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Thinking about getting power meter

Old 02-15-17, 04:53 PM
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124Spider
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Thinking about getting power meter

Hi,

First post.

I have recently become a serious recreational cyclist (meaning that I ride 3-5 times a week, average close to 100 miles per week, work hard to go faster, but will never race). I'm 63 years old, and not getting younger.

I only started taking cycling seriously last summer, after my knees finally made me stop running (life-long serious runner). I rode with a Specialized Sirrus Sport while getting in cycling shape, and deciding whether this is an activity I could like.

As an important data point for those trying to help me out here, the turning point was when I bought a Garmin Edge 25 cycling computer; I loved the real-time data it gave me.

After five months of becoming convinced that I'm going to be doing cycling steadily for the foreseeable future, I bought a Cervelo R3, on end-of-model-year sale.

I love the bike! I also bought a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, which my wife and I use when the Seattle weather is too gruesome to be out.

The Kickr has introduced me to the concept of power; my FTP apparently is 225 watts at this point.

I have a heart-rate monitor and a cadence monitor, which read out directly on my Garmin 25.

I'm thinking that knowing the power I'm generating while riding outside would be very helpful, as it would eliminate the variables of hills and wind that make it difficult to tell if I'm just not with it, or if conditions are conspiring against me. And it would allow me to pace myself better over long rides, with objective data.

I'm pretty much convinced that, if I were to take the plunge, the Garmin Vector 2 is the way I would go.

Doing so would require buying a new computer and new shoes. Total cost, including sales tax, would be about US$1400.

That's a pretty staggering sum for me. I'm confident that I will be able to use the data appropriately, but I have no idea if it really would be useful for someone like me, or merely fun. $1400 could be justified if it would be really useful; not so much if it would be merely fun.

Any insights would be gratefully received.

Thanks.

Mark
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Old 02-16-17, 12:17 AM
  #2  
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Following this! I'm in the same spot presently.
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Old 02-16-17, 06:10 AM
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Fun? Absolutely. Useful in your circumstances? Probably not so much. Shop for used if money is the issue. I paid $600 for my Vector 2s, and have seen Edge 1000 computers selling for $300.
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Old 02-16-17, 06:51 AM
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Power data is great. Both for motivation and training and just for the data. I was were you are about 2 years ago. I wanted power or a carbon wheel upgrade. I eventually came a cross a deal for a Powertap in a set of Reynolds carbon wheels. I jumped in with about the same entry price as you're looking at. If you are wanting to keep costs down look at the Powertap hubs and a rear wheel rebuild, the Stages power meters or look to see if a Power2Max meter could fit your bike. The P2Max was the one I chose until I saw the wheels. And unless you really need the independent left/right readings, the other solutions will be just fine. You will see a whole new world of info with real power data.
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Old 02-16-17, 07:20 AM
  #5  
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I recently purchased P1 pedals after falling in love with power as a measurement on Zwift. I went with the left only version and paid about $520 with club discount. I don't feel like I need both sides but if down the road I do, I can add the power pedal to the right side (upgrade kit coming from Powertap). I have an Edge 520 that I like but mostly I use my Edge 820 because it has better turn by turn.

Looking at the reviews the P1's outperformed the Vectors by quite a bit so I would make sure you really want the Vectors before you spend that much...
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Old 02-16-17, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 124Spider View Post
I'm confident that I will be able to use the data appropriately, but I have no idea if it really would be useful for someone like me, or merely fun.
That depends. A power meter can be a tool or a toy. If you plan to use it for structured, power-based training, then it is a useful tool to help you reach your goals. If you just want to see the numbers or use it for 'pacing' then it'll be a toy. Both are fine, but one has to be realistic about what it will be used for and budget accordingly. If you don't want to spend $1400 on a toy, there are cheaper options out there, most attractive one (IMO) being the $300 PT hub. I'd take that one over a single sided power meter any day.

Btw, if you do end up getting a power meter, expect the numbers to be considerably different than what the smart trainer tells you. Don't sweat it, just forget about the previous numbers and use your new PM for everything.
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Old 02-16-17, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
That depends. A power meter can be a tool or a toy. If you plan to use it for structured, power-based training, then it is a useful tool to help you reach your goals. If you just want to see the numbers or use it for 'pacing' then it'll be a toy.
But be sure to remember that unless you're being paid to ride it, the bike itself is a toy. A diversion, a pastime. I have a PM and don't train for anything-- unless I count today's ride as training for tomorrow's ride. But that doesn't mean I want to putter around the neighborhood at 12mph, either.

I just love how the BF faithful will labor over spending a couple hundred bucks on a PM, but will readily plunk down $1000 dollars on do-nothing CF wheels, or $2000+ on an N+1.
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Old 02-16-17, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
But be sure to remember that unless you're being paid to ride it, the bike itself is a toy. A diversion, a pastime.
Of course.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I just love how the BF faithful will labor over spending a couple hundred bucks on a PM, but will readily plunk down $1000 dollars on do-nothing CF wheels, or $2000+ on an N+1.
Both my bikes have power meters. The power meters cost more than the bikes they are attached to in both cases.
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Old 02-16-17, 10:45 AM
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For $300 you can get a Powertap GS hub that will do exactly the same thing as those pedals.
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Old 02-16-17, 10:56 AM
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Thanks so much; this is very helpful.

Originally Posted by kansukee View Post
For $300 you can get a Powertap GS hub that will do exactly the same thing as those pedals.
How easy/difficult is it to install one of these in my wheels, and how do I find out if it'll fit in my wheels?

Thanks again!
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Old 02-16-17, 11:26 AM
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It's just like any other hub. You will need straight pull spokes for this one and the length will depend on your rims. I just ordered one and will have my lbs build it using one of my existing wheels.

ps: I got mine from trisporsts.com and they're on back order till the 23rd. I went with them because I'm a Campy guy and the optional Campy hub that goes for another $99 everywhere else is included in the price.
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Old 02-16-17, 01:00 PM
  #12  
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@124Spider-- I've got a '76 1600!-- I'd say you should definitely get a PM for the bike. Your level of interest and the fact you already use power indoors suggest to me that you could put on-road power to good use in monitoring your fitness and training, as well as engaging your interest in health and cycling.

With regards to pedal meters, have you looked at Powertap P1s? I have clubmates who use both those and Vectors, and the consensus is Powertap P1 are much easier to setup and use.

You are correct that getting into a new PM/computer setup would be about $1.4k for most scenarios (e.g. P1 + Lezyne EnhancedSuperGPS), but as mentioned upthread, you could get into used and/or hub meters for much less if the cost is really going to be a stopper.

To PepeM's comments about "considerably different" power readings, I'm not sure what they meant by that, but I think it's worth saying that PMs are pretty accurate, and while variance between units is normal, there's greater variance in human performance comparing indoor and outdoor rides. It's just easier to make bigger power outdoors for most people, for a variety of reasons. Perceived effort is very hard to compare between indoor and outdoor efforts, which I think is the main issue.

With regards to training numbers indoor and out, I don't have any insight there. I do my power training almost exclusively indoors, and then just use "what I got" outside, relying on how I feel to guide my efforts. I race rarely, but even then don't watch my power because I know I'm capable of more than I think. Most of my outdoor rides with the club are for skills building, endurance, stamina, and general training; I don't do the kinds of specific efforts outside which I do during training sessions indoors, so only indoor numbers guide my training efforts.
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Old 02-16-17, 02:12 PM
  #13  
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I have a power meter. So far I have found it to be primarily useful in training. I am hoping it will be useful in helping me pace myself in races (avoid going too hard too early and burning out, or not going as hard as I can). I haven't used it races yet - that's coming up this Spring and Summer.

If you have a Kick'r you should really give TrainerRoad a try. It's $9 per month and gives you a training plan that is tailored to the amount of time you have, what your goals are, and your current fitness level.
For training, I find a huge advantage in power data. Heart rate and perceived effort are both variable - they're representations of how I am reacting to the training stress. Power tells me exactly how much that training stress is. The best part of training with power data, for me, is feedback about how hard to push. I might be in the middle of a 20 minute interval and feel like I'm dying; but if TrainerRoad knows my FTP and they think I can do this workout, that gives me more confidence that I actually can do it. Or I just got done with a hard interval effort and I'm supposed to be recovering to get ready for the next one - TrainerRoad says, "Dude, take it easy, this is supposed to be recovery."

The only advantage I can see to a power meter on my bike - and the reason I wanted one - was to be able to transport that data into the real world. There's an app called Best Bike Splits (others similar) where you enter in GPS data about the race course and your FTP, and it will tell you, for example, "Don't go over 375W climbing this hill, or you'll cook yourself and hurt your performance later in the race."

If I wasn't racing, I'm not sure I'd care. If I was just touring that same hill, maybe I'd be feeling my oats and I'd hit it hard and kill it (and then maybe take a long easy coast down the other side to recover). Or maybe I'd drop into a total granny gear and take as long as I wanted to get up that hill - particularly if it's a nice view up there. The only reason NOT to go by feel is to save time - ie, use the power I'm able to generate most wisely to finish the race as quickly as I can.

And even then, I'm not a highly competitive racer - having that power data may help me get a PR, but it's not going to be the difference between a podium or not, let alone a fat paycheck or not.
Despite the fact that I actually do have a power meter, I have to admit it's mostly a toy - and honestly a pretty expensive toy at that.

Just a couple of other thoughts: if I was going to get pedal based power, I I'd go with Powertap. The advantage of pedal based meters is supposed to be easy transfer between different bikes. Garmin's pedals are fussy about the install, and if you get the torque a bit off they'll give inaccurate data. This kind of kills the idea of "easily transferrable from one bike to another."
Anybody's power meter of any kind that transmits ANT+ will work with your Garmin head unit.
Finally, I'm not really sold on the two-sided power meter thing. Left-right data, so far, seems more like a curiousity than anything that is really going to help you. My meter does give left-right, and gee whiz, wow, I was 51-49 for today's ride. I'm more like 50-50 when I'm really riding hard. OK, great, what do I do with that? I've never heard any answer to that question that makes sense, so if I could save $300 by dropping the left-right thing, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

If you're wondering, I picked up a used SRAM/Quarq crank set on eBay. That was just the best deal I was able to get on a power meter and it's worked wonderfully.
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Old 02-16-17, 02:14 PM
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Take a look at the Powertap P1 (or P1s) Pedals over the Garmin Vectors. After reading DCRainmaker's reviews, it was an easy decision for me to go with those over the vectors.

Especially if you want to move them from bike to bike.
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Old 02-16-17, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by kansukee View Post
For $300 you can get a Powertap GS hub that will do exactly the same thing as those pedals.
Not quite exactly the same thing when you consider using the PM on multiple bikes.
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Old 02-16-17, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by 124Spider View Post
I'm pretty much convinced that, if I were to take the plunge, the Garmin Vector 2 is the way I would go.

Doing so would require buying a new computer and new shoes. Total cost, including sales tax, would be about US$1400.

That's a pretty staggering sum for me.
Buy a used ANT+ PowerTap hub for $300 or add a bit more for a wheel. Ride with it. If you find the information useful, sell it and upgrade to the Vector. If you don't, just sell it.

You won't spend extra if you end up with the Vectors, and won't be poorer if power isn't for you.

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Old 02-16-17, 08:08 PM
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I start arguments in the racers forum over PMs. Recently I bought a bunch of PMs for me, my son and the team. I'm 56, long time rider, raced years ago, my son is 18 and elite.
Anyway PMs are basically monitoring devices. They are fun, but I have yet to see how they are used to make anyone do things differently (sans ITT), or differently than someone could do without one. Lots of folks use them and swear by them. But many that don't use them are as fast and as powerful.

Buy because you want, you can afford and it is something you enjoy.
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Old 02-16-17, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry77 View Post
Not quite exactly the same thing when you consider using the PM on multiple bikes.
You can either move the wheel to another bike or for that price buy up to 4 hubs. There really is no comparison and the end result is the same. There's no point in spending four times as much.
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Old 02-16-17, 08:55 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by 124Spider View Post
Hi,

First post.

I have recently become a serious recreational cyclist (meaning that I ride 3-5 times a week, average close to 100 miles per week, work hard to go faster, but will never race). I'm 63 years old, and not getting younger.

I only started taking cycling seriously last summer, after my knees finally made me stop running (life-long serious runner). I rode with a Specialized Sirrus Sport while getting in cycling shape, and deciding whether this is an activity I could like.

As an important data point for those trying to help me out here, the turning point was when I bought a Garmin Edge 25 cycling computer; I loved the real-time data it gave me.

After five months of becoming convinced that I'm going to be doing cycling steadily for the foreseeable future, I bought a Cervelo R3, on end-of-model-year sale.

I love the bike! I also bought a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, which my wife and I use when the Seattle weather is too gruesome to be out.

The Kickr has introduced me to the concept of power; my FTP apparently is 225 watts at this point.

I have a heart-rate monitor and a cadence monitor, which read out directly on my Garmin 25.

I'm thinking that knowing the power I'm generating while riding outside would be very helpful, as it would eliminate the variables of hills and wind that make it difficult to tell if I'm just not with it, or if conditions are conspiring against me. And it would allow me to pace myself better over long rides, with objective data.

I'm pretty much convinced that, if I were to take the plunge, the Garmin Vector 2 is the way I would go.

Doing so would require buying a new computer and new shoes. Total cost, including sales tax, would be about US$1400.

That's a pretty staggering sum for me. I'm confident that I will be able to use the data appropriately, but I have no idea if it really would be useful for someone like me, or merely fun. $1400 could be justified if it would be really useful; not so much if it would be merely fun.

Any insights would be gratefully received.

Thanks.

Mark
The defacto bible for using a power meter.

http://www.ipmultisport.com/ref_lib/...ower_Meter.pdf
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Old 02-16-17, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kansukee View Post
You can either move the wheel to another bike or for that price buy up to 4 hubs. There really is no comparison and the end result is the same. There's no point in spending four times as much.
I spent $520 for the P1s pedals, hardly "4 x's the price" and it's much easier to change pedals than a wheel in my opinion. I researched a lot on this topic including getting quotes on wheel builds that would match my front wheel ($1k with the Powertap hub).
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Old 02-16-17, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry77 View Post
I spent $520 for the P1s pedals, hardly "4 x's the price" and it's much easier to change pedals than a wheel in my opinion. I researched a lot on this topic including getting quotes on wheel builds that would match my front wheel ($1k with the Powertap hub).
Uh? Changing a wheel is easier...just open the skewer and slide out the wheel and you're done. If you want to buy another wheelset and use the hub with it that's different. What I talked about was rebuilding an existing wheel; at worst you have to buy new spokes which is hardly $1k.

As a matter of fact I'm doing that with my 2 wheelsets!
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Old 02-16-17, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Larry77 View Post
I spent $520 for the P1s pedals, hardly "4 x's the price" and it's much easier to change pedals than a wheel in my opinion. I researched a lot on this topic including getting quotes on wheel builds that would match my front wheel ($1k with the Powertap hub).
Easier to change pedals than a wheel? Neither is more than a couple minutes, but the wheel doesn't even need the wrench.
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Old 02-16-17, 10:28 PM
  #23  
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I always seem to have to adjust my disc brakes after changing wheels, can be a pain. I did ask for a quote for a whole wheel, not a rebuild, but I have multiple bikes including both disc and caliper brakes so I would need at least two wheels with the PM hubs.

I'm not trying to get into a big debate and I'm sure everyone's situation is a little different...
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Old 02-16-17, 10:38 PM
  #24  
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I have a couple of Powertap wheels and think they are great, but since you already have a kickr, you should get a pedal or crank based meter. You are not going to find the kickr accurate enough vs you actual meter.

I bought a kickr snap so I could use my Powertap data on the trainer. Kind of the opposite situation from you.
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Old 02-17-17, 04:06 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Larry77 View Post
I spent $520 for the P1s pedals, hardly "4 x's the price" and it's much easier to change pedals than a wheel in my opinion. I researched a lot on this topic including getting quotes on wheel builds that would match my front wheel ($1k with the Powertap hub).
I've never heard of P1s that low, not even on sale, and srp is $1200. I'd love to know where you got them for that price, but I doubt that is a typical price and therefore not suitable as a reference price.
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