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CycleOps PowerCal In-Depth Review

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A bit over a year ago CycleOps announced their latest devices – and with it their first power meter that wasn’t in a rear wheel hub .  CycleOps has a long history of power meter head units (and power meters), an area they’ve been at the forefront of for years.  When the product was announced, many within the industry were skeptical on how accurate a power meter could be based purely on heart rate data.  And further, for as low of a price as it was being offered (now down to $99).  So, I’ve dug in to find out and separate fact from fiction from FUD.

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things.  Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries.  I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more.  My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

While during the initial development period, I picked up a unit from CycleOps at Interbike that year (anyone could for free).  I have since procured my own final unit, which is what this review is based on.  If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon or Clever Training links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there.  I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can.  But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out.  Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

Unboxing:

First up is the exterior box.  Note that there are a few variants of the PowerCal unit floating out there.  One includes just the PowerCal strap (combo heart rate and power).  Another includes the strap + an ANT+ speed sensor.  And the third includes a strap + speed sensor + calibration stick (ANT+ stick).

If you already have a Garmin Forerunner with an ANT+ stick, there’s no need to buy that stick package.  They all work just fine with each other interchangeably.  Same goes for the speed sensor.  In fact, I see little reason to buy anything other than the $99 package (just the strap).

That said, this particular unboxing includes the extra pieces.

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Cracking the box open, you’ll see the heart rate strap transmitter pod looking up at you.

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After taking the top off the box, we’ve got the following little baggies full of goodness.

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Those bags include the PowerCal strap (left), the speed sensor (upper middle), the slew of zip ties for the speed sensor (bottom middle), and the manual that you won’t read (right).

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First up – the PowerCal strap and the speed sensor.  Note that this isn’t a combo speed/cadence sensor, but rather just a speed-only sensor.  Also note that not all ANT+ capable units support the speed-only sensor.  Virtually every ANT+ unit out there supports the speed-cadence combo sensor, but less just the speed-only.

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Here’s the manual.  We can pretend you’ll read it.

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Back to the speed sensor – you’ve got the transmitter unit, and the small spoke magnet sticking up there.  You attach that to a spoke on your rear wheel, and the transmitter to your bike frame using the plethora of zip ties.

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Here’s a bit better look at the heart rate strap itself.  In many ways, it looks just like any other ANT+ heart rate strap out there.

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Ok, with the unboxing complete, it’s time to dig into the details.

Detailed Breakdown of PowerCal functional areas:

I’ve taken a bit of a different approach this time with the review.  Not substantially, but probably just enough to be noticeable to regular review readers here.  Given the PowerCal is essentially just a heart rate strap that also spits out a power number, I wanted to focus on the different scenarios, edge cases and functional areas of the strap.  I started off with section numbers in my review draft, but realized it actually made it kinda easy to walk through starting with the simple, and then getting to more complex scenarios.  Think of it like a school lesson book upon each previous chapter.

1) Setup, Installation, and Pairing with other head units:

Setup of the PowerCal is amongst the simplest device you’ll have to setup out there.  In fact, it’s not really any different than that of a heart rate strap.

And while it used to be that in the earlier pre-production PowerCals required that you calibrated them, that’s no longer the case.  After a 3rd party (Colorado University at Boulder) conducted a study on the accuracy of the units they found that there were no accuracy advantages in most cases by calibrating the unit (done via mini-FTP test).  The only thing it served to do was add more complexity and and more test workouts to users that otherwise might not ever wish to complete them.  But I’ll dive into this more later on.

With us ready to start pairing, you’re going to be pairing it twice.  Once for the heart rate strap, and then once for the power meter.  Some head units (like the Joule GPS) support a ‘find everything nearby’ function – but that’s about the only one that does (a cool feature).  Hence why most other units you’ll have to do the two-step tango.

First, we’ll take care of the power meter piece.  This will vary based on your exact bike computer, but you’re ultimately looking for the section that allows you to setup bike profiles/details and then pair the ANT+ power meter:

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Once that’s done, you’ll usually see a device ID of some sort, and a message saying either connected or paired.

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In some models, you can even get additional information about the unit as well.  Though not all bike computers have this.

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Once your power meter is found, you’ll want to complete the same steps for the heart rate side as well.  Usually the heart rate settings are found in one of two places.  Either the person/user settings, or the bike sensor settings.  It depends on the model.  Ultimately though, you’re looking for something that says “Heart Rate Sensor” or “Heart Rate Strap”

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Finally, a fun little note – if you attempt to calibrate the PowerCal using the automatic calibration button found in most bike computers, it will not succeed.  The calibration button found there is designed for direct force power meters, and not for PowerCal.

The PowerCal calibration function is very different, and I talk about that much later in this post.

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2) Looks like a normal power meter on units

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The most important thing about the PowerCal is that it looks like a normal ANT+ power meter.  As you saw in the previous section – it’ll pair like any other power meter does to any other power-meter capable head unit.

These include (not a complete list, just off the top of my head), the following units:

4iiii’s Heads Up Display
CycleOps Joule 2.0 & 3.0
CycleOps Joule GPS
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 705
Garmin Edge 800
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Magellan Switch
Magellan Switch Up
Motorola Motoactv
Timex Global Trainer
Timex Cycle Trainer GPS
Various iPhone apps with Wahoo Fitness ANT+ adapter/case
Various Android apps with compatible phones (ANT+ chip on certain models, like Xperia Active)

With all of these units, comes the standard ANT+ power meter metrics that are typically available, these include the below – all of which work with the PowerCal:

Power (instant)
Power – Max
Power – Average

Additionally, any other data field offered on certain manufacture products that are dependent on the standard ANT+ data stream will work with the PowerCal, for example, these data fields:

Power (3-second)
Power (10-second)
Power (30-second)
Training Stress Score (TSS)
Intensity Factor (IF)
NP (Normalized Power)
Power Zones
% of FTP

Again, each of the above fields vary by head unit company – and not by the PowerCal itself.  It’s merely transmitting the wattage that these different fields rely on.  And of course, different companies can choose to implement the same fields slightly different ways – though most are fairly standardized.

3) Fluctuations in Power:

The single biggest difference you’ll notice between power numbers displayed by a PowerCal compared to most other power meters on the market is the fluctuation in instant power displayed on head units.  In other words, the consistency (or lack thereof) of the power numbers.

Now, it should be noted that virtually all power meters display some sort of second to second variation that often concerns folks new to power meters.  For example, a typical power meter will look like the below string (consider each number the following second).  This is from a PowerTap hub across 13 seconds.:

114,117,117,118,104,130,116,120,108,106,106,119,108

Now, let’s take a look at some numbers from a PowerCal (these are aligned to the same 13 seconds as the PowerTap above)

35,68,130,163,225,258,260,230,200,105,75,0,0

What you see here is far greater variation between each second, as well as far more ‘super-high’ and ‘super-low’ numbers.  For example, the 0’s and the 35/68.

Now, when looking at averages (and I just picked 13 random seconds), we see the following:

PowerCal: 135w
PowerTap: 114w

I won’t get into averages in this particular section, but you can see that while their methods are different, the overall averages are in the same ballpark (though, not the same base path).

To illustrate this a bit better, I’ve made the following video – which I’ve placed two power meter display units next to each other.  The left unit (bigger Edge 800) is displaying power from the PowerTap, whereas the right unit (smaller Forerunner 910XT) is displaying power from the PowerCal.  Both units are configured and setup identically, and both started at the same time.

Data displayed on Edge 800 (top to bottom): Instant Power, Power 3-second avg, Power 30-second avg, Lap Power

Data displayed on FR910XT: Instant Power (upper left), 3-second power (upper right), lap power (lower left), 30-second power (lower right).

What you’re looking at is how different the 3s (3-second) and 30s (30-second) power is between the two, and which one is most useful for pacing.

Video of instant-power

I’ve also placed the lap average on there as well, to allow you to get a sense for how the overall average of those units are comparing.  Note that overall the units remain fairly stable, and fairly close.

4) Power Analysis After the fact – what the data looks like:

Before we get into some of the power files, I wanted to briefly cover what data looks like from the PowerCal, compared to regular direct force power meters.

At first glance, with some form of smoothing on – you may not notice much of a difference.  It looks mostly like normal power meter data:

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But as you remove the data smoothing you start to see just how jumpy the data is:

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Compare a PowerCal and PowerTap on the same ride – and note how different the graphs look.  Power meter data is always jumpy in general, but the degree that the PowerCal is jumpy is the interesting tidbit.

In the PowerCal (above), you’ll see that the data doesn’t hit the floor (bottom, zero-value) nearly as much as the PowerTap.  This is because the PowerTap is instantly picking up when I stop applying force.  So if I pause pedaling for just one second, it’ll capture that.  Whereas the PowerCal takes a longer reaction time as it is based on heart rate.

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This is even more visible when you look at raw numbers in something like Excel.  Below, a few columns of numbers – one on a PowerCal, another a PowerTap, and a third, a Power2Max.  Ignore the correlation between them (well, you can look if you want) – instead, note the line after line differences (going from top to bottom).  The change is far more significant between each value on the PowerCal than the PowerTap.

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We’ll get into what this means in a bit.

5) Short duration power accuracy (sprints/intervals)

One of the most common questions with the PowerCal is how it handles short intervals from a power measurement and responsiveness standpoint.  The reason being that since PowerCal is based on heart rate data, heart rate data will lag slightly behind power output.

For example, if you’re just calmly riding along at an easy wattage, and then burst into a all out sprint – it may take 5-20 seconds for your heart rate to show the impact of that – meanwhile, your wattage on a direct force power meter (normal power meter) would have shown that immediately.

In the case of PowerCal, I did some tests comparing lap averages over different lap durations.  I went out on a closed course and simply held sustained efforts for each length of time.  These weren’t set to me holding any given specific wattage, rather, me just holding a heart rate value that seemed interesting.  Effectively, these were intervals.  Though, the exact heart rate zone isn’t terribly important.  What’s important first is how accurate the PowerCal can be during shorter durations (because your intervals will vary just like mine).

Here’s the results (click to expand):

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As you can see, the PowerCal seems to get relatively close down until about 30-40 seconds.  At which point, the rate of change exceeds the PowerCal’s ability to measure the sprint.  It did somewhat find on a 30-second attempt (#9), but had more problems in the 40-second one just after that.  Above those times however, things were actually pretty close most of the time.

6) Full workout power accuracy (longer duration)

Now that we’ve covered the shorter sprint scenarios – how well does it hold up over the course of a workout?

Well, surprisingly well.

And that makes sense.  At $99 the unit primarily targeted towards those interested in full-scope workout averages.  Meaning, less focus on detailed lap by lap and interval analysis down to the watt.

In fact, this generally seems to align with most of the anecdotal data I’ve seen across many different cycling related forums.  There are some outliers, yes, but most folks are pleasantly surprised at how well total averages perform.  For fun, I pulled my four most recent rides:

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Of course, total averages don’t tell the full story.  And, many ardent power meter supports like to point out that total averages are useless – since they don’t show you important values like max efforts and what went into that.  As noted earlier, you can arrive at a total average number many different ways.  It’s how you arrived at that number that makes up a training session.  Hence why other values besides averages are so important.

That said – for most individuals looking at buying the PowerCal, they are likely using simple speed today (MPH/KPH).  Any cyclist will tell you that like other metrics  – simple speed is just as dependent on wind, terrain, environmental factors like snow or rain, or even ones ability to navigate trail or road traffic.

Thus, in many ways the PowerCal isn’t much different here.  But it does provide a overall wattage value to work with.  Something that a simple speedometer doesn’t.  Different folks will be able to interpret that differently.  But most folks would be able to interpret a plotted graph over time showing improvements in average wattage/power over the course of a season.  Hence why I still think there’s value here, assuming one understands the limitations (which you’re seeing I’m working through section by section).

7) TSS/NP/IF (Training Stress Score/Normalized Power/Intensity Factor)

These metrics are amongst the most commonly ones used when measuring the impact of ones training with cycling.  Be it either in conjunction with your larger workout load (TSS/IF) or on a per-ride basis (NP).  You can find lots more background information on these metrics here.

Both metrics at first glance level work just fine with the PowerCal with any power meter that support these Training Peaks metrics.  Today that’s limited to the CycleOps units, as well as the Garmin Edge 500/Edge 800/Forerunner 910XT and the Magellan Switch Up.

However, deeper analysis shows that due to the high variability within the PowerCal data (as seen in fluctuations), you’ll likely get slightly skewed numbers.  For example, the high spikes can lead to changes in these metrics – as it assumes you’re putting out brief extremely high level efforts (similar to a sprint).  In real life, the act of repeated hard high wattage sprints with longer rest breaks is normally more impactful (training load-wise) than a low-intensity sustained effort.  But the opposite is true as well, in that PowerCal often puts in many lower-value numbers that make it look like you’re riding easier than you are.  Thus, when translated to emulated readings (that the fluctuations induce), you’ll see non-realistic metrics.

Taking a simple comparison I’ve taken a ride below that the PowerCal performed ‘rather well’ on.  Meaning, that its overall wattage was quite similar to that of a PowerTap on the bike at the same time (3 watts).  Running these metrics, you can see the differences below:

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Both of these metrics were calculated online using TrainingPeaks in the same account – to eliminate any head unit discrepancies with setup of TSS/NP/IF on the unit itself (both recorded all zeros and at one-second intervals – which is how I record all test data).

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You’ll notice slight discrepancies in other metrics as recorded by the different units, though non affecting TSS/NP/IF.

8) Indoors Riding (Trainers)

I tend to do about 80% of my workouts indoors on a trainer.  Both because you generally get higher quality workouts on a trainer (it’s relentless), and because it’s sometimes just easier living in a city (you get more bang for your training buck).

In doing so, it’s interesting looking at some of the numbers related to the PowerCal.  These workouts were part of larger trainer accuracy tests I was doing, so it made it simple to grab the numbers for the PowerCal.

You’ll see some of the first portion of the structure within the workout I was doing, though I didn’t detail it all out as much of it was repetition.   Ultimately though, the numbers speak for themselves.

Note that as is the case in all of my power meter accuracy tests – the power meters are calibrated (where applicable) at the 10-minute marker, just after the warm-up watts.  The labels on the left-side correspond to chunks of the workout.  For example ‘Warm-up Watts’ is a 10 minute section, ‘Calibrate Watts’ is a 2 minute section where I don’t stop anything recording, but do complete calibration.

Trainer Workout #1:

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Trainer Workout #2:

This was part of a interval workout of sorts I did.  Again, you see that the overall numbers are fairly close.  Each interval was 60 seconds long, and each rest the same.  You’ll notice that the PowerCal overestimates the rest interval by quite a bit – likely because my heart rate was rather high.  Whereas the other power meter instantly recognized the lack of wattage. All my rest intervals though are still pedaling.  There aren’t any stoppage points here.

I picked a few random intervals to show in the table below (as opposed to painstakingly doing the Excel math for all of them).  The intervals were not at a set wattage per a CompuTrainer (or similar), but rather in a rough range, hence why they vary interval to interval.

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Overall, I see week after week pretty impressive results when it comes to trainer accuracy of the PowerCal.  It is interesting in the above workout to see what appears to be some drift in the older version of the Power2Max.

9) Coasting/Descents and the results

Perhaps one of the more fascinating things to look at is how PowerCal handles descents – or coasting in particular.  Obviously you can still descend and put out a lot of power (as I painfully learned while riding with some pros in Colorado last year).

But in general, if you’re coasting, you aren’t likely putting out much power.  Often called ‘soft-pedaling’, you may be just putting out a few dozen watts, simply enough to turn the crank around slowly.

I took the below snippet from a recent ride as I descended down a hill.  Let me walk you through what you’re seeing on the charts.

Brown: This is the hill, or the descending of altitude.  From left to right, you see that I’m largely going downhill.

Teal Line (light blue): This line is my cadence.  You’ll see it’s dropping often down to 0 (the bottom).  But generally being fairly light I’m just pedaling around 70 or so RPM – not pushing it at my usual 90-100rpm.

Blue Line: This is my heart rate.  The scope of the graph makes it appear as though it’s a constant – but in reality, at least for the first portion, it goes down.

Red: Power.  Simple enough, this is the PowerCal’s power output.

Now, with that background, flip to after the picture and I’ll explain what’s going on.

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First look at the left third of the chart, and in particular, the bottom portion where the red power and cadence are displayed.  Note how there’s a slight delay between when I pedal (and the value jumps from zero), to when the power is registered?

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You can see it pretty clearly above – teal always leads the red.  Like cat and mouse.

Now, if you look up at the heart rate, you’ll see tiny little jumps each time I start pedaling. This is logical, since for every action there’s some sort of reaction.  In my case the energy exerted pedaling requires some level of heart rate (effort).  Each yellow highlighted section shows the increase in heart rate, causing the increase in power displayed.

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Of course, cadence as a metric isn’t taken to account by PowerCal.  Rather, I’m just using it as it’s a very easy metric to show what my pedals are actually doing above.

Now the important thing here is that it’s about rate of change – not about straight heart rate.  Note that as I come down in heart rate (blue) and start to flatten out, the unit realizes I must be applying more wattage.  Otherwise, my heart rate have continued to decline.  Then notice that as the rate of change decreases (heart rate), it means I’m applying less force – and thus less power.  And therefor you see the red start to taper out.

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Of course, if you look at the teal line, you see this confirmed within cadence.  Now, I could have simply changed gears and lowered by cadence but increased my power.  But that’s not what happened.

In fact, below, taken from a PowerTap – shows a fairly similar power curve:

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Finally, looking at stopping (when my bike stops rolling, generally not due to a crash).  In the below graph, I stopped.  For what I assume was a stoplight/stop sign, though it’s not clear.  What is clear is that my speed went to zero for about 15 or so seconds.

Speed is shown in green.  Whereas power is shown in red.  You see that as you’d expect, power zeros out before speed (you stop pedaling), and then speed flat-lines.  It won’t always be quite as clean and with complete zeros as this (note the tiny little red bump up in the middle of the first stop) – but it gives you a good idea of what it looks like.

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In summary, it’s not actually at all about coasting or descending – rather, it’s actually just about heart rate.  More specifically, change in heart rate, and that rate of change.

10) Calibration – You can still do it.

The PowerCal calibration option was effectively removed as a requirement this past summer upon release of PowerCal.  Initial pre-release information and units required/preferred a calibration test occur not only prior to use, but also every “4-8 weeks, as fitness levels change”.

However, upon release this summer, CycleOps removed the calibration requirement, noting the following (in an e-mail to the Wattage group):

“PowerCal can be calibrated but based on the study conducted at CU-Boulder there wasn’t any indication it addressed any of the expected short falls relative to accuracy so it’s not really worth the effort. Keep in mind this is terms of a sweeping recommendation across a wide population of athletes, there were instances of the calibration significantly improving accuracy across all activity types for some users. We just couldn’t find a correlation between anything specific for those that the calibration worked for and those that it did not.” – Jesse B. – CycleOps.

As noted, PowerCal can still be calibrated, but in my testing I haven’t seen any substantial differences between the initial test unit that I calibrated the first time around, versus the new unit that I have that doesn’t require calibration.

For those interested in calibration however, the test is essentially a threshold test of sorts, and the official documented procedure as as follows.  However, it does require the use of a normal power meter (direct force power meter), such as a PowerTap, SRM, Quarq Cinqo, Power2Max, etc… Ultimately, you’d want to ensure that power meter is correctly calibrated.

In fact, here’s the full list of things you’ll need:

1) Power meter (direct force)
2) Heart rate strap
3) Head unit (bike computer that can record the HR and power data)
4) ANT+ USB stick (found with various Garmin devices, some PowerCal packages, or solo)

Then, you’ll go ahead and pair that power meter to a head unit (bike computer) of your choice, along with a heart rate strap.  You’ll want to ensure that can be imported into the CycleOps PowerAgent software (downloadable on their site, used for analyzing workouts from CycleOps devices).

Once all that’s set, perform the following test:

Calibration Test Protocol

5 min warm up
3 min Very Easy
3 min Easy
3 min Moderate
3 min Moderately Hard
3 min Very Hard

In their initial documentation, they included the below graph as a general indicator of what you’re looking for consistency wise:

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Once you’ve got the data imported into PowerAgent, you’ll want to go ahead and open the workout up in PowerAgent.

Highlight the section of the ride beginning with the warm up to the end of the fifth stage. Go to Tools > Configure PowerCal. There will be a pop-up window with the calibration highlighted. Click OK. Another pop-up window will appear confirming the new parameters. Click OK. A second pop-up window will appear asking if you would like to update the PowerCal. Make sure the ANT+ USB stick is in (you’ll need one by the way) and click OK. When finished it will confirm success.

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When finished and ready to workout pair the PowerCal as a Power and HR sensor and you’re ready to go.

11) Running (why not?)

Last but not least…

Like Mythbusters, I like to take this beyond the intended myth.  And this is one of those cases.  Many folks have pondered how PowerCal handles running – and whether there could be any value pulled from it.  Of course, today there isn’t a direct equivalent to ‘wattage’ for runners.  There’s no ability to correlate an effort on a hill with that on the flats.  One could have two equal wattage efforts and that would clearly be seen on a bike – but far less so with running and pace.

Ultimately, PowerCal will happily provide you with wattage data for your run.  In fact, PowerCal will happily provide you with wattage data anytime your heart rate is pumping.  Be it running, yoga, fencing or simply having sex.  If you got blood flowing, PowerCal’s there to capture it.

But correlating that data to something useful is where it becomes challenging.  For example, on a treadmill workout today, beyond the first two minutes, the treadmill was set on a specific inline and speed.  It never waivered.  In the real world – that would mean that my output was the same.  But in the PowerCal world, it instead wavered based on heart rate – which slowly climbed (mostly due to lack of cooling).

Personally, I’ve found metrics like Training Peaks Graded Pace far more valuable for measuring run to run performance across differing terrain on different days.

Now, make no mistake – wattage or an equivalent will absolutely come to running.  Not this year, likely not next, but it’s out there – and there’s a number of different teams and companies working on it.  Of course, just like cycling in the early wattage days, it’s going to first look like a jumble of numbers and then take years to get to the point of really being able to make the most of the data.

It’ll come though, someday.

Summary:

At this point I suspect you probably have a pretty good idea of whether or not the PowerCal is a good tool for your training needs.  But, before I give you some parting thoughts, here’s a quick table of pros and cons.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

- Cheap, really cheap
- A gateway drug to full blown power meters
- Compatible with any ANT+ power meter device, easily integrates with existing devices
- Includes ANT+ heart rate strap functionality as well (you can use that part standalone for a run, which I do all the time).
- Can be calibrated, if you want to venture down that path

Cons:

- Shorter duration accuracy is rough
- Longer duration accuracy depends on many variables
- Pace fluctuates quite a bit
- May not be as accurate for everyone, highly individualized
- Calibration procedure requires repeated testing, may not improve accuracy

Final thoughts:

PowerCal isn’t marketed as a 100% accurate power meter.  Nor as a tool for elite athletes (or any advanced athlete) to use as a hard core pacing device in a race or even day to day training.  Instead, what it does offer is a low-cost method of getting a rough order of magnitude of your power level on a given ride.  CycleOps is rather straightforward about this, from their own site:

“The PowerCal is not as accurate as a PowerTap and not intended to replace one.  Research has shown varying degrees of accuracy based on individuals and types of riding. Accuracy will depend greatly on the individual and type of riding.”

Now there are many alternatives that can estimate power information after the fact – some of them free or relatively cheap.  However, most of them are just that – after the fact, and separate.  If you want some sort of integrated metrics that automatically show up in whatever bike computer you’re using – there’s really only two choices: PowerCal, or a normal power meter.

Note that you shouldn’t take a PowerCal wattage number and attempt to compare it against someone else’s power meter number.  There are just too many variables.  It’s better for plotting progress against yourself over time.

In my mind, the perfect target audience for something like PowerCal is actually my Dad.  He normally rides about 100 to 150 miles a week, but he doesn’t race (triathlon or cycling).  Rather, he rides to enjoy riding and to stay fit.  Today, he uses simple speed on known courses/routes to determine his improvement week over week.  While there are pitfalls to this, that’s the only tool in his (and most cyclists) bag to work with.  Something like the PowerCal would give him a general idea of his improvement within the season.  It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would work – as seen by not only the vast majority of the data here in this review, but also many other reviews and data points out there.

But as noted, it’s not for everyone.  Personally, I wouldn’t use it day to day in my training, because my training is focused and specific enough that I need to ensure my numbers are consistent and accurate from session to session and within a session at shorter intervals than the PowerCal can respond to.  Though, I would point out that I do believe the vast majority of power meter users today don’t get truly accurate and consistent numbers session to session.  Instead, they look at trends.  Merely looking at some of the differences you can see above between the PowerTap and the Power2Max in my data is a obvious indication of that.

Ultimately, the PowerCal is just a tool.  As I always note in power meter related reviews, you still have to go out there and do the hard work to get better.  This is simply one more (low-cost) tool in your bag to try and capture, analyze and make improvements on your work.  Good luck!

Found this review useful?  Here’s how you can help support future reviews with just a single click!  Read on…

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pickup the PowerCal below. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10WHP at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

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187 Comments

  1. Ray, for the trainer intervals, what power meter were you using for pacing your intervals? After some intervals there is a big discrepancy between the Power2Max and Powertap. Are you using the new P2Max with that temperature compensation update?

    Reply
  2. Hi Ray,

    I am a huge fan and supporter of your blog and did end up making a purchase through clever training in support of you. However, I have never had such poor customer service ever in all my experience of shopping online and am hugely disappointed in my experience.

    I've left countless voicemails and emails with them, only to have them be unanswered. I hope you can understand my frustration.

    From now on, I will only be supporting you via your amazon link.

    Looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    Reply
  3. Hi Rafael- This is with the older Powr2Max. However, the only difference I saw was that one that I noted above. Interestingly, indoors.

    Hi Joey-

    I'm super bummed to hear that. Can you shoot me a note with your order number. I'd love to follow up and ensure it never happens again. But I do want to thank you for your support.

    Reply
  4. I don't get to see pictures at work, so I'll have to read through this again later, but my main concern is in regards to your last paragraph where you write about who you feel the powercal is intended for.

    If it shows power based off HR, it is basically using an average power value for a given HR (I'm sure it's very complicated though and probably has to do with how fast your HR increase among other variables). Right? So, if you improve over the course of the season to where (form a powertap) you power increases 20 watts at the same HR, how would the powercal see this?

    The powercal to me just sounds like they took the idea of matching a power curve from a trainer to speed numbers, but applied to to a power curve based off of HR. Can you comment on this?

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    A power meter's appeal is accuracy. Not too much of that is offered by Powercal, but that is reflected in the package. Power2max cant be afforded the same margin of error. A comparison of accuracy and precision would be appreciated.

    Husain
    @hu3ain

    Reply
  6. So. I have a few questions.

    1. I didn't see anywhere that you entered your body weight. in terms of actual wattage that would appear to me to be an essential calibration metric.

    2. If all we are interested in is the final whole of ride average then why not just put it into the post ride analysis software. Do you know what the patent coverage is like? can you advise if there are any patent markings on the box/documentation?

    3. You note that it doesn't make use of speed or cadence. this is strange as it would appear to me to be a very sensible thing to do. it would certainly help solve the coasting problem and I suspect could be used to derive more accurate power models as well. Given that it's likely to have upgradeable firmware I wonder (again subject to patent exclusion) what could be done on the 4iii's Viiiva to do something similar.

    4. If I can find a cheap one somewhere I might give it a whirl on the Concept2 Erg and see how the numbers correlate.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I'm curious to know how this would work for those of us on certain heart medications, such as beta-blockers, which artificially lower our heart rates. I'm guessing since it relies heavily on heart rate data that the numbers would be very inaccurate. Does the manual say anything about this possibility, or do they simply assume that people with conditions simply aren't advanced enough to want power meter tech?

    Reply
  8. you missed an important 'Con'. How would you ever be able to tell if you are getting fitter?

    Reply
  9. DS

    Similar question to Chris's: how does it show power improvement over a season? If it's based on HR, wouldn't it only show a power increase over a season if there was an increase in average HR over the season? And in fact, HR at a constant speed should drop over a season. It seems that it would need to incorporate speed in its calculations to show power increase over a season.

    Reply
  10. One way that it might add something over normal post-ride analysis would be if the module internally measured R-R inter-beat timings, and factored that into the power calculation.

    That's something that's missing with normal ANT+ HR, and where Suunto can score with their own straps (although that will presumably be lost e.g. on the Ambit if you use an ANT+ HR when that firmware update hits).

    So, do we know if the Powercal can do this?

    If not, it seems its only real advantage is in real-time data, as Ray says.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    7Ray,

    I know you're a fan of SportTracks. I've been using the GPS2Power plug in, which uses weather and Garmin data to estimate power. You can look at a graph of power over time as well as average power for the ride.

    Obviously the ST plugin is only after the fact analysis, but given your comments about your dad (who sounds a lot like me:)) using the PowerCal to look at improvement over time to time I'm wondering if you could comment more on the relative application and value of the ST plugin and the CycleOps device? Thanks!

    Reply
  12. Ray - it's weird that the P2max would drift that much considering the indoor ride shouldn't have that much temperature difference. P2Maax was on my considerations to rplace the powertap, but that scared me.

    cdmackay the Forerunner 610 and 910xt can record r-r data to be analyzed with Firstbeat athlete, with the regular ant+ hr strap.

    Reply
  13. Is powercal compatible with the soft strap of Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor?, i think will be more confortable than the powercal. Thanks.

    Reply
  14. Hi Chris-
    RE: Mapping of HR to HR values

    Sorta, but not quite. There isn't a 1:1 mapping, meaning my 140bpm isn't the same as your 140bpm, thus, you can't explicitly map it to say - 200w - for both of us.

    Beyond that, much of what they are doing is pretty much trade-secret, which is somewhat logical they don't want to say - as that's basically all there is to the product (the sauce).

    Hi Anon/hu3ain-
    RE: Power2Max

    Correct, I have a new Power2Max unit that's getting installed on there, but it wasn't on there then. The only one you saw the variation was during inside interval interestingly. Many of the others I actually re-calibrate a few times along, knowing the temp change shifting limitations of the Power2Max.

    Hi Chris-
    RE: Body Weight

    No, body weight needed/utilized. Wattage has no bearing on body weight, only w/kg (which is head unit driven). Body weight is also used for calories.

    RE: Why not just average software post-ride

    As noted above, it would still allow you to do longer-interval wattage sets (roughly about 30-40 seconds) and get half-way decent data.

    Additionally, it then ties you to a given software suite (i.e. Sport Tracks, etc...).

    RE: Patents

    The box photos I have handy (I'm travelling) don't show one, but I do know there are patents either pending, or approved, from previous conversations with them.

    RE: Speed/Cadence

    Originally, very early on in the prototypes there was logic in the Joule unit to make use of speed sensor with it. Though, that wasn't carried over to other units.

    Ultimately, there's likely the ability for it to talk directly to another ANT+ sensor (depending on the chip in there), thus potentially allowing you to pre-pair it with a given speed sensor.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Heart medications

    In general, I think you're good on data as long as the medication doesn't affect the rate change. Meaning, as we age, our max HR values slowly decline (i.e. a younger person could relatively easily hit 190bpm, but an older one not as much).

    Hi Morey/DS-
    RE: Being able to tell if you're getting fit

    Power alone doesn't tell if one is getting fit. It's always two variables. Power + X. Power + Heart Rate, Power + Time, etc... I can easily simply increase my power over the course of the season, but that wouldn't show I'm getting fit. What would show that is a set/constant power + a decrease in heart rate (average). Or, a known TT course (no wind) + a decrease in time and an increase in power. It's no different than any other PM out there in that respect.

    For me personally, I use HR + PWR on a trainer. At a given HR level, I know my wattages, and I aim to improve those (generally I do that).

    Hi CD-
    RE: R-R

    R-R isn't actually a function of ANT+ HR, but rather, a function of the head unit recording the data. Companies pay FirstBeat to utilize the technology on a per product basis (i.e. FR610, FR910XT, etc...). Rafael also later on noted this (albeit after your comment) as well.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: GPS2Power

    Indeed, he could use that as well. Doesn't solve the trainer piece, or being tied to a given application - but it's definitely something he could use.

    Hi Rafael-
    RE: P2Max

    Indeed, I'm looking forward to getting the new unit on there.

    Hi Xorga-
    RE: Premium HR Strap compatibility

    Yes, no problems in swapping to the absolute latest strap. For those curious, it's also compatible with the Polar HR strap (not the Polar pod or watches, just the Wearlink strap).

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  15. Alex Simmons

    Thanks for the detailed review.

    I'm unclear on how it adjusts its power estimates for riders of vastly different fitness levels.

    Regarding this comment:

    "Hi Morey/DS-
    RE: Being able to tell if you're getting fit

    Power alone doesn't tell if one is getting fit. It's always two variables. Power + X. Power + Heart Rate, Power + Time, etc... I can easily simply increase my power over the course of the season, but that wouldn't show I'm getting fit. What would show that is a set/constant power + a decrease in heart rate (average). Or, a known TT course (no wind) + a decrease in time and an increase in power. It's no different than any other PM out there in that respect.

    For me personally, I use HR + PWR on a trainer. At a given HR level, I know my wattages, and I aim to improve those (generally I do that)."

    The only measure of fitness that matters is whether your power and/or W/kg for durations of interest/relevant for your goal events has improved.

    It matters not what your HR does. If you can't put out more power, you are no fitter.

    I'm not seeing how this device can determine changes in actual power output.

    And a P2M < Powertap readings tells us at least one of them is wrong. Do you know which?

    (I do sell some DFPMs but like to stay well informed on what's out there).

    Reply
  16. Hey Ray,

    Cool review, really considering buying this device, cause it is a cheap start to power meters.

    But I have only one question. I understand that the powermeter is vary sensible for heart rate changes and couples this to increase/decrease of power.

    But how can the strap "see" the difference between my father (80kg, pushing 100 Watts at 170 bpm) or a Tour de France rider (80kg, pushing 300 Watts at 170 bpm)?

    As far as I understand they will result in the same power output...

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Hello Ray

    Nice Blog you have I allways enjoy reading the reviews.

    How do the results of the PowerCal relate/differ to the powerresults shown in Strava.

    Beside the fact that you can see your results while riding of course and in Strava it is shown after.

    Grtz

    Wimm (Netherlands)

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    Hi-

    Values of NP and VI are too far off for the Powercal to be used as a pacing device. The PW:HR ratios in both screens are typical of a perfectly paced event and a bad strategy (-7.06%).

    Power measurement for runners would be awesome. Wished that the normalized graded pace metric would feature in 910xt.

    Amazing review DCR
    @hu3ain

    Reply
  19. Hi Alex (and Tom)-

    RE: Adjusting for different riders

    This is the part that pretty clearly falls (unfortunately) into the patented part. I'll try and see if I can get a bit more clarification on it. I've asked a few times in person, but haven't got any clarity. In looks at many other data points by different riders posted out there (with very different power profiles), it does seem to have enough logic built into it that it works (for most, albeit not all). I will note that Jesse from CycleOps did make this comment back on ST a while ago:

    "This was our initial concern as well and why we assumed a calibration would be needed. However, in testing that assumption in the lab it was pretty clear the calibration did not provide a significant improvement across our intended customer base.

    We concede the product won't work for Lance [Armstrong]. We've set it up for a reasonably fit athlete knowing that the established issues with using heart rate to determine energy expenditure are bigger limiters for PowerCal than the absolute power to heart rate relationship of a given individual relative to another."

    RE: W/KG as a measure of fitness

    You noted "The only measure of fitness that matters is whether your power and/or W/kg for durations of interest/relevant for your goal events has improved.

    It matters not what your HR does. If you can't put out more power, you are no fitter."

    Actually, W/KG isn't a measure if fitness change. It's merely a stated value. Ultimately, I can change my watts/kilogram by simply putting out more power. That doesn't mean I got any fitter. It just means on day 1 I did an easy ride, and day 31 I did a harder ride.

    You always have to combine power output with some other metric to meausure improvement. Time, distance, HR, something. Unless you're talking a straight FTP test, but even that has defined parameters. That's true of any power meter.

    RE: P2M < PowerTap

    Yes, as noted above, in that case where the P2M was showing odd numbers (I put it below the chart as well), it's pretty clear the P2M was having drift issues (common for the older units) - something I can easily see in the chart. Outside I'm pretty good about doing a number of calibration checks every 15 or so minutes. Though that time indoors I'm surprised to see such a variation. Again, for that particular one, the PowerTap data alongside makes it fairly clear what's going on.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Strava comparison

    Hmm, I'll upload a few of those rides to Strava a bit later on tonight and see how the numbers mesh. Fun idea.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: NP/VI

    Definitely agree. However do note that those two screenshots showing PW:HR ratios weren't a race, or anything paced. It was merely a ride with plenty of city traffic involved on both front and back ends. :)

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  20. Hi Ray,
    great review, as usualy. I got excited, that I would finaly get wattage data for my running. I purchased the unit from Clever Training already. I was well aware of limitations of the PowerCal (thanks to your review), but I was unaware of limitations of my FR910XT. In Run profile the watch does NOT show Power values! Does it mean, that if I want to use PowerCal while running, I must set watches to Cycling profile? Or is there other way around?
    Any advice appreciated!
    Regards
    Dalibor

    Reply
  21. Meer Nederlanders die er eentje willen bestellen? Dan kunnen we een groep-aankoop doen?

    (Any people from Holland wanting to order one? Maybe we can split the order costs by Clever Training.)

    Reply
  22. Richard Lunt, UK

    Ray - Excellent review, as ever. I do short time trials and the Powertap (that I rent) is good for ensuring that I don't go off too fast at the start, when heart rate takes 3 or 4 minutes to level off. Do you think the algorithm would help pace the early stages of a time trial properly and be useful for (15k and 40k) time trials generally?

    Thanks!

    Richard

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    Ray,

    Since heart rate is the only thing being measured, shouldn't power wattage be available from any heart rate device as a post processing function? I know "Ride with GPS" does some sort of power calculation in any activity that captures heart rate. During this after workout processing, the lags could be determined and factored out of the calculations.

    Reply
  24. Ray- you're right about power, but you're getting lost in the semantics. Unless there's something I'm missing- There's still an important CON to this device. Let's say last year I was able put out 200w for 20min at a HR of 150. this year I'm able to put out 230w for 20min at a HR of 150. How would the device know? Lack of measurable improvement is a lack of an important motivational as well as practical item.

    Reply
  25. I was told I needed to buy the Powercal with the speed/cadence sensor if I didnt already own a ant+ speed/cadence sensor. Can you confirm that the powercal doesnt use either speed or cadence to calculate power and therefore I don't need to clutter my bike with the sensor

    Reply
  26. Hey, I read your post from last year about riding with the pros...would you consider putting out a "DCRainmaker" cycling kit? I'm sure there are enough people that read your stuff that would pony up for a kit. Think on it.

    Reply
  27. Juro

    I think one way how to know the difference in the case "Let's say last year I was able put out 200w for 20min at a HR of 150. this year I'm able to put out 230w for 20min at a HR of 150" is the factor of how fast does HR change towards the 150 bpm in these 2 scenarios. It seems the unit measures wattage using HR changes, not absolute value. An untrained person's HR increase pattern should be different.

    Reply
  28. Victor

    Xorga and Ray,

    I purchased the PowerCal a couple months ago and thought the same thing about the latest strap being more comfortable. The powercal did not work with the latest garmin premium strap with the hook attachment. Were you able to get it to work Ray?

    Anyways, I ended up returning the strap. It was more for post workout analysis and was rather useless during rides which I was more interested in.

    Reply
  29. Hi ray,

    I can see this is an affordable way to get power data India garmin device, but couldn't this all be emulated with an alogorithm within a smartphone app, or ultimately garmin firmware? There is no need for the info to be churned out of the HR strap itself?

    I can still see a market for this though for people with existing sports watches etc.

    David

    Reply
  30. Hi Dalibor-
    RE: Run watch

    Correct, the running profile on the FR910XT does not allow connect to a power meter. Thus, you have to use the cycling profile. That's what I did above (about to add in an example showing data while running here in a little bit). About the only unit that you can create a 'custom' blend on is the Magellan Switch/Switch Up - which would allow you to pair to the power meter, but have all the metrics shown in 'runner-friendly' pace.

    Hi Tom-
    RE: Holland Group Buy

    If you find more interest let me know, also, I can also add it to the Week in Review.

    Hi Anon & a few others
    RE: Post-processing options

    Yes, absolutely - there are definitely other options out there, with varying levels of input and success for each. Ultimately though, the appeal of this product over those is the lack of requirement for post-processing. Of course, different strokes for different folks.

    Hi Morey-
    RE: CON

    Now I understand what you're getting at - which is that your concerned over time if your fitness improves, your power will effectively 'drift'. I'm not seeing that as the case. I used a unit last fall when my fitness was notably higher, and then compared it to this fall/summer, where my cycling-specific fitness was lower. I'm seeing them track pretty closely. Ultimately, that's why the product 'works' across people of differing fitness profiles without calibration. Otherwise the product would just work for me - Ray - and nobody else.

    And remember, there is no direct mapping between a given BPM value, and a given power wattage. That all comes with their patented algorithm piece, which I can understand why they are hesitant about sharing.

    Hi Tosin-
    RE: DCR Kit

    It's something I've looked into, but first need to find a kick-ass graphics person to make something that's both classy and awesome. Someday!

    Hi Victor-
    RE: Straps

    They definitely should be compatible. I know I've swapped it back and forth without issue at some point over the last few months. Let me double-check again on that one when I get back from this trip, but I've been mixing and matching virtually all of them for a different review without any issues.

    Hi David-
    RE: Emulation in-phone app

    Yup, absolutely as above. I'm sure there's a few apps out there I don't know of (I know of ones doing it post-ride and on computer/site). But ultimately, I'm sure we'll see more - both apps and refinement of the algorithm from others.

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  31. Interesting. I wonder how the HR to Power relationship works. In cycleops' defense- I have noticed for myself- that as my FTP has gotten better- one of the things that changed was that I am able to sustain a higher HR for a longer period of time. This may be the opposite of running, where as I progressed, I was am able to run a faster pace at the same HR.

    These relationships generally aren't discovered in a vacuum by companies like Cycleops. For instance- for the Nike+ they used 40 year old research that defined the inverse relationship between foot ground time and speed, which is surprisingly consistent person to person, allowing them to develop a very inexpensive foot pod. So- perhaps there's a research paper out there that forms the basis for the HR to Power model they capitalize upon. Might have to do with HR rate of change- both up and down, that gives a metric of fitness level and then the power output is extrapolated based on this factor? Maybe they hired Coggin as a secret consultant?

    Reply
  32. I've had a PowerCal for almost 2 months now. Your review pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    For post-ride analysis I find that hrTSS is more 'real' than the PowerCal TSS. However using the PowerCal for intervals of 5min plus (with TrainerRoad) gives a very similar output to TrainerRoad (for TSS and IF).

    In addition, the PowerCal is of great use when on travelling, and having to use a gym or spin bike, once you know what your FTP is on the PowerCal.

    What do you think the advantages are of getting the PowerCal calibrated; have you carried out any testing with a calibrated PowerCal?

    Ultimately, the PowerCal has peaked an interest for me that will lead to the purchase of a DFPM.

    Reply
  33. Anonymous

    Great review, as always. Love the depth.

    I was looking for a inexpensive powermeter for my mt. bike and cross bike in the winter/summer. Its not clear if anything is involved in switching between bikes since it is using HR primarily if I was using the same Garmin Edge 500 with those bikes already in and each device already has a ANT+ speed sensor.

    Reply
  34. I have to admit that I don't see the main advertised use being useful at all. If HR is good enough to measure and track power, then why not just use HR, pace off of power etc etc.

    But one thing I DO see it as useful for is for data junkies at spin class or on an exercycle.

    You can bring this with you to class and get an idea of your TSS and so forth if you feel like you need power data from every workout.

    Reply
  35. Hi Ray,
    Long time lurker, first time commenter.

    Regarding your comment about using this for running. I think there is more utility than you are giving it credit for; it actually makes sense that on the treadmill your power output climbed, and not just because the heat in the room caused your heart rate to increase. Running is unlike biking in that the machinery translating power from your muscles is not as consistent - form breaks down over time/distance, which should increase how much work you are doing. I've often thought about this while monitoring my heart rate on long runs. By the end it feels like it takes much more work to sustain a given pace, above and beyond the increase in heart rate. When I am tired and my heart rate is up, much more effort (from my perception) is needed to increase pace or go up hills than at the beginning of a run or when my heart rate is lower. I think the power estimate from PowerCal could be used as another variable to track in addition to heart rate to get a better estimate of improvements in running economy. I'm not sure you would really be able to disentangle improvements in running efficiency from fitness, but this might help.

    Random question - did you have any issues with static from wearing synthetic material shirts affect the output from PowerCal? I get that with my Garmin heart rate monitor in the beginning of some runs.

    Reply
  36. Anonymous

    I'm curious about the accuracy on low RPM high torque intervals? Since your heart rate stays a lot lower and the sensor isn't reading cadence are the power readings going to be accurate?

    Reply
  37. Anonymous

    Hi everybody,

    Has someone a comparison to the calcated power from Strava?
    Its just another algorythm but powercal seems to be closer to reality

    Reply
  38. Fabian C

    Ray, good stuff. So if I understand it correctly, Powercal is fairly consistent for intervals above 2-3 minutes?

    And how does the Powercal work for total energy output? I'm thinking that the Garmin gives me total calories for a ride; do you get a Kj total from Powercal that can be used when looking at losing weight and knowing energy expended?

    Reply
  39. Anonymous

    I'm genuinely sorry to read that you do 80% of your workouts indoors on a trainer.

    Riding a bike is one of the greatest thrills that I know.

    Reply
    • dave replied

      80% of workouts on a trainer almost always gives a more predictable training outcome than being out on the road. As well as a likely necessity for someone that travels a lot, it's a very good way to get very serious bang out of every time you get on the bike.

      Reply
    • Chase replied

      @dave, if the only reason you ride a bike is to get some perceived training-benefit for some inconsequential event then your seriously misguided....and your response just provided a textbook example of why roadies mock triathletes...

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      @Chase - Let's keep things friendly. People ride and train for different reasons. No reason to bash one reason over another.

      Reply
  40. Aaron

    Will this work without any cadence input at all? I'm inclined to guess it will not buy I would like a confirmation.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It works perfectly without cadence. Cadence (for better or worse) isn't considered within the PowerCal calculations. For example, a couple days ago on the cruise ship I'm on I did a spinning class - no cadence sensor there, but still got power meter info.

      Reply
  41. Sander

    Just curious, did you get to do any comparisons with Strava power estimates?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not quite yet, it's in my list of things to do though! I've actually got to go through and strip out the power info in the files so that Strava estimates instead of using that. My internet has been slow on the ship this week.

      Reply
  42. gabriele

    Hi,can you explain me what is the meaning of parameters A,B,C to calibrate power cal?
    i made conconi test and the results are 183bpm for anaerobic threshold with 390w and 197bpm max with 440w.
    the powercal showed about 275w at the threshold.
    i try to change those parameters with the joule presets,and after the powercal showed more than 600w at 70bpm...
    so,how can i adjust A,B,C in the correct mode to have the correct results?
    thanks

    Reply
  43. Matt

    How did you find the repeatability? In the end if the numbers are skewed, but skewed consistently, you can at least make some adjustments...again, not to replace a power meter, but to get people's feet wet into the world of power. Thanks for the work.

    Reply
  44. Robert Lendvai

    Thank you for an incredibly in-depth review. While my tri coach had been encouraging me to get a power meter, I wasn't ready to spend that kind of money. Based on your post I've gone ahead and purchased a PowerCal. My coach is very interested to see the data. I'll share his thoughts over the next few weeks.

    Reply
  45. Wayne

    Stupid Question Time:

    You mentioned that the power meter slowly climbed as you ran on a unchanging treadmill due to your heart rate climbing from lack of cooling.

    That got me wondering about how much it raised? The body is still doing work as it tries to cool itself, certainly nothing that contributes to your running but it's still work.

    Could the PowerCal be a "whole body" power meter?

    Not only is it counting your legs moving but the muscle action to keep your arms from swinging, your head up, and moving fluid around the body and out the pores to keep cool? 'Cause in the end that's all powered by the heart, right?

    Which may make it less useful for specific action power (power to the pedals, power to the running shoe, etc...), but to me opens up a interesting new territory.

    Reply
    • Chase replied

      @Wayne, that's called a heart-rate monitor....that is essentially what you just described.

      Reply
    • Wayne replied

      True, and so is the PowerCal, but the BPM is not why it's interesting.

      Reply
  46. Wouter

    Riding and testing for 2 months now with the powercal. 'Calibrated' it with a professional testing bike at our sport medical clinic for people with different FTP. Please mention below is only based on indoor testing.

    1.I think the most important thing to find out is: how much does it under or over reads for your specific situation. Below may be a good guideline for using the powercal correctly. The good news is that it over or underreads, but from my experience ALWAYS in the same way. That is good for your own situation, but you cant compare it to other riders or other powermeters. But who cares? It works perfectly for setting up your powerzones and to get a 95-98% impression of your FTP!

    2.FTP TESTING based on a 20 min max test shows and within a power profiling classification shows:

    When your are very undertrained (<cat 5 rider) the over reading can be as high as 15-20 %
    For a moderate (cat 4 rider) the over reading is between 10-12 %
    For a good (cat 3 rider) the over reading is between 5-10 %
    For a very good (cat 2 rider) the over reading is between 0-5 %

    I think this covers the user group of the powercal. My FTP is 283 (powercal) - 10% = 255 (real world). I would suggest to repeat testing every month and also to calibrate first with your powermeter of medical test bike so you with what percentage % you should decrease the powercal FTP to get a real word value.

    After all this, you can use the powercal perfectly for all P2, P3, P4 training + golden cheetah analyses. I would not recommend it for less than 2 minute interval training.

    The secret of the powercal is that is uses HRV for its accuracy.

    Good luck from Holland!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Very cool data points Wouter - thanks for sharing!

      Reply
    • Wouter replied

      Thanks. In addition to my previous posting. More and more testing reveals that the cat 2 racer may find a under reading -3% So the new range would be : Minus 3% and plus 5% for a cat 2 racer.

      Maybe it is good to give a few examples in which the powercal does not work properly to avoid some bad reviews. In my opinion it is very useful, when you have some backgrounds of the heart system and its stressors.

      For example:

      1. When it's extremely hot (indoor +30 degrees) or cold ( <5 degrees) don't expect it to be very accurate because of a varied heart pattern.
      2. When you are over trained, sick, or tired , don't expect too much. The ironic thing is that with a normal power meter, you will get a low average wattage and a high HF average. With the powercal, in same casus, you will get a high HF average AND a high wattage average. You may think, things are going well , but you are not! (very important point if using the PM index of Golden Cheetah or PM training peaks. The same for higher TSS, higher IF, etc.)
      3. When drinking lots of coffee before cycling, your average wattage is not reliable. Same reasons as pointed at 2.

      What i do to be sure that i will have a 'normal power cal' day is to monitor my rest HF. When it's normal (48) i train 100% by the data powercal is giving. When not: i am sceptical, but based on real facts as stated. The question is: how to use the product well and in what cases is it not reliable. When knowing this, it is really a great product.

      Reply
  47. dennis

    hi ray!

    first workout a few mins back, was supposed to do a 20 min test, i already paired it with my trainerroad tools, you are right the data did keep on jumping, being used to the constant power given the trainerroad(virtual) new to this as TR`s virtual power was what i have been only using. will it be fine if i use the ave power in my head unit which is just a node 1 instead of the current power? sorry if this is a dumb question but totally clueless. thanks and appreciate all the reviews!

    Dennis

    Reply
  48. simonr

    Thx for a great website and reviews
    i have one question
    i have a garmin edge 705 and garmin speed/kadence sensor. Can i just buy the heart strap and the powercal "communicates" with this sensor? or isnt it necesary at all? i mean if it only uses HR? i get confused since there selling it with a speed sensor to?
    Simon

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No need for the speed/cadence sensor from them. Early on, there was a tie-in there, but it's not really there anymore, and thus really provides no additional value when it comes to wattage readings from the PowerCal. That all said, you can continue to use your existing GSC-10 sensor with the Edge 705 and this and all will be well.

      Reply
    • simonr replied

      so basicly i would get a new heart strap (powercals) and still get my HR and power from powercal, speed, cadence from the speed/cadence sensor (and the gps stuff from my 705)??

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Essentially. Though, HR will also come from the PowerCal (two for one, HR + Power).

      Reply
  49. Brian

    DC, love your reviews. I am a runner/cyclist, racer in both sports. Therefore, generally my HR values are lower on the bike during training, even during power intervals, unless I am racing. I had been using the Polar WIND wireless power meter with relative success the past 2 seasons knowing that my numbers were within +/- 5%, but recently wanted to get into the ANT+ market without blowing $1500 yet on a Cinqo. So I got the Garmin 800, Trek Duotrap for my new Madone, and got the Powercal based on your review that the numbers were basically in the ballpark. However, especially on the trainer, I notice the power numbers to be at least 100 watts low compared to my Polar, even on the high end during power intervals. I imagine that you are in considerably better shape than me so you would similarly experience lower HR values on a trainer or on the bike in general. But, your numbers seemed very close. Any thoughts on whether the calibration would be worth it? I would think that the calibration process would closer align power numbers to HR since it is comparing it to a powertap. Otherwise, it is time to save my money for the Cinqo. I want more accurate numbers than the Powercal. Any other tips for using the Powercal would be great.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, that is interesting. Calibration wouldn't hurt. And since you have a power meter already, you could definitely do that. I've been trying to find the updated instructions for which numbers to input in for A/B/C. Been meaning to hit up the CycleOps guys. Sorry about that.

      Reply
  50. Chris

    I'm still figuring out my PowerCal/Joule combo, but an important clue to the question ("am I getting fitter?") might be, as stated in the manual that watts is a measure "..where work is equal to force times distance." I haven't been able to get the Joule paired to the HR strap for "watts" as I'm pairing it while sitting at the computer, not on the bike with the wheel spinning, so there is no speed value from which to make a calculation. Similarly, if, over time, I can ride at a faster speed with the same given heart rate (increase in force), PowerCal will report more watts, and I'll know I'm getting fitter. It won't work for runners, unless you can figure out how to get a speed value out of the sensor while running. I think. Maybe.

    Reply
  51. @Hu3ain

    While using Virtual Power on Trainer Road (TR), and simultaneously recording Powercal's data on a separate device, I found the power readings to be way off during intervals. The climbs and drops of Powercal data are not steady. That in turn makes the cadence and gear selection just as varied to match the power demand of each interval. Surprisingly, the average power from Powercal an TR were identical for a 90-min ride.

    Powercal, like TR, are trials into training with a power meter. If that's enticing, save up for a proper one.

    Reply
  52. Jeremy H

    I have a semi-related question/problem with the PowerCal and the Garmin GSC10 (Speed/Cadence) sensor. Both units are connected to my Garmin 910.

    After I start my training session (on my trainer), when I stop pedaling I get a default cadence readout at 255. After I load my data to TrainingPeaks I have a very unattainable cadence that sometimes jumps up to 500. Obviously there's a problem somewhere with Garmin's interpretation of cadence after the Powercal is connected.

    Do you know the answer to fixing this problem? Do I, more simply, buy the CycleOps Speed/Cadence sensor?

    I'm more than the recreational athlete but much less than an elite. I don't rely on power for workouts, only as a means to track semi-annual progression. So I'm ready to toss the PowerCal out the window!

    Thanks for your great blogs, I've been following your posts for years!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Is the cadence fine without PowerCal? Otherwise, it sounds like perhaps either the battery is going on the GSC-10 (it happens, easy $3 fix), or, the magnet placement needs to be modified just slightly.

      Reply
    • Sever replied

      See here a response to this problem:

      link to forums.garmin.com

      Reply
  53. Nathan

    I got this after reading the review because I wanted to see Power without spending lots of $$$. I don't really know what I am looking at but it is fun and I am learning.

    I think the PowerCal is absolutely amazing. The watts go to 0 when I stop pedaling. Not immediately but within a couple of seconds. When you watch the watts you would swear that it is using cadence, but they say it isn't. I would never have thought my heart rate would be able to give out such fine details about what I am doing.

    Thanks for all the reviews Ray.

    Reply
  54. Eddie Maverik

    Any idea if I can manually plug in my own values from my Quarq in the A/B/C rows? What does the A/B/C represent?

    Reply
  55. ismo

    Hi,
    A question related to the calibration process. The calibration phases are described as very easy, easy, moderate and so on. Do you happen to know the respective values given as percentage of the FTP? With those it would be much easier to calibrate the powercal: three minutes in 70%, three minutes in 80%, etc.

    Reply
  56. Eric Peters

    Hi,

    If have been using a Powertap pro for 3 years now but only on my "summer bike", i have purchased a Powercal Strap 2 months ago to use this during the winter. In my case for absolute watt numbers this device makes no sense at all.
    However I'm actually not interested in absolute watts but I'm interested in a tool that improves my training. I have been using WKO+ and specifically the perfromance manager chart. As you know this chart is based on TSS which is based on the balance between actual power vs FTP. I suspect that when you establish the FTP using Powercal measurments than the TSS calculated (and as a result the PMC chart) will be pretty accurate.

    Reply
  57. chakor

    Interesting stuff. So understanding the benefits of having estimates of power output while on the road...from a post ride perspective... how would you rate the quality of information produced by the Powercal to Strava's power curve algorithm?

    Reply
  58. Geo

    Is it waterproof? Can I wear under the wetsuit to be ready for the bike and run after the swim in a triathlon?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, no problem using under a wetsuit.

      Reply
  59. Adrian

    In general where the weather hovers around 30-35 degrees celcius, will the Powercal still works? Or the pattern will be more varied? Due to the high temp I'm located at, my HR always shows around 160-170 on average, so will there use that as a baseline for calculation purposes, and determining any rate of change from the average to determine Power.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, temperature has no bearing on it. It's primarily change in HR, and rate of change that the unit is focused on.

      Reply
  60. Brent

    Thanks for the review. Due to my remote work location and number of bikes i cannot use a powermeter for 2/3rds of my rides so on the basis of this review i purchased a powercal to try and bridge the gap. Somewhat for intervals but also for TSS. Before it arrived i assumed that the no calibration thing was a marketing decision rather than a scientific requirement. And i was correct, at stock calibration my measured power was 50% greater than powercal. I am am an average masters racer but larger than average (90kg) with a fairly high FTP.
    After calibration it seems within 5% for any length of time drawing closer the more warmed up i am.
    There are some issues with the calibration process though that make it hard.
    1. Cycleops have removed virtually any mention of it and the only instructions i can find are your review.
    2. You really need to do it on a trainer (learnt this the hard way) which if you have an inbuilt dislike of the trainer like me is hard.
    3. My up to date poweragent always calculates "responsiveness" as zero (this is "C" when you transfer it to the powercal calibration). So i had to guess a number and i chose as close to 150 as i could get as this was the original. 150 exact is a bit of a problem as the slider is to picky and i could not get exact 150. Some explanation from the manufacturer would probably help. Note that without a value the power reading essentially is just tracking your heart rate.

    So in summary. It can be a useful gadget but the calibration process is difficult on purpose with no help. I would recommend anybody with a powercal who can access an actual power meter to perform the calibration. I would like cycleops to provide a calculation for "C" or at least a discussion to allow us to make an informed guess.

    Reply
  61. Adz

    Just gotten my Cycleops PowerCal. Anyone experiencing major spike issue in the heart rate? I tried using Garmin and CycleOps HRM Strap, and applied electrode gel, still having spikes. Temperature is around 33 degrees with high humidity. So should not be static.

    Maybe this image might help.. link to oi48.tinypic.com

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Eek, that's weird. And, the upwards spikes don't even match normal spiking issues. I'd ring up CycleOps support and have them swap the strap out for you. Their support group is rock solid and should get you fixed up in a few minutes.

      Reply
    • Sever replied

      Yes. I have the same problem with these 2-3 seconds spikes. I think that they appear from the sweat because in my workouts I don't have any at the begining, just after an hour or so.
      I'm thinking to buy another hr strap. Maybe the one from Polar but I don't know if it's compatible.

      Reply
    • Kyle replied

      I've been using the powercal for about 9-10 months. Lately, I've also experienced unusual heart rate spikes. Picture here: link to tinypic.com

      I expect spikes at the beginning of the workout, but the spikes towards the end are weird. I was holding a steady pace on flat pavement. Think this is a connectivity issue?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, small spikes like that definitely looks like a typical strap issue. See this as a starting point: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Andrewwilliams9 replied

      I too got those spike issues today. But then noticed the transmitter was upside down (didn't think this would matter). After turning the hr strap around so transmitter was correct way, it worked far better.

      link to pbs.twimg.com

      First part, transmitter upside down. Stopped to make sure strap was wet. Then turned strap over.

      Reply
    • Steve S replied

      Wow, that's pretty wild. I just assumed that any HRM could be used in any direction (well, any of the 2 directions, I guess). I don't think Powertap has any guidelines about "right way up" for this. I'm going to try the same test soon and see if I get the same jagged vs smooth results.

      Reply
  62. Aleksander

    Hello!

    I am considering on buying powerCAL. But I am concerned if it can be used for what I would like to use it ;)

    I am thinking on using it for two things, first 5 x 5min intervals on a short hill (with constant power) and for pacing myself on longer climbs (from 5km/450m to 15km/900m). With both of these trainings to keep up constant power, you will need higher HR with time (each interval), for example at the start of a long climb to pedal 300W ones HR would be 175bpm, and after 30min of climb, to still put out 300W ones HR would be over 180bpm.

    How does powerCAL deal with such riding, can I pace myself on longer climbs with it?

    Thanks
    Aleksander

    Reply
  63. Rafael Ramos

    Well, just got a powercal (my older garmin HR montior died) and powercal was just $30 more in Canada, so it's nice for the added feature for when I had a rented bike, or go for a MTB ride without a powermeter.
    I was surprised actually at how close it was for average on >5 minute efforts against my quarq, but still would like to have it "fine tuned".

    Has anyone had success connecting the PoweAgent using the Garmin stick, with windows 8 or a Mac? The stick is working fine (works fine downloading workouts and with trainerroad). But there is no way I can get it to work to configure the powercal, it does not find the powercal.

    Has anyone experienced similar?

    Reply
    • Brent replied

      I connected using the suunto stick that this website recommended. Make sure you activate it first by either putting it on or rubbing the HRM strap pads with the transmitter connected to the strap. Can't stress enough how important it is to use a trainer and try to make it as close to the instructions DCR has above. Good luck.

      Reply
    • ToddMcLean replied

      Rafael,

      Did you have any luck figuring out the calibration?

      I am having the same issue. Ride analysis is good. New values set in my user profile just fine. But when I select the values and try to save to the PCal, it just sits there thinking forever, eventually giving me a Java error message. I am using the Suunto stick, and the strap is active. Computer is a Macbook running 10.6.8.

      Frustrating, as the PCal numbers are 40% higher than my PowerTap.

      Reply
  64. grifo

    I'm not sure if I am misunderstanding the calibration instructions, but does one record the ramp test with both the powercal and another power meter? Or do you simply use the direct force tool to record the test and then use data from that to write back settings to the powercal?

    Reply
  65. Rafael Ramos

    You do the ramp test with a head unit recording power from a direct force powermeter and HR (I used quarq and an edge 500). Open that workout file on Power Agent (ok until here), the PowerAgent analyzes the file (ok) and then defines new coefficients (ok) to be sent to re-configure the Powercal (where it fails).
    Sending the coefficients is the part it is failing . It does not seem to reach the powercal for some reason. Garmin Ant+ agent is closed, no other software or service is using the usb ant+ stick, ant the powercal is awake (i had it on and it is streaming HR data to the Garmin Edge).

    Reply
  66. Brent

    It sounds as if the drivers for the ant+ stick are not working correctly. Can you verify it with another device. Try different usb ports.

    Reply
  67. Paul Gagnon

    Will it work with a Forerunner 305 fro Garmin?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, the FR305 doesn't support power meters.

      It does however support the heart rate strap piece of it though, so that portion will work (but in that case, you might as well save $60 and just go with a regular HR strap).

      Reply
  68. Paul Gagnon

    Thank you looks like I might have to go for the more expensive package.

    Reply
  69. Thomas

    RE: Powercal and latest Garmin Soft Strap

    I'm having trouble getting the Powercal to work and pick up actual readings on my 910xt when using the Powercal unit with the Garmin Soft Strap (newest version).

    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Is it not picking up anything, or just wonky readings?

      Reply
    • Thomas replied

      It's literally not picking anything up - really strange. I played around a bit and "flipped" the Powercal so it's "upside-down" when connected to the strap - no success =(

      Everything looks to be attached pretty solid - it detects the HR monitor and the Powercal with the correct serial # but the readings don't register.

      I wish it were just wonky readings =(

      Reply
  70. Brent

    For those looking at spare / replacement straps.
    Powercal with Polar soft strap. I have used the powercal successfully with the garmin soft strap. The powercal seems incompatible with the polar strap however (even though the garmin transmitter is compatible). There is something slightly different about the holes that the transmitter plugs into on the polar strap. The powercal transmitter pops straight out.

    Reply
    • Thomas replied

      Quick update on my non-working Garmin Soft Strap [when using Powercal]:

      I used/took my lady's Garmin Soft Strap and tested the Powercal combo...and it worked =(

      I then tried to get my Garmin transmitter and Soft Strap combo to start working again and it doesn't work anymore =( I even tried using the electrode gel and it keeps cutting out and giving me readings of "0"

      Any suggestions?

      Reply
    • Brent replied

      This sounds like a classic case of broken garmin soft strap. I have broken one myself. Could pair the device but would get either no signal or very briefly a dodgy signal. The electrical connections inside the strap are i presume not very sturdy. As you say taking the transmitter to another strap it works good. They are not to much to replace but i think not quite sturdy enough for purpose.

      Reply
    • Thomas replied

      *Update/Workaround for the AWESOME Polar strap and PowerCal Combo*

      You were right when you said the Polar strap didn't hold the PowerCal - it does just pop right out. Upon further messing around - looked like the rubber grommets around the metal pieces that snap the PowerCal were too big to hold the PowerCal's shallow inserts.

      *Fix*
      I trimmed the rubber pieces down a bit with nail clippers and the PowerCal fits perfectly and work perfectly as well. [Although I have to be honest - I don't use the PowerCal as much anymore as the purchase of the PowerCal "gateway drugged me" into getting a PowerTap =P]

      Hope this helps for some people out there!

      Reply
  71. Berndt Hanns

    Hello

    I've recently bought a home power trainer and a PowerCal for a young junior cyclist to train with.

    Using the theory that the most gain can be made on the home trainer, it is becoming an integral part of the training program and although we are still figuring out the best ways to use power based training its starting to show marked improvements, particularly with hill efforts and IRTT times.

    The PowerCal seemed to be a good way to learn how to train with a power based tool. I've seen a number of parents splash out on P2Max, Quark and even SRM PowerMeters, all which look really good on the bike (and at the coffee shop) but, truth be known, a 14 or 15 year old boy or girl is not going to get the best vaule out it - some even admit to not knowing how to use it properly. Not the return on investment that a lot of us want! Sometimes I think parents like to brag about what their kids are using more than the athelete themselves.

    So, back to the PowerCal, the thought was/is to get the young athelete starting to use the power numbers during their training and possibly even racing. Yes, its got quite a few short comings, but the price, not significantly more than a HR strap, makes it an attractive option to start using power data.

    Which leads me to my question! Given its very spikey and not particularly much use for sprint efforts, what I'd ideally like (hope) it can be used for is sustained efforts up hill and against the clock. The head unit I'm using is a Garmin510, so its got a range of display options - as a learing exercices and hopefully some race benefit, what is the best display to put infront of a young athlete using a PowerCal.

    Am I best simply to put instant power there or one of the smoothed options and if so, which option? In the end, the read out needs to give the rider some level of usable information so they can adjust their effort to suit.

    Any thoughts on this and as an overall first power training tool?

    Reply
  72. Ty

    Can it be worn in a non-wetsuit swim?

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Yes, no problems at all being word under a wetsuit, or under a tri-suit. Water immersion isn't an issue. Note that in neither situation will it broadcast HR while underwater (well, technically it broadcasts HR all the time, it's just that the ANT+ signal doesn't go anywhere underwater beyond about 1 inch).

      Reply
  73. Michael Zeidan

    Thanks for a great review! It certainly peeked my interest as I cannot afford a Powermeter yet but would love to get power data.
    However - my main interest would be to use this as a Pacing device for IronMan racing, as my heart rate seems to go all over the place during racing. I'm not sure whether that's due to nerves, heat, hydration and nutrition, heart rate drift due to lack of fittness or whatever. I know that you said that this tool is not marketed for race pacing use, and my intuition is that since this tool goes off heart rate then all of the abovementioned heart rate issues will be transferred into their Power calculations...

    So my question is this: Given all of the above HR-related race pacing issues, would there be any advantage to race-pacing using this tool over race-pacing using a HR monitor?

    If the answer is Yes - i'll buy one, else I wont...

    Thanks again!

    Mike

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Hi Mike-

      For Ironman racing, it probably would help from a quantifying it standpoint. Obviously, since it's built as an extension to the HR side, there's some correlation there. But it may help better put things into perspective over the course of a race from out output side, rather than HR (which is more of an 'input' in this particular equation.

      Reply
  74. Tom

    Does anybody know how the cal burn this would calculate (from average power and weight), compares to other calculations? For instance, the Garmin 705 calculates calories, but in my opinion and in that of many who have posted on Garmin forums, the value seems way too high. So, i wonder if i use this to get power, and convert to calories, how it would compare to what the Garmin itself calculates.

    Or also...if you know of a recommended web site or software to upload a track and get a calorie calculation, please let me know.

    Thank you! Tom

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      The PowerCal isn't transmitting calories, just power. But, you could use kilojoules (a function of power) to get a better handle on calories, which the PowerCal would help with.

      Reply
    • Tom replied

      Ray, thanks much! I guess to be clear, what i'd like is that, say, you took the power computed by cycleops, and converted it to calories, how does that compare to what the Garmin spits out as calories? Again, seems to me (and many who post to the Garmin board) that Garmin is way high on its calorie calculation.

      So, i guess its actually kind of a complex question without a quick, simple answer.

      But, if anybody has ever made that calculation on the same ride, i'd love to hear the comparison!

      Thanks! Tom.

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      The calorie calculations vary by different Garmin devices, and in the case of the Edge 705, it's one of the older units from a calorie calculation standpoint. If you look at the charts here, you'll see that for the most part, the Edge 705 is basically just doing simple speed/distance calcs - which are largely useless. link to dcrainmaker.com

      I haven't taken a look at how the kilojoules from the PowerCal compared to that of the calorie calculations natively

      Reply
  75. Francisco

    hi DC,
    I'm a age group triathlete newbie with power tools and my question is... I can swim with powercal??? and that the box says not to submerge?? greetings from Venezuela

    Reply
  76. michazeidan

    Ray - many thanks for your comments, I think I'll get the thing and try it out...thanks again! mike

    Reply
  77. Andres Di

    HELLO DC,
    I have been an avid reader of all your products.
    Question: I have a powercal and garmin 910tx. After last update, I have a cadence readout of 255 continuously. I have been told, it could be either of the items.
    Before update, everything was working perfect. How do I fix this?
    Thank you.
    AD

    Reply
    • ifor replied

      255 is meant to indicate cadence not available in the ANT+ power profile. This is what I would expect the Powercal to set. The 910tx should ignore the cadence data if it is 255 it should use an alternate source if available or set the cadence to 0.

      Reply
  78. Ray Smith

    I have owned the PowerCal now for the past 6 months. I used it to test my FTP, and coordinated my training using Carmichaels Time Crunch Cyclist (book). Have read many of the post, I can understand why many non users have questions or don't understand how this could work. I put all my training workouts on Strava and the power meter opens up many new pages and analysis. For example, I now have a fitness and fatigue score, which computes my "form". My FTP has improved using the interval workouts by about 15%. Note that many of the posters can't understand how this could be, especially as my HR has remained fairly constant. None of us understand the algorithm being used by the Powercal, however I can tell you that I continue to be shocked with how responsive it is and how directionally correct it is. If you use it to establish your FTP, then train around this number, you won't believe how good of a tool this is. I have no plan to purchase a more expensive version, not only is it cheaper, it weighs less, and is transportable from bike to bike.

    Reply
    • MichaelZ replied

      Ray -- I'm also relatively satisfied with my Powercal although it does have the drawback of generating a lot of spurious power values. So I'm curious what time averaging do you use to display power while riding?

      Reply
  79. Ray Smith

    MichaelZ---I load my workout on to the Garmin (500), if I am doing steady state intervals (3x10), with 5 min rest between, the Garmin tell me when I am in the proper range for my power zone. It works great for all power zones, EM, SS, PI. This training is very intense and the Powercal works near perfect as long as you did the FTP test properly. My FTP test called for two 10 min intervals at a max power that can be sustained for 10 min, twice with 5 min rest between. Otherwise, I like the 10 sec average the best, but do not use it for training.

    Reply
  80. MikeM

    Has anyone tried the Powercal on Kinomap or Virtual Trainer? Wondering how it would perform as would be good to use Kinomap on my iPad mini on the exercise bike in the gym.

    Reply
  81. JAC

    Hello. Great reviews!Quick question, does viiiva work with android smartphones and apps? Using a S4 ver 4.2.2 right now. Also will it transmit to Android based Recon JET glasses(+Bluetooth 4.0 -Bluetooth Smart-)?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  82. Dinos Chryssochoou

    Ray, being in your father's type of audience I found the review extremely helpful. Tried to order the strap from Clever training but they didn't have any left. Eventually I ordered the cheapest one I could get that ships to Athens. Sorry I'm not contributing to the site man, next time for sure.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks for the (attempted) support Dinos!

      I see what went wrong. The product ID that I had in my database had been changed, and as a result you got an error when clicking. You logically went to search, and came back with the first result - which happens to be the Bluetooth Smart variant which isn't in stock, as opposed to the ANT+ version.

      In any event, I appreciate you letting me know! I've gone through and fixed all that - thus for others, the world should be back in place now.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  83. MikeM

    I contacted Kinomap support late Friday evening to ask about using the Powercal with Kinomap. Firstly, I would like to commend Kinomap - in particular Laurent - for their fast response. That aside Kinomap have not tried the Powercal with their system and I expressed my concern that the noisy signal might be a problem. Laurent confirmed that there was no filtering/averaging of power data but that the video has some built in latency - although that may not be enough to give a reasonably smooth response with the Powercal. Laurent is meeting CycleOps at Interbike next week and will try and test the Powercal with Kinomap.

    I travel a lot and it would be a nice lightweight virtual training setup if I could just go with a Powercal and iPad Mini using spinning bikes in hotel gyms for example.

    I await Laurent's test with great interest!

    Reply
  84. Hey Ray,

    If I have the Garmin Cadence/Speed Sensor already installed would I still need to get the PowerCal Speed Sensor? I'm guessing they don't talk to each other huh?

    Reply
  85. and.... does the PowerCal Speed sensor detect Cadence? I'm seeing things online that says it does either speed or cadence but not both. That would be a disadvantage on my bike trainer.

    Reply
  86. Ray Smith

    Daren, No need for the speed sensor. I did not buy it and everything works just fine. Have no comment on cadence since I use the sensor I already had on my bike. The PowerCal serves two purposes for me 1) HR monitor and 2) Power meter. Both feed into the Garmin no worries

    Reply
  87. Double A Ron

    Thanks DC for the in depth review. I know some folks may snicker, but I just got my first taste of power training at a new gym here locally in Plymouth, MA (Live Life Believe). They have a whole room of CycleOps 300 pro indoor cycles with Powertaps. I'm an avid outdoor cyclist that doesn't necessarily need a $2000 power meter (that doesn't keep it from being on the wish list though). It seems like this may be a fair alternative - meaning that you probably get what you pay for? I enjoy the data I get at the gym and my fitness is getting better using that data. I also just got into strava (I hear the snickers) and I like the fact that i can add this data to my uploads as well as let me upload indoor training data. Which leads me to my main question:

    1. Do you think it would be worth purchasing for a first time power meter user to use at home and out on the roads or should I just save my pennies for the real thing? Keeping in mind that when I say I am an "avid" rider, means I have a Specialized Venge, ride the Pan mass Challenge (200 mile fund raiser to fight cancer), and ride the Spring training crits (I am finishing in the back and trying to change that).

    Thanks.

    AC

    Reply
    • Brent replied

      How much money you wish to spend is of course up to yourself. I have bith a powertap and a powercal. I personally use the powercal on rides i cannot use the powertap on to get a sense of how hard my total effort was. Using the powercal for shorter intervals (less than a minute at least) does not make a lot of sense. It can be used reasonably well for longer efforts.
      To get much use out of it compared to you powertap sessions you would need to calibrate it against the powertap which may be easy to do if you are using or can use a computer with downloadable data. You need to complete the calibration as accurately as you can with the instructions ray provides above. And you will need to redo the calibration if your FTP is changing. Because any differences in FTP the powercal by itself would show are simply changes in HR response. Any efforts at the same HR will produce the same power on the powercal. ie if you go for 20 minutes at 180 BPM it will show the same result even if your actual power has increased 50% over a period of time.
      My poweragent software did not give me a value for variable C. Simply use what the powercal came with which i think was 150.

      Reply
  88. Rowlarry

    Hi Ray, fellow posters

    Can I just say that I have spent many hours perusing the shiny new fitness tech in your website, and I'd like to thank you for the time and dedication spent in doing the reviews in your own unique style.

    I have the opportunity to pick up a Motoactv cheaply to replace my aging FR305, and I was wondering whether the PowerCal would work with this and provide HR and Power data to it? I can't find the answer anywhere.

    Many thanks, Larry

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, it'll transmit it to it, the PowerCal simply acts as both a HR strap and a power meter, which the Motoactv support.

      Reply
    • Brent replied

      I have both these items. The answer is that the motoactv will pick up the HR or the power. Not both at the same time.
      Once you have paired it with the one it will not pair with the second. This presumably is due to the powercal using the same ANt+ ID for both.

      Reply
  89. Adam R

    For reasons I cannot work out, PowerCal calibration in PowerAgent worked in VMWare running Windows 7, but not natively on my Mac. The Mac app failed (immediately, and apparently without searching) to find the PowerCal. I assume it was not loading the Ant+ stick driver properly, but I have no way to verify that. Other apps (such as trainer road) can use the Ant+ stick just fine.

    Reply
  90. Steve S

    Great reviews. I don't have a head unit, not even a cycling computer. I look at screens all day and don't want to when I ride, on a variety of bikes and trainers. That being said, I do record my rides/workouts with mapmyride or strava on my iPhone 4S that I hide away in my back pocket. Can this device be effectively used and/or communicate with only an appropriate phone app such as these apps, or do I have to also use a head unit? If my goal is to simply have the phone and phone apps be my hidden computer, recording data as I exercise, are there any other devices that can do both HR and some sort of power calculation, or other apps to consider? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, you've got two options. The first is to pickup the Bluetooth Smart version of the PowerCal, and the second is to pickup the ANT+ version and then get an adapter (Wahoo Fitness iPhone ANT+ adapter).

      Given you've got no other devices, it simply makes sense to pickup the BLE version. You can then use either the CycleOps app or the Wahoo App to connect to it and record the data for later analysis and uploading to dozens of different sites (Strava, Training Peaks, Garmin Connect, etc...).

      Reply
  91. Steve S

    Ah, thanks, there's a bluetooth version, I see it now. Assume it has the same functions of the ANT+ version (and probably not worth a separate review)? Can this newer BLE version connect directly with MapMyRide iPhone App, or Strava, etc, of do I need to use the PowerTap app to record, or at least to bridge data to the other apps, all with just the phone, or do you expect I'm going to have to move around/upload some recorded data in order to view it in my system of choice? Thx again.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, identical except just BLE. It can connect to some apps, such as the Wahoo Fitness app. I don't know about the Strava or MapMyRide App (though Wahoo Fitness uploads to both and many more).

      Reply
    • Steve S replied

      Thanks and good to know. Will try it out and report back on what I find. One additional question - if a separate wrist-based device is in my future, would the ANT or BT powercal version be a better choice?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Today, it's definitely ANT+, since there are no BLE wrist-based units currently on the market (that can connect to BLE Bluetooth Sensors or BLE SPD/CAD sensors). In fact, for that matter, BLE HR straps either.

      Reply
    • Steve S replied

      Hmmm...not that it's a true watch, but I wonder if the polar loop would pick up any transmission from the powercal Bluetooth. BLE and Bluetooth smart are the same protocol, right?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm travelling and don't have both the Loop and BLE Powercal with me, but in theory, the Loop will pick it up just fine for the HR portion (since both adhere to the BLE HR Profile spec).

      Reply
  92. Colin Carroll

    I Have used Trainer Road for the first time today and I found a big difference between the TR numbers and and powercal numbers. I was doing the 8min ftp test and my numbers calculated on TR were an FTP of 137 watts and a LTHR of 160.
    However my power average on powercal was 212watts for the 60min session. I am using a cycleops mag trainer set to level 3. I have read that people are getting comparible results between TR and powercal and I was wondering what others have found?
    Could I be one of those individuals who are outside of the powercal profile.
    BTW. Great site Ray. Chapeau.

    Reply
    • Brent replied

      If you can grab hold of a power meter of some kind and do a calibration as ray describes in the text you should be able to get reasonable numbers from the powercal. You need to do it accurately as possible as one interval for all 5 power steps (the poweragent software only looks at one completed interval). You will need to guess the 3rd parameter which the software always gave me as zero for the calibration). The original number for the 3rd parameter was 150 i recall. Although i don't know your ability or size 137 w does seem a low number.

      Reply
    • Colin Carroll replied

      UPDATE.
      Just been reviewing my Trainer Road data and my actual FTP was 200 watts back in January. I was reading the NP figure DOH!
      However as my fitness has started to improve the Trainer Road and Powercal outputs have started to synchronize with one another.
      I love this technology.

      Reply
  93. Larry

    I got a PowerCal Bluetooth Smart and tried to use it with my iPhone 5 and Strava v3.8.1 (1449) and could not get it to work. I could connect to either HR or Power but not both at the same time. I also tried MapMyRide 5.1 and got the same exact situation. I've contacted both PowerCal and they could not help. I sent Strava a email and have not heard from them. Since I emailed them several weeks ago, my guess is I will never hear from them.

    Any suggestions or comments?

    Reply
    • Steve S replied

      Larry - I just got mine yesterday and experienced the same thing. I called PowerCal/cycleops yesterday afternoon and they told me that yes, b/c this device sends both power and HR data in one data stream, apps like Strava and Map My Ride will only pick up one part of that data stream, and that's the HR data (not power). It won't pick up power because those apps expect that data to be sent in a separate data stream. They said they are working with those major app players to get both sets of data to display simultaneously (picking both up from one transmission stream). That would be an update to those apps with ability to differentiate data within the single stream.

      The "work-around" I've found is to 1) use the free PowerTap app, which WILL pick up both streams (it's the only app that will display both). Ideally, you can connect the PowerTap app to your strava/MMR/other accounts for data transfer, but the "Connect" authorization fails. When I spoke with them about this yesterday, they said I had discovered an authorization bug that they would fix sometime soon. I also had issues simply creating a clever training account, which the PowerTap app can sync with, and I believe you can import/export data among those services in a variety of ways.

      For me, all my historical data is in Map My Ride (and I'd like to continue to use it), so my solution for now is to have both MMR and PowerTap ads recording simultaneously so that I get all data. Hopefully at some point, power will show up natively in MMR and/or the connection authentication will be fixed between the PowerTap app and MMR.

      Connection and data stream limitations aside, I found the HR and power data coming from this device to be clear and solid, and within the boundaries of what I'd expect for a big-picture view of how power relates to HR and output (for a 1 hour moderate ride, 163 average watts, 476 max watts, 194 normalized power, 330 watts for 30sec peak power). Not expecting detailed instant data, so I'm hoping over time, I'll see some trends in those overall power averages.

      Reply
    • Brent replied

      The motoactv is the same with the ant+ version. Because the ID # is the same for both hr and power it will only do one at a time. Whichever is the first to pair it will recognize. So as you have probably worked out pair the power first and your okay. It is probably just a software thing though for the phone. My garmin and suunto devices will pick up both,
      i had a mio 105 unit and it would pick up both until a firmware "upgrade" at which point it was only one at a time. (again this was the ant+ version but a similar problem). When i wrote a lengthy note to mio support they reported to me that the mio 105 does not connect with power meters showing poor knowledge of their products and also the fact that the support did not read my lengthy email description.

      Reply
  94. Forrest

    Has anyone had luck using the Bluetooth version of PowerCal for power on any app other than the PowerTap app? I couldn't even get power to register in the Wahoo Fitness app.

    Reply
  95. Steve S

    @Forrest - Cust support says that the ONLY app that will read power is the PowerTap app, which is slated to be updated soon by the way. Unfortunately, all of their API authorizations to other services to sync data automatically (Strava, MMR, etc) are broken, so I've probably had several dozen emails back and forth with them about that issue. However, once that's fixed, the power data should sync up to the other services (export/import works now if needed). It's just that the other apps don't read the power from the powercal strap natively. They are also working with the other companies' apps to help update code to recognize the power data from the powercal strap, eventually.

    Reply
  96. Phillip

    Hi, I just bought a PowerCal, it arrived with scant instructions, and nothing to explain the cadence/speed select switch inside the battery compartment. It all works ok, but any info about that switch ( why, which setting etc ) would be much appreciated. The only real info I could find is this vid link to youtu.be which also shows the unit being reversed with each setting. Thanks :-)

    Reply
  97. Tom T

    Hi, hopefully someone can help me I'm trying to do the calibration but not having much success. I've done the ramp test and gone through the instructions in the article re calibration. when i zoom into the ramp test and select configure powercal the next window shows me the complete workout not the zoomed in segment. I can't figure it out what I'm doing wrong its driving me mad! If someone can help I'd appreciate it.
    Thanks :)
    T

    Reply
    • brent replied

      you need to do An interval on the bike computer on the bike not just zoom in. so start your ride and warm up and when ready use the bike computer to start the interval and then finish the interval when done. alternative would be to use your file you already have and make an interval on your software but i cannot tell you if the powertap software does that. you may need to make up a value for C. i used 150 which is what the original cap was. i went from 30 % or more under my actual power to within 0 - 5 % except for every short intervals.

      Reply
    • Tom T replied

      Hi Brent, thanks for the info. I think I'll just have to re-do the ramp test. The file I have has about 10mins of a warm-up preamble to it and I've tried to crop the file with tcx converter but it makes a balls of the data set. I think you're right I'll give it another go tonight and just start stop the edge for the interval. Your results from calibration are encouraging, I'm just looking to get it a bit more consistent in terms of numbers at the moment it's not consistent it either reads about right or way under and then jumps back up very erratic. Actual accuracy to a direct force pm I'm not worried about. Thanks again for the reply much appreciated.
      T.

      Reply
  98. Ray Smith

    @ Tom T, not sure that your intent to calibrate the Cycleops will get you where you want to be even if you are successful. I have been using mine for the past year and it is clearly understating my power. I have other friends where it overstates their power. It is very hard to ride with power showing on our computer for most any of the meters due to the veritably )read Rays study on this and others. If you use it to set your FTP then train around the FTP score you got from your Cycleops it will give you the same (almost exact) benefits you would get from the most expensive meter. I race and use mine to determine my stress load for each ride, my Fatigue level, my Fitness level and my Form. These are all mathematically derived from using the PM each time you ride. If you are looking to do more with yours then you have the wrong equipment. At the present, I see no reason to upgrade as I get just what I need even though the calibration is off.

    Reply
    • Tom T replied

      Hi Ray, thanks for the reply. I'm looking to calibrate as the numbers I'm getting are extremely erratic. I'm not worried if it's not accurate just as long as it's consistent. All I'm aiming to do is get it a bit more consistent in terms of numbers at the moment. It far from consistent at the moment it either reads about right or way under and then jumps back up very erratic. Actual accuracy to a direct force pm I'm not worried about. Thanks again for the reply much appreciated.
      T.

      Reply
  99. brent

    don't get to hung-up about pure consistency. all pm go up and down a bit which is why people often set there computers to show 3 second and 10 second averages rather than instant readings. also like a hrm if the hr readings are erratic due to poor connection which especially happens before you work up a sweat than the results will be poor. good contact is required.

    Reply
  100. Dan Gay

    Great review! I took the dive and bought one and have found the results to be useful for my purposes. I use a Cateye Stealth 50 which unfortunately won't show average power, but post work out data is useful. A question I was pondering though would be how this device can differentiate power output from someone with an FTP of say 250 as compared to me with an FTP of about 200? If resting HR is the same and HR responses are similar, how can it reflect, on average, those potential differences?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, the unit does indeed work fairly well across multiple different rider profiles (as odd as that may sound).

      Reply
  101. José

    Hello, can it be used just as a HR with the FR70 or the suunto m6?

    Thxs

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes for the FR70, as it supports ANT+. But no for the Suunto M6, as it only supports Suunto ANT, and not open ANT+.

      Reply
  102. José

    And would it tell me the power on de FR70? Or just the heart rate?

    Thnxs again

    Reply
  103. Juan

    Thanks Ray for all your time, effort and professionalism, posting these unbiased tech reviews in your site. They're amazing.

    Just to share an issue I have with those avid riders out there with a CycleOps Joule GPS and PowerCal combo. I've got mine yesterday, unpacked the boxes like a kid on Christmas day, installed PowerAgent, and spent the whole afternoon trying to set this up. I bought the Joule GPS head unit (firmware 19.076) and the PowerCal strap 7150, no speed sensor. All ANT +.

    Here is my problem: I can't get the PowerCal to be paired with the Joule head unit as a power meter. I initially used the option 'Pair All' and the Joule finds the PowerCal as a HeartRate Strap unit, it prompts to accept a HR sensor ID and starts capturing my HR beats. Fine, but I haven't found how to get the PowerCal added as a power meter unit.

    Trying to troubleshoot the issue, I did remove the HR sensor id from the setup and manually tried to register the PowerCal strap as a Power meter, using the same sensor id it was picked up when initially the Joule head unit recognized it as HR strap. No luck here either, as the Joule couldn't find any power meter device under that sensor id. So, I went back to the setup, and either manually, or using the 'Pair All' option, Joule GPS always picks up the PowerCal as a HR unit only.

    I changed the CR2032 battery, reset the whole thing and read the user guide twice (yes.. twice !!). Any ideas what I'm doing wrong here?. I can't think of a defective PowerCal strap, as the HR works like a charm !!!. I'm planning to borrow a friend's Garmin 510 and test the pairing process again, trying to rule out any hardware issues with the PowerCal. We'll see...

    Reply
    • Juan replied

      CycleOps tech support guys provided some feedback that helped with the PowerCal issue (reporting Power as '0's). They suggested me a 'hard reset' of the strap by removing the CR2032 battery and put it back with the wrong polarity ('+' sign face down) and leave it for 20 sec. Then remove the battery and put it back as stated by the user guide (positive '+' side face up). I did it for 20 sec as initially stated by the CycleOps, but it didn't work, as my power reading were still reporting '0's, so I tried again for 10 min now and it did finally the trick.. power readings came up from the PowerCal once I got into the bike...

      Reply
  104. Just want to post and make people aware, I've had my Powercal since February, and used it 3-5 times per week since.

    Yesterday the headunit no longer found the powercal (heart rate monitor).

    Change of battery didn't work
    Pairing with a different garmin didn't work

    Tried a garmin transmitter on the Powercal band, and the headunit found the monitor.

    Conclusion, Powercal transmitter has given up, so it is going back for a refund.

    (ps, also tried the hard reset' mentioned above to no avail)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd ring up CycleOps/PowerTap. Probably the easiest folks in the industry to work with customer service wise. I'm sure they'll likely just shoot you out a new unit no questions asked...

      Reply
  105. Mr Nofish

    Ray, if I can take advantage of your considerable patience, expertise and outstanding dedication to the site, there is a question I'd like to ask you:

    Short premise: I see the value in training with power, and ideally I would buy a DFPM but my price bracket would be closer to half or (preferably) less what Stages is retailing for now, which I assume is still years away. I am aware of the PowerCal's limitations, and my thought is I could keep training with heart rate alone, but there's probably a little extra value in the PowerCal.

    So, should I pull the trigger now on the PowerCal, or there's anything else on the horizon that might become available in the next 6 months (give or take) and fit my profile better?

    A Yes/No reply would be OK and if you'd rather send an email than reply here, that would be great. Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I definitely don't see anything on the near or medium term horizon in this price bracket, nor anything half (or below) Stages. Cheers!

      Reply
    • Mr Nofish replied

      Thanks Ray, appreciated.

      Reply
  106. knightof1

    hi ray. u experience various products n write excellent articles! im so envied!
    i hav been using powercal for a year, but i started to pay attention to power training not long before. when i review my data, i found that the relations between hr n power(in terms of avg, >30min) have not really changed. however, i am 100% certain that i have made great progress during the last year(after all i just began riding then, n i go much faster in the same tt course). anyway, if powercal could not describe my change day-by-day, it could not be a good product. for instance, i recorded 160bpm-248w in january and exactly the same number in may, both in a duration of 20min. another issue is that it is impossible for me to squeeze 248 watts under 160bpm. my assumption is that these hr-watt correspondence are collected from a database given by caucasians. as u see, i am chinese.

    is it worth a calibration? powertap is easily accessible for me now. im planning to purchase a new version of p2m. plz stop me if u hav strong reasons!!

    thank u so much!

    Reply
    • brent replied

      Yes it will give you the same results without being constantly calibrated. It is worth doing especially if you get a power meter and intend to keep using the powercal on rides. After you start using another power meter you may notice completely different power to the powercal. A good calibration will bring the powercal back in the ball park. I use my power meters when I have them and the powercal for all other rides when the power meter is not available mostly so I can get a TSS rating. If you do not use it in conjunction with another power meter then regular calibrations may give you a better handle on any changes.
      Note that if you have a good steady and long climb (30 mins?) you can get a good handle on any calibration by comparing your time against any number of online power calibrations.

      Reply
  107. Javier

    Hi DC - hope you´re doing well!
    Do you have info or comments about PowerCal Bluetooth Smart working connected to Wahoo Fitness App?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't tried it yet myself, but I'd be very surprised if it didn't work.

      Reply
    • Ryan replied

      The Wahoo Fitness App does not fully support PowerCal Bluetooth--the power data is not available. Here is a response from Wahoo customer support:

      "The Powercal is not a traditional Power meter. Currently, the app doesn't support the power meter portion of the Powercal. We have this on our to-do list, but it is a low priority at this time. Please let me know if you have any other questions."

      Reply
    • Javier replied

      Hi Ryan and DC

      Thanks for your respectives comments. Here is the original question I raised to customer support pf Wahoo:

      "Since some weeks ago I have been looking for a Power Meter. As I do already
      have a Kickr trainer with Tickr HR and Blue SC sensors, don´t want to spend
      money in a GPS unit but centralize all data my iPhone 5s with Wahoo Fitness
      app.

      It has not been easy due to most of power meters in market works with ANT+
      such as Quarq and PowerTap. There are some others that works via Bluetooth
      such as Stages but its current model does not work for my SRAM Red22
      groupset. However I was noticed about PowerCal which is a HR strap sensor
      that has the ability to calculate power based on HR frequency.

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Do you have info or comments about PowerCal Bluetooth Smart working
      connected to Wahoo Fitness App? If yes, is there a possibility to setup
      time or average of measurments?

      In other hand, do you at Wahoo recommend or suggest any other type of power
      meter that can be connected to Fitness App?"

      and here is the reply I received from Wahoo:

      "The Powercal should work with the Wahoo Fitness app, but we have heard reports from other customers that it is inconsistent. I am not sure if it is only with the Wahoo Fitness app or if the same happens in other apps".

      So basically I can understand that it is not an adequate or suggested device to be used with Wahoo Fitness App. I wonder to know which power meter can be pared to Wahoo Fitness app.

      Best Regards!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Most other ANT+ power meters work just fine (I haven't tried Bluetooth ones aside from Stags), so I'd probably go back to CycleOps/PowerTap and ask them if they can clarify their support policy there.

      Reply
  108. jose

    Hello DC
    Do you know any android app that can work with this heart power meter? I’m interested in giving a try but I don’t want to spend money in any computer. I use my galaxy S5 for other ant+ sensor but any of those app say nothing about power meter.
    Thank

    Reply
  109. Stephen

    Different application than most - I coach flat water sprint and marathon kayak racing and use the Garmin 310XT and 910XT to capture HR/Speed/Time data. Power or Watt output would be a very useful parameter for on the water and erg training. An existing power measuring device for paddlesports is expensive and requires modification/calibration of the paddle shaft. Does anyone have experience with using the Powercal for paddlesports?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  110. Robert

    Hi Ray, first time I write, but I have been an avid reader for many years. Thanks for all the great reviews and advice!

    I just got a BTLE PowerCal and I'm looking for an iPhone app (other than PowerTap) supporting both HRM and Power signals correctly. So far, I've struck out, however, the folks at iSmoothRun seem to be at the forefront of BTLE sensors support with this comment on their Website: "All BT smart sensors are supported (HRMs, footpods, speed/cadence, power.)". However, it is not possible to contact iSmoothRun from their Website, it can only be done from within the app, which cost $5.99. I will gladly spend these few bucks for full PowerCal support, but I am against the principle of throwing 6 dollars out the window to find out it doesn't :-)

    Thanks in advance!
    Robert

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      I'd go with the Wahoo Fitness app - it supports both...and is free, and uploads to virtually every 3rd party site out there. It's what I use. :)

      Reply
    • Robert replied

      Thanks for the quick reply Ray!

      I must be doing something wrong when setting up the Wahoo Fitness app. It detects my sensor as a Powercal and gives me HR reading, that's it. No power reading is available. It shows instead of power:

      Any idea what the issue is?

      Thanks!
      Robert

      Reply
    • Steve S replied

      My understanding and experience is that the only app to provide both HR and power metrics at the same time is the powercal app itself. Most apps will get HR via BT, but since the power data is proprietary coming out of the strap (and I think part of the HR data stream, according to Ray's description) the only app to pick up both is the powercal app. Hope I'm wrong; the powercal app is clunky and recent update made it even clunkier.

      Reply
    • Robert replied

      Thanks Steve for the comment!

      In my previous reply, something got dropped from my last sentence. It should have been: It shows "n/a" instead of power:

      I have the same complaints about the PowerCal app. It is very basic and has some potential, but needs more work.

      I really wish the Wahoo Fitness app would support both signals at the same time, I really like this app.

      I was able to find a Twitter exchange that seems to indicate that indeed, the Wahoo Fitness app should support both Powercal signals. Maybe I understand this wrong: link to twitter.com

      Thanks!
      Robert
      Robert

      Reply
    • Steve S replied

      I think that twitter exchange means that it should pick up power data from a separate power device, not the power cal strap.

      My biggest complaint about the latest power cal app update is that now each time I start a recording I have to tell it to pick up the power signal from the strap. 1st version of app let you set and the setting stuck. Now you set and it forgets - it actually forgets the power setting - the primary reason we have this particular strap in the first place. Ugh.

      Reply
  111. Laurent Etur

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for another great review!

    I just got a PowerCal and did my first calibration ride on the trainer. Everything works well as per your instructions above, but my Ant+ USB Stick won't find the PowerCal HR strap...therefore I'm not able to pass the calibration info to the device. The Powercal HR strap seems to work fine as it does send both HR and Power signals to my Garmin 310XT...but I hope to complete the calibration as the power numbers currently displayed are way off the mark.

    Any ideas what could be happening?
    I've tried to contact support but so far they haven't been able to help.

    Regards,
    Laurent

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Since you have the FR310XT, double check that neither the ANT Agent software nor Garmin Express are running (either in the background or open), they'll block the connection on the USB stick.

      Reply
    • Laurent Etur replied

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for the tip, this did the trick. It's not very intuitive that you have to stop Ant Agent, and I had been trying various things for the last 24h without success. Now I can try it out on the next rides!
      I really enjoy your blog, thanks for the great contents.

      BTW, might see you around one of these days as I live in Paris (15th).

      Laurent

      Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Awesome! And don't be a stranger!

      Reply

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