Power meter options?

by Eebijeebi   May 4, 2014  

Greetings - new member, first post.
I'm back on two wheels after the best part of ten years and have discovered there's a new gadget, i.e. the power meter. Having always been hooked on 'scientific' training I want one (no 'just ride' or 'save your money' comments needed thanks).
So, I have a mid 90s Bianchi with 9 speed Chorus and rather love it and don't want a new bike as yet. As I see it my options are -
Stages - don't do Campag.
Garmin - big money.
Power tap - not sure I understand the wheel options, but don't plan on running more than one bike so could be the one.

Does anyone have experience of Vectors or Powertap that can throw more practical light?

Many thanks,
E.

22 user comments

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Powertaps are good and relatively affordable. The only disadvantage is that most people will want different wheels for racing and training so will want more than one power tap.
Another alternative is Quarq Riken, the price has recently come down a touch to around £1000, or power2max which is slightly cheaper again. These have the advantage that you can swap wheels as you want.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
5th May 2014 - 9:28

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If you're not prepared to spend Garmin money or change your crankset, then really the PowerTap is the only option for you (unless you're prepared for the more esoteric options like the iBike Newton). I've used a PowerTap in the past and it does exactly what it says.

For me the downsides were too large to ignore. If you use a turbo and like to swap wheels to use a dedicated trainer tyre, not a great solution. Same if you later decide you want a fancy set of wheels and a training set.

If it was me I would seriously changing crankset for a more practical solution. Have you considered getting the Power2max rotor 3d (non plus version) model? This will probably fit your Bianchi, and can be had for broadly similar money to the PowerTap.

posted by giobox [273 posts]
6th May 2014 - 2:54

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Have had a chat with someone about building me some wheels around the power tap hub. I think I can live with the downside of only one wheel option (without buying two) for now. Get the impression that anything will be outdated on a year or two anyway.
Thanks for the input.

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
6th May 2014 - 7:39

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'For me the downsides were too large to ignore. If you use a turbo and like to swap wheels to use a dedicated trainer tyre, not a great solution. Same if you later decide you want a fancy set of wheels and a training set'

As a PT user, those thoughts went through my head too before I took the plunge.

And in the end, the benefits of the Powertap far outweighs the occasional tyre change, and in terms of 'race wheels' - well, you can have whatever you want on the front, and I have found WAY more benefit from having a power readout than I would from losing a couple of hundred grams from the rear. Not really 'downsides' in my book.

posted by andyp [860 posts]
6th May 2014 - 10:39

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I'd put a flag up for Power2Max. I can't afford a power meter full stop right now, but given a choice it would definitely be a crank based system.

A number of my team mates made the leap from Powertap to Power2max last season, and none of them have leaped back.

Powertap is a great system, however in addition to the limitations listed above, it is not the most robust in our moist climate (to quote one powertap employee "I can't believe you guys ride in the rain so much over here), and the bearings are susceptible to any machining errors... I'm sure that is the same for any cartridge bearing hub, but for some reason (once explained to me but since forgotten), the Powertap is particularly bad.

Personally, I am not a fan of pedal systems either... they are so susceptible to crash damage (although I know Garmin can replace all parts of the pedal for you in this instance), that I don't think they are worth the risk.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [265 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:21

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Has anyone broken a pedal in a crash?

posted by Nick T [798 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:26

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Nick T wrote:
Has anyone broken a pedal in a crash?

Not broken one, but I have taken a large chunk off misjudging a kerb and corner.

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posted by mrmo [1070 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:58

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I had issues with the elite+ in the rain, but at the moment the G3 performs well. I would agree the bearings are not the best, but I get them changed once a year when I get it serviced.
Out of the three brands of powermeter I have used the powertap gives the least questionable numbers, although none of them have been bad. The service turnaround times are the main problem with powertap from my experience.
The quarq would edge it for me, mainly because you get UK based support and the ability to change the slope. The only thing I do not like is having to stick a magnet on the frame which can be a pain depending on your bike.
My power2max reads 10 watts higher than the others, which is a real pain even if it is a consistant 10 watts.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
6th May 2014 - 13:58

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I've looked at power2max and wouldn't know where to begin with which (if any) would fit my old girl. Compatible bottom brackets etc? No UK retail or service support either, so for the quickest and simplest route the Poweertap is winning.

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
6th May 2014 - 16:32

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Have you looked at the ibike Newton Power Meter?

I had a look at one of them at Eurobike last year, tested it out versus my own Quarq and was highly impressed.

Because it uses opposing forces, the wind resistance is an extra data layer that I really enjoyed seeing and it acted like a wind tunnel effectively. Overall it was accurate and it's at a nice price point.

I work at an online cycling convenience store called www.alimaysports.com

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posted by alimaysports [9 posts]
6th May 2014 - 16:48

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I'm too careful and mainstream to go for something based on witchcraft Smile

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
6th May 2014 - 17:31

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I've just taken the plunge and bought Garmin Vector and I'm really pleased with it. I'm resolved to avoid bad crashes but it could happen. I usually find that my body cushions my equipment pretty well!

Vector is a bit pricey but it seems to be a quality product and works well. It's very easy to set up and any cyclist could switch it between bikes quickly with pretty simple equipment most of have. I had mine up and running within half an hour.

I know it's not universally popular (what is) but I like Garmin Connect and I already had an Edge 810.

I originally wanted a Stages meter but I got frustrated by the (lack) of availability. I went to the US over Easter so I contacted some bike stores over there in the hope of picking one up but the feedback I got was that they were just as hard to get over there as here.

Anyway, I decided that I wanted a meter for the season as I'm not getting any younger and I'm really pleased that I was forced down the Vector route. I like the separate readings for each leg and Garmin have introduced strike smoothness, as well. I didn't want a hub or crank based system because, rightly or wrongly, I felt it would be too much hassle to switch between bikes/wheels. I can have Vector on my winter bike in 15mins, ready to go.

posted by Scrufftie [26 posts]
6th May 2014 - 18:59

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It will be Vector for me too, once the there is a Mk2 version and the sting come out the price.

I can't help thinking though, that at some point someone is going to come out with a 20 quid insole that does all this and is calibrated on a Wii balance board.

I've just publicly announced this, don't steal it.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [524 posts]
6th May 2014 - 19:14

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Eebijeebi wrote:
I've looked at power2max and wouldn't know where to begin with which (if any) would fit my old girl. Compatible bottom brackets etc? No UK retail or service support either, so for the quickest and simplest route the Poweertap is winning.

The rotor 3d (non-plus) version has a 24mm spindle so will fit pretty much anything. Your local bike shop will be able to advise and fit without issue.

posted by giobox [273 posts]
7th May 2014 - 4:28

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Nick T wrote:
Has anyone broken a pedal in a crash?

Broke the foot plate on a Time iClic2, partly due to wearing through a lot of the bit that holds it onto the outside 'frame' of the pedal, but the main structure was intact and it worked OK.

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posted by fukawitribe [367 posts]
7th May 2014 - 8:35

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Another +1 for power2max. I have one on my road and one on my TT bike and my coach sets all my training by them.

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posted by dangoscomb [5 posts]
7th May 2014 - 8:36

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Haha I thought the same, but it was +/- 7% I think on my Quarq so not too bad!

I work at an online cycling convenience store called www.alimaysports.com

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posted by alimaysports [9 posts]
7th May 2014 - 11:50

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Eebijeebi wrote:
I'm too careful and mainstream to go for something based on witchcraft Smile

Haha I thought the same, but it was +/- 7% I think on my Quarq so not too bad!

I work at an online cycling convenience store called www.alimaysports.com

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posted by alimaysports [9 posts]
7th May 2014 - 11:51

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Listening, so taking another close look at the power2max. Am I right in thinking that as long as I've got a standard (working on that?) bottom bracket then it's as simple as swapping out the spider and the non drive crank?

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
7th May 2014 - 18:51

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Eebijeebi wrote:
Listening, so taking another close look at the power2max. Am I right in thinking that as long as I've got a standard (working on that?) bottom bracket then it's as simple as swapping out the spider and the non drive crank?

Chances are the Rotor3d crankset will slot in, might need an adapter though. Not sure what you mean by the spider and non drive crank? You will be replacing the whole crankset with this option, both sides of it. The spider will be preinstalled with the Power2Max meter on the crank when it arives.

posted by giobox [273 posts]
8th May 2014 - 6:23

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I didn't put that very well. As long as I got the correct one I'd be changing the cranks, axle etc, i.e. everything inside of the chain rings? I'd ask the service mechanics to do it so wise to speak to them before shelling out.
Thanks to all.

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
8th May 2014 - 9:28

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Update.
Thanks for all the input.
I went for the Powertap, mainly on cost and the quickest route - maybe not the most forward thinking one. Had it built into a wheel (and matching front) by Harry Rowland whose service was excellent. Linked in with the Garmin really easy - essentially so far is doing what it said on the tin.

I'm old - not dead.

posted by Eebijeebi [39 posts]
26th May 2014 - 11:57

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