is a really blunt tool - you are measuring your body's response to effort, not the effort itself. Thus the delays you mention.

If you can afford it and are prepared to do a little reading on how to exploit it fully, then yes definitely get one. Used sensibly the training benefits are enormous, for cyclists of any level. You'll want to establish your FTP figure first - this forms the baseline for training.

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Flying Scot [921 posts] 2 years ago
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Now I don't do a lot of interval or turbo training, I ride steel with friction shift, but I will be getting a power meter.

Why?

Because I want to measure and control my efforts, I want to know when I am over extending myself on climbs and into headwinds, I want to know I have more to give when I have a tailwind.

For me, it's all about levelling the weather and landscape and putting out more or less power to suit my capabilities.

As I ride classic stuff, I'm waiting for Garmin Vector Pedals mkii so I can disguise it !

Second choice would be SRM or Stages cranks, I don't know anyone has hasn't broke a powertap!

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Nick T [970 posts] 2 years ago
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Personally I've been weighing up wether or not to get one for a while now. I can see the benefits of having one, I really like the idea of having clear and repeatable reference points for the interval training I do, and pacing myself for particular climbs or TTs would definitely be useful.

On the other hand, I've stopped using and HRM completely and never been interested in cadence, and I really don't see myself being bothered with the regular testing you have to do to get the full benefit. Given the choice of working out my current FTP and just riding my bike, I'll probably just want to ride my bike. Decisions....

Make for a sweet toy though, and I like toys as much as the next cyclist.

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mcvittees73 [20 posts] 2 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

...On the other hand, I've stopped using and HRM completely and never been interested in cadence, and I really don't see myself being bothered with the regular testing you have to do to get the full benefit.

Having used a power meter since October, I don't really bother with HR any more. I can tell the degree to which I'm cruising, giving it some or going anaerobic by RPE. Also, one of the key benefits of a power meter is / are performance management charts. Having a quantifiable reference point for how hard youve been working your body (over a period of days or weeks) which you can cross reference to how you feel, makes judging when you're over doing it or just cycling hard much easier.

I can't see you regretting buying one and they hold their resale value well if you change your mind.

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BikeBud [244 posts] 2 years ago
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I think if you use it well then it will probably reap much greater rewards interns of performance than any bike upgrades.

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Dazza_Tee [4 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been listening to podcasts from this guy http://semiprocycling.com/
He did one recently about power training. This includes discussion on how/why *not* to look at your computer too much. Seems like a very precise way to train. There's also a chart available from here (among other places) http://cyclingtips.com.au/2009/07/just-how-good-are-these-guys/

At the very least, getting a power meter, testing yourself and then comparing it to this chart will tell you how you compare (or don't) to the pros.

The other thing you could do is get a trainer like the Wahoo Kickr, which measures power. Then at least you could test yourself regularly, to see your progress. A trainer that does power would also still be around when you upgrade your bike. Depending on what power meter you got for your bike, it may not be compatible when you get a new bike.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 2 years ago
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The first answer was spot on - it's up to whether or not you want something to really improve your riding, or whether you're prepared to just pay for an expensive toy. Either one is a perfectly valid reason.

Personally I think it is the best value you can spend in improving your performance. I can't think of any equipment upgrade which would give more bang for your buck.

The training benefits are huge and while you may not want to race you might find it useful if you want to become more competitive at sportives, aim for better times or do more challenging rides.

The value of power training is precision. You know exactly what you are doing, at the exact time you are doing it - that means you can go out and do a very specific training session and know that you have nailed exactly what you wanted to do, whether that's a 90 minute endurance ride or exact interval blocks of 40 seconds each.

And the other aspect is that because your hard sessions are so precise you can spend a lot more time doing recovery or low intensity work.

I would highly recommend that if you do get a power meter and if the answer to the above was that you want to improve your performance then you should also look at buying/subscribing to a training program or using an online coach, unless you have someone who can help guide you.

When you first get it and start to look at the data in Strava or Training Peaks it's like drinking from a fire hose. You will need some help making sense of it all.

Final point - which system you use depends on your setup. Accuracy is less of an issue than consistency.
If you have multiple bikes but mostly the same wheels then use a hub-based system like Powertap.
If you have multiple wheels and mostly the same bike then crank systems might be better but you have to be careful about crank compatability.
Theoretically the pedal-based system should give you the best of both but in practice I think many people find the changing over very difficult and it tends to be used in the same way as a crank system.

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tomisitt [58 posts] 2 years ago
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No, no, and thrice no! If you want to suck all the joy of just riding your bike, by all means get a power meter. You can then spend your entire ride peering at your stem instead of enjoying the view, and more time geeking out over power-output graphs and "analysing" your data than actually riding your bike.

If your were a 25-year-old wannabe racer, for whom structured training would be worthwhile, then a power meter might be a good idea. But for a 53-year-old recreational cyclist a power meter just smacks of someone desperate to buy something, anything, new and shiny for their bike. The fact you're asking for a "good enough reason" for buying one suggests this might be the case.

If you really want to improve, ride more often, ride further, ride harder. And spend your cash on things that will actually make your cycling more fun...some lovely hand-built wheels, gorgeous riding shoes, a KuKu Penthouse. Hell, even ceramic bearings (and they're ridiculous) would make more sense than a power meter.

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fukawitribe [1957 posts] 2 years ago
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tomisitt wrote:

Hell, even ceramic bearings (and they're ridiculous) would make more sense than a power meter.

While I agree some with the 'ride more' point, this - with all due respect - smacks of not really understanding how, why and when a power meter can be useful. By the same token, an amount of structured training can be immensely beneficial for the recreational, non-racing and/or older rider.

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tomisitt [58 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes, I understand that a power meter than be a great training aid, but training for what? My view as an older rider (same age as the OP), albeit one who's ridden all my life, is that I probably have maybe 10 or 15 years left riding. From a personal point of view, I don't want to spend that time obsessing about power outputs.

Sure, I want to be as quick and strong as I can be, but not if it involves interval training or heart-rate zones or power outputs. I want the wind in my face, the thrum of tyres on tarmac, the soft click of Campag gears, birdsong, beautiful climbs, dappled sunlight, stunning vistas.

Personally, for the cost of a power meter I would rather have a week climbing the iconic cols of the Alps or the Dolomites. That would give me far more joy than knowing whether I'm putting out 2.5W more than last month. But each to their own.

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fukawitribe [1957 posts] 2 years ago
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tomisitt wrote:

Yes, I understand that a power meter than be a great training aid, but training for what?

The first thing that comes to mind is pacing, in a way that isn't really possible with things like HR. The fallacy is thinking of needing it to constantly increase fitness - it can, but that's not always the point.. like always thinking people buy carbon bars because they might be lighter. Sure, I would spend the money on other things too and I go out on the bike to enjoy it... but i'd love to have the option of knowing power. In the end, perhaps I just like the technical side of things as well as the ephemeral. Using power in training with things like TrainerRoad has helped me enjoy my cycling more by minimising the time I need to build fitness and targeting and addressing with weaknesses - I don't just like churning out miles and I do like a challenge. That is entirely a personal matter and I would never suggest it's what others should do, but it has positives that some of the more stereotyped opinions of power seem to miss IMO.

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fukawitribe [1957 posts] 2 years ago
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tomisitt wrote:

Personally, for the cost of a power meter I would rather have a week climbing the iconic cols of the Alps or the Dolomites. That would give me far more joy than knowing whether I'm putting out 2.5W more than last month. But each to their own.

Sorry - meant to add that I completely agree with this bit in that i'd never spend that amount of money on a power-meter under any circumstances whatsoever. That's part of another rant I could start about the over-priced nature of power-meters however, and not really what that comment was about.

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BBB [429 posts] 2 years ago
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Most of fast riders don't have a powermeter.
Almost all slow riders simply don't ride enough.
 3

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BBB [429 posts] 2 years ago
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Surely spending £600 on a powermeter (e.g. Stages) isn't as extravagant as £200-300 on a glorified cycle computer with a GPS function...

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bailey19 [7 posts] 2 years ago
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If you enjoy specific training then yes, get one. I got some Vectors recently and not only do I rather sadly like looking at the data, It is a massive difference to training on HR. Instead of waiting for your HR to catch up you can hit the numbers straight away and get more from each session. Go for it.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 2 years ago
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This is a fun argument, isn't it?

I'd love a power meter, but it's a lot of cash to drop. If I had the disposable income, right now, I'd probably go for it. Why not? Riding bikes for me is as much about seeing how fast I can go as it is enjoying the view. Fast fast pretty things fast. Riding bikes is ace. Graphs are ace. Going fast is ace. Sunlight and birdsong and all the good stuff is ace.
I don't think you miss out on much when climbing if you're looking at your power output. Most of the time I'm concentrating hard on my breathing, gearing and maintaining cadence on the climbs, not the scenery.

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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I've got one and can't recommend it enough.

Despite common misconceptions, the powertap hubs are *extremely* good value for money, you can pick up a g3 second hand for about 300 nowdays. Mine has proven more stable, and accurate, than the other half's Rotor & Quark metres.

I've a bit of a gammy heart, with a max rate of around 228, so training from HR wasn't doing my any favours, I wasn't getting any fitter.

If you want to step things up, then there is no reason why you shouldn't buy one other than the cost, but then that is *your* decision to make, no one elses.

There are always arguments for and against, one of the girls here (current junior british champion) apparently doesn't even use a HRM - that's how she trains and she's done well out of it. If it were me, I'd still be pootling around at 13mph with a gut hanging out of my bibs.

PMs are cool as they give you that scientific base, if you're into that then it's extremely handy. They're good if you're training a lot (if, like me you're doing more than 12 hours a week) then you can spot very early warning signs that you need to alter what you're doing, I can usually spot overtraining before I feel it, same with colds and flus.

One warning I will give is that if you use one, try not to look at it too much. I've found myself purposefully dropping back in races because I've looked down and realised I've been sat at over my threshold. I don't look at this screen now unless I'm on the turbo doing specifics. Same with hillclimbs and timetrials - your legs are still in charge, the numbers are only there to help.

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Yorkshie Whippet [553 posts] 2 years ago
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Ride for another year or so. Then ask yourself do I need a powermeter?

If you still want one, then go for it. If not, sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Simon E [2851 posts] 2 years ago
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"Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades"

said a bloke who knows.

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Grizzerly [339 posts] 2 years ago
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No!

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surly_by_name [410 posts] 2 years ago
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Tell you what, if you pay me £1k I will send you an email after every ride that tells you that you aren't powerful enough.

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Jimmy Ray Will [514 posts] 2 years ago
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All summed up nicely I think.

My only comment is that whilst HR is not as accurate, or immediate as power, it is still a very valid training tool, and not something that should simply be dismissed.

A power meter does open up the opportunities for a whole host of training sessions that are difficult to replicate with a HRM or RPE.

Ideally you'll use both... one is a measurement of the efforts you are making, the other is measuring your response to those efforts...

Personally I'd love a power meter... can't afford one though.

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Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes of course you should get one. It's new after all. For the same reason you should have Di2 Shifters and an 11 speed set up.

That was sarcasm BTW. If you are only going to ride an occasional Sportive it would be like buying a Hummer to get the weekly shopping.

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ch [188 posts] 2 years ago
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Besides "money" there is also installation, calibration, other maintenance, breakdown, and miscellaneous worry. That doesn't mean it is not worth it.

FYI, going steadily uphill (>5%?) if you know your VAM and your rider+bike weight, you can easily calculate your watts (wind factor and road surface effects become less significant going uphill). So if you have a garmin showing slope=7% and speed=14 kph, your VAM is then 7 x 14 x 10 = 980 meters per hour.

This web site will help you figure your watts per (grade*speed):

http://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Power meters, I hate em, some love em. Either way it's a lot of money to drop so why not borrow one or have a go on a WattBike before deciding if it's for you?

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