Thread: Power Meters
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Old June 14th 21, 04:47 PM posted to
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Default Power Meters

On Monday, June 14, 2021 at 7:27:35 AM UTC-7, James Carrington wrote:
On Monday, June 14, 2021 at 6:08:25 AM UTC-4, Rolf Mantel wrote:
Am 13.06.2021 um 21:35 schrieb Tom Kunich:

While there are still those who might think it useful I would like to
know why you think it would be useful and what sort of knowledge do
you think that it would impart that you could not detect simply
through your legs without the extra weight of $500 in your wallet?

I'd take a power meter for $100 or so, in the hope that I can see more
easily whether I'm slower than usual

a) due to a bad night's sleep (power low)
b) due to external factors (power normal)

As of today, I can tell easily whether I'm slow due to the wind (speed
difference after the 90 degree bends) but issues like "far too low tire
pressure" and "chain is in desparate need of oil" I only notice
indirectly (Monday after servicing the bike I'm significantly faster
than Friday before servicing the bike).

If the power meter is sufficiently exact, I'd use it to still my
scientific curiosity comparing the wind resistence with various setups
(on the drops vs on the hoods vs recumbent bike, one very full pannier
vs two half-filled panniers etc).

Similary, once in my life I bought a heart rate monitor for cycling
which confirmed that my "feeling good" was a close enough measurement,
and after a few years of bike computers with cadence sensor I'm now
happy with mobile phone GPS without cadence sensor.


Power meters are incredibly useful as a metric for fitness and for targeted training. However, if you aren't a competitive cyclist it isn't of much more use than any other electronic gizmo. Since I am a competitive cyclist, I rely on one rather heavily for training. That said, my use of a power meter is exclusively indoor, since external variables like weather, terrain, and traffic often conspire to thwart outdoor efforts. Being in the sport competitively for over 30 years, I have a reasonably good sense of RPE. Besides that, while racing your power numbers are largely irrelevant. If you can go with an attack, you go. Watching a power number is no more than a distraction at that point. It's not uncommon to see riders both pro and amateur put a piece of electrical tape over a power display when racing. Sure, you can analyze the data after and figure out 'gee, no wonder I got dropped', or 'I really shouldn't have been dropped'. As Rolf points out, the data can tell you a lot about your level of fitness, either generally or if you're over-trained. As far as I can tell, there is no one in this forum (aside from me) who would use a power meter for its designed purpose.

I'm surprised you only use yours for indoor efforts. Even with weather, terrain, etc., measuring power allows you to maintain consistent effort, particularly climbing and in headwinds. And can't pros and amateurs set their screens to not display power? That would seem like a better option than using electrical tape. Personally, I just wouldn't look -- but then again, I don't have a power meter.

IME, people purchased power meters for all sorts of reasons -- from just wanting a gizmo, to serious training to cardiac rehab (or other rehab like leg imbalance). It's just a measuring device, and one can use measurements for lots of reasons. I think its a bad value proposition as a gizmo, but that's just me. Fundamentally, though, EVERYONE should buy a Stages power meter to keep the Portland/Boulder economies strong.

My son worked for Stages and had/has lots of power meters, and I always thought it was fun getting sprint numbers or numbers from parts of our rides or our morning commute (the commute could be like an ad hoc criterium). That was entertainment enough for me, and I passed on getting a meter -- but who knows, if I'm offered a pro contract next year, I may reconsider.

-- Jay Beattie.


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