Power meters. How did they help you?

So I’m pretty new to the whole thing, have done 6 or 7 ish races since November & now moving up to C grade.

Riding a ~7 year old alloy 105-level thing with some OK semi-aero alloy wheels. I don’t have a speedo, HRM, cadence monitor, gps-doodads or anything, just train on PE and a stopwatch velcro’d tight to the bars. Post-ride analysis on stravaaaa is about as high-tech as it gets here.

That’s not to say I don’t want any data stuff, I’m just rather tight saving for a house, etc, at the moment. And I try to hold off on impulse buying stuff, because I know if I buy the slightly wrong thing, I’ll have to just buy the right thing later & end up spending twice as much as if I’d just been a little more patient.

Anyway I’m starting to think I’ll be able to improve a hell of a lot faster if I can have something resembling structured training. I’m thinking some kind of cadence-capable PM and an edge 500/800 will do the trick.

In the future, if/when I get to B grade, I’ll probably start thinking about seriously getting a race-dedicated bike & some fancy-ass hellaflush deep dish carbon wheels. I imagine I would use my current bike for training, so whatever power meter I get, I’d like it to be fairly interchangeable… And cheap.

So that pretty much leaves the Stages, or 2nd hand Quarq.

Quarq : 2nd hand for probably $1,000. Want to try find a compact crankset so that might be hard. One for sale now on BNA for $1,100.
Stages : Don’t seem to come up 2nd hand. Would need to spend 600/700 on the crank, as well as a few hundred for a compatible driveside crank + BB. So that might come up to $1000 anyway, same as quarq…

So. Have you bought one? How did you find it helped you, did you see noticeable gains? Should I fork out for one now, or wait until I’m on the pointy end of C-grade before splurging on something like this? Or something else entirely? Interested in anyones experience with them at all :slight_smile:

I don’t think its worth the money unless you plan on taking it ultra serious and getting a coach. You can move up grades without getting too techy. Just learn about how to train and maybe get a heart rate monitor. Power meters are useful and fun but your better off spending the money on better bikes/wheels I think. Though I may be very wrong.

not going to go into whether it’s necessary or not.
buy a stages. new.

you don’t want to know how many power meters i warranty a month.

A PM isn’t necessary to improve. Just consistent training and a good judge of PE will help you work your way up through the grades…

Having said that I’ve been on the PM train for around 3 years now. I find especially as an older athlete, I need to focus on quality over quantity as I can’t just smash myself day in day out as I could when i was younger! Riding with a PM means I can accurately focus my training sessions to work in specific zones without any guesswork.

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses by testing, you can organise a training program without a coach - naturally helps if you enjoy reading and researching training literature.

As to which units - I swear by wired SRM’s (although SRM are meant to be slowly phasing out parts for the wired units), having bought all my units second hand. Of the 3 PM’s (original SRM Pro on the road bike, FSA K Force on the TT bike and Track SRM for on the velodrome) I only recently had issues with the SRM Pro with the Coil being damaged by baggage handlers on my return from the States and which was fixed by SRM Oceania. So realistically the units will just need batteries replaced over the next few years, which can be done at home if you can solder.

I am still racing on an Al bike running 2003 Chorus - if I had to make the decision between new bike or PM I’d always pick the PM first.

But before you drop $$$ and buy a unit, I’d recommend reading Racing and Training with a PM first to see if a PM is for you. I have a spare copy (V1 of the book which has most of what’s in V2) I could lend you if in Melbourne?

The beauty of power meters is the consistent measurement of the work you do, rather than guesstimates like perceived effort, or heart rate which can vary in usefulness if you’re sick or tired - there’s no lying to yourself. It won’t do the work for you, but if you’re serious about it then you can make far greater improvements through the use of one than the handful of seconds you’d get with a new bike.

Stages don’t come up secondhand due to it only being out here for about two months!

Power2Max Version 2 (initial temperature drift issues appear to be fixed in V2) units now would be another worthwhile option to consider? Closest distributor is in NZ…

Stages V1 appears to be having some issues (battery covers and water ingress) - kudos for Stages getting this resolved very quickly, but I am still wary of V1 tech…

Been happy with my Powertap, no issues with it in 4 years. Haven’t been on a coached program for a while but when I was, I found it great for keeping consistent (honest?), especially doing intervals 'cos I’m crap at PE and my HR tends to vary a bit. My dude used to get real forensic about it and it was good, I’d use one again on a structured program but for JRA and weekend warrior stuff I wouldn’t bother.

Just get a Garmin 500 with heart rate and cadence,
This will be enough to get you to a grade if you work hard enough
As for a race only bike if you can afford it yes but hell I just run one roadie for everything and as for hella deeeep carbon any more than 50mm is probably a big over kill as most racing is crits so you just want a wheel that’s stiff and spins up quickly

Just don’t over think it, get they Garmin and then get a coach and bust your gut.

But your right srm/quark are bloody awesome if you can afford it

Get a Garmin edge 500 for cheap and start training by %MHR, you’ll need the unit for when you eventually get a PM anyway. If you decide to stick with it or get more serious save a little more and get the power meter later.

I’m pretty close to buying a PM myself and have been weighing up the same options of quark vs stages, I was a stages skeptic for a while but all reviews seem to think that they’re pretty good now that they have fixed the software issues.

EDIT: I’m pretty new to the whole training properly thing but from my limited experience I can say getting a coach will help you a lot. I think I have improved heaps since having one and it takes the guess work out of what riding you should or shouldn’t be doing.
A lot of people will tell you it takes the fun out of riding but I really enjoy the structure and know a few others who are enjoying it also.

Cycling Training Videos / THE SUFFERFEST

+3 get a Garmin 500. Come up cheap second hand pretty regular. They have a function where you can race against a ghost on a pre-determined course which is good to push yourself and your strava info will be accurate your phone will not. Only issue I’ve had with the 500 is you have to check the magnet alignment pretty regularly as when they get a little off (even a mm or 2) they can go a little silly, but thats nothing major hey.

Garmin Vector Pedals?

I have read a couple of dodgy reviews, but seen plenty of good ones. A guy at the track swears by them. Easy to swap between bikes too.

From what I hear they are ok but don’t work with some cranks

And if considering second hand, wireless SRM’s are starting to be around the price point you are looking at.

I am still a little wary about the Stages just doubling the left leg power. Enough studies have shown pedaling asymmetry exists and varies depending on exertion… i.e The influence of pedaling rate on bilateral asymme… [J Biomech. 1999] - PubMed - NCBI

This is why a power meter with left and right power is higher on my list than a stages unit. That said, stages should work to give a consistent number you can train from. Sure the actual FTP might be off, but if it gives consistent readings to go off you can still train properly with it right? You might just miss out on bragging rights for actual power output.

My old man has been racing since the 80’s and he swears by a heart rate monitor. It all comes down to that pump in your chest. Once you know what your actual max is, and have used it for a while and understand roughly where your HR should be for how you feel (as in how much exersion, how tired you are) you can work out if you have anything left when in a sprint/breakaway etc. You can also see if your heart rate is higher/lower than it should be and ride accordingly. As another example, If you’re riding with it too high for a sustained period you might find that last 5/10km to the finish difficult when the pace picks up. He’s exceeded his theoretical max a fair bit and even exceeded his known max on few occasions, usually on days where he says he feels super strong.

The real beauty of watts is that you can train to hit and know what your possible of holding,
Say you go for a solo you know you can sit in 400 watts for an hour and that’s what you do
This is why it’s amazing for tt and ironman tri, just pick your watts and ride to it.

This is similar to a heart rate but the heart rate will tell you how the engines running not it’s out put.

Both together is perfect in a real world.

Which one do you go by if you’re having a “jour sans”?

That is the big question… Are the values consistent?

From what I’ve read, an individuals pedal power balance with differ due to many factors such as effort and fatigue. So you cannot even make the assumption that at a particular power zone it will be consistent between sessions as fatigue could change your pedal asymmetry.

Really depends on what you want to use the data for? General training having a value a couple of watts out from actual isn’t a huge deal as you are training to zones. Though if using multiple PM’s higher accuracy is preferred. But there are other uses for a PM where accurate data is necessary such as aerodynamics field testing to name one…

Heart rate is a useable metric so worth the OP considering getting the Garmin 500 (will need a head unit eventually if getting the PM). Issue with HR is in the shorter and harder efforts it lags what is actually happening, and in longer efforts there is can be cardiac drift.

Again, none of the above are necessary, many really good riders have got to where they are by just training properly. Biggest plus I’ve personally seen with power is training in the right zones for what you are working on that session. The risk of just using PE is hard sessions may not be ridden hard enough and on recovery rides too hard. True recovery ride pace is embarrassingly slow!

The OP has done under ten races in d grade and is strapped for cash.

The OP should get a bike fit, keep riding and racing, look for a used garmin/hrm/cadence setup and then consider a coach. hellaflush bikes/wheels/power meters are a long way away from being needed.

That said, stages just released their high speed bluetooth data update and verve (WA based) are releasing their system soon.