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  1. #1
    Senior Member ronbridal's Avatar
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    1st Time Training With Power . . Need Help

    After much consideration I had decided to put the idea of buying a Powertap on the backburner. Recently though, I had the opportunity to train with power at a new indoor cycling center in my girlfriend's hometown. I rode a simulated course on a Computrainer at Donnie's Indoor Cycling Experience (dicetraining.com) in Moline, Illinois. The Computrainer alone was way above my current trainer, a Blackburn Trackstand. The roller was as smooth as butter and did an excellent job of simulating the feel of the road. But what was even more amazing was being able to check my power and cadence on the graphic on the bottom of the television screen. I did a 34 mile course with rolling hills, and have never had a better time on a trainer. While I was relatively disappointed with my power results, it did give me the itch again to look at buying a powermeter.

    If I were to look at puchasing a powermeter, I would probably have my search narrowed to two choices. With price in mind, it would be a choice between the Cycleops PowerTap SL and the Polar Power System.

    From what I was told the Polar seems to work fairly well and is much cheaper the the Powertap. The software is superior and allows me to do more with the data. I can also install this on my race bike and would be able to use the information while racing, and not just training. By replacing the current Cateye computer the weight added by the powersystem would be neglible. I have read some negative reviews on roadbikereview about the Polar though and this causes some concern.

    The Powertap has the obvious downfall of being more expensive. However, from what I have read it seems to give a more accurate measurement of power output. One negative I was told though, was the software is not as good as the software that comes with the Polar. THis could just be the personal preference of the source, but I would be interested in hearing comments. Another negative is the setup of the entire system. I would probably just use the power system for training rides (which is most important anyway) and not for races. The reason is I don't want to, or financially risk, risk the chance of destroying the wheel in a crash in a race. That said, I would probably look to get the hub built on Mavic CXP's or Open Pro's. However, I wouldn't rule anything out as far as wheel build.

    All this said, I am looking for some comments about what I have mentioned and what you might recommend. Again, the choices are between the Polar and the PowerTap SL. Any comments or suggestions you may have on either would be appreciated.

    I would like too give some major props to Donnie, at Donnie's Indoor Cycling Experience. If in the Quad Cities area please stop by and give it a chance. Your first visit is free, and in my case he even did fair amount of coaching while I was on the bike because I was the only person there at the time. Thanks in advance for any help!

    Ron

  2. #2
    Slow'n'Aero DrWJODonnell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronbridal
    After much consideration I had decided to put the idea of buying a Powertap on the backburner. Recently though, I had the opportunity to train with power at a new indoor cycling center in my girlfriend's hometown. I rode a simulated course on a Computrainer at Donnie's Indoor Cycling Experience (dicetraining.com) in Moline, Illinois. The Computrainer alone was way above my current trainer, a Blackburn Trackstand. The roller was as smooth as butter and did an excellent job of simulating the feel of the road. But what was even more amazing was being able to check my power and cadence on the graphic on the bottom of the television screen. I did a 34 mile course with rolling hills, and have never had a better time on a trainer. While I was relatively disappointed with my power results, it did give me the itch again to look at buying a powermeter.

    If I were to look at puchasing a powermeter, I would probably have my search narrowed to two choices. With price in mind, it would be a choice between the Cycleops PowerTap SL and the Polar Power System.

    From what I was told the Polar seems to work fairly well and is much cheaper the the Powertap. The software is superior and allows me to do more with the data. I can also install this on my race bike and would be able to use the information while racing, and not just training. By replacing the current Cateye computer the weight added by the powersystem would be neglible. I have read some negative reviews on roadbikereview about the Polar though and this causes some concern.

    The Powertap has the obvious downfall of being more expensive. However, from what I have read it seems to give a more accurate measurement of power output. One negative I was told though, was the software is not as good as the software that comes with the Polar. THis could just be the personal preference of the source, but I would be interested in hearing comments. Another negative is the setup of the entire system. I would probably just use the power system for training rides (which is most important anyway) and not for races. The reason is I don't want to, or financially risk, risk the chance of destroying the wheel in a crash in a race. That said, I would probably look to get the hub built on Mavic CXP's or Open Pro's. However, I wouldn't rule anything out as far as wheel build.

    All this said, I am looking for some comments about what I have mentioned and what you might recommend. Again, the choices are between the Polar and the PowerTap SL. Any comments or suggestions you may have on either would be appreciated.

    I would like too give some major props to Donnie, at Donnie's Indoor Cycling Experience. If in the Quad Cities area please stop by and give it a chance. Your first visit is free, and in my case he even did fair amount of coaching while I was on the bike because I was the only person there at the time. Thanks in advance for any help!

    Ron
    I have some experience with the polar power meter in the past. While it is good (IF YOU SET IT UP CORRECTLY), it is not great due to some variation depending on chain position (read: which gear you are in). It is a good way to get into power training and has the advantage of giving you race performance numbers which will tell you what you SHOULD have been doing in training. Race power numbers are very important to me.

    Polar MAY be less expensive, but only if you already have an HRM like the 720i or the 725. While I like the software that polar has (and I still use it regularly for my rides even though I have not used a polar power meter for some time), you will probably want to pick up the $99 cycling peaks software (a new build that will be much superior comes out at the end of this year, but don't wait...the info in there is too valuable even now). So tack on th $99 regardless of what power meter you get.

    PT is nice but is limited to racing or training, and for me using a TT disc was never an option. While good, my understanding is that in the cold and in the water it gets a bit flakey. And there is no elevation/climb data like you have with Polar. Still, if you look at it's expense versus the polar power meter plus the watch, you will find that they are not that far off in price.

    Lastly, as a side note, a teammate of mine has been running the IBike power meter along side of his Power tap for about 2000 miles now and he says it is spot on with the power tap. In addition, the I bike is $500 and thus the cheapest (assuming you don't have the polar watch). Also, you can get virtual frontal area measurements (important for TTing). The disadvantage seems to be no use on the trainer and for a TT bike your hands obscure the wind. Also of note, the Ibike will be upgrading to a wireless cadence as well as polar coded compatability which is important in the peloton.

    **EDIT** The I bike is supposed to be very easy to switch between bikes. The polar is not.***
    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    They all have their pluses and minuses. Read Training and Racing with Power by Allena nd Coggan. They do a good job comparing. (and you'll want the book when you buy a Powermeter).

    As for PT software, whatever meter you buy, get Cycling Peaks WKO. It will work withanyof the meters.So the olusy PT software, I don't see as a signficant point.

    As for PT and water, this has gotten better. I never had any problem with my PT SL in the rain. I did manage to mess it up on the backof the car for 12 hours at 80 mph on the interstate in a heavy rain.

    However PT replaced the torque tube (under warranty) with a new better sealed torque tube. If you buy a new PT SL or 2.4 I don't think water will be a significant issue.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ronbridal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
    They all have their pluses and minuses. Read Training and Racing with Power by Allena nd Coggan. They do a good job comparing. (and you'll want the book when you buy a Powermeter).

    As for PT software, whatever meter you buy, get Cycling Peaks WKO. It will work withanyof the meters.So the olusy PT software, I don't see as a signficant point.

    As for PT and water, this has gotten better. I never had any problem with my PT SL in the rain. I did manage to mess it up on the backof the car for 12 hours at 80 mph on the interstate in a heavy rain.

    However PT replaced the torque tube (under warranty) with a new better sealed torque tube. If you buy a new PT SL or 2.4 I don't think water will be a significant issue.
    I too have a hitch rack and would be transporting the bike to races that way. I would assume the hub is what gets messed up with the rain and that was what your problem was. If Travelling to a racewould it be more useful to bring along another training rear wheel just in case there is a considerable amount of rain in the forecast? That way the rear Powertap wheel would be in the car, dry. What do you think?

  5. #5
    Senior Member ronbridal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
    I have some experience with the polar power meter in the past. While it is good (IF YOU SET IT UP CORRECTLY), it is not great due to some variation depending on chain position (read: which gear you are in). It is a good way to get into power training and has the advantage of giving you race performance numbers which will tell you what you SHOULD have been doing in training. Race power numbers are very important to me.

    Polar MAY be less expensive, but only if you already have an HRM like the 720i or the 725. While I like the software that polar has (and I still use it regularly for my rides even though I have not used a polar power meter for some time), you will probably want to pick up the $99 cycling peaks software (a new build that will be much superior comes out at the end of this year, but don't wait...the info in there is too valuable even now). So tack on th $99 regardless of what power meter you get.

    PT is nice but is limited to racing or training, and for me using a TT disc was never an option. While good, my understanding is that in the cold and in the water it gets a bit flakey. And there is no elevation/climb data like you have with Polar. Still, if you look at it's expense versus the polar power meter plus the watch, you will find that they are not that far off in price.

    Lastly, as a side note, a teammate of mine has been running the IBike power meter along side of his Power tap for about 2000 miles now and he says it is spot on with the power tap. In addition, the I bike is $500 and thus the cheapest (assuming you don't have the polar watch). Also, you can get virtual frontal area measurements (important for TTing). The disadvantage seems to be no use on the trainer and for a TT bike your hands obscure the wind. Also of note, the Ibike will be upgrading to a wireless cadence as well as polar coded compatability which is important in the peloton.

    **EDIT** The I bike is supposed to be very easy to switch between bikes. The polar is not.***
    Hope this helps.
    Which power meter do you personally use? If the powertap, what rim do you have it paired with? Do you use it for both training and racing? Thanks!

  6. #6
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
    Lastly, as a side note, a teammate of mine has been running the IBike power meter along side of his Power tap for about 2000 miles now and he says it is spot on with the power tap. In addition, the I bike is $500 and thus the cheapest (assuming you don't have the polar watch). Also, you can get virtual frontal area measurements (important for TTing). The disadvantage seems to be no use on the trainer and for a TT bike your hands obscure the wind. Also of note, the Ibike will be upgrading to a wireless cadence as well as polar coded compatability which is important in the peloton.

    **EDIT** The I bike is supposed to be very easy to switch between bikes. The polar is not.***
    Hope this helps.
    The hardest part about moving the iBike is pulling the handlebar mount off and installing it on the next bike. Currently, the speed and cadence sensors are wired, so you'll need to cut some tie-wraps and have extra tie-wraps for remounting. If you don't want to fool around with any of this, you can buy another mount for $89US.

    The iBike is still going through development--but, actually all of the powermeters are for one reason or another. Currently, there is an "opportunity for improvement" regarding it's operation in cold weather. The CR2032 lithium coin battery doesn't like the cold and "gives up the ghost" in 15-30 minutes in mid-20s F weather.

    I agree on the point about the "Athlete" version ($99US) of the CyclingPeaks software. Great stuff, but it's by no means in a mature state. The Performance Manager is a great addition and used correctly, can assist you in reaching a "peak" for an important event.

    IMHO, I would not get a PM that I couldn't use in races. That is the most important data that you can place in the CyclingPeaks software. Races bring out performances that would never be duplicated in training.

    EDIT: Also, the iBike -can- and is being used on trainers and rollers. It's a matter of modifying the reach of the speed sensor so that it can be mounted by the rear wheel (for a trainer). For rollers, no change is needed. Both situations require messing around with calibration parameters to get a representative wattage number from the iBike.
    Last edited by NoRacer; 01-28-07 at 11:03 AM.
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  7. #7
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronbridal
    I too have a hitch rack and would be transporting the bike to races that way. I would assume the hub is what gets messed up with the rain and that was what your problem was. If Travelling to a racewould it be more useful to bring along another training rear wheel just in case there is a considerable amount of rain in the forecast? That way the rear Powertap wheel would be in the car, dry. What do you think?
    Based on my experience I won't drive at highway speeds for any considerble distance in the rain with it on a hitch rack. Admittedly, I gave it the extreme torture test, and with the new upgraded seals it might well be ok. But I have a feeling if returend to Saris with the same scenario, they might not be as accomodatig the second time.

  8. #8
    Slow'n'Aero DrWJODonnell's Avatar
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    IMHO, I would not get a PM that I couldn't use in races. That is the most important data that you can place in the CyclingPeaks software. Races bring out performances that would never be duplicated in training.
    +10 on that brother.

    EDIT: Also, the iBike -can- and is being used on trainers and rollers. It's a matter of modifying the reach of the speed sensor so that it can be mounted by the rear wheel (for a trainer). For rollers, no change is needed. Both situations require messing around with calibration parameters to get a representative wattage number from the iBike.
    I thought the IBike needed wind spead for power measurement. Thus I did not think it could be used indoors. If I was mistaken on this, I am sorry.

    Which power meter do you personally use? If the powertap, what rim do you have it paired with? Do you use it for both training and racing? Thanks!
    Teammates have used the PT with success. I could ask about it. I personally use the Dura Ace SRM. Stiff, light, accurate, and stupicly easy to change from bike to bike (2 minute changeover...of course I also purchased an extra wiring harness). I wish it wasn't so stupidly expensive and that it measured altitude, but all in all it is a great unit to have.

  9. #9
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell
    I thought the IBike needed wind spead for power measurement. Thus I did not think it could be used indoors. If I was mistaken on this, I am sorry.
    The iBike uses wind pressure, if there is wind pressure to be had, but if not, as is the case for trainers or rollers, you can set the Aero Drag parameter to zero and the iBike will track along with speed. It's a matter of how much to let it track with speed. You have to futz around with the Frictional Drag parameter (and perhaps rider and bike weight) to get it to match a known calibrated value for your roller or trainer. Kreitler has a table of values for it's roller systems (measured using an SRM) and Kurt Kinetic has power curves for their trainers available from their web site. Of course, why would you use an iBike if the KK trainer shows power? Answer, to get the training data into your analysis software (i.e., CyclingPeaks),
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  10. #10
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    I've been using a PowerTap for about a week now and can tell you it's probably the best investment I've ever made with regards to cycling. The biggest thing about integrating power measurement into your training is this: the more data you have, the more beneficial it is. Every ride I record with my PT and analyze adds another layer of knowledge and improves my training/racing strategy. Knowing how many watts I can put out over a 5 second, 20 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, etc. interval is invaluable.

    I can wholeheartedly recommend a PowerTap from personal experience. Think of this as an investment, because training and racing with power really will improve your ability expoentially. As such, invest in a known and proven product.
    "When you are chewing the bars at the business end of a 90 mile road race you really dont care what gear you have hanging from your bike so long as it works."
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  11. #11
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh

    As for PT and water, this has gotten better. I never had any problem with my PT SL in the rain. I did manage to mess it up on the backof the car for 12 hours at 80 mph on the interstate in a heavy rain.
    Heh....when I went down to Myrtle Beach over Christmas/New Years (a 12 hour drive as well), I had my bike on a hitch rack.....I managed to get water in my frame, fork, and front wheel. When I took off my seatpost to drain it, I had water pouring out of my frame and my headset area

    Yeah, that kinda sucked.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdcheung
    I've been using a PowerTap for about a week now and can tell you it's probably the best investment I've ever made with regards to cycling. The biggest thing about integrating power measurement into your training is this: the more data you have, the more beneficial it is. Every ride I record with my PT and analyze adds another layer of knowledge and improves my training/racing strategy. Knowing how many watts I can put out over a 5 second, 20 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, etc. interval is invaluable.

    I can wholeheartedly recommend a PowerTap from personal experience. Think of this as an investment, because training and racing with power really will improve your ability expoentially. As such, invest in a known and proven product.
    If you've only been using it a week, surely that's too early to tell if it's actually a good investment as opposed to a fun gadget (unless you also bought the 400W dial)

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    one thing ive noticed with my PT is that the display gets a lil weird in cold weather. i was out on a ride earlier, around 15F, and some of the display was lagging or just not showing. on my rides around 30F though it was fine. just something to keep in mind.

    i still don't know if im going to race with my PT since if i wrecked it or the wheel in a race, i wouldnt be able to train properly for a while before it got fixed. hah if i had more money i would have gotten an srm, but who could say no to a PT pro laced to a dura ace rim for $500?

  14. #14
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    The display lag is characteristic of any LCD display.
    "When you are chewing the bars at the business end of a 90 mile road race you really dont care what gear you have hanging from your bike so long as it works."
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    Quote Originally Posted by stea1thviper
    i still don't know if im going to race with my PT since if i wrecked it or the wheel in a race, i wouldnt be able to train properly for a while before it got fixed.
    The data you'll get from races is more valuable than the slight risk to the wheel. If you're that concerned though, buy a spare rim now and bring a six pack to your local shop. That should be enough to insure you're back on the road the day after messing up the wheel.

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    +1 for Cycling Peaks
    and
    +1 for PT SL.

    Build up the PT on a light rim like an Open Pro, DT RR1.1, or Velocity Aerohead, and you'll have a light enough wheel that you can race with in a majority of races you do. Sure I might change out the PT wheel with something lighter and aero for an "A" race, but I've found that my racing data is the most valuable data. Training rides, no matter how hard you push yourself, will not replicate a race.

    Cycling Peaks is hands-down, no questions asked requirement for any power meter. A power meter is worthless without software to interpret your data.

    My Powertap SL and Cycling Peaks has been the single best cycling investment I have made. Its easy to track your rides and watch your progress. Its nice knowing that you really did have a hard workout even though it felt easy the whole time. (but then again, its really depressing when you gave it all you got and showed puny power numbers).

    Would I buy it again? Yes, though if you were really serious with racing and training with power, you may consider an SRM, though it costs twice as much. But when you consider you have to buy two powertaps to have a training and racing wheelset, it evens out.

  17. #17
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    Have any of you actually tried Power Agent 7? It's the latest version of the (free) software made by saris and it's not that bad. I had cycling peaks for a week (free trial) and it's definately better, but the free stuff is pretty decent too.

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    i didnt want to throw another $100 at some software so ive been using power agent 7. im sure cycling peaks is great, but there's nothing i havnt been able to do that i wanted to do with power agent 7. *shrug* i dont think id ever pay $100 for any software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stea1thviper
    i didnt want to throw another $100 at some software so ive been using power agent 7. im sure cycling peaks is great, but there's nothing i havnt been able to do that i wanted to do with power agent 7. *shrug* i dont think id ever pay $100 for any software.
    I haven't looked at power agent lately. Did they add something along the lines of the performace manager that tracks fitness and fatigue and lets you tune the program to include your personal response to training to time peaks?

  20. #20
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    Poweragent doesn't do PMC. Unless you're using the homebrewed TSTWKT or another version of PMC profiling, no other software will compare to the capabilities of Cyclingpeaks. I have Power Agent 7, and while it's got pretty lines and charts - lack of normalized power, TSS values, or the myriad of other analysis data Cyclingpeaks provides, it's just... well.. pretty lines and charts.

    As a note, I've had no problems with my PT SL that I purchased in October in temps down to freezing and in heavy rain (though never heavy rain on the roof/back of the car) I do rubber band a plastic zip bag over the computer when I know it's going to be really heavy rain just as a precaution, but the hub has been flawless.
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    pretty lines and charts? dunno about other people, but i actually find the pretty charts quite useful. they tell me what my power was at a certain time...

    as for tracking fitness. i kinda do that on my own. with all the talk of cyclingpeaks however, i think i might try the trial version to see exactly what you guys are talking about.

  22. #22
    Sick ... again MacMan's Avatar
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    I've used my PT SL on my 'cross bike in some really crappy weather and conditions. No issues at all. I do get a little anal about greasing the seals properly though when I swap out the hub batteries - given that I've had no issues so far I think I'll continue to do that! I just wish those buggers at American Classic would agree to lace it to my existing AC420 rear wheel instead of telling me I have to buy a whole new wheel with the SL installed. I don't need two rear 420s and I sure don't need (well, can't justify) 2 PT SLs.

    The new Power Agent is not bad - at least this version allows the analysis of intervals that the previous .NET version lost. I use the online CyclingPeaks so I get the best of both worlds. Only issue I've found is that the PowerAgent 7 software screws up the export of data when the wattage goes over 1000. It seems to shift the numbers in the .csv file when you hit watts of 1000+ which is a PITA. Hopefully they'll fix that.

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