[Please see my 2016 Edition of the Power Meter Buyers Guide Located here.]
Once again, it’s time for the annual power meter buyer’s guide. It’s mind-boggling how quickly a year has come and gone, and just how many more entrants are now on the scene. Last year at Eurobike and Interbike we saw new brands announced – like 4iiii and WatTeam, and this year we’ve seen those brands start shipping or being on the verge of shipping.
We’ve also seen both new and existing brands dramatically drop the price bar to power meters. For example, Quarq, PowerTap and Power2Max have all substantially cut prices – here’s an entire post on the massive pricing war that’s going on. And yet previously unknown companies have announced products with plans to drop those prices further.
Just to illustrate that, here’s what’s new since last year: 4iiii Precision now shipping, Favero bePRO, PowerTap P1, PowerTap C1, Look dual ANT+/BLE units, Pioneer left-only solution, ROTOR INpower, Ashton Instruments, Dyno Velo, PowerPod
The goal of this post is NOT to give you a final answer that says ‘this is the power meter to buy’. If there’s anything I want to change in the industry it’s the mindset that there is a single perfect power meter for every consumer. Thus, if you ask someone for “the best power meter”, and they give you any answer other than “it depends”, don’t trust that person. That person should be asking you your specific use case, bike placement limitations, and how much you want to spend.
The cycling market has many unique use cases and thus you’ll need to take into consideration your specific requirements. For example, it’d be silly to go out and buy Garmin Vector if you’re looking to put it on a mountain bike. And similarly, it’d be silly to buy a PowerTap hub if you currently have HED H3 wheels, since it wouldn’t fit there.
Note that I’m not going to cover why you’d use a power meter here, nor how to use it. For those, start here with these posts. Instead, I’m just going to focus on the products out in the market today, and those coming down the road.
Finally, remember that power meters tend to be about as fiery as politics and religion. So keep in mind this is just my view. There are certainly other views out there (all wrong of course), but this comes from my perspective of trying out all the products below and hearing feedback from literally hundreds of people per day. There are no doubt edge cases I can’t easily cover in a single readable post, but I think I’ll cover 99% of the people out there. The remaining 1% can consider a donation of gold and/or expensive rocks for my further thoughts.
With that, let’s dive into things.
Power Meter Placement:
Before we start diving into the brands, features and functionality, we should probably talk about placement. The reason being that unlike a bike computer that works on just about every bike on the planet, power meters actually have more limitations than you might think. Some limitations are straight technical (i.e. it won’t fit), and some are preference based (i.e. I don’t like it). In either case, for most people this section will help narrow down the selection a bit.
Let’s just briefly ensure we’ve got everyone on the same page as far as where these things all go, starting with the below photo and using the text after it as a guide.
As you can see above, we’ve got five main areas we see power meters placed today:
1) Rear wheel
2) Crank spider
3) Crank arms
5) Bottom Bracket/Axle (not visible, behind tip of arrow)
There are tangential products on other areas of the bike (like handlebars), but none of those currently on the market actually have strain gauges in them. Thus they are more estimations (albeit some highly accurate) than actual force measurement devices. So for much of this post I’m keeping the focus on what’s known as “direct force power meters” – which are units that measure force via a strain gauge of some sort. And finally, I’m not going to talk about companies that have gone out of business (i.e. Ergomo), or products that haven’t been made in a long while (i.e. Polar chain power meter). Not that I’d recommend either anyway at this point.
Back to my photo-diagram, I want to expand out the crank area a bit and talk specifically to that. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet of which products are where (I’ve added a single-line item for non-direct force options):
Rear Wheel: PowerTap hubs
Crank Spider: Quarq/SRAM, Power2Max, SRM, PowerTap C1
Crank Arms: Rotor, Stages, Pioneer, 4iiii, WatTeam
Pedals: Garmin, PowerTap P1, Polar/Look combo, bePRO Look-only option, Xpedo
Cleats: Brim Brothers
Bottom Bracket: Ashton Instruments, Dyno Velo, ROTOR INpower
Non-direct Force Power Meters: PowerPod, LEO, iBike
In the case of left-only variants of some of those products (Polar/ROTOR/Garmin), it’s still the same placement, just on the left side instead of both sides.
Features & Functionality:
Now that we’ve covered where each unit goes, let’s talk about the features that the power meters on the market have today:
Total Power (Watts): This is the obvious one – every power meter has this today (even estimated ones!). This is simply measuring and transmitting your total power output to a head unit of some type.
ANT+ Support: Another relatively obvious one, the vast majority of power meters on the market today transmit via ANT+ to compatible had units. This allows you to use one of dozens of different head units out there. I’d be very hesitant to choose a non-ANT+ power meter unless you already know which head unit you’re going to pair to it (for example, the Polar V800 or Ambit3).
Bluetooth Smart: Bluetooth Smart (or BLE/BTLE for short) is the less mature option in the power meter market. Right now there’s three units actively on the market with Bluetooth Smart support: Stages, PowerTap, 4iii, and Polar/Look. Some units on the market offer dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart support (Stages, 4iiii, PowerTap P1/C1), while others are dedicated BLE only (Polar/Look), and others yet offer swappable caps (PowerTap G3). I’m a huge fan of what Stages did by going dual as it allows you to buy whatever head unit you’d like on either side of the fence.
Left Only Power Meters: These power meters only measure power from the left side. All of these units then simply double the left power and produce total power. Stages really exploded this category with their left-only power meter, and other vendors followed suit including Garmin (Vector S), Rotor (Rotor LT, ROTOR inPOWER), and Polar (Keo Power Essential). Note that all bottom-bracket power meters are left-only power.
Estimated Left/Right Power: This became all the rage just prior to true left/right units coming out, starting with the SRAM/Quarq RED unit offering left/right power. That platform works by essentially splitting your crank in half and assuming that any power recorded while pulling up is actually coming from the left side, whereas pushing down is from the right side. Thus, an estimation. It’s good, but not perfect. Note that even with true left/right power (below), there’s actually very little in the scientific community around what to do with the data. While you may think that perfect balance would be ideal – that hasn’t been established. And some that have looked into it have found that trying to achieve balance actually lowers your overall output. The only thing folks agree on is that measuring left/right power can be useful for those recovering from single-leg injury. The PowerTap C1, Power2Max units, and all SRAM/Quarq models currently on the market use this method.
Actual or True Left/Right Power: This is limited to units that can measure your power in more than one location. Thus why we see it on pedals, as well as the more expensive crank-arm or pedal based power meters. You can’t measure it directly at the spider, instead you have to measure it upstream of that such as the cranks (ROTOR full system, Infocrank, Pioneer, Watteam, 4iiii), pedals (Garmin, bePRO, Polar/Look, Look alone, Xpedo), or cleats (Brim Brothers)
Pedal Smoothness & Torque Efficiency: These two metrics are available in the high-end power meters which contain true left/right power measurement as well as a supported head unit (most Garmin units, and Navi2Coach).
Cycling Dynamics: This is Garmin’s suite of Garmin Vector specific features that enable data such as platform offset and where in the stroke your power is coming from (power phase), as well as seated and standing position. At this point this isn’t yet available even on Garmin products (coming later this year), so it’s a bit too early for me to make too many judgments. That said, I certainly wouldn’t let it be a major factor in purchasing (I talk more about why within this section). Polar also has a variant of this in some of their new cycling units as well with their own pedals.
Battery Swapping: All but one unit on the market today (SRM) supports battery swapping by yourself. SRM requires you to send it in (but gets way longer battery life in between swaps). The remainder of the units out there today utilize a CR2032 and similar coin-cell batteries. Most get between 200 and 400 hours of run-time before you simply replace the battery. However, some of the newer units like the PowerTap P1 that runs on AAA batteries get a bit less time, as do units such as bePRO and WatTeam that use rechargeable batteries (using micro-USB cables).
Calibration options: All units on the market today support some sort of calibration function, though to what extent is what differs. Some have numerous options (i.e. Quarq with an app allowing you much further access), while others are more black-box (i.e. Stages and Polar). For the most part, your primary concern here is really that some sort of calibration occurs, and that you can trigger it to happen on demand. Beyond that it tends to get to more advanced calibration and torque checking methods. It should be noted that the term calibration can have very specific meanings to different people (technically most people are really doing a zero-offset). But for today’s post I’m going to keep it a bit more generic.
Ok, with all the core power meter features covered, let’s dive into the brands available today.
The On-Market Contenders:
We’ll start with products that you can effectively take home today. They’re in the market, available today for purchase and you can more or less install them today on the bike. They may have slight backorders if you were to order today, but units are shipping to consumers (which is where I draw the line). For the purposes of this section I’m focusing on direct force power meters (DFPM’s), in a later section I’ll cover non-DFPM’s.
Additionally, in the following section after this I’ll cover announced but not yet shipping units that are on the road to market.
Note, this list is arranged in no particular order, you can use the sidebar shortcuts to quickly skip to different products.
PowerTap has been around 15 years – longer than most folks realize actually. Though their popularity has really grown in the past few years, especially in the US. The PowerTap replaces your rear wheel hub, which means that it’s tied into a single wheel. This makes it easy to move between bikes, but also makes it difficult if you have separate training and racing wheels – ultimately costing one of those two situations to lose out on power.
They’ve also introduced a Bluetooth Smart cap last year, enabling you to relatively easily swap from ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart (or back) for about $120US. And they should have new dual ANT+/BLE caps out in early 2016 as well. You can make the change back and forth at home in about 3-4 minutes (I just did it yesterday for a test ride). I’ve been using the dual cap (beta) since this past spring and loving it.
Advantages: Easy install if you buy a wheel set with it pre-installed (my recommendation). Auto-zero while coasting helps keep things in check without you thinking about it. Manual calibration is easy, and swapping out batteries and the electronics pod quick and straight forward. Good customer service.
Disadvantages: Limited to a single wheel, so training vs racing scenarios can be tough. Also limited on things like disc wheels. And if you have multiple bike types where the wheel type changes (i.e. going from triathlon to cross), you may be in the same pickle there.
Would I buy it: Absolutely, and in fact, it’s one of the units that I’ve bought myself as a workhorse in my power meter testing. Based on what I’ve seen, the PowerTap is the closest I get to ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to power meters on the market today (talking specifically to calibration/offset variance and stability). However, if you’re one that changes wheel sets frequently in your training, I’d be more measured in deciding whether it’s worth not having power somewhere (I don’t think it is). Though, with their recent price cuts, it makes buying two PowerTap’s basically as cheap as buying a single crank-based unit.
Relevant Posts: CycleOps Joule and PowerTap Wheelset In-Depth Review, PowerTap’s new hubs, Bluetooth Smart Trainers, iPad apps, and more, A sneak peek at two new PowerTap products (including high speed data cap)
(Note: CycleOps has renamed its power meter organization to simply be “PowerTap”, and prefers that the company thus be called “PowerTap”. Thus, I’m using that naming.)
Since we’re on PowerTap products already, we’ll continue that trend with the P1 pedals. I’m separating out these three products because they’re so different (different placement, etc…). Versus if a product is simply a slight model change by the same company (i.e. Quarq Riken to Elsa), I’m lumping them together with differences noted in that section.
As for the P1 pedals, they were announced this past spring and started shipping roughly on time this past summer. Since then they’ve been adopted by many people, primarily due to their simplicity and ease of use. They don’t do advanced metrics yet like Garmin’s Cycling Dynamics (though as I’ve noted recently I question the value of that at this point), but they do have total power, left/right power, cadence, and other core metrics. Additionally, they also have dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart transmission.
Advantages: Easiest install of really any power meter out there (except perhaps the PT hub if it’s already in a wheel), no pods or torque wrenches required. Just a simple hex wrench to install and off you go, no settling period required either. Pricing is competitive with other full left/right units currently shipping. I view the AAA battery as an advantage, though a small group of folks sees it as a disadvantage (I love that I can get a replacement anywhere in the world at any tiny little store on a route if need be). Finally, no pods are on the units – so nothing to worry about breaking easily.
Disadvantages: Only a Look-Keo pedal/cleat type, and at that it’s not exactly a Look-Keo pedal (slight differences). Also the battery life is more limited than some other power meters. Finally, some folks are seeing odd bike spike numbers (i.e. 50,000w) on some Garmin head units. Garmin, PowerTap, and ANT+ are all trying to figure it out, as it appears to be a communications snafu rather than a measurement one. I haven’t seen it on my set, fwiw. Either way – it sounds to be an easy firmware fix once they implement it.
Would I buy it: Yes. I’m using it going forward instead of Garmin Vector units, as part of my power meter testing suite. This is primarily because I’m often swapping bikes or travelling with pedals. The past three weeks I’ve travelled with the pedals simply tossed in an old sock and a small hex wrench – easily moving them from bike to bike. Love them.
Relevant Posts: PowerTap P1 Power Meter Pedals In-Depth Review, First rides with the PowerTap P1 Pedals & PowerTap C1 Chainring…and more, PowerTap announces P1 Power Meter Pedals, also PowerTap C1 chainring unit
At the same time that PowerTap introduced their new P1 pedals this past spring, they also announced a new line – the C1 chainring power meter. This unit ships with the chainrings, per the pod you can see attached to the chainrings above. The company started shipping the product about two weeks ago, but I haven’t yet had a chance to get to full in-depth review status.
That said, over the summer I used a prototype that generally faired quite well, with the bugs that I saw being known by PowerTap and addressed prior to shipping the production unit. I just haven’t had a chance to validate that yet, however that should be soon. At this point I wouldn’t have any specific concerns with purchasing a unit given PowerTap’s reputation combined with my generally positive preview testing, but of course I can see why someone might wait.
Advantages: Dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart compatibility, ability to install onto your own compatible crank arms, price, and long battery life.
Disadvantages: Limited chainring compatibility is really the main one, being that the company is only offering certain compatibility options. For many people this won’t be an issue – but it’s worth noting. Like most of the other crank-spider region options (Power2Max/Quarq/etc…), it’s not hard if you know what you’re doing – but might be slightly intimidating to those not as familiar. Fear not, it’s easy for your bike shop though.
Would I buy it: Yes, but keep in mind I haven’t run it through the full gamut of tests yet. Though thus far things look promising. If you find this post a few months down the road you can search around for my in-depth review, and/or drop a note in the comments to remind me to see if anything has changed (and thus accordingly update this section). I kinda put the PowerTap C1, Power2Max and Quarq RIKEN AL all in the same boat: All are great options and all are fairly similar in features (and roughly in the same price range) – simply go with whatever fits your requirements around compatibility best.
Relevant Posts: First rides with the PowerTap P1 Pedals & PowerTap C1 Chainring…and more, PowerTap announces P1 Power Meter Pedals, also PowerTap C1 chainring unit
Power2Max has been on the scene for roughly a little over 4 years now. Since then they’ve repeatedly driven down the costs of power meters in the industry, and gained significant market share in doing so.
The units are typically sold with or without cranks, so you’ll need to add your own, or purchase them from Power2Max pre-installed. They recently dropped their pricing again, with their cheapest unit now at $499 (the Classic), which is frankly really damn impressive and probably the best deal in power meters today. That’s for their Type-S unit (at $610USD), which I published an in-depth review on this past spring.
When I use the Power2Max (like Quarq and PowerTap), I find them among the least finicky and most ‘easy to use’. Day in and day out in testing these units tend to ‘just work’ for me with very little calibration worries.
Advantages: The least expensive crank-based solution on the market today. Solid accuracy with a growing crank set compatibility matrix. Any temperature compensation concerns are long-gone relics of devices years ago.
Disadvantages: There isn’t a method to turn off auto-zero today on units (which is really only an issue for the most advanced of advanced users).
Would I buy it: No problem at all here, as noted above – it’s probably the best deal for a complete (captures all power, not just left) power meter on the market today. I love that they’re well into the ‘just works’ category.
Relevant Posts: The Power2Max Type S Power Meter In-Depth Review, Power2Max drops prices…again. Now $610US, Power2Max releases new Type S line, expands compatibility, Power2Max introduces Type S mountain bike power meter, additional road bike models
It’s funny to think that Garmin Vector has been out over two years now – well into the ‘mature’ product category from a power meter standpoint. In that time they’ve released a new v2 version, added in Cycling Dynamics (to both v1 & v2) and even started including the fabled crowfoot adapter for installation (which still requires a torque wrench, even on Vector 2). Finally, they introduced a Vector S option, which is a left-only unit that can be upgraded down the road to a complete dual-leg system.
While they’ve had some troubles this past summer with a firmware update that’s caused pain for some users, I think they’re out of the woods there with a beta going out two weeks ago that aimed to address that, and then another update planned for this week to (hopefully) finish off getting those with issues back to normal.
Garmin is the only company that offers Cycling Dynamics, which includes all assortment of metrics on your pedaling style. Some of these metrics can be interesting from a bike-fit standpoint, but many don’t yet have a specific training or racing purpose. Sometimes these metrics take time for the greater scientific community to figure out how to use. Unfortunately, Garmin believes that either the system or these metrics warrant a price far higher than it should be. Today it’s at $1,499USD, which is about $400-$500 more than the system is worth.
Advantages: Cycling Dynamics, full left/right power recording, somewhat-portable system between bikes (can be a bit finicky to install though)
Disadvantages: Pedal choice (just Look-compatible), price, and portability isn’t quite what it seems if you travel (you’ll need a torque wrench to really install properly), but within your house it’s really straightforward
Would I buy it: No, not at this price point. Garmin needs to reduce their prices – simple as that. It’s no longer valid to be priced at $1,499 when the P1’s are at $1,199 and have dual ANT+/BLE (Vector is ANT+ only). Further, the P1’s require no pods or finicky installs. On the flip side, the P1’s don’t have Cycling Dynamics. I think a fair price for Vector at this stage is between $999 and $1,099. Note on the Vector S system, I generally would just go with Stages unless you have specific plans to upgrade to a full complete dual-sensing Vector set later on. Otherwise the price there is out of line too.
Relevant Posts: Garmin announces Vector2 (and 2S), also upgrade kit for original Vector owners, Garmin Vector In-Depth Review , Garmin announces Vector S: $899 power meter, also announces Cycling Dynamics,
It’s rare that a company both announces and ships a power meter at essentially the same time – but Favero did just that this past summer. They announced their first power meter, the bePRO and started shipping basically immediately. The unit is similar to Garmin Vector in that it’s a pedal based power meter, but it’s a bit different in that it doesn’t require separate pods be installed – rather it’s all part of a single pedal with directly attached pod design. This gives you full left/right metrics.
While the installation may appear intimidating the first time, you’ll quickly realize it’s pretty easy to do. In my testing I found the accuracy was quite good after a few rides to let it settle, and from that point forward it handled fairly well. The battery life isn’t quite as strong as some of the coin cell powered units, but isn’t too hard to charge in that it uses a simple micro-USB cable.
Advantages: Price – the unit is 749EUR for a dual-leg system or 499EUR for a single-leg system. Accuracy seems to be pretty good too.
Disadvantages: Installation can be kinda finicky at first, and you do need to take their special tools with you if you travel. Also, I’m concerned about wear and tear on the units over a longer period of time.
Would I buy it: At this point I’m on the fence here. I see absolutely no issues with accuracy at all – it’s very solid there after the first few days. However, I continue to be concerned about long term wear of the pods and to a lesser extent how they’ve been handling customer service with a few readers (seeing mixed reactions on an admittedly small pool of riders). I’d be more likely to recommend this to Europeans than people outside of Europe, since all support has to go through Italy, versus local distribution options. This is one where it may be better to wait till December-February to see how things shake out as more people get on the system (it’s very rare that I say that, but it’s just one where a sample size of ‘1’ (me) may not be sufficient).
Relevant Posts: The Favero bePRO Power Meter In-Depth Review
The Polar/Look Power System pedals is almost four years old at this point, though it’s had a few overhauls along the way – most notably now being full Bluetooth Smart compatible, though that basically means that today it’s really only compatible with the Polar V650, M400, and V800 units. I don’t know if the Suunto Ambit3 is compatible with it (as it does support BLE power meters).
Note that there’s been a bit of a relationship status change been Polar and Look, so things are in a wonky state right now. Look is going to be coming out with their own dual ANT+/BLE power meter with a similar design early in 2016, effectively upstaging Polar and leaving them with a pile of sorta unwanted stuff.
Finally, Polar announced a new version last summer, Keo Power Essential, which is a left-only option. In this scenario you just get the left pod and pedal, and then it doubles the power for the right side. This has the same inherent limitations as Stages, but also offers a lower price point than the full Keo dual-pedal system.
Advantages: Pedal based means theoretical portability, system largely ‘just works’ once you get it installed. Appears accurate, but really hard to validate all aspects (i.e. left/right).
Disadvantages: Installation is a bit complex. Not as easy as Vector to move between bikes. Limitations on crank widths/lengths. Only Bluetooth Smart support (not dual ANT+/BLE). Overpriced.
Would I buy it: Definitely not. Aside from being functionally rather limited compared to other power meters, it’s horribly overpriced. As noted in a recent post elsewhere, the price would really have to be solidly sub-$1000 to consider, and even then really only if you were an existing Polar head unit owner (V650/M400/V800).
Relevant Review: LOOK’s new dual ANT+/BLE Power Meter Pedals: A bit more information, Polar Look Keo Power System–Pedal Based Power Meter–In-Depth Review, Polar announces new Keo Power systems, and V800/V650 power meter update plans, and more!
Quarq became the first non-SRM crank-based power meter that was actually affordable. Starting off on straight road bikes they’ve expanded to other areas including track and cross bikes. The unit replaces your existing crank spider and depending on the model is typically sold with specific crank arms attached. You’ll need to ensure your bottom bracket is compatible, but if you shoot the Quarq folks an e-mail I’ve found they can usually help anyone figure that out easily. All Quarq power meters are made in South Dakota (US), along with servicing and shipping from there.
The Quarq Cinqo was actually the first power meter I bought, and what The Girl subsequently purchased as well for her training. I’d been using it without issues for 5 years up until this fall when it appears some water ingest got in the unit causing it some problems. Quarq’s been known for their customer service (overnight return shipments and the like), and swapped out my older Cinqo for the current Riken (I confirmed that’s their normal replacement policy for out of production units). Looking at service feedback I see from others, I continue to hear nothing but good things – especially as they’ve made a number of design changes to newer units to address failings of older units.
Quarq was the first unit to estimate power left/right based on which portion of the stroke you were in. Since then they introduced their ELSA unit, which also includes the same technology. RIKEN was also introduced at the same time as a replacement for the older generation Cinqo units. While RIKEN doesn’t have left/right power, they did gain the ability to swap chainrings without sending it back to the factory.
This past spring Quarq dropped prices again and introduced their Quarq RIKEN AL option, which is a pretty solid deal.
Advantages: Crank-based design means no wheel swap issues. Accuracy on-par with other units. Can swap chain rings without issue. Easy replacement of battery, and can utilize phone apps for further calibration. For me, it has a high ‘just works’ factor. Also, last year’s major firmware update removes need for a magnet on bike.
Disadvantages: Crank arm selection has diminished some with SRAM acquisition (reducing compatibility), and while Spring 2015 pricing updates has made things substantially more competitive, they are still on the higher end of the sale between Power2Max, PowerTap C1, and themselves.
Would I buy it: From the standpoint of “Have I bought it?”, the answer is obviously yes (Cinqo twice, Riken upgrade from Cinqo). From the technical standpoint, I have no issues with either the RIKEN or ELSA units, which I’ve done quite a bit of testing on. All of those units perform as expected technically. And obviously, customer service-wise they’re awesome. I think their Quarq RIKEN AL is where it’s at, if you’re going to be purchasing a new unit from them.
Relevant Reviews: Quarq introduces new $799 RIKEN AL power meter, Quarq/SRAM RED Review, Quarq RIKEN In-Depth Review, Eurobike 2014 Power Meter Roundup: Quarq News
Stages continues to press forward and expand their lineup, most notably over the last 45 days with the addition of carbon crank offerings and re-doing their pod design, which should help with waterproofing issues they saw. Further, they threw down the hammer and dropped pricing to as low as $529USD. And of course, continuing to sponsor Team Sky.
As many know by now, Stages really started the whole left-only trend, in that that it’s attached to your left crank-arm (seen above), and thus is only measuring the left leg power. It simply doubles the left-leg power to get total power. This means if you vary, or vary in certain conditions then the power might not be accurate – or something that you could compare to years from now on different products. They were also the first one to do dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart dual broadcasting.
Now while $529USD is a good price, at the same time you do have to consider options for either slightly less (Power2Max) or slightly more (PowerTap/Quarq) that accurately capture your total power.
Advantages: Inexpensive option. Easily moved from bike to bike with a simple Allen/hex wrench. Contains both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ (and dual-broadcasts).
Disadvantages: Left-only approach means simply doubling left-leg power, may not be fully accurate representation of your power (high or lower).
Would I buy it: This is a much more complex question. Technically speaking it’s a well-made unit that accurately measures the left side. From a pricing standpoint it’s tough to recommend the left-only approach with other options in the same price ballpark that fully capture all power. Further, as I’ve collected a tremendous amount of power meter data over the past year with 3-5 power meters concurrently, I’ve started to understand my specific personal left/right balance biases. For most of my riding, there’d be no major issue with Stages. However for longer or higher intensity rides where I might fatigue more, I see some inaccuracies on Stages due to my personal leg differences. You might be the same, or you might be perfectly even. I don’t know.
I know it’s easy to point at Team Sky and simply say “It’s good enough for Froome”, but the reality is we’re talking about sponsored athletes and teams. In the case of Team Sky, for some riders that are/were seeing imbalance issues with Stages compared to SRM they simply have gone with a ‘known percentage offset’ for wattage goals. This is a bit of a throwing the baby out with the bathwater approach though, that numerous folks have proven isn’t terribly accurate. Which isn’t to take away from Team Sky and Stages, more power to them, but rather my point is that it’s not a one-size fits all implementation.
Relevant Review: Stages drops prices, down to $529US, Stages Power announces carbon crank options, talks a bit about dual leg power, Stages Power Meter In-Depth Review Update
Next we’ve got 4iiii Precision. They announced a year ago at Interbike and started shipping this past winter. Their solution is a small pod that could be self-installed onto your own crank arms. While the self-install piece is currently on hold, they are doing installation on your crank arms through the mail.
The unit today is left-only, but they do plan to start shipping a dual left/right setup down the road (more on that later this week). So in many ways the product today is like Stages, just cheaper and whereby you can use your own cranks instead of having to purchase new cranks. Like Stages it’s also dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart.
Advantages: Least-expensive power meter on the market today and actually shipping at sub-$400USD. Can be applied to most cranks (non-carbon). Contains both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ (and dual-broadcasts).
Disadvantages: Left-only approach means simply doubling left-leg power, may not be fully accurate representation of your power (high or lower). Once they release a right-side companion for it, it’s less of a concern.
Would I buy it: Potentially. I had some initial accuracy problems with it on the first units they sent me, due to some aspect of my pedaling technique. They didn’t impact everyone, but just some people. They’ve just given me (on Friday) a new unit which they believe should address those issues I saw. It’s a combination of software and minor hardware tweaks. I’ll be trying that out over the coming weeks and will see how things shake out.
Related posts: A Brief Update on 4iiii Precision Power Meter: Starts shipping this week, 4iiii’s Introduces $399 Power Meter, Precision: My First Ride With It
SRM has been around since the beginning of power meter measurement, and I don’t think there’s anyone that would argue that SRM doesn’t produce great products.
SRM’s strength has always been around data capture reliability, especially on the head units themselves – which they recently rolled out their long-awaited PC8 head unit. From a power meter standpoint however, they are really just as susceptible as any other power meter on the market to adverse events. Which is probably an important point to note: No power meter out there today is perfect. Not even SRM. They all have conditions where they do really well, and conditions where they do less well. It’s understanding those conditions that’s most important. Which doesn’t take away from SRM, but rather simply serves to note that I believe there’s a bit of an urban legend with being the ‘gold standard’. Many of the products in this post can produce just as consistently accurate power as SRM (which again, SRM is good at doing).
While SRM and I have talked about doing a product review, I’m not sure there’s a substantial benefit in me doing one on older products. Perhaps if/when they release either a rechargeable unit (which has been backburnered for at least another year), or if/when they release a newer low-cost power meter that’s in the market.
Advantages: It’s a well established brand with a well understood product. The reliability is generally very good. With ANT+ you can use any head unit you’d like, and aren’t limited to just the SRM head units.
Disadvantages: Expensive. Servicing isn’t as open as other power meters on the market today. If looking at their head unit (not required), the current generation is simply really expensive for what you get.
Would I buy it: I don’t own one, and right now I simply have a hard time seeing the justification of the price over other units on the market today. With the exception of very specific technical use-cases that other power meters can’t fulfill, I feel that for 98% of the market today, there are more budget friendly options that are just as accurate. I don’t subscribe to the “gold-standard” concept, maybe at one historical point, but not in this market.
Relevant Posts: Eurobike 2015 Power Meter Roundup: SRM, First look at new SRM PC8 head unit with WiFi/GPS/ANT+ & Bluetooth, Eurobike 2014 Power Meter Roundup: SRM., Interbike 2014 SRM: Their iOS app, PC8, and their thoughts on low-cost power meters
Pioneer has iterated nicely through two generations of power meters over the last two years, roughly paced at one per year. In the process they’ve dropped the price significantly – now down to $999USD, as well as greatly simplified install and purchasing. They also released a second edition of their head unit and have added some nice incremental features over the past year. And finally, they got busy with pushing out a left-only product line that can also be upgraded to a dual-leg system later. They’re doing well in establishing a clear and trusted brand name.
The Pioneer system is a bit different than most other power meters on the market in that you don’t do the install, rather, you get the kit sent to you fully installed. Additionally, it’s the only unit on the market with true left/right high speed data (starting at 12 samples per second (at 60RPM), faster the higher the cadence). While the 1st generation units received a bunch of undesirable attention due to ziptie usage, the 2nd generation units removed that requirement. It also removed the complex-crazy installation process by going with a process that you ship them your stuff.
The unit has two modes, one for ANT+ and one for private-ANT enabling the higher-analytic pieces noted above. It’s an either/or situation, as it doesn’t do dual. To get that additional data you do need to use their head unit, which while strongly suited for its specific pairing to the power meter, is overall under-featured compared to something like a Garmin Edge. Thus, I’d largely recommend just focusing on the power meter itself unless you have a specific need for the higher end data.
Advantages: Has the highest recording rate of any power meter on the market today, measures left/right power and associated metrics more in-depth than anyone else. A completely pre-set system once it arrives to you. Any choice of chainrings you’d like on the planet. Plus, the $999 complete system price is really very solid.
Disadvantages: For crank arms, you’re someone limited to certain crank sets. There can be a small delay when you send away your own cranks to get it installed (versus buying a pre-installed set).
Would I buy it: I’d consider buying it without the head unit, but it’s tricky in that the limitations of crank/chainring choice are hard to get around. Price wise it’s positioned fairly well at the moment though for what you get.
Relevant Posts: The Pioneer Power Meter System In-Depth Review, Interbike 2015 Power Meter Roundup: Pioneer, Eurobike 2015 Power Meter Roundup: Pioneer
Verve introduced their Infocrank power meter last year, and continues to chug along with incremental updates to the platform and hardware options. This dual crank-based power meter has strain gauges on both crank arms. Additionally of note is that the unit has custom designed crank arms that are specific to Infocrank.
The unit transmits on ANT+, and uses small coin cell-style batteries that you can go ahead and replace as required (no sending in needed). I’ve been testing a unit for…well, an exceedingly long period of time. To date I’ve seen absolutely zero accuracy issues with it – and can validate their claim that you don’t ever need to worry about pressing the ‘calibrate’ function on your head unit. Of course, at the same time, most other power meters are fairly accurate as well – but Infocrank seems to be more hassle-free when it comes to that piece of things.
Advantages: Complete end to end system that’s mostly ‘install and forget’, gets fairly long life on coin cell batteries. The company claims higher levels of accuracy compared to the competition, but I’d say it’s more of a ‘just as accurate’ statement instead. Though the lack of requirement to occasionally manually zero is handy and low-maintenance.
Disadvantages: You’re very limited in crank compatibility (none) because everything is actually built into a custom crank arm. Also, the coin cell batteries are a @#$@# to find in small towns in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday if you happen to run one dead.
Would I buy it: My primary issue here is price – it’s just really expensive for a power meter. Sure, cranks and chainrings are included – but that’s far from justifying the price increase compared to other units that are just as accurate.
Relevant Posts: Eurobike Power Meter 2015 News Roundup: Verve Infocrank, Eurobike Power Meter 2014 News Roundup: Verve Infocrank
ROTOR has been in the power meter market about three years now, and iterated through three different products in that time. The first unit is/was designed to measure both left and right power separately at the end of the crank arms. However despite my trying it quite a bit, I never got the system to accurately display power for me. Most users didn’t have issues, but I’ve heard from a handful of readers who ultimately had the same issues and could never get an answer. While I would agree that others are probably using the system just fine and likely with accurate numbers, I simply can’t get those numbers. Ultimately I can neither recommend it nor not recommend it. From a testing cycle, I gave it every opportunity to work, and ultimately, I delayed numerous other product’s reviews to try and get it to work. I’m just going to be simple about it: I give up.
ROTOR then shipped a left-only unit, the LT lineup, which ostensibly sidestepped the accuracy issues since being left-only sorta negates some elements of accuracy. I didn’t test that since it was merely just one half of the system I already tested.
Finally, last summer they came out with their INpower lineup, which measures power at the bottom bracket, and is also left-only. This is the lineup that they’ve really focused on the most over the last year, in terms of expansion and compatibility.
Advantages: Compatibility with ROTOR cranks and elliptical chainrings. Ability to track additional stroke/balance metrics.
Disadvantages: Limited compatibility with crank sets, couldn’t get it to work myself. The full left/right system is expensive, and the left-only INpower system is also expensive in most markets compared to Stages.
Would I buy it: I don’t think I’d buy the full left-right system, but wouldn’t be opposed to the left-only unit if you were headed down a left-only track. I just think it’s a bit pricey in certain markets (i.e. the US market) compared to Stages or other full-power capturing options.
Relevant Posts: ROTOR announces new INpower power meters, starting at $779US, First look at new ROTOR Power Meter, Eurobike Power Meter Update Post: Quarq, ROTOR, Pioneer, Brim Brothers & Ciclosport
Next, we’ve got power meters that are currently in pending shipping state. This means that as a regular consumer as of the date of this publishing you can’t actually get your hands on one quite yet (though, some do offer pre-order options). Nonetheless, since I’ve been fortunate enough to actually ride most of these, I can offer a bit of perspective on them. Of course, until they do release a final product things could change. Ones that look promising could flop, and others that have challenges could be superstars. We just don’t now.
What we do know however is that nobody in the power meter market has actually hit their projected timelines for initial release of new products (I’m not counting minor variants). Seriously, nobody. Not SRM (new rechargeable model), not Garmin (Vector), nor Polar (Bluetooth edition). Despite what the interwebs would tell you – it’s rather difficult getting a mass produced accurate power meter, regardless of whether you’re a company with hundreds of millions in revenue (Garmin), or a startup (4iiii). Remember that it’s easy getting 95% there in power meter development, it’s the last 5% that can take years (and often does).
Nonetheless, here’s what’s in the pipeline. I’ve roughly ordered them based on a combination of when the company says they’ll ship with when I think they’ll ship.
Watteam broke onto the market last summer (2014) with the announcement of a $499 left/right power meter system. The sensors attach individually to your left/right crank arms, and then have separate communication pods somewhat similar to Garmin Vector. The system is planned to work on both carbon and aluminum cranks, and is a bit less dependent on the flat surface of the back of the crank arm like 4iiii Precision.
This past July I had the chance to spend a week riding the system, and came away fairly satisfied with where things stood. They started accepting pre-orders a month ago, and plan to ship in December (updated date). I think this is definitely a unit to watch going into 2016.
Related Posts: A Preview: A Week Riding the Watteam PowerBeat $499 Power Meter, A chat with the CEO of Watteam and their new $499 power meter: PowerBeat, Watteam’s PowerBeat: A first look at prototype/beta power data
Brim Brothers Zone:
Next up is Brim Brothers Zone, I previewed them a year ago at Interibke. The Zone system is cleat-based, and attaches to the base of your Speedplay compatible cycling shoes. This means that you can quickly move from bike to bike, as long as it’s Speedplay equipped. This is ideal for those with numerous bikes, or who travel and can control the pedal type.
During my preview I ran into some snags, and that in conjunction with a few other items caused them to delay shipping to work on this. I have kept in pretty regular communications with them, and they do continue to make solid progress but don’t have an updated date yet. They are currently priced at $999US a pair, but in my discussions they are obviously aware that if prices continue to trend downwards they may have to adjust pricing accordingly.
Related Posts: Brim Brothers announces Zone power meter production, my first ride impressions
Ashton Instruments made the media rounds at Interbike last year, and then I visited with them again this spring where they demonstrated their bottom bracket based system, which they hope to sell for under $500US next year. These MIT students have the foundation for a potential power meter company and product, and were able to demonstrate it to me both indoors and outdoors. They also have riders on one of the local teams testing out basic prototypes of the platform. Note that the solution will be limited to measuring left-only power.
Ultimately while they’ll no doubt be a player to watch in the future, I certainly wouldn’t make any purchasing decisions today or for the foreseeable future based on their product. It’s simply too far out and with far too many unknowns.
I visited these folks at Interbike a few weeks ago. They’ve got a bottom-bracket region power meter, very similar to what Ashton Instruments is doing. As I noted in the post, I think they have the potential to have a solid product if they can make it a bit more consumer/bike shop friendly. Their pricing will likely be in the same ballpark as the Ashton Instruments option (and targeting the same customers).
Right now they’re saying shipping in early 2016, but I think they’ll need to make some minor tweaks to their designs in order to achieve that. Still, nothing major.
LIMITS came onto the scene this past spring as part of an Indiegogo campaign. The unit sits in between your pedals and your crank arm, offering near unlimited compatibility. It’s priced at sub-$300.
However, I’ve been very skeptical on their timelines, promises and actual status. Many of the updates they’ve given simply don’t jive with their previously published milestones. I e-mailed them again this past weekend on where things stand as part of an upcoming post and hope to get further clarity. Ultimately the concept is completely doable, but I don’t believe their timelines are.
XPEDO THRUST E:
Next we have the perennial party crasher at bike events worldwide, the Xpedo Thrust E. This pedal based unit has been continually shown for a number of years as ‘almost ready’, typically just ‘2-3 months away’. Astoundingly, this year they actually said March 2016 – as opposed to 3 months away. Either way, there were a lot of “maybe’s” said within their discussion. Simply put – I doubt we’ll ever see it ship at this point.
Luck Shoe Power:
This one slipped into the news at Eurobike last year as the first shoe-based power meter. But I didn’t have a chance to catch up with them this year, nor have I heard of anyone else who did either. The power meter sits inside the bottom of the shoe, and will transmit over Bluetooth. Given the lack of details out there about it, I certainly wouldn’t make any purchasing decisions based on it.
Finally, we have a few options that use calculations and black magic to determine your power output. These units don’t actually measure your work effort using strain gauges, but instead rely upon other environmental factors. Thus the name of non-Direct Force Power Meters (DFPM).
PowerPod: I tested this back at Eurobike and came away rather impressed. It’s basically the iBike, but without the head unit – and priced at $299. It transmits on ANT+, but they’ll be offering a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart option in January. This means that you can pair it to your Garmin via ANT+, or other apps/devices via Bluetooth Smart. The unit attaches to your handlebars using a standard GoPro mount (perfect), and then measures wind speed, acceleration, and incline to determine power. In my testing, it was fairly accurate in normal conditions (i.e. not on the road). Of course, that was limited testing on a prototype system, as the pods plan to ship a bit later this year.
PowerCal: The PowerTap PowerCal (offered in both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart) is a heart-rate strap that also transmits power information. It monitors your heart rate and then uses the rate of change to determine power. While many hard-core power meter users are afraid to even glance at the thing, I found that when you started looking at real-world data, it wasn’t actually all that bad. And in fact, it was far more accurate than you’d expect. In general, I’d recommend this for someone that may be buying a heart rate strap anyway and is interested in power (since you’re basically just spending $50 more, it’s about $99 these days). While there are some apps out there that can attempt to do the same thing, none of them re-transmit back over ANT+, so the data isn’t included on your bike computer. Check out the full review for the limitations on where it works well, and where it’s not so hot.
iBike: I haven’t tested out the iBike in a few years now, however, this is effectively a head unit combined with the PowerPod noted above, which determines your power output. My challenge with the iBike has primarily been the head unit side, and not the power meter side. Compared to the power meters of today, the head unit is just horribly dated. But I think the company is on the right track with the PowerPod and focusing on a solo power meter rather than the full package.
A Quick Note About Buying Used Power Meters:
Everything in this post is talking about new units whereby you are the original owner. So when I talk about costs there, that’s my baseline. With that in mind, there’s nothing wrong with buying used cycling gear. However, in the case of power meters, I’d caution that accuracy is of the utmost importance. After all, if you’re buying an inaccurate/untrusted power meter, you might as well just send me the cash instead and I’ll send you back random numbers.
Thus if you buy a used power meter my only caution would be to spend the money to have the manufacturer validate/test it, this is especially true if you don’t know the source of the unit.
For example, I’d be less concerned if you had a close friend that used a PowerTap for six months and then decided to swap it out for something else due to changing their rear wheel for a disc. In that case you would know if your friend was having issues with it, and the reason behind the sale (new wheels).
Whereas, if you buy randomly from an unknown person you don’t know the history behind it and I’d be inclined to ensure a trusted 3rd party can complete a test on the device to ensure accuracy. In most cases, the best 3rd party to complete that test is the manufacture itself.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, as I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy used. I’m just saying trust…but verify.
So What Should You Buy?
At the end of the day, there’s no single right answer to this question. There’s only ‘best’ answers for a given individual situation. I’ve tried to outline all the major pros and cons of each unit on the market, and in simple language whether or not I’d purchase it (or, purchase it again). I’d probably narrow down first where you plan to place the power meter (i.e. pedals vs crank arm vs etc…), then narrow down a brand. Placement will drive usage (i.e. changing bikes or not).
The landscape will continue to change. As I noted in the above sections, the market is exploding, and thus you’ll continue to see new brands – and we’ll continue to see drops in prices. However, I don’t expect us to see any further drops in prices until at least early next spring (outside of perhaps a rebate or similar, as Garmin often does). Nothing new will hit on the market until then, and thus companies have no reason to shift prices based on speculation of other units. I do however think we’ll continue to see pricing shifts, especially among the higher end units. That’s simply inevitable as more players enter the market and fight for your cash.
Of course, if I haven’t covered something – feel free to plop questions down below. Thanks for reading!
Wow – really great write-up, especially for someone like myself who was literally waiting on exactly this recap to make a PM decision.
One point – I realize that prices may vary, but for me at least it would be a little easier to read if approximate pricing was included inline. Some reviews (Stages, for example) include it, but others (such as the G3) do not. Was this intentional?
Not intentional. I usually include a link to the product comparison tool for power meters, but I know the pricing there is slight behind right now. I need to update it, but didn’t want to delay this post for it. It get super tricky too with all the variants, so I usually aim for th cheapest offering and go from there.
I am really confused now 🙂 Looking for power meter on my recumbent bike. What you you recommend?
I’m deeply confused now.
Thanks for the awesome write up.
Tiny spelling error. Under unreleased products the last sentence in the first paragraph says. “We just don’t now.” It should be, “We just don’t know.”
Another similar one: As we already know by know …
Awesome review!! I was wondering about the Rotor spindle system. Got any insight?
See my thoughts in the ‘ROTOR’ section, the product is named INpower: link to dcrainmaker.com
When I check prices on German websites, the Powertap P1 are 200€ more expensive than the Garmin Vector 2, 1149€ vs 1349€. I guess that might your judgement a little bit less clear cut, no?
Yeah, it gets super messy when countries vary so much. So I tend to focus on USD pricing as it generally works out the same elsewhere, but there are some odd exceptions.
To be fair, Garmin is on sale (but might be permanent price drop). In any case PowerTap seems to be expensive in Europe.
Same here for Switzerland. The P1 I would find more simpatico (because of integrated pod), but they are not available. I would need to buy them from an onlineshop, but they would more expensive than the Vector 2. Crazy pricing.
Been a Vector owner since they came out, to be honest my advice would be to stay clear. They haven’t proven to be as reliable as I hoped and the firmware issue Ray mentions has taken them 6 months to resolve, mine became unusable during that period. I think the P1 is a nailed design, the Vectors seem to be finicky at best.
You can buy PowerTap P1 here for a good price http://www.gear4bikesshop.dk
Here in Holland there are “only” 1199
link to cardioshop.nl
One thing I don’t think gets enough attention is the mechanical performance of the garmin vectors. Forums are full of posts from people experiencing significant problems with the pedals as the spindle starts to develop unacceptable play. I myself also experienced this problem and would definitely like to hear if other pedal power meters show a better result here. Vectors are completely unacceptable in terms of mechanical performance/lifetime.
It’s tricky. Garmin quietly made a crapton of mechanical changed in the first 12-14 moths of Vector, almost all of which went unannounced. These were primarily aimed at items noted in the forums.
To date they continue to basically swap out any units for newer ones no questions asked. I get the feeling that the main drive behind Vector2 was honestly just to press a virtual reset button on it so people would realize those changes were made. As otherwise there are almost no changes between a late stage Vector1 and a Vector2.
Is there any way to tell which version of the Vector (1), one has? As you say, they swap them no question asked, but it takes time… I’m on my 3rd pair now, and had a week at Alpe H’uez with no PM because of a swap.
2nd time, it took month before they had them in stock.
Also, I just noticed the USD price for Vector 2 is now 1299$. Maybe an update of the article would be fair?
A little bummed the dual ANT/BLE PowerTap G3 cap has been pushed back so much (it seems, to allocate resources on the P1 and C1 products). Glad it’s still coming, although probably wouldn’t spend more than $99 on it myself.
Really dig the pricepoint of the P2M and the C1s now, but wish the P2Ms offered BLE flexibility.
Yeah, I’m bummed that it was pushed back as well, and seems like it would be such an easy sell for them to existing PT owners too. Really like it.
stupid question here: What’s the big advantage of BLE vs. ANT+ if all higher end devices (800, 1000, 910, 920) are ANT+ compatible?
Getting a new bike on Friday, so you timing is epic. I’m going with the Powertap P1 pedals over the Power2Max S-Works crank. Dual Ant+ and Bluetooth was a big difference. Half the difference in price is swallowed by not having to buy new pedals. Ease of install, left/right power and you buying a set tipped the scale easily toward the P1s.
That’s actually a good point: not everybody is replacing their existing gear with a PM’ed version of it. If the choice is between pedals with/without PM or crankset with/without PM the costs look quite different.
Great review. What is your position on giving the user a straight forward means to verify calibration (slope) of the unit? I’m thinking particularly in terms of drift over time and from changes to associated components, e.g. chainrings. How far should we trust manufacturers’ claims that this is now a non-issue?
I think it’s important, but at the same time with many of the units needing a 360* calibration machine (i.e. Vector), it becomes more difficult. Vector solves that by giving you slope at a given point, which helps a bit though.
I think that having some way to validate something is drifting (such as an offset value) is pretty important overall.
Idea (for validating Vector):
1) Put the bike in a solid stand
2) Hang a know weight, like 50 liters of water (50 kg) in a solid plastic back, from the front of the pedal
3) Start “cal mode” on the EDGE or laptop (new software feature to be made)
4) Turn the pedal slowly through a 360-380 deg turn.
Plotting the data on to a graph, should make it fairly easy to see if it shows an even and centred circle.
Hanging a weight of the tip of the pedal, would also be an easier and probably more accurate way of setting the install angle. Newton will make sure the pedal is 6 o’clock and hence the force straight outwards.
I move my vector often, and find it a bit tricky to do the 80ish rpm with some load in busy city streets.
Hi Ray, great article and one question – do you have a short list of power meters for a mountain bike? I’m slowly going thru the units in the review and checking on mtn bike support. Thanks.
I wish I did, I’ll try and gather something together. My challenge is I don’t mountain bike often (wish I could), so it’s not something I follow super closely.
Doesnt Pioneer also have some advandced metrics that are very similar to Garmins Cycling Dynamics ?
They are actually kinda different. Pioneer more heavily focuses on higher speed measurement and pedal force area. While Garmin has similar pedal force measurements it does more on pedal balance through platform offset and seated/standing.
Actually, Pioneer now also includes some of the better known metrics from Training Peaks in their latest firmware, as seen here: link to cyclo-sphere.com. These include Normalized Power™ (NP™), Intensity Factor™ (IF™), and Training Stress Score™ (TSS™). I’ve been very happy with the meter. Having tried a few across the last many years, this one has been the most routine, provides great insights, and appropriate to daily use.
True, but those aren’t pedaling metrics. Rather, they’re just training metrics around effort. Meaning, no association with pedaling. Also, other head units have had them for quite some time – so that’s kinda a wash. And finally, no dependence on Pioneer pedals for that, any power meter works there.
Nothing at all wrong with Pioneer power meters (awesome price), but it’s just near impossible to recommend the Pioneer head unit as being competitive.
H. Allen spoke at Interbike about the need for actual right/left data not estimated as most are estimated from the same side. He showed data to back his rationale.
None of the estimated methods above are based on right/left absorb/release and vice versa so for true right left comparisons you need actual right/left data not estimated. He was big on infocrank, garmin double side, and PT pedals.
Pioneer too, but their software is not compatible with the trainingpeaks software suite. That hurts a potential worthy contender for best value for actual right/left data.
The cleats for PT pedals, which are another contender with actual right/left data, I believe must be purchased from PT which make them a bit impractical.
We also have an issue with pedal spindles of varying lengths (e.g., speedplay) as shifting to look pedals alters fit ever so slightly in a game of millimeters.
Clearly this is an evolving market and they are getting closer. Still have room to develop the products to the needs of all riders, but there is definitely value to be had for the vast majority. However, the real picky folks are likely to have some issues choosing.
Wellgo manufactures the cleats for the Powertap P1. So, if you can find Wellgo cleats locally, then they will be much less expensive than buying from Powertap.
Yeah, it’s something I’ve talked to various PM companies about as well (the fact that the estimated left/right is really putting data into the wrong metric/field). They actually agree – the problem is that estimated left/right as it’s shown today is really showing an entirely different metric, just stuffed into something else to make it work.
I’m looking to do some deeper post probably in the late-November timeframe (once I get past this pile of product reviews) talking to the challenges that the industry at large is starting to see with analytics from left-only power meters.
I look forward to this post r.e. left-only power meters. I had a Stages, and after looking at data more and more, it was just inconsistent, because so am I it turns out. My power balance tends to drift/be different at different cadences, on different days, at different intensities, and in different conditions/durations. So then measuring left-only power only works for that “perfect” person who would have to have a L/R balance that is constant in ALL conditions, power outputs, and over time, etc. And I’m not sure that “perfect” balance exists in anyone, maybe a tiny minority. It doesn’t compute, as we are humans, not robots. So my Stages went back, and I truly believe that they are doing a disservice to the industry with this left-only approach. While they initially allowed people to get affordable power meters, they did so at the expense of issues mentioned above. Today I cannot recommend Stages or any left-only power meter to anyone, especially as there are comparable priced meters that can capture total power.
Great review as usual. Anxiously awaiting your thoughts later this week on 4iiii. I would buy a Power2max this week if I wasn’t half invested in the 4iiii dual sided system.
Good luck! Looking at the 4iii right crank arm prototype Ray had on this site several months ago, i think you will need it. The placement of the pod on the right crank arm seemed to make it extremely difficult for battery replacement without the removal of chain rings/drive-side crank.
I don’t get the fuss, removing chainrings is really easy.
I race track (velodrome) and typically use a different chainring for warmup and the actual training sets (and maybe back to the first for warmdown).
If its a five minute job, that you do each time you change the battery (1-2 months?) why worry about it?
Then again I have a wireless SRM which finally needed a battery change after 3 1/2 years of (pretty constant) use. ordered the battery, took it off my bike, took the chainrings off, and it was a 10 minute soldering job, at most, so maybe I’m a “non-typical” user.
Great post as usual. Any thoughts on best options for crank based 1×11 mtb power meters?
I’ve had good success with Power2Max on a CX1 1×11 cross setup. But, CX1 uses a standard Force carbon crankset, not a mtb one (whatever that means).
Anyway, it’s survived a season of mud and sand and cleaning just fine.
Quarq have one for their sram xx1 x01 and x1
So where does this leave those of us that were early adopters of Vector? I got the upgrade kit to Vector 2 this summer, and I still like the Vectors, although I’m always unsure whether they are torqued properly. Is the only issue you have with Vector the price, or do you feel that the P1s are a better product altogether?
If you like them, then there’s no issues. You probably wouldn’t choose the Vectors over the P1 if you were buying again today, but otherwise if you aren’t having issues with the Vectors then don’t worry. From Ray’s reviews, it’s both the price and the fiddly installation that are the issues with Vectors.
And the potential for breaking a pod, which isn’t an issue for the P1s. But yeah, if the vectors are working for you I wouldn’t over-analyse it.
Ray. What’s are the chances of Shimano entering the game with an integrated power meter?
I’d guess pretty high. I think pretty much all of the component manufactures will get into the game. Eventually power meters will be like dial-tone – everyone has it and nobody cares how it got there.
Tiny typo – you missed the P1s off the pedal based meters on the list under the bike anatomy photo. Thanks for an awesome summary! Looking forwards to the trainer version too 🙂
Garmin really dropped the ball here. I think they believed no one was going to come out with a pedal or cleat based system that could compete with their unique offering but PowerTap did (and I trust their accuracy more). They seem to do this with all of their products and for now, it;s “working” but will hurt them eventually. Ray – from your talks with them ,what’s your impression of their awareness of the market and customers?
They seem to understand they’ve priced themselves in a weird spot. I’ve noted I’d be super-surprised if we don’t see a rebate situation here soon. And oftentimes Garmin will basically ‘adopt’ the rebate price going forward at the end of the rebate.
+1 for the P1 pedals. I’ve had mine for a month now and no issues whatsoever – they’re idiot proof. Have travelled with them and used on other bikes, and just so easy – perform a zero-offset on the garmin and ride. The cleats being non-standard I don’t see as a big issue – they’re not expensive, and I ordered 2 sets of cleats when I bought my pedals so I’ve got a spare set ready anyway. I’ve also got a known weakness in one leg, so the power balance is invaluable for tracking changes over time.
Your attention to detail and well organized “buying guides” are so good it’s disgusting. 🙂
Don’t know where you find the time to be so damn comprehensive. 🙂
Looking forward to the 2015 / 2016 trainer guide so I can come back and figure out what I want to do with respect to power meters.
Great work Ray…
+1, I am anxiously waiting for your home trainer’s guide!
I don’t think the emphasis on accuracy is helpful.
What you really need with a power metre is repeatability. I don’t care about the number the unit gives me or how it compares to other power meters as long as I get the same number with the input each time. Once you realise this cheaper options become much more viable.
Any meter that gives repeatable data is great. Those that have vary over time or require recalibration kinda defeat the whole objective.
It does matter.
It matters because eventually – 2, 4, 5 years down the road you’re going to buy a new unit. And if that unit is skewed then all your past history goes out the window. Even if the past is just last week.
Agreed. Additionally, if a unit is precise then generally speaking it should be fairly simple to also make it accurate. If a company doesn’t take the time to insure both then that would make me question what else they don’t have time for.
Thanks for putting this together, Ray!
I’ll second that. It’s bad enough if all you do is swap from a hub-based system (eg Powertap) to a pedal-based system (eg Vector). Was the extra few % power I could sustain because I got fitter, or because I switched from on power meter to the other? I forgot to run a few tests with both PMs at the same time to be able to compare, so I never found out.
Ray: do you have any data on Vector consistency from installation to installation? ie when I remove the pedals to travel, then reinstall at my destination, how consistent are the power readings likely to be? I always travel with my torque wrench, and always install to the same torque (as close as I can anyway).
Flobble- I find the consistency from installation to installation good, assuming you give it a day or two and then assuming you do all the steps to reset after a short sprints and torque correctly.
If you don’t do those, then it’s all over the map.
Ray, what do you mean by “do all the steps to reset after a short sprints”? Is this just doing the “calibrate” option on the headset again, or something else?
Pop the batteries out for a few seconds, so that it resets the installation angles to account for the slight adjustments after the settling/sprints.
Been waiting for this post for weeks! Thank you so much.
You mentioned you think that even the P1s will be sub $1000 by next spring in an earlier post or comment. I was hoping this guide would include where you think prices are going and when but it seems not.. I’m pretty much dead set on buying the P1s because of the multiple bike aspect. Do you see the price dropping at Christmas time and/or do you expect a rebate? I will definitely be purchasing them from clever training though!!
Actually he has mentioned in recent power meter post price reductions are likely March 2016 then again end of 2016. Pretty standard for this stuff. You can always wait and get it cheaper…or just get it now and move on.
Do you know where the post is exactly? I just remembered him saying that he expected the P1s to be sub $1000 by next year… Thanks!
I would expect the P1’s to got to $999 by April if and only if the following happen:
1) 4iiii ships their dual system ($749), and its of high accuracy and readily available.
2) WatTeam ships their $499 system and same conditions apply.
3) bePRO doesn’t see any longer term issues and stays or drops slightly I price $825 today (USD).
I’d former #2 as the most important driver in that. Also note that it’s possible someone else could jump into the scene too in that time period – either an unknown or an incumbent (Brim Brothers). Or someone like Garmin could decide to throw down and trigger a price slide.
Excellent review as always – whats behind the relatively high prices of some of these units? Difficult to manufacture or are they just trying to get as much as they can?, though its obviously changing due to increased competition
Any talk of any SPD power pedals coming out at some point. I would think there would be a huge market for them.
Do you know anything about the new RPM2, an insole based solution that comes in running and cycling variants?
Looking at the powerbeat website at preorder, it shows the system is only hollow alloy compatitble.
It also asks you to choose your cranktype before continuing. Does this mean they system is different for different cranktypes?
Hi there, great article – incredibly thorough!
I’m wondering what your thoughts on the best power meter options for Campag riders are?
It seems that the pedal based or hub based systems are the only options as most of the other systems only work on alloy cranks?
You could always use Athena cranks…. or SRM or Power2max, which both have a campag carbon-arm version.
All crank sets from all manufacturers are compatible, you could use a Quarq, they even removed the SRAM branding so it would look “OK” with a shimano/campag groupset.
Chainring compatibility is a lot better than most people seem to think. 8 sp and 9sp chainrings work pretty much fine with 10speed systems (I don’t have 11sp to test), certainly the difference is only in the inner ring, so if you have e.g. a TT bike, you arn’t going to be shifting at the front at all during the race, just little ring over to the start and back from the finish, then 8speed rings are just fine, it shifts a little slower but really makes no odds.
I’ve been using a Quarq Riken with an otherwise all-Campy (Chorus 11sp) drive train (including FD), for about 2 years now, and it works fine.
And by “fine”, note I am very fussy, demanding, and I race with it.
Previously was using 2009 Chorus, and in early 2015 replaced it with the redesigned 2015 Chorus, and the Quarq worked fine on both.
The original SRAM “Powerglide” chain rings were, IMO, substandard compared to Campy rings — the SRAM had fewer pins & ramps and didn’t shift nearly as fast , especially under heavy loads.
I installed WickWerks rings and think they are the equal of Campy rings.
The Wickwerks are wearing out and I’m planning to replace with Stronglight rings.
I previous used Stronglight replacements on a Campy Chorus crank, and found the Stronglights very good.
Stronglight also cosmetically match Campy better than Wickwerks, although by using a Quarq you’re already already giving up the “Campy” look, if that matters. Personally, I think the Quarq is a good looking crank, and I’ve been very pleased with its performance & function.
If you build up your own bikes, like I do, note you’re really only paying the _incremental_ cost of a Quarq (or other crank PM) — since you don’t need to buy a $400-ish Campy crankset.
This is FANTASTIC!
I know exactly what I’m going to buy now.
I need a powermeter for only steady intervals like 5′, 10′, etc. I was going after a Stage. Especially when I heard about the last price drops. However, after reading this, I’m getting a wheel with powertap hub G3, instead.
My right leg is 5mm shorter than the left, so with the shim under the cleat, I’m always pushing a bit harder on the right side. Also, I feel fatigued after certain time of riding. Hence, I don’t think Stage is suitable for me.
Thank you for making this an easier choice!!
Mo, I’m between the P2M and PowerTap hub, but does PT HUB reads left/right power as P2M??
I always enjoy your yearly guides. I used last year’s one to help my decision to buy a pair of Vectors.
The P1s look like a great solution though, and could certainly be my next purchase if I replace my Vectors. I also currently have the larger sized Vectors due to my S-Works cranks, so when I switch them to other bikes I can’t always use the highest gear (big chainring/little cog) – it seems that the P1s solve all of these problems. I hear that their cleats and the pedal fit (with standard Keo cleats) is a bit of a problem though. Do you know if they will be looking to change this?
Looking forward to seeing what reply you get from the Limits people – they seem to have finally responded to criticism about poor communication and lack of updates over the last few weeks and are still quoting delivery by December 2015 – though how viable this is I don’t have the knowledge to judge. Has anything you’ve seen in their updates caused you to change your views?
They’re also crowing about being happy to do things that I figured they’d have done 18-24 months ago if they were serious (they posted an update 9/1 saying that they’d just started doing competitive research for example). I hope that they succeed, don’t get be wrong, but there are just so many red flags all over that product…
Richard nailed it – they’re chirping about stuff that should have been done two years ago. They haven’t even got to the ‘fun’ part, yet their saying they’ll ship in 60 days. I e-mailed them a bunch of questions Friday night, and then we traded e-mails two days ago, waiting for another response (just about to poke them again).
I’m putting together a piece on it, and I’m really hoping they’ll answer my questions – if for no other reason than if they do answer them it’ll make it a rather friendly piece. But if they don’t, then it’ll only prove what I think is going on.
Thanks Ray, have been waiting for this to come out – but, as expected, your guide has given me the confidence I needed to buy an SRM. Pulled the trigger on the purchase, shame I couldn’t find any deals below MSRP – but when you want to get the ‘gold standard’ those things must be flying off the shelves.
How’s that? Ray’s not a big fan of SRM, mostly due to price I gather.
Almost all due to price, and the fact that it’s simply not technically better* than most of the other options out there. Perhaps 5-7 years ago, but not today.
(*You can define better in any number of ways, but I can’t really think of any way that I would say SRM is better than a modern Quarq or a PowerTap, etc… I’d say it’s ‘equal’ from accuracy, but lacks in other metrics/advancements.)
I’m a limits backer on indiegogo and am eagerly waiting the launch of this power meter. I chose limits due to price and ability to easily swap over onto another bike, as I use different shoes with different cleat systems.
I had an email exchange with them last week where I was looking for an update on testing/calibration and get the impression that they intend to ship as soon as the product is manufactured and work thhrough any power discrepencies and bugs by using the customers as a large sample of testers. To me this explains their excitement with enabling ota software updates in an update a couple of weeks ago and confidence that they can ship in 2015. Not ideal but seems like this happens a lot with crowdfunded tech, just hope this approach will help them get the accuracy sooner rather than later.
Great overview… I almost made my decision now: having one road bike I use for normal training and drafting races and looking into buying an aero-bike for long distances (and not having the money to buy 2 power-meter) I think I’ll go with the PowerTap Pedals. Also I have 2 wheel set (one standard training and one high-profile for races) and I like to record everything on my Suunto Ambit 3 but was thinking of buying also the new Wahoo ELEMNT, so BLE/ANT+ is a must (so I can connect to both devices at the same time, as BLE “client” can connect only to one “server”)
I was considering also the PT Hubs, when you said the buying 2 is cheaper than buying one crank based unit, but can’t really understand what you mean here as checking at their website, the cheapest hub is 790USD, while the chainring is 100USD less. And stages, pioneer are all cheaper than buying 2 hubs
Ok, compared to SRM and ROTOR maybe this is true, but not with the other solutions.
Or maybe I misunderstood what you were saying?
Ray, a table showing all models with columns for hub / crank / pedal / BB etc plus guide price starting point would be excellent and maybe help with some ‘at a glance’ summarising of the awesomely detailed report?
Keep up the good work, i’m still on the fence on which one to buy.
Great guide! thanks. But why not Rpm2; link to rpm2.com? Looks very promising to me.
So the challenge with the RPM2 is that it doesn’t transmit over ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart (power standards), rather, just to their own app.
In many ways, it is/was a medical device that’s trying to be a sport device. But it’s not, it’s still a medical device in my book until they transmit to something across some standards that every other contender here uses.
Once they transmit on ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart, then I’m happy to consider them. Until that point, it’s sorta just too obscure for the cyclist.
Ray the RPM2 web site home page says Ant+ and FIT comparable…. yes their web site is very very bad and took me a few hard reads to find anything..
I just talked to RPM2 at IM Kona and they say they now transmit on ANT+ and are within 7-10% accuracy compared to other power meters. However the insole is almost 1/4″ thick with a higher heel and they don’t seem to be a bit concerned. It is a medical device aimed at physical therapy and will give you range of motion at hip and knee. They say it will cost $250,000 to do all the injection molds for a thinner FDA approved for diabetics plastic molding process. But it will still be an orthotic device with measurement and not something designed to fit in normal athletic shoes. The technology looks really promising. Just put them in any shoe used for any bicycle or run, but they seem determined to produce a tapered orthotic pad which will require special shoes. I hope someone else picks up on the idea and builds something appropriate for athletes. A quarter million dollars to make molds with FDA stamps on them is preposterous. The sensors and brain are only 2-3mm thick.
Interesting (all aspects). Though, 7-10% is pretty rough, since realistically even the PowerCal ($99, heart rate strap), will typically get closer and can be worn anywhere.
It seems like they’re so close, but yet so far away from being of interest to mainstream athletes.
At 1st I thought this was a good idea, but after thinking about it, I am not so sure. I have to replace my current insole about every year as they totally fall apart…. and if they are only 7 to 10% accurate that isn’t close…..
I will admit that my current insoles are just lame, but that is what works for me : ) and I have tried most of other options.
New development on this… A professional women’s cycling team will be using RPM2 insole power meters:
link to velonews.competitor.com
The power meter that makes the most sense to my circumstances (multiple bikes and firmly committed to Speedplay pedals, even if I travel) would be Brim Brothers product. I’d love to see it come to market and be accurate, reliable and precise. Technically I expect they will crack it. However, its been far more of a challenge than creating “just another” crank based power meter has been for other companies. They’ve spent years trying to get it right and must have invested a large amount of money in it. To recoup that they are going to have to either sell a lot of them or charge a premium for them. If they go the sell cheap, sell lots route, then they will be competing (by the time they are in the market) with some pretty cheap (and getting cheaper) existing meters by then, plus they have limited their market size by the meter being Speedplay only. On the other hand, a premium price only makes sense for those people who would definitely otherwise be buying more than one meter (for their multiple bikes) and calculate that its cheaper to buy one Brim Brothers product than it is to buy 2 or 3 separate power meters. That’s also a relatively small market considering that some other existing meters are quite portable (Stages, Powertap) so not everyone with >1 bike will buy two meters. I really hope they succeed (and from my perspective, hopefully with a relatively cheap product) but I struggle to see how they are going to get the pricing right to reward them for their years of endeavour. I hope I am proved wrong.
One minor enhancement might include the information transmitted. For example, the PowerTap hub also gives you speed and generally-good-enough cadence, meaning that you don’t need to mess with separate sensors. That may not be worth much to many people, but not having to deal with alignment is pretty convenient.
Interesting, I’ll have to think some more, but I feel like nearly all PMs end up sending over cadence. Certainly any DFPM in the pedals or crank area needs to know it to calculate power…
PowerTap hubs may be more unique, in that I don’t believe they need cadence for the calculation, but estimate it and provide it.
Clearly I may be mistaken here…
@Richard Stanford: I’m not sure what alignment you were referring to. Almost all the powermeters on the market now provide cadence. In fact, a bike computer like Garmin will ignore your separate cadence sensor and use the one provided by the powermeter.
Interestingly that’s because the power-meter ANT+ spec is “more accurate” than the Cad sensor spec. They use a faster clock time (2048 tics/sec rather than 1024 IIRC).
This is because every headunit rounds your cad to the nearest integer, but if you are using Cad to calculate power then you care about the “factions of an RPM” as the power is displayed to nearest Watt (larger number –> higher precision required).
So in short this behaviour of using the PM number rather than the Cad sensor is desirable.
Ooops didn’t notice you were referring to powertap cadence, my comment refers to crank-based PMs.
The hub based cadence is less accurate than sensor based, and ususally head units will use the sensor-based cadence in preference, as the headunit knows its a hub-based powermeter (it has to to decode the readings).
Let me know if I didn’t understood well but DC Rainmaker said that Power2max “captures all power, not just left”. But in reality, the only measure one side, I am right? As far as I have understood, Power2Max only measure one side and has a kind of algorithm that try to stimate how much was on the left and right side. I mean, this is something different that “captures all power”, as it is an estimation. Actually, this algorithm try to do something to see when you are not pulling with the right side and estimate the left-side. For instance, INpower also do this: although INpower does not give you an estimation of both side (only measure left and duplicate) in the software I think you can study you effectiveness and other variables, and for instance you can see when you are pulling and when you are not pulling during the pedal circle, but they just not implemented this algorithm to estimate the power when you are not pulling. In conclusion, you can not say that it captures all power when it capture power in one side and estimate the other side.
Power2max captures all power…it is measuring at the interface between the crank arm spider and the chainrings. It is unable to empirically differentiate between right and left side power. It does try to estimate right/left balance by assuming that 12:00 to 6:00 is the your right leg and 6:00 to 12:00 is your left leg.
OK, I agree… but in any case, it is estimating something… It is measuring in the right-side… I mean, if you want to measure both sides, “you need two powermeters” one for a side and the other for the other side. Power2max is composed by one powermeter, it measure on one side… but futhermore, if it does that, estimating 12:00 to 6:00 as the right leg and viceversa, something is wrong too, because you can aplied some effort before 12:00 and after 6:00
@Abraham: Ray is still correct. Power2Max PM, like Quarq PMs, captures all power. It is not able accurately separate the left/right power so it’s estimating the left/right balance based on the position of the crank arm. This is completely different from a left crank arm only powermeters like Stages, which doubles the measured power from the left crank arm.
P2M is measuring the power that goes from your cranks (which are attached together) into your chain, at the point just before it reaches the chain
(you only have a chain on the RHS of your bike right??)
Try unclipping your right foot and see if the power from your left foot only causes there to be tension in your chain….. ;-P
Any issues with the size of the Powertap P1 and bottoming out near the battery compartment or other places?
yes. well, i have seen a few P1 pedal sets on the secondary market already. bike racers selling them because they race criteriums and race aggressively AND have experienced pedal strikes with P1s when they never have before. i think it is an issue for aggressive bike racing. if you are not doing that, then no worries most likely.
I think Powertap need to release a cheap old school wired system or even SRM.
How come no mention that Power2Max won’t work with Shimano cranks? For a Shimano user, that is a glaring omission. And why would you say that the ability to turn off auto-zero is only for the most advanced of advanced users? A bad auto-zero can cause issues for everyone – period.
If I tried to list every crank, chainring, bottom bracket, wheel, or other incompatibility it would be impossible.
As for auto zero, hardly. The number of inaccuracies people get would be vastly smaller than with keeping it on (like 100 to 1). In fact, I’m willing to bet that those that turn it off probably have more inaccurate data on the whole than those than everyone else.
True, but Shimano cranks are pretty popular I would say. And I bring it up because you mentioned limited crank compatibility with the Quarqs, so just in terms of fair play.
We can choose to disagree regarding auto-zero. My point was that advanced user or not, a bad auto-zero/implementation can ruin data just as well. And I would think every user would want good data, regardless of their cycling ability. I would agree that those that turn it off may have more inaccurate data, but I would bet only because they forget to do a manual-zero 10-15min after the bike has acclimated to the temp outside, before their ride. If this act qualifies one as a most advanced of advanced users, then so be it. And if people forget to do a manual-zero in 20-30 degree temp swings, so be it again. But I wouldn’t be so dismissive of it I guess. I don’t know where you get 100 to 1 stats and all of that. How does the auto-zero work out on a large climb, where it cannot take place as you cannot coast or backpedal? And that’s where you’d have the large temp shifts. So yeah, it’s IMO important (and not hard) for a company to let a user turn it off. That’s all.
I do agree that it’s great when companies offer the ability to turn it off, but I don’t agree most users should turn it off.
As for climbs, that’s why the P2M (and almost all others) have temperature compensation, to account for that.
Temperature compensation seems like a band-aid over a bad design or materials used. Some meters are better designed and less susceptible to temp swings in terms of torque offset. Still, a manual-zero should be something everyone with a power meter does – auto-zero on or off. Anyway..
Curious what happened at the ANT+ Symposium. Was there any discussion of manufacturers sending the zeros to the head unit for looking at later? This would be easy I would think to implement, and would be good data trail to have.
Virtually all power meters using some form of temp compensation – either active or passive.
Not sure on PM companies sending zeros to head units, I keep asking for it. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me into the PM committee meeting as I’m not an ANT+ member.
The reason why P2max doesn’t support shimano cranks is that the groupset cranks which people have on their bike do not have a removeable spider. You can’t take your 9000/6800 series crank, remove the chains/spider and bolt on a powermeter [SRM/quarq/P2M] spider. Look at the cranks which SRM uses for their durace series powermeter. It is a specific off series crank with a removable spider. If shimano 9000/6800 series groupset cranks had removable spiders then P2M would most probably have a solution. The issue lies with shimano.
I understand the reason. I just pointed out that for Shimano users, they’ll need to pay $300 or so more for cranks if getting a P2M. The “issue” doesn’t lie with anyone IMO – it is what it is. I’m not faulting P2M for it, and Shimano doesn’t need to change their superior (again IMO) design for this.
…a perfectly timed article: my reservation code from Favero is due to expire after today. Like you Ray I have a marked imbalance between left and right making pedal PMs the best option. If I could afford the Powertap P1s I would get them, but they are very expensive in Europe (certainly not a direct currency exchange rate) and so I shall be opting for the bePROs. Thanks as always for your informed and (as much as is humanly possible) impartial advice.
Does the $1200 price include sales tax? While I appreciate that sales tax is state based an often worthless. It does account for the discrepancy (if the $1200 excludes any sales tax)
what an amazing review!! the only thing now Ray is I am more confused then I was before!! I now want them all!!
Here is my take, based on my own personal expereince:
I have LOOK KEO POWER on one bike, SRAM QUARK ELSA on the second, Vector (1 and 2) on the third and PowerTap P1 pedals on the fourth. I bought them as they came out, starting 4 or 5 years ago with the LOOK KEO POWER. They all work and all have their quirks.
Today, I would recommend just two:
PowerTap P1 pedals (much better/friendlier than Garmin Vector or LOOK KEO POWER)
SRAM QUARQ ELSA (or the equivalent POWERTAP C1 chain ring meter)
I have found frustration in lack of selection for crank based power for BB30 carbon.
Really only Quarq, Power2max and now Stages custom carbon crank. There is so much more selection for Shimano but I’d rather not run a BB adapter.
BB30 (without adapter) only cuts out a couple of options…
No Pioneer. No glue on options (4iii & Watteam) unless you switch to a (cannondale or rotor) alloy crank (considering the cannondale one is meant to be awesome, this isn’t really that bad an option).
Clearly you can get any pedal or hub based option. If your cranks are compact you can get Powertap C1. There are BB30 specific options for quarq/SRM/P2M/Stages. Check up but i think that infocrank has a 30mm axle option.
It is only pioneer that is not an option.
Great article, I would probably add weight as a disadvantage of the powertap hub system, beyond being limited to one wheel.
For my (5+ year old) SL2.4+ that is an issue, but the new ones “G3” are pretty much the same weight as a normal DA rear hub.
Appreciate a sanity check to confirm I’m not missing the obvious.
For those who may share my same or similar circumstances, I have only one road bike equipped with current Shimano 11-spd (Ultegra 6800), and given it is a relatively older Ti frame, does not have a newer type BB, then the most reasonably priced entry into Power is either 4iii (~$400USD) or Stages (~$579USD)?
At least to me, all other Power Meters appear to either lack compatibility with Shimano and/or Shimano 11-spd, as well as being priced higher or coming in higher due to other hardware requirements (e.g. – GXP BB).
Given 4iiii’s challenges thus far, I personally have chosen to ignore their product due to risk of it having problems (accuracy or battery come to mind thus far). Besides the whole one-sided argument(s).
Stages is somewhat “tried and true” now, but at $579 I’d strongly consider avoiding the whole one-sided debate with a P2M Type S or PowerTap C1.
I am also giving WatTeam a shot at the moment (waiting to see early positive / negatives here). To be fair, I was at the same “giving a shot” feeling with 4iiii until they hit fairly significant additional delays and nearly all initial users reported issues (at least with battery life, if not accuracy).
Appreciate you weighing in Tim.
Like you, I personally don’t have enough confidence in 4iii, so the likely preferred options between those two is Stages.
Where I’m not sure we are aligned is on compatibility, as I agree P2M Type S and PT C1 are solid products, but I believe are not Shimano 11-spd compatible (PT C1) or significantly more expensive (i.e. – >2X) when other required hardware are included in the cost equation (P2M Type S).
If by an “old style BB” you mean a threaded one, you can use something from any of the manufacturers. A shimano / SRAM threaded BB cartridge is a £20 component (and a comsumable one), so pretty insignificant thing to sway your purchase of a £500 power-meter.
Personally I wouldn’t go for a 1-sided PM like stages, I think a PT hub is worth sacrificing race/training wheels for. It really is so fast to move between bikes, its quicker to move a wheel from one frame to another than to change even one pedal. And no need to re-calibrate as it does that every time you coast.
Hi, does PT hub measures left/right?? I don’t see it in the review
Great article as usual, thanks. I went with the Rotor InPower left only power meter a couple of months ago, I ordered from a German website and didn’t have to pay sales tax as it was being sent to the US – shipping was only $10. It ended up being a great deal and I’m really happy with it so far. I was using Rotor 3d+ cranks anyway and had broken my left crank arm – Rotor USA wanted $400 just to replace the left crank arm!! It wasn’t much more than that for the InPower crank arm which I bought.
Michael, would you mind providing the name of the German company you purchased your InPower crank arm from and their web address? I am thinking about replacing my left Rotor crank arm as well.
As a backer of the velocomp Powerpod pretty much entirely on the back of DCR’s review I’m intrigued to see how it performs in the real world. It’ll be interesting to see whether it paves the way for more none DFPMs and reduces the reliance on seemingly difficult to manufacture, occasionally unreliable and generally expensive hardware based solutions.
I’ve been following the Powertap C1 for a while. Now that it is released and has been out for a few weeks I’m surprised there hasn’t been a lot of feedback or discussion on the cycling forums. Are the pre-orders coming out slowly, or is there just not a lot of buzz about the product?
I think most times buzz happens when the right people get something (as in, people who happen to post online). In this case, might just not have fallen into whatever hands those would be.
In my case, it’s simply a matter of having been travelling constantly.
– I got the 4iiii Precision last week and have been riding it in and outside and it seems to work well. I have prior PM experience with a Powertap hub and Power2Max and I haven’t seen any crazy power spikes. I do need to check on a “smooth-d” graph to see if my #s are consistent.
They have also improved on their customer service. I have gotten answers within hours of emailing them
– I think BrimBrothers should just sell their concept to Speedplay . I loved their concept when they announced it but it had dragged for about 2 yrs now(?) I haven’t seen real life reviews.
– Ray, I hope you can review the PowerPod. I know there’s a lot of skepticism with what basically is the iBike, but I think Team Colombia and other pro teams can’t be wrong with their PM choice. I’d be a buyer at $300usd.
Yup, I do plan to review the PowerPod (beyond my initial post, once a finalish unit is available).
As for pro teams, as I noted above – they are sorta meaningless when a sponsorship fee is paid.
I paid a very good price on my Rotor 3D both legs measured bought in Asia, I have a G3 to compare and the numbers are spot on, I am happy with it. I use them with oval rings and I like to see the slight changes in the metrics when playing around with the MAS system.
Hi could you let me know where to get them at a good price?
Great write up, thanks. Based on your previous indepth, and the fact I love and newbie/underdog and a great price, have gone with the full L/R BePros this week. 🙂
Hoping for delivery before end of October.
One important point about Pioneer – is it easily available within Europe? I.e. without having to deal with customs sending the hardware and receiving it back?
It’s all handled via your local bike shop. They rolled out to Europe well ahead of the US.
link to powermeter24.com
kits available, or fitted to cranks. don’t know how you get the kit installed (perhaps it is simple enough for a LBS)
But the pricing in Europe is crasy. 1400€ for the upgrade kit the same cost 1000$ in the US. That is about 875€. So the price is 525€ more in Europe compared to the US.
While it doesn’t quite account for the differences, do remember that companies making products outside the EU basically have to pay the import duty for the products – hence why things tend to get more expensive.
Through their website (link to pioneer-cyclesports.com) the availability within Europe seems to be limited to: Belgium, Luxembourg, Nederland, Italy, Germany, Austria. Seems… lacking, to say the least.
W dinamiche ciclismo!
Great, comprehensive review. As an owner and user of Quarq, SRM and Power2Max power meters, I would like to add a comment on the SRM meters. They are definitely reliable and accurate (although not noticeably better than the Quarq or P2M), and SRM has great customer service in the US. That said, in addition to falling behind on price and user serviceable batteries, they are also behind on installation. The SRM does not have accelerometer based cadence and requires the use of a magnet. While this is not a big deal on most frames, mounting a magnet in a good location can be very difficult for some frames. Even with good adhesives, the magnets tend to come off periodically, leaving you without data for your ride.
The other thing to bear in mind with PMs that don’t use accelerometer-based crankset speed measurements, such as inferred from magnet-registered cadence, is that it is pretty much impossible to get accuracy with non-round chainrings. Whilst there is still an issue with sampling and reporting rates with accelerometers if you use broadcast force and crank speed measurements, they can at least theoretically do it – if you do your processing in-sensor and broadcast power of course it becomes a moot point and you’re only limited by your sensor accuracy and internal sample rate.
What are the option for oval rings?. All pm work or are any specific for oval. Thank.
Ray, I’ve seen you mention a few times that the Power Meter companies could lower their prices significantly and still make a profit, but right now the market bears the current prices. What price do you see as likely in 1-2 years for:
* Pedal PM?
* Left-side only PM?
* Crank PM?
Something I encountered on the internet, its a plan for a powermeter (I believe left and right, and BT and ANT+) that is priced at $ 400. It is still on Indigogo (project fase) but you with all your contacts and knowledge may want to look into it. If you have not allready done that (allthough I have never heard anything about it on the site).
The website for the Indigogo project is:
link to indiegogo.com
What can I say, sorry Jerry:
link to dcrainmaker.com
I was going to pull the trigger on the Stages Crankset (<$600CAD), and then I saw you questioning left-only power. So I started looking at the Powertap C1, but the $699USD turns out to be nearly $1000CAD. I guess I'm back to the Stages option.
will a 24mm Gossamer classic P2M work for you?
link to power2max.com
Can you still get the Classic?Checking on the German and US websites it seems sold out. This leaves the Type S which is a more expensive product.
I don’t believe they’re producing them anymore.
Does anyone know more about these power meter’s that attach to the crank?
Specifically I’m looking to understand what determines how/if the PM will work? A great example would be the Watteam that makes the claim on their website:
“UNIVERSALLY COMPATIBLE Supports all aluminum & carbon crank types”,
and then when you follow up they say:
“We’re sorry but your crank type is not compatible with POWERBEAT, which currently supports only hollow aluminum cranks.”
“We currently only support hollow aluminum cranks and will release a carbon compatible version next year. While the Zinn crank isn’t listed in our list of compatible manufacturers, we are testing it and several others extensively before adding it to the list”
So how exactly do these crank based PMs work and what is it that makes them so specific? Can anyone provide feedback if the only reason non-big-name brands aren’t supported (is because they aren’t tested)?
‘Any suggestions for someone who’s tied to speedplay pedals and would really like a true L/R power option?
Ray. As usual fantastic write up. Thank you so much for putting this out. I have a quick question for you. I am looking to buy a Power2Max, but I don’t see any links on your site and it isn’t on Clever Training. Any way to buy it in a way that gives you credit?
Power2Max moved to a centralized model a couple of years ago (at least for North America, perhaps other regions, I haven’t checked). So within that, they only sell direct to consumers.
regarding 4iiii – sounds like too many excuses coming from them
– “had been focusing on OEM installations, and then changed gears to be self-install
– then there was the “glue” issue
– now it has something to do with _your_ particular pedalling style
they _are_ shipping but i am extremely reluctant to order based on their track record vis-à-vis your experiences with the product
on the other hand favero bepro …
– are also shipping
– provide left and left-right *today*
– are portable to other bikes (albeit with custom tool) whereas PRECISION is not really
– in a very similar price range with PRECISION
– quite cheaper than stages (ie for ultegra crank), and vector s
– much cheaper and more portable than chainring and hub based
– most importantly you 🙂 found it to be adequately precise and consistent
regarding the CONS:
– rechargable battery life is an issue for endurance rides of 400+ KM (which I care about most), and though one can possibly recharge via power bank, it is a nuissance (worth it though AFAIC)
– wear and tear is a concern, however a replacement pod lists at 340 € (assuming Favero don’t honor the two year warranty), which *still* keeps it cheaper than the vector s and the stages ultegra (or more expensive) versions
– no BLE connection availability. Not an actual disadvantage for my purposes (smart phones are more hassle than worth it on brevets / audaxes, and my head units are garmins).
right now I can’t see any other product (that does not limit my choice of equipment in terms of wheels, cranks, cranksets, and even bikes) anywhere near the price point and accuracy (as reported by you) of the bepro
cheers and thanks for being *the* reference!
ps. i’d love to be able to justify buying a Powertap P1, but that would be alomost twice the price of the left-right bepro
I think the OEM to self-install option isn’t an excuse, but actually a good thing. Otherwise quite honestly we’d never have seen the products at the price point that we’re seeing them.
With the glue, I think that was a legit initial ‘doh’ slip, but then once they had that cover story, they took a bit longer on other items. While it no doubt was frustrating, I think anytime I company takes longer to sort things out, it’s good.
On my pedaling style – yeah, that’s a weird one. But others have done comparisons and shown no issues. So unsure how many it really impacts.
As for your situation, I do agree with your summary. I think the ordering lead time is a bit longer (last I heard was 6-8 weeks), but I also heard that Clever Training has some units that either just arrived or are on the way. Of course, if you’re in Europe, that’s a bit of a circle.
thanks Ray, your work is fantastic and i trust no one more than you
Great review. Reading it makes me wonder when the market becomes over-crowded? I am a gear guy and a have been training with power (2 trsuty powertaps since 2010) and have been looking to make a change so it is easier to swap wheels, trainer power, etc and gain power on my MTB.
Your prior article made it clear to get in line for the P1s which I did. Reading this one today, made me realize that I should build one of my PTs into my MTB wheel .
thanks for all the continually great info
Ray, thanks for the great post once again. Do you think I could use garmin vector on a mountain bike during marathon rides or dust, mud, etc. could be a major problem for the pedals?
I’d be more concerned about clipping the pods on rocks/trees/etc… That said, I do know some folks have occasionally done it, but personally I’d look at other options.
Powertap G3 help: This morning I swapped out the batter on my G3 hub, and since doing that it seems to no longer be working. I have tried a couple different batteries but no luck. I did notice that the replacement battery do not seem to be sitting as tightly in the slot. The hub just turned two and this is the first time I have had any issues with it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
One area no one seems to discuss much is for those of us that are getting up there in years it is important to stay left/right balanced and identify issues early on due to weekend binges or over training without enough base.
One area I still am confused about is head units. Which ones work for what PM’s with full functionality.
It’s actually more likely you’d cause an injury trying to stay left/right balanced than just letting your legs do what they want. That said, if you do suffer an injury, it can be useful to follow the state of recovery.
As for head units, generally speaking most Garmin cycling units support all power metrics for ANT+ units. When it comes to Suunto, they support baseline power (ANT+ on Ambit2, Bluetooth Smart on Ambit3). And finally, Polar supports Bluetooth Smart power sensors, but it’s sorta a mess to keep up with compatibility there. They add support in one firmware update and break it in the next.
Sorry for my once and for all question in advance. To EU there are two power meters are available apporx for the same price: Power2MaxFSAGossamer for EUR 690 /I am using FSA Gossamer crank/ and Stages doe 669 EUR, which one would you buy as a first power meter?
many thanks for your recommendation, from below reviews I have found power2max would be a better choice, but I would hear it from and expert, thanks a lot
greetings from Hungary
Easily Power2Max. Enjoy!
Do you know if any of these companies have had their accuracy tested by a third party specialist wights and measures firm to confirm their accuracy claims?
The reason I ask is that I always see Stages advertised with +/-2% accuracy. Others are worse. I want to train as accurately as possible, which I try and achieve with power zones, with an FTP of 325 +/- 2% is a swing of 13 watts. 13 watts is the equivalent of 20% of the range between my personal zones. Therefore I must deduce that I am potentially training with 20% unknown / inaccurate data. Retesting my FTP every quarter becomes a pointless exercise unless the result is accurate as it will change all of my training levels.
I suppose the question I must ask is that regardless of cost, which unit do you believe to give the truest read-outs, as frequently as possible?
I believe SRM is the best, although I know Ray will disagree. See publications from AIS, etc. Yes, very pricey, but still the king. No need for “Active Temp Compensation” to mask a poorly engineered product, etc. Just works.
BTW, as per the above, I believe Ray doesn’t like/recommend SRM only due to price as he stated. And no, I completely disagree that P2Max and Quarq are the same – they aren’t unless you look superficially.
Good info. It would be cool if you used ZWIFT to compare some PMs. A lot of riders up there are looking to switch to PM’s for more accurate rides in ZWIFT. I think it could be an interesting study as most of us use PM’s for training so discrepancies are not much of an issue. However, in ZWIFT it dictates how fast you are in a competitive environment. Personally, I have run 2 crank based PMs (withholding Brand names) in ZWIFT. 1 = way to slow to use and 1 = comparable to racing outside of ZWIFT. You are referenced quite a bit on the ZWIFT Riders FB page so I am sure they would appreciate it. A lot of unqualified recommendations are going on there right now as everyone is getting ready for the BETA testing to end.
Hmm, I’m not sure I understand though. The key metric that drives how Zwift works once a power meter is connected is weight (watts/kilogram). If that’s inaccurate, then that’ll have things be off (to advantage in most cases).
Kudos to Garmin support for the great feedback and keeping us posted in their support forum.
I’m one of the ones who has had no issues and been trouble free with Vector 1, still running the original cast pods.
One question I have which is not addressed in this post concerns the pedal/axle based systems.
Do they increase the Q-factor (horizontal distance between pedals)? It looks like the Limits system does massively. Personally I think I would find it hard to adapt to an increased Q-factor, especially if there was a difference between my bikes. As I understand it, most cranksets as they stand have a larger than biomechanically ideal Q-factor, so not great to be increasing further. Aerodynamics would also be compromised.
For somebody looking to purchase their first PM- what would you recommend.
Budget friendly <$500
Easily movable (currently ride a roadie but looking at tri bikes for the future and want to be able to move it easily)
Just an FYI, the 2015 power meter guide doesn’t seem to be linked under power meters in the Product Reviews -> Power Meters page.
Although you do this somewhat already, I think since you make the categorization of the placement of the PM’s something of importance (and I agree it is). I think with this annual post it would be a good idea to group and rank them according to their respective category. I feel like you very easily could rank them within their respective categories (ie. PowerTap P1’s is the best pedal system PM currently available). Just a thought.
Great reviews and leads me to wonder if anyone is collating a study of variation between the power outputs of each leg where the owners are measuring both sides such as with the Vectors?
I reckon with this amount of data getting uploaded there must be a huge amount of big data available on these variations.
Now if Garmin could use this for follow up features where they contact riders who their analysis shows have permanently fixed this imbalance and ask them to provide their training routines for everyone else to benefit from.
It would be a good way to find out what routines work in the real world amongst every day cyclists. Who knows – it could be pedalling drills, it could be osteopathy adjustments to the knee or hip or it could be strength exercises off the bike.
I’d certainly be interested and I’m sure others would as well.
“Now if Garmin could use this for follow up features where they contact riders who their analysis shows have permanently fixed this imbalance and ask them to provide their training routines for everyone else to benefit from.”
Ahh, but see – that’s the thing. There’s actually no research at all that says you want to correct it. In fact, the very little (mostly non-scientific) research out there shows that people who try and correct it end up with a lower total wattage.
But I do agree that Garmin has done little (nothing) insofar as making research into this easy. They could very easily pop-up a dialog on Garmin Connect that recognized Vector data* and asks the user if they consent to the data being available to researchers for study. They could easily strip GPS data (trivial) and leave the rest along with the user profile (gender/age/etc…) and probably tag cycling volume by month as well.
That pool of data would go a massive way towards study in the area.
*This can be done quite easily since it has Cycling Dynamics metrics in it.
There’s an android app called “Power IT” that estimate power and re-transmit back over ANT+ using the known power curve of your indoor trainer. You can select a large list of trainers, modify the given power curve and also works with different wheel sizes. It has a Lite version (only works for 20 min) and a paid version for a couple of bucks.
I’m using it with my Samsung smartphone, a Garmin computer and Cycleops Fluid 2 and it works like a charm. The only downside is it can overestimate your real power for the first 10 minutes until the fluid trainer warms up.
I don’t know if there is a similar app for iphone.
Perhaps you can leave a paragragh in your guide for a commentary on power meter choice for tandem riders. I have a Canondale Street Tandem and I would like to know what are the options that i have? Pedals..surely. But what about powertap, left crank, spider based power compatibility?
Im in a fix getting a power meter for my tandem and I prefer Shimabo pedals. But I do not know whether there are the other possibilities.
Thanks in advance
When will you post an in depth review of Power Tap C1? Thanks.
Hi – thanks for this breakdown – the most comprehensive I’ve seen.
Have you ever run multiple systems on the same bike at the same time and compared outputs? I’d be interested to see if measurements drift apart or don’t react consistently to changes in applied power.
Yup, in fact, virtually every ride I do is with 3-4 power meters at once. You’ll find such data in all of my power meter reviews. I don’t believe it’s possible to do a review of a power meter without comparative data (preferably 3+ devices). Doing a PM review with only one power meter is simply called marketing. 🙂
Everyone has their anecdotal experience. For me, crank based is where it´s at. Powertap works great but most of us want to change wheels, race TT with discs, etc. Pedals just seem to disposable for me to pay for a power meter on.
For some reason, I don´t mind that my expensive carbon bike was made in Taiwan, but I like that my power meter was made in the US (even if the parts are sourced overseas). Quarq is made in South Dakota and Stages is made in Colorado. I´ve used both these meters and made use of both companies customer service and both have been top notch. I know a lot of local racers, several of whom have national hardware, train and race exclusively on Stages and despite the junk posted on Slowtwitch, unless you have some strange medical situation, it IS good enough for you.
Personally, I have two quarqs right now and I think the best power meter for the money is a quarq elsa (~1100 on amazon prime) with dura-ace rings. Second best is a dura-ace 9000 with Stages. Dura-ace rings spin really really nice and the sram/gxp is the best crankset/bb format.
For some reason, I think Stages will be able to drop their price to point where a power meter is not a boutique piece of equipment, which it still is, unfortunately. Then they might be my top choice.
I´ve heard some good things about power2max. I wouldn´t seriously consider anything else posted on this page.
-Anonymous internet person
I love all your reviews.
The most important thing for me is accuracy, and price.
After all this, I Think I’m going to buy Power2 Max. Even tough I like de Power tap pedals, they are very expensive, and I would have to change my speedplay pedals.
Theres a little problem with my rotor crank, because If I just buy the powermeter, I would have to send it to rotor, for them to install the power2max, so I will have to pay the mail costs. In the Bike shop they can’t open my crank for installing the device themselves.
Ill buy power2max with new cranks and thats it.
I was thinking about Rotor (I live in Spain) but after reading your review I don’t want to take risks.
In the other side, the power tap ChainRing, don’t come in 50/34 , which is the chainring I use right now.
Is there any product out there which displays torque and not only the derived power value in Watts.
I am interested in seeing how strong I push the pedals. Watt values don’t tell me that.
You could just calculate it yourself based on the reported power and cadence information.
I know. However what I am looking for is realtime data.
I believe this would be really useful for several purposes, eg like optimizing saddle position, or optimizing my position, optimizing pedaling , measuring improvement of leg strength etc.
A workaround would be to ride at a constant cadence and compare Watts.
A little awkward, since one probably would have to work with different cadences since one size doesn’t fit all, so to speak.
It seems strange to me that obviously most(or all?) manufacturers don’t offer this option, even though the raw data is obviously available.
Torque is supported in the ANT+ bike power profile, however on my Edge 810 at least it isn’t even an option to display. I’m wondering if this information is actually transmitted but just not displayed though. For example the issues that people were having not being able to set the crank length with their P1s. Do the p1s transmit cadence and torque which then is used by the head unit in combination with crank length to show power? Or is sort of a ‘base power’ for lack of better term sent by the p1s which is then scaled by crank length? If the former I don’t know why garmin wouldn’t have torque as a display option.
You could get sort of real time torque data by using the zero for your power meter. Do a true zero with no load and write down the counts reported. Then put a known weight on and redo the zero, recording the counts. These two points allow you to calculate the scale factor between counts and torque. As your pedaling you can repeatedly zero the meter and look at the reported value. Kind of a pain but maybe good enough for your purposes.
Hi Ray/All – I’m looking on people’s opinions on the best power meter for my scenario
With a little one on the way, I’m looking to make the most of my training at as smaller cost as possible for training using FTP zones (and on Zwift when the inevitable babysitting duties arrive!).
I only have one bike, a Giant TCR Composite 2014 with Ultegra 6800, a Shimano Press Fit BB and SPD-SL pedals. This bike has clip on mud guards in winter, and clip on tri bars in summer, so it’s an all rounder!
link to giant-bicycles.com.
I’ve seen a couple of people in my club that have had water ingress issues with the PowerTap G3, and although they will sort it, it’s a pain to get it sorted, so I’l like to steer clear from that.
I’m in the UK, and I believe the 4iii precision doesn’t ship to Europe yet?
I’m swaying towards the bePro S, and if I find that power training works for me, then I’ll purchase the upgrade kit further down the line.
Cost is the main factor here, swiftly followed by consistency and accuracy as the most important. I’m not fussed about fitting it myself, etc.
Any advice would be gratefully received!
Thanks in advance.
TL/DR: What would you recommend as the best (accurate and consistent) power meter on a budget in the UK?
Thinking Used Power Meters – if someone selling one provided a file of the Power Meter vs Trainer/Power Meter (like, a PowerTap wheels vs CompuTrainer, Wahoo Kicker, etc.), I’d feel pretty good about buying a used unit.
I appreciate all the time you spend to give us some more perspective on all of the triathlon gadgets!
I’ve had a Stages power meter for a little over a year and a half and have had nothing but good stuff to say except for recently when I’ve had some dropout issues. I sent it back and Stages was very quick to help and remedy the problems. I also took advantage of the recent discount on the 920XT! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to pair my Stages to my 920XT. After a few minutes of googling, it looks like many people have had problems specifically with Stages connecting to the 920XT. Have you heard about any systematic problems like this with Stages or any other power meter/head unit combination?
I’m still reaching out to Stages and Garmin, but thought you might have some insight as well.
Definitely not something systematic that I hear of. But there’s obviously a long history of FR910XT and Stages issues, less so on the FR920XT. Part of it is really placement, especially on a triathlon bike while riding.
But pairing is super-odd. I’d remove the sensors and do a soft reset of the unit (and be sure you’re firmware is updated on the FR920XT).
In the UK we are now seeing the Garmin Vector 2s on offer £100 cheaper than the Powertap P1s. I wondered at what sort of price differential you would choose the Garmins?
Keep in mind, the 2S is just a left-only power meter, whereas the P1 is a dual left and right pedaled power meter. In other words, you’re only getting half a power meter for 100 pounds less. 😉
Apologies the offer is for the Vector 2 not the 2s. Vector 2 £899 and Powertap P1s £999
I’m wondering the same thing. Powertap seems overpriced here in the UK. The new vector 2 seem easier to mount with less issues than previously, but would it be better to pay the extra £100 and have the simplicity and what seems very easy to mount power taps. I own a torque wrench so that aspect of vector mounting isn’t really an issue.
Looks like the cheap offers have gone. Evans has no Garmin Vectors showing at all, only spares and Wiggle is back over £1,100. There are still a couple of online sites I have never heard of showing below £900.
I see that Wiggle is out of P1s quoting 2-4 weeks
This is a great source of information, so thank you Ray. You say/write a lot that no flat recommendation will work for power meters as everyone has individual goals. I am new to triathlons and cycling in general and want to learn more about power meters before making the investment.
Is there a good resource to look to find what should be important to my needs? For now, I just want basic power measurements to help during training/races. Is there a site/book you recommend reading to gain some knowledge before making such a heavy investment?
Are there any further developments with the 4iii precision, in terms of a more thorough longer term review?
Yup, coming up over the next few days (In-depth review). You can actually see little tidbits of it, in my PowerTap C1 review that came out yesterday. 🙂
if anyone is interested in seeing how their Watts per KG compare then you can take a look at this online spreadsheet I built here
link to epo.me.uk
Ray, thanks for doing this and helping to point me in the right direction with the advice. I thought I could only afford a “left side only” power meter before reading this. Now I’m looking at the Power 2 Max. Thanks brother!
I know that it is completely dependent on a multitude of factors but, just out of pure curiosity:
If you had one bike, money was no object, and you could only pick one powermeter, which one would it be and why?
Just was wondering, from a completely subjective standpoint, which was your favorite…
Trying to get my wits wrapped around all this data without the benefit of any prior experience.
I’m leaning heavily towards getting a pedal-based system for a) portability b) dual-sided data–either now or later via an upgrade.
One thing I’ve not been able to discover yet is some kind of table or chart that shows the “standard” data fields available from the various products. I spent some time trying to figure out what Garmin’s cycling dynamics were and it appears that as of right now, there are only THREE fields including standing/seated time (I don’t recall the other two at the moment). I was able to look at Garmin’s Vector owners manual and saw a BOATLOAD (or crap-ton as DC likes to say ;-)) of other fields. My question: are all these Vector fields common to ANY ANT + – compliant power meter?
I called Powertap’s customer service and they told me that they didn’t have a list of all the fields available (????), but anything related to power, cadence or speed would be available.
BTW, Powertap rep also told me that they are working on some advanced cycling dynamics fields and expect to come up with something in “early” 2016….have I scooped DCR???
There is also a review of the bePRO’s here:
link to the5krunner.com
The author (who also references DCR’s review) mentioned that he was able to get some of the Garmin’s cycling dynamics field transmitted via their pedals. Don’t know how that could be.
So, can anyone enlighten me on what set of power-related data fields are “standard” and can be expected to be transmitted to any ANT+ capable head unit?
Powertap announced dropped hub prices to $599:
link to powertap.com
Any recommendation if you are traveling to Europe and can get your tax back on the power meter?
I would like to purchase PM. Crank spider/chainrings placement is what I would like to have. And here is my question. I have SRAM CX1 transmission, 1×11, 46t or 48t or 50t in the front and 11-36t in the rear. I use SRAM X-Sync chainrings, my spider is 5 bolts BCD 110mm.
What PMs would suit in my case? I’m looking for the cheapest (but reliable) option available.
it seems “power2max Type S SRAM S900, Force22 and Rival 22 – Road” is ok in my case, link to power2max.de
their support have confirmed: “Yes, this is the correct p2m system and you can use it also as a single speed version. One of our co-worker ride the same system without any problem.”
is this model known to be reliable and more or less accurate?
No issues with the Power2Max – it’s very well respected these days.
The very early/initial units about 3-4 years ago had some minor issues, but that’s long since solved.
There is a discussion about the P2M meter over at the Google group: “Wattage.”
link to groups.google.com
Warning: these guys get into the weeds very quickly and 99% of it is over my head. And they argue/bicker a fair amount, so take it for whatever it’s worth to you.
Here’s a link to an older, but excellent blog post about PM’s from “In the Know Cycling.” It’s exhaustive and even exhausting, but it’s pretty much got me off the fence and looking at a Stages as the best fit for my first power meter.
link to intheknowcycling.com
I’d like to get dual-sided power at an affordable price, but 4iiii still haven’t announced any upgrade to dual; BePro pedals would be next choice but even at $875 are a little spendy and also pretty new/unproven….and currently unavailable to boot. But I’m a Speedplay pedal user and also a little reluctant to change. I looked at P2M, but my bike is a Trek with a BB90 bottom bracket shell and would require, at the least, changing chain rings. Stages just keeps coming up as an affordable, simple and easy option for me.
It’s a jungle out there ;-). I’d prefer to wait another 6 months or so and see what happens, but I’m using up all my procrastination wiggle room.
Keep us posted on how it goes.
Stephen, thanks a lot for your answer, it’s time to read a lot 🙂
> Stages just keeps coming up as an affordable, simple and easy option for me.
is it dual-sided already? i would not want left only solution.
Pedals are also good and reasonable place to measure power. But now i use Look Quartz (mtb and cx) pedals, all power pedals i’ve seen are only for 3 bolts cleats, not for 2 bolts cleats. i do not want to change all my shoes just because of the PM 🙂
Check out the comments section in Ray’s review of the 4iiii for my latest thoughts. I re-looked at that option just before getting a Stages, and I think I’m going to go with them.
A. Cheapest available option.
B. Committed to dual sided add-on (sponsoring the Ettix/Quick Step TDF team this year using their dual-sided prototypes.
More on my comments, but if I can verify fitment to my bike (2015 Trek Domane), I’m going to try it out.
I think Stages is still the next most-viable option (for me…only!). But It’s only single-sided with no announced plans to ever go dual sided, and, frankly there really isn’t much reason to do so at this time.
I think the bePro pedals are a great option too, but I’m a Speedplay user and don’t really want to switch pedals. I think your in Europe (??), and bePro is out of Italy, so that might be a really good option. Good luck on the search–if I PAID myself for all the time I’ve spent reading on this stuff, I could buy multiple power meters! But it’s kind of fun–but not to the extent where I envy Ray’s job.
Thanks for the great and comprehensive write-up. Learned much more than I started with.
I’m a second season triathlete (as hobby in-between a 8a-6p/55+ hrs/wk work life) and just built a new ride to race for the next 2-3 years (Cervélo P5 SIX, 2014 built, SRAM S80 front/back, SRAM RED drivetrain, 10spd) and some time this year I foresee going electronic (Di2, unless somehow I can swindle a test model of that SRAM eTAP)
So, my question for you, if you could entertain an answer: I’ve never trained with power/Watts, winter time I roll a conventional roller/trainer; in the next two seasons though I’m not that delusional as to aim at Kona, I would like to get the a power meter (for my Cervélo) to make better use of my (coachless) training time/effort. $$ is obviously a factor, however I rather get a setup that can last me 2-3 years and onward.
Thanks in advance for the insight.
Given that you want a longer term setup, I’d look at the ones that capture full power (so not a left-only solution).
So something like a Power2max, Quarq, PowerTap (C1/P1 or now recently price-dropped hubs). Or any of the dual-leg capable units.
I don’t know specifics of frames and compatibility (you really only have to worry about that with the chainring & crank spider ones), but most companies if e-mailed are quick and happy to provide validation of compatibility for a given frame.
Just my two cents.
I ran a Pioneer Dura Ace 9000 unit on my Cervelo P5 last year.
I’d caution users that the Pioneer strain gauge packages on the inside of the crank arms do not clear the BBRight / Chainstay set up on the P5, and probably other Cervelos. I addressed this by shimming the spindle quite substantially, increasing stance width about 5.5mm overall. Not idea.
I went with Pioneer because I recently had a hip resurfacing procedure, and wanted to know the left / right leg power output, which interestingly was 39/61% split one year post op. By concentrating on muscles identified as damaged / with poor recruitment, I have been able to improve my operated leg into the 46% of total output range when going full gas. It is quite easy to hold a 50/50% balance when going sub-maximial.
Interested in your thoughts on whether other crank based meters would clear the BB and stays on the P5. I am looking at getting rid of the Pioneer because I just don’t like the width, and feel the crank is overall less stable due to lesser spline engagement.
What would be your recommendation – I am looking for a Power meter that I can easily swap between my training bike and my TT bike. Are the PowerTap Pedals my best option? Is there something similar in the market but… cheaper?
Thanks for your great review!
oh, and btw, if you happen to find a pair of P1 in the Cave and don’t know what to do.. send them over to Amsterdam 🙂
Insofar as quick swaps go, there’s nothing faster than the P1’s. However, some folks can swap a crankset pretty quickly, if those two match (BB’s/etc…), in which case you can probably save half the cost (i.e. to a P2M).
Whats the best value that I could get on a student budget thats still accurate enough to compare to other people i.e. friends
The cheapest options tend to be either Stages or 4iiii – both very valid.
Just read your writeup on the Power Pod:
link to dcrainmaker.com
It seems like a worthy candidate for cheapest way to get started–although @ $300 vs. $400 (4iii) the value proposition might suffer a bit. Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like the Power Pod get really sophisticated and find a place alongside the “real” PM’s.
Yes, the value prop is much tougher in a $300 vs $400 scenario, than a $199 vs $399 scenario.
I’m currently working on a review, so I’m hesitant to recommend something fully until I’ve completed the review. That said, within the limitations I’ve previously outlined, it seems to be performing well.
>”I’m currently working on a review, so I’m hesitant to recommend something fully until I’ve completed the review. That said, within the limitations I’ve previously outlined, it seems to be performing well.”
I’m looking forward to seeing what you discover. Reading through your “first look” piece and the comments it seemed to me to have a lot of promise for future development. Visiting their website revealed they certainly aren’t shy about proclaiming their advantages–“No compromise” seems to be their slogan. If they could actually improve it to the point where it really is as accurate as anything else, it certainly has all kinds of advantages over just about anything else as far as portability and ease of use goes.
In Europe that means Stages.
In Europe that means Stages. that comment has to be 1 reply up
Been following your website for a long while, especially interested in the PM talk and whatnot.
I currently only have one bike (specialized tarmac expert with stock FSA SLK BB30 Cranks with 110mmBCD 52/36 Gearing) and I would like to start training using power, having 365 days of riding season and a friend whom I need to beat up a 10mi climb @ 6% (currently 6 minutes under his time) I only have one set of wheels (Fulcrum Racing S-four, again stock from the bike)
My question is, if you would be so kind, money being an issue (anything under 1000 is considered) which would be a better choice for me? i’ve looked at the PT C1 as the most likely candidate, and used to consider the stages as a viable option, but reading this article i’ve seen the left-right thing as sort of an issue. The P2M type S doesn’t seem to have an option for my crank.
Sorry if the post seems a bit long and disorganized
Look forward to your reply
I’d go with a C1, or check out the Quarq options too (like the Riken AL), all solid units – and all better than getting a left-only.
(P.S. – I made pizza for dinner. Thus, I’m a Pizza Ninja…too).
Continued checking the C1 and the Riken AL as my viable options, and it turns out that the C1 is not compatible with my SL-K BB30 crank (the spindle is shorter or something). being a little reluctant on changing my CF crank for an AL one, but given the circumstances, seems like a good choice 🙂
thanks again for the tip
General confusion about power meters and their relationship to smart trainers….reposted from a post I made at Bike Forums. I may be missing something fundamental….which is usually the case when I have to resort to a post of this length and risk complete TLDR…but hey, the internet has plenty of space for a few hundred more words….and I might figure out why I’m confused.
Questions about the BASICS of power meters (and smart trainers).
Although the focus of this thread seems to be more on the ins-and-outs of actually using the power meter data to train, it seems about as appropriate as any place I can find on BF to ask my questions about the equipment itself–power meters, and tangentially, for me anyway, smart trainers.
I’m been planning to purchase a power meter and a smart trainer–probably power meter first–and have spent a couple of months reading as much as I can and I still have some basic questions. I may be a little dense, and/or I’m suffering from lack of real-world experience, but I would like to have a little better grasp on the answers to these questions before I drop $1-2K (or more!) on this stuff.
1. Assuming there is some theoretical standard of measuring power accurately, how can one determine how close to “perfect” do individual power meters come to this standard? They all have some +/- % they quote in marketing materials–usually something like +/- 2%, for the more established units. But what are THEY comparing themselves to? Is there some laboratory equipment available? It seems to me there MUST be, because…..
2. Ray Maker tests all these power meters at his DC Rainmaker blog site and he doesn’t give any product a thumbs-up unless/until it demonstrates a pretty close compatibility to multiple other units. As far as I’ve been able to find, Ray’s reviews are about the only [I]consumer-accessible[/I] data available on the entire subject. (There is a Google group called [URL=”https://groups.google.com/forum/?utm_source=digest&utm_medium=email#!forum/wattage”][COLOR=#0000ff][I]Wattage[/I] [/COLOR][/URL] that is interesting, but it is even more training-specific and the discussions there are WAY over my head as someone trying to learn some basic stuff.) So we have a bunch of viable choices for power meters that seem to all agree, at least to an acceptable level, with some other absolute, theoretical, verifiable calibration standard.
3. I realize that if an individual, single person, were just purchasing a power meter, it really wouldn’t matter much as long as the meter were reasonably accurate–i.e., came close to “perfect power measurement” AND the power meter was CONSISTENT from day to day, through changing weather, temperatures, and other like variables. You could just find your zones, as reported by the unit, and work with that.
However, it seems that this kind of internal consistency, would be insufficient in the context of a TEAM or group of cyclists and in the case of using a second unit, such as a “smart” trainer which incorporates its own internal mechanism(s) for measuring power. I’m not involved with a team, and I know nothing about them, so I might be wrong about that situation–maybe each cyclist on a TdF team uses a single power meter on his bikes and his individual training plan is geared to the power measured by that unit–but it seems much more likely that all the power meters used by a given team are pretty darn close to identical?
4. So the case I’m most interested in, and I suspect most confused about, is the smart trainer. I want to have a good, or “good enough” power meter to measure power on outdoor rides. I also want to have a smart trainer so I can do some indoor training at home to cut out some of my sessions at a local cycling studio. My plan is to have my coach, who runs the cycling studio, input some of my workouts into Trainer Road and also to experiment with other computer-based apps like Zwift. When researching smart trainers, the ones I’m interested in (Kickr, Kickr SNAP, Tacx Vortex Smart) claim that THEIR measurement of power which is transmitted to apps is within +/- 5% (generally). But there are many, many complaints from trainer users who also own power meters, that there are often much larger discrepancies between their power meter and their trainer. When I’ve asked about this previously, the most common response is that “it doesn’t matter”–as long as the trainer is consistent. This is the point I just don’t get. If you are establishing a training plan with power-based workouts included, and you’re measuring power from two different devices, don’t they have to be within some reasonable range of each other? This seems even more important if you are using one of these trainers in ERG mode where the app is controlling the resistance of the trainer to match a wattage demanded by the workout. It seems that general agreement is that a standalone power meter is more accurate than a trainer, but who knows? I’ve also read/heard that in some situations you can either specify that an app use the data from your power meter INSTEAD of from the trainer and/or you can adjust the two outputs to match each other via the app.
I realize this may well be TLDR material, but it’s the best expression I can come up with for what is a pretty cloudy subject for me.
TIA for any answers or references to sources that might help me out.
On the PowerTap P1; it’s not super clear, is there a compatible pedal that I could buy for other bikes? I might not want to swap the pedals onto my gravelbike, for example; but I want to use the same shoes and cleats. That’s one reason I’ve considered the Garmin Vector pedals; because (as I understand it) I can just toss a set of look pedals on other bikes.
We have a c510 spin bike at work, would it be possible to fit a power meter for use with Zwift ?
link to gosportsart.com
There is Eco-Powr version of this same cycle that actually places power back onto the grid without any modifications or add ons. You just plug it into any standard outlet. You can find it here: link to us.gosportsart.com
Great reviews, thank you indeed.
What do you think of PowerPod please?
link to powerpodsports.com
I’m working on a review, which should show up in the next few weeks. In the meantime, my preview: link to dcrainmaker.com
My Fuji Norcom Straight 2.1 uses an OVAL Concepts Crankset, so all of the options I have been scoping out relating to crank arms or chainrings haven’t had anything listed that’s compatible. What can I do there other than ask each on individually if they’re product would work for my bike?
I am going to start a little contraversy here. I have a power2max and love it. Now that I have power meter, I am not sure that clipless pedals or clips for that matter, add anything to a time trial ride. I have been using flats and my adiddas running shoe training. Can you prescribe an objective test to prove that clipless actually help you time trialing (i.e., you are seated almost all the time pedaling)?
You’ll want to do some research on full pedal stroke. If you look at metrics that Vector provides with Cycling Dynamics, or that Pioneer provides with their full stroke analysis, you’ll see how much of the stroke you’re ‘throwing away’. Effectively, throwing away power. That’s because you lose the ‘pulling up’ aspect.
For most people, you don’t pull up a ton, but even 10-15% is a massive power jump. More than most trained cyclists would gain in a year.
DC Rainmaker – do you think the Power Meter Protection Plan that Stages offers is worth buying?
Not really. Maybe (and it’s a big maybe), if you’re using it on a mountain bike, but definitely not a road bike. Stages is awesome at support and covering people (perhaps too often, as some with earlier battery caps have felt). So I think that you really don’t have to worry too much.
first of all i would like to thank you for all your great reviews,
i am going to buy power meter but can not be sure which one is,
also i can not afford more than 700 Euros
are single side stage and pioneer power meters good choices,
what are the pros and cons
Nice post and very informative. I’ve done a little bit of research outside of this to find a power meter, and I’ve come across a couple used power meters that I’m considering: SRAM Rival Stages ($300), SRM Gossamer ($600, I believe the computer is included, but not sure if the BB is compatible), and a Quarq Riken AL with chainrings ($550). I have the same model P3 as you have in your profile picture, if you will. I will be taking your advice to get them tested by the manufacture to ensure they’re accurate, but in your opinion which would you go for?
I’d probably look to the SRM or Quarq. I don’t see any accuracy difference between them. If the SRM computer is newer, that might save you money if you don’t already have a bike computer. But capabilities wise they’re a wash (the only exception being if you were doing velodrome/track work and needed a higher frequency recording unit, which SRM provides. But since you didn’t mention it – I wouldn’t consider it a factor.
But I do agree that ensure that whichever unit you get is validated/checked by the manuf before you buy it. It’s hugely important in aftermarket sales of power meters.
Thanks for the fast reply!!
So you’d go for one of the complete cranksets vs the stages even though it’s half the cost? The stages includes the right side crank as well as the meter (I’d need the chainrings and bottom bracket, however).
Definitely no track work in my foreseeable future, but I’ll pair it with my 910XT at the least.
Generally yes, because left-only can be variable from person to person. And, the prices that you’re seeing the units at seem good.
Thanks for your input DC Rainmaker! Now time to work out some details. Enjoy the rest of the week!
Brim Brothers Zone was on kickstarter for few weeks ago.
REI members note that today through April 4 the Wahoo Kickr is $959.99 ($240 off) with code MEMREWARD16.
Ops sorry commented on wrong guide.
Are there any pedal power meters or sensors compatible with mountain bikes?
Depending on your crankset, Power2Max offers MTB compatible spiders. Stages offers some MTB crank arms
Can anyone figure out the difference between all of the current Quarq models? I’m looking to get one to go with an eTap groupset. I Currently have an old Riken which I don’t want to convert to 11 speed.
Will the Riken work?
Potentially new player in the market!~
They’re calling it a “Chainring bolt” power meter:
link to bikerumor.com
April fools probability: 63%
I found this article on P2Max site. Looks very similar to this one.
link to power2maxasia.com
Strange thing is I cannot find any credit to your site.
Hmm, bummer. I’ve gotta answer an e-mail back to P2M anyway, so I’ll ask them about it.
I have a Specialized Tarmac with FSA SLK Light crankset with hollow carbon cranks and with 52/36 rings. I’m considering putting on 50/34 rings for some big climbs i have coming up over the next 6 months. I believe it is BB386 and has a BB386/30 adaptor at the BB.
I use Speedplay pedals.
I’m a little confused by what is on offer in the power meter space as it seems a lot of whats out there doesn’t necessarily suit the setup I have on my bike.
Can anyone who has a better understanding of this space point me in the right direction, even if the answer is you need to change your crank setup to get some options.
I’m in exactly the same situation as you. We actually have a specialized OSBB, which is pretty much a PF30 BB. I was going for a C1 but found out that the crank we have (SL-K BB30) is not compatible with it. Ray suggested the Riken AL, but being a bit of a weight weenie, i’m going with a power2max Rotor 3D30 version with the Praxis Chainrings. A great option and you save about 60 USD versus buying standalone, since you are also changing your gear ratio, Save some weight over the SL-K and get full power, instead of a left only option. it’s pretty much a win-win scenario.
Thanks for the response.
I have thought the P2M option would be the way to go, but i’ve also thought of replacing my crankset with an S-works crank set and then going with a Quarq. Trying to work out whats the most cost effective at this point.
Hi, I´m in the same situation. Trying to find a powermeter that measures full power for my current bike, Tarmac Comp with Turn Praxis crankset, and that will also work on a bike I´m planning to buy in a near future (Tarmac Sworks).
I was thinking on P2M, any thoughts?
Hi friend, it was a really good article an very compelte, congrats for that.
I’m a little confused in wich could br the best for me, may be you can help me.
I have a polar v650 head unit and I agreed with your opinion on look polar system.
Which one do you think ahould I buy? Considering that I just loocking as an ametur and with no to much money to expend
Hi Ray, maybe it is touched in some of your articles, but I couldn’t find a direct answer. Sorry, but neither could I get the answer from your introduction to the article. The issue is in general – what is your opinion on single-leg measuring. Is it worth the savings? I am looking for a cheap power meter (even one of these will almost double my bike’s value 🙂 ) I was focusing on PowerTap C1 which is about 725€, but found the single leg bePRO which is around 475€ at the moment. The double-leg bePRO almost equals in the price to C1.
Anyway, in both cases the second leg measurement is about 250€ or 150% of price. Never had a power meter, so I don’t know, how important it is to get the measurement from both legs…
In general I shy away from left-leg only measurement. I’d generally go with ‘full measurement’ (i.e. the C1/P2M/Quarq/etc…) over a left-leg solution. Or of course dual measurement.
In all the data capturing I’ve done, I’ve seen more than enough evidence that single leg measurement is quite variable, especially among different intensities (and different people). It’s far less important to get two legs measured, as it is to get the full power measured.
Speaking of which powermeter should I buy, did you see the new Bike Radar youtube video? I don’t know if it’s prudent on their end to outright say 1 powermeter they recommend….
link to youtu.be
Hmm, a lot of missing units – such as 4iiii, C1, Pioneer, and bePro. All of which are great units.
But as I always say, anyone who declares a single power meter the overall winner for everything…
What’s sorta interesting though is that they appeared to use non-round rings in their tests, of which no unit they tested (except the G3 hub) actually supports. Fwiw…
(Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the better produced long-form pieces I’ve seen, but it speaks to the challenge of trying to boil the ocean into a single video. There’s just too many very solid released products on the market to do that these days.)
Thank you for the write-up. I love having access to such an in-depth analysis. That said, I think you should revise your recommendation of the Powertap G3 to include the caveat that is present on all hub meters: installing a hub meter on a Zipp will void the warranty. I assume similar policies from any wheel manufacturer that no longer sells the rim alone. I feel like understanding this fact, with the accompanying price drop in crank arm and pedal meters, would have made me make a different choice on which power meter to purchase.
Either way, thanks again.
Clearly this was a time consuming task, so thanks for the write up! I was recently investigating power meters (InfoCrank, Pioneer, Quarq, SRM, Rotor, PowerTap & Stages) for my own purchase and I’d like to correct your statement above about the Pioneer Power Meters…”Additionally, it’s the only unit on the market with true left/right high speed data (starting at 12 samples per second (at 60RPM)…”
The InfoCrank is actually the only unit on the market with true left/right high speed data (256 Hz), so at 60RPM there would be 256 samples per second.
See, Infocrank doesn’t record that data anywhere at a high-speed rate, whereas Pioneer (and Stages) do.
So it’s comparing Apples to Oranges. All power meters sample at very high rates, but only a handful record at those rates (which the Infocrank doesn’t). Said differently: They aren’t doing anything different in high speed realm than anyone else when it comes to usable data.
I was thinking in terms of sampling rate vs recorded data so you were correct there. However, I recently learned that InfoCrank/Verve will be releasing a software program that does what Pioneer does (Only InfoCrank is more accurate): records all the data to analyze your entire pedal stroke! A new computer capable of storing and downloading all that data is also in the works.
True, but without timelines. And honestly, I wouldn’t trust any company in the power meter world when it comes to timelines anyway. None of them are good at it.
Doesn’t discount what they are doing, but just to set expectations to instead focus on options that are here today, if you have needs for today.
ROTOR INpower and 2INpower power meters are also able to save data at a rate of 50 Hz when using their User Software in the Advanced Training Mode. That mode allows to analyze the entire pedal stroke in real time or after the training session.
Interesting post. I’ve been looking for a PM that fits my needs but I don’t think there are any out there. Hoped you might have some tips.
I have 2 bikes. A road bike and a a trail bike. The trail bike I use for just about everything, from XC races to Enduro races. I don’t have a heap of money and can’t afford one PM for each bike so I am hoping to find one that will work with both bikes and that will let me use mtb cleats when the XC races get abit too technical for riding. Any tips?
For my firsrt powermeter, should I go with Powertap P1 or Power2Max (Rotor Crank)?
Great review. I have been looking for pedal based PM for months now, and still have not decides. bePRO is my favourite, due to the lower price.
But I have a problem regarding future pedal based PM. Is there any PM announced that would be for SPD Pedals / MTB shoes/cleats?
I have all my shoes an SPD cleats, and on both road bikes MTB pedals (for road bike), so when I am not on my bike, I can walk like a human being 🙂 (when I stop for a coffee, or water supply).
If I buy this pedal based PM, I also have to buy new road shoes. And not just one, but three (winter, summer, and between).
Although there are different sorts of PM (crank, body, …) I still prefer to have pedal based PM, so I can easily change between bikes, and they can be both sided measurements.
Any ideas, suggestion?
I´m about to buy a Power Meter for my Specialized Tarmac Comp with Praxis Works crankset, and reading your reviews, my options are:
PowerTap Hub (no left/right)
Which one do you recommend, taking into account both are in the same price range,
I’d ignore the left/right, it isn’t real in this case.
I’d boil it down to whether or not you plan to move between bikes. If so – go PT hub. If not, then the P2M is a great option. Assuming any other compatibility issues are moot.
Actually, I´m not planning to move it between bikes, but what I do want, is to buy a Powermeter which will work also on a future bike I´m planning to buy (maybe in a year from now) which is a Tarmac Sworks. I”ll check the PT Hub wheel compatibility,
Thanks for the input!
Sorry about the left/right comment, my bad, what I meant is a PM that measures FULL power,
Already read the options in other replies, C1, PT HUB, P2M, etc
Yup, I’d say it’s a safer bet that the PT hub would work on future bikes (assuming you didn’t switch from 10-speed to 11-speed or vice versa).
A crankset would be tied to a bottom bracket standard, though that can certainly be changed if required.
Ray, already decided to go for PT G3, but installation process is DIY and easy?? I’m not seeing much on the web……Already own profile design 58/24 clinchers wheelset which I need to replace rear hub with PT G3.
I wouldn’t describe it as DIY or easy. You’re going to need to lace the wheel and true it. It’s definitely not something I’d attempt – I’d bring it to my local bike shop. This explains the ‘fun’ that’d it be: link to sheldonbrown.com
Wow, it’s no joke.
I’m wondering if my local bike shop knows how to do it. I’m gonna ask them first before buying.
Appreciate your help.
Yeah, no joke at all.
They should definitely be able to build a wheel, though it’s worthwhile finding out the cost and probably doing a bit of research from other LBS’s nearby as to their prices.
I didn’t knew installation was sophisticated. I’m gonna bring on the table the P2M and C1 again which seem less of a hassle.
Maybe you want to consider the powertap pedals if you are concerned about using it in future bikes, and not having to be stuck with a bottom bracket standard. It’s the least amount of work you’ll have to do that is also future proof without limiting you to a specific wheel or groupset.
You’re right Tosin,
I was avoiding pedals but as you said, is the best option out there for using in multiple bikes without compatibility and installation issues,
Thanks for the input,
Hi DC Rainmaker,
The more I read your review the more complicating buying powermeter looks. I have narrow it down to two choices since I have quite unique requirements
Requirements: ANT+/BLE communication, compatible with FC-9000 (aka no Quarq and similar), no clearance issue on my Madone 7 (no 4iiii), under 800 EUR
Basicaly my requirements fits for following two PM
1) Stages 9000 G2
2) Look Keo Dual Mode (I can get great discount on those and get them for 700 EUR, it is the full left/right pod version)
Which would you buy? Thanks in advance for the advice!
Hmm, I haven’t tried the new Look Keo units, so hard to say there. The Stages is certainly a good option.
I’d agree you’ve got it narrowed down pretty well. Given you can get the dual KEO for 700EUR, I’d probably give them a whirl.
Thanks! That was very quick.
I guess it makes sense. From the little info that I have got from dual-leg PM I have 50%/50% balance when I am fresh and with additional training in the block I am off to 57%/43% so it probably makes sense to go dual for this price.
The only issue I could see is probably the limited support from Look and probably not frequent firmware updates if any.
I narrowed down to one option which works best for me, the PTap P1 pedals. Those are the most versatile option to move from bike to bike, reliable PM and company, good customer support, reads full power, plus I save big in buying top of line pedals for the new bike.
As long as you are OK with the price, I honestly think it’s the best option. Easy battery change, you can take them with you when you travel and rent or borrow a bike, very versatile.
On top of all that, great costume support.
Honestly, I wasn’t planning to spend that much on a PM but because of versatility and functionality, the investment makes sense.
Since I’m aspiring to buy an Sworks in a near future , almost all PM have special editions for that bike, means need to buy other PM. With the P1 I’m covered for my current bike and a future one.
Ive got (and I dont want to change any of these)
BB30/PF30 bike with Rotor 3DF crankset
Polar M450 unit
What Power meter would be my best choice?
Probably power2max. They have really good options that work for Rotor.
But P2M is only Ant+, I need something that talks Bluetooth (BLE)
Hi, check P2M, they have a lot of PM options or pedals PT P1 (more expensive),
Good work again!
But correct me if I am wrong, no word about campagnolo owners.
I ride a 52/36 record chainring (on a canyon ultimate cf slx 2016). I am not interested in racing (but I’m trying to get better) and I ride only this one bike on road. Which power meter would you suggest based on my needs (considering a relatively low price as well)?
I plan to buy a pedal based power meter and can not decide wheather I should buy Garmin Vector or BePRO. I am only interested in both sided version, as lately I am strugling with injuries and have probably very asimetric power transfer between legs, which I would like to equalize.
Vector I can get for about 830 EUR (can get extra discount from a friend), as BePRO for 750 EUR (+22 EUR for the rubber band for protecting sensor pod). So not that big of a difference.
On Vector the only thing bothering me is the visual apearance, as the sensor / battery asside of pedals on the bike seems a bit ugly to me. But on the other hand it does have cycling dynamics. But I do not know how usefull it is. For me it would probably only come in use smoothness of pedaling to gain more performance (is pedaling smoothness included? and is it live on garmin unit as you ride?)
On the other hand on BePRO the only thing bodering me is the sensor pod. I am afraid that I will be constantly damaging it with my pronation feet and shoes. Rubber band would be needed, but the question is if I would even have room for it. But on the other hand it would look better on my bike as it would not have “ears” and the pedals are lighter.
As I currently use SPD pedal system, I am buying my first road shoes with SPD-SL (or Keo Look) cleats system. So I have no idea if there will be room between the sensor pod and my Shoe. Because I am buying shoes size 47-48. And I do not know how will also work as I have a very pronation foot.
Does BePRO also have some sort of cycling dynamics?
Sadly BePRO is not at Clever Training in Europe, Otherwise I would probably get it from there, I have tried to contact them, if they will have BePRO, but have received no answer. Ray, do you perhaps know, if they will have it, and when?
Any recomendation would be very helpful.
Hey folks, need some advice.
I decided to upgrade my trainings and buy a power meter.
After reading articles, forums etc I have 2 finalists for left crank pm (also on budget so have to think about price as well)
So what do you think? Please advise me …
Stages power meter or Pioneer cyclo?
I read that Pioneer would work better (or with better data) using their head unit.
I have a bunch of Garmins at home so dont want spend more on new headunit until it would bring more functions.
So have you and idea why to choose one instead of other?
If you have no plans on upgrading to a dual left/right system, then I’d go Stages (since it’s dual ANT+/BLE). But if you eventually plan to get the other half of the Pioneer system, then I’d go Pioneer.
There’s no reason to get the Pioneer head unit if you already have a Garmin and are just using left-only (since realistically those higher-data metrics are truly only semi-useful if you have both left/right).
So with the exact same price is it better to go for Pioneer over Stages just to have a place to possible upgrade in the future? Because who knows ☺
I am about to purchase for a Power meter and it is coming down to Stages for left-only and BePro/Garmin for Left/Right. I want to ask your opinion on:
1. Stages: I have a stock shimano chainset (not 105 or Ultegra); is it going to be a problem if i buy stages with left crank 105/Ultegra without changing the chainset?
2. BePro/Garmin: is it possible to split those left/right to 2 bikes to use as 2 power meter later on? In other words, are both of the pedals able to communicate with head unit separately?
1) Yes, you can mix and match. I mean, your buddies may give you a hard time, but technically no issues.
2) No splitting unfortunately. Always is a master, so without that you’re out of luck.
Hi all. i see nothing about compatibility issues with bottom placing of rear rim brake…
It’s pretty rare to have that impact things. The clearance between the crank arms and the brakes near the lower wheel would have to be exceptionally close.
first of all, thank you for all the work you do, I’ve never read any reviews as good as yours in any field i’m interested in.
In your article on Ant+ FE-C, you recommended to wait Eurobike to purchase a trainer. Do you have such an advice about power meter? Any ideal time when to buy?
Power meter announcements at Eurobike/Interbike tend to be more future focused than trainer announcements. Meaning you’ll get new things announced at Eurobike, but rarely is price one of them. Rather, that tends to hit around Christmas (handful of deals) and then again around Feb/March for major drops.
I wouldn’t be too concerned with buying a PM now, especially if you can use it for the next few months of the season – definitely worth it!
Great, thanks a lot!
Any thought about Zwatt? (link to sensitivus.com) They’re launching their Kickstarter campaign today.
I’ll have a post up around 10AM US Eastern Time (4PM CET) today on it.
Thank you very much for an awesome walk through of the Power meter market. I have bought a Stages Power meter and I have some issues with the calibration. First I calibrated it and went to a professionally lab where they can apply a certain watt to the bike (cyclus 2) and we saw a linear off set of 60 watt in the range from 160 – 300 watt. After a couple of weeks and a number of calibration, I went back and the linear off set value was now down to 20 watt. My bikeshop is saying that I shall keep calibrating and if it doesn’t change they are happy to replace it. Is it right that I shall simply keep calibrating and will it ever work properly (say +/- 5 watt)
Looking forward to hear from you at your convenience.
I have just sold my rotor power dual after using it for the past 3 years. I’m currently deciding whether to a) put on hold new PM purchase and wait for next year I.e dura ace PM b) get an affordable single sided PM I. E. Stages, Precision c) pedal PM I. E. P1 or Bepro
I know for the past 3 years that my power balance has been consistently at 48:52 even after improving my cycling fitness(started at 200w ftp and now around 250w ftp)
Should I just get an affordable 1 sided measurement then? I want the power reading to be accurate and consistent and if possible no need to zero before each ride.
How can I stop my be pro power pedals picking up other devises
I’m thinking about adquiring a power meter and i`ve seen one setted into the shoe. It`s a spanish trademark named Luck. Do you know somehing about it. could you please give me your advise/commets?
link to luck-bike.es
Yup, I’ve got a post coming up in the next 24-48 hours on them. However, they aren’t looking to ship for a number of months (and honestly, I don’t think they’ll ship till next spring or summer).
please give me some advice on PM ….
I’d like to jump into the world of cycling with powermeter – but because of the limited budget I think about one of the 2 left-only cranks
Stages G2 vs Pioneer (other PMs: 4iiii is not a solution as don’t have space crank to send them and I didn’t like the Zwatt idea)
I can’t decide which way to go – price is almost the same, I now that Pioneer can be upgraded to both legs ..
any advice? thanks in advance 😉
I’m looking at the Powertap P1 pedals, the single option to keep price down, I believe this option is being launched Oct 1st. Though may be slower to get to Ireland. Luckily in Ireland we have a Cycle to Work Scheme which I hope to use to get these which will bring price down further.
Any point waiting for Christmas? Or will current price be the best yet?
I emailed the Limits logistics team to find out when my PM would be shipped. I was notified on the 27th of September that they had sent it. Over a week later it has still not been received and no response to further emails asking where the item is. Whilst I can tolerate delays and teething issues with a brand new product, I cannot tolerate bare faced lies that the item has been sent when it clearly has not. I will be looking to purchase a 4iii product in the future instead… but I still expect to receive the Limits unit that I have paid for!
If you were me with a 2015 Spesh Tarmac elite (bb30 osbb, praxis chain rings, and turn zayante crank arm)
What power meter, due to the fact that it is hard to find a power meter that is compatible here. I would need to do something with the bottom bracket, chain rings, crank arm.
I don’t know! Not too excited about buying a wheel set to use a hub based meter.
Hey guys great read, I am using a stages LH crank on the training road bike bike, I have heard there are issues with spike on the MTB when landing back on ground…what is the best PWR option for XC MTB?
In my opinion at the moment it’s the best idea to buy last years’s models from Quarz. They are on sale everywhere.
I just bought Quarz Elsa – full crankset with spider and spindle for the price of Stages left crank only + 40 euro more.
Just browse your local shops.
Just one note the Sram Quarq RIKEN have left/right power!
I have one and I didnt know until I got into the firmware.
Nope, they don’t.
They have estimated left/right power, which actually take your power and divides it differently. It’s easily fooled, because it’s not measuring left/right, but rather measuring upstroke/downstroke. A simple example test to show this is try one-leg pedaling. You’ll notice that everything goes to crap, and it’s no longer left/right aligned.
ok, but I read that in your text:
“Quarq was the first unit to estimate power left/right based on which portion of the stroke you were in. Since then they introduced their ELSA unit, which also includes the same technology. RIKEN was also introduced at the same time as a replacement for the older generation Cinqo units. While RIKEN doesn’t have left/right power, they did gain the ability to swap chainrings without sending it back to the factory.”
All quarq´s I supose work this way with estimated left and right.
The only one that measure the real left and right are like the system in TWO pedals Or in two Cranks (two sensors eachside).
Ahh, sorry, gotchya. In that sense both do now have estimated power. I believe my comparison tables are updated however, though not the text of this older post.
As a side note, be sure to check out my 2016 Power Meter guide here: link to dcrainmaker.com
Hi , question, can I transfer a quarq powermeter on a sram red 22 gxp crankset 175mm to the same crankset but 172,5. I heard that the quarq spider was glued to the crank. Thanks
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I am desperatelly trying to find Pedal Pod (12-15mm) for Vector 2.
One of mine has broken, and I cannot get another one, because it was discontinued from Garmin. I have tried from Garmnin Slovenia (my country), even Garmin Europe does not have it. No internet store has it anymore (some 15-18mm are left).
The only place I have found is in Australia, but they do not ship to Slovenia (or any EU country).
Please somebody help me! If not I have to buy new power meter, which is unfortunatelly to much for me at the moment.
Garmin has offered to give me 325,00 EUR for the pedals, if I buy new Rally for 1.119,00 EUR. But this means still apr. 800,00 EUR. But new assioma both sided is around 700,00 EUR. And I would keep the pedals. But even this is too much. My Vector 2 pedals have worked perfectly the whole time. Did not have any problems with them.
I still do not understand how can Garmin stop producing spare items after 6 years from the new product release!!! I know some electronic companies have for over 20 years of making sure, you can get the spare items.
Thanks for all your help.