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iBike vs. Power tap

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iBike vs. Power tap

Old 04-09-15, 06:36 PM
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iBike vs. Power tap

Hello everybody! I'm exited to be finally buying a power meter in the next month or so. I want the best value possible. I don't want to spend any more than I have to. I just want to be able to pace myself better during rides and analyze my fitness progression over time. I've never used power before but always use my HR monitor to stay in the right zones. It's helped me so much. Ive been reading "training and racing with a power meter" and I'm convinced it will help me become more fit.

Im really interested in the new iBike newton+ for its low cost, good software, and comparable accuracy to more expensive products. I would try stages power meters but I'm unsure if my bike is compatable (felt da TT bike). The powertap is tried and true but heavy and expensive. Plus, I run 650c wheels which are hard to come by with power tap. Quarq and SRM are obviously out of budget. What should I buy? Is the iBike really that bad? The new one gets great reviews but some forum members say it's just not good enough and you must spend atleast $1000 or your wasting your money. Opinions?
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Old 04-09-15, 07:02 PM
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Every model of iBike I've seen tested was highly inaccurate. I have no reason to assume the Newton+ would be different.

You can always buy a PT hub and lace to whatever rim you'd like, 650b included. That's be my choice (unless I could find a used crank based power meter).
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Old 04-09-15, 07:03 PM
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interesting, i was reading about ibike today. its still 600 dollars though isnt it? from what i read, i bike uses a bunch of different factors, such as air pressure, speed and riding position and road conditions to calculate power. it can be pretty close to other power meters, but i don't know how accurate it is if you change your riding position a little, riding a rougher roads, lower tire pressure....where as a regular power meter isnt dependent on those factors.
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Old 04-09-15, 07:06 PM
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Old 04-09-15, 07:23 PM
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Everyone says iBike is inaccurate. But if you look at dcrainmaker review, magazines, youtube, etc... It seems pretty close to the big boys. I wonder just how much position changes and road surfaces effect the iBike readings.

If I get a decent used power tap, how much $ would I be spending? Can somebody list all the things I need to get a setup going? I would probably end up selling the wheelset I have (reynolds solitude) and upgrading to carbon while I'm at it, as I already have a spare carbon front zipp wheel. How much would the head unit cost? Does the hub need maintenance?
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Old 04-09-15, 07:28 PM
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Buy a used powertap for a couple hundred and get it rebuilt with a 650 rim.

Or better yet:

PowerTap 24H Wired Hub with Computer and Harness | eBay
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Old 04-09-15, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
If I get a decent used power tap, how much $ would I be spending?
$300 wireless head unit not included. $150 wired (get the carbon window hub, not the original with the end cap held on with two allen head screws) complete.

Can somebody list all the things I need to get a setup going?[
Powertap, spokes, battery cover wrench, head unit, download cradle if you get a Cervo head, home computer, Golden Cheetah (free)

I would probably end up selling the wheelset I have (reynolds solitude) and upgrading to carbon while I'm at it, as I already have a spare carbon front zipp wheel. How much would the head unit cost? Does the hub need maintenance?
< $50 for a wireless Cervo "little yellow computer" plus more for the download cradle. $150 for a Garmin Edge 500 if you shop around.

You'll spend much more for a carbon wheel.

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Old 04-09-15, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Hello everybody! I'm exited to be finally buying a power meter in the next month or so. I want the best value possible. I don't want to spend any more than I have to. I just want to be able to pace myself better during rides and analyze my fitness progression over time. I've never used power before but always use my HR monitor to stay in the right zones. It's helped me so much. Ive been reading "training and racing with a power meter" and I'm convinced it will help me become more fit.

Im really interested in the new iBike newton+ for its low cost, good software, and comparable accuracy to more expensive products. I would try stages power meters but I'm unsure if my bike is compatable (felt da TT bike). The powertap is tried and true but heavy and expensive. Plus, I run 650c wheels which are hard to come by with power tap. Quarq and SRM are obviously out of budget. What should I buy? Is the iBike really that bad? The new one gets great reviews but some forum members say it's just not good enough and you must spend atleast $1000 or your wasting your money. Opinions?
If those are really your needs, then your needs aren't very demanding and almost any power meter, including the Newton, would probably be okay. The iBike is a reasonable, if relatively expensive, gateway drug to power. In fact, if you've been getting good results with your HRM, with a bit more attention to detail you could probably do about as well with that, and it's cheaper.

Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Everyone says iBike is inaccurate. But if you look at dcrainmaker review, magazines, youtube, etc... It seems pretty close to the big boys. I wonder just how much position changes and road surfaces effect the iBike readings.
I haven't tested the Newton. I tested the previous generations. Position changes and road surface and cross winds do affect the readings. In addition, since you're riding a Felt DA you should know that the iBike works best when the front port is in "clean" air so you'd want the extension to put that somewhere clean. Not sure where that'd be but maybe you don't care.

As for accuracy, iBike has said that every generation of iBike was an improvement over the previous generation. iBike also claimed that every generation, including the first, was as accurate as a Power Tap.

If I get a decent used power tap, how much $ would I be spending? Can somebody list all the things I need to get a setup going? I would probably end up selling the wheelset I have (reynolds solitude) and upgrading to carbon while I'm at it, as I already have a spare carbon front zipp wheel. How much would the head unit cost? Does the hub need maintenance?
About a year ago a friend picked up a used PT in a 650c alloy rim with head unit ~$375. But he was looking for a long time -- there are plenty of 700c wheels but not many 650c's.

Or, you could stay with your HRM.
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Old 04-09-15, 07:50 PM
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Everyone says power blows away heart rate, which makes sense. How much faster will I improve my fitness if I use a power meter properly vs. $50 chest strap HRM? I do get good results with HRM vs. just RPE but I do wonder about power...

Last edited by Eyedrop; 04-09-15 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 04-09-15, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Everyone says power blows away heart rate, which makes sense. How much faster will I improve my fitness if I use a power meter properly vs. $50 chest strap HRM?
Depends on how dedicated you are to learning how to use it, and training accordingly.

It's just a measuring device, not a magic wand.
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Old 04-09-15, 08:07 PM
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I haven't used a Newton+, but I looked at them closely, and the issue is not with the accuracy (which is good) but with the need to calibrate ahead of each ride, which is fussy.
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Old 04-09-15, 08:27 PM
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just an FYI, Boyd Johnson , who is the founder of Boyd Wheels, actually help develop an iBike unit (I forgot which one, I had prior correspondence with him).

From Pro Racer to Wheel Warrior - Cycling Training iBike® Sports Blog

Team Colombia also uses the iBike.

PS

No I don't have an iBike and neither plans to have one.
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Old 04-09-15, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Everyone says power blows away heart rate, which makes sense. How much faster will I improve my fitness if I use a power meter properly vs. $50 chest strap HRM? I do get good results with HRM vs. just RPE but I do wonder about power...
It's doubtful it will change your fitness. I've got 3 power meters and use them religiously because I'm curious but there's no getting around the fact that you still have to do the work. Even with a powermeter there's a significant amount of RPE used in determining how hard to go for a particular interval. A powermeter provides a more objective measure of your improvement so if you're still experimenting with training regimens then it could be helpful. It's also convenient for short (under 5 min) intervals and for assessing your strengths and weaknesses.

Hard training combined with lots of racing will do a good job of increasing your fitness. A powermeter might be slightly more efficient and it's certainly interesting so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons. I wouldn't expect you're going to boost your FTP by 5% just because you get a powermeter.
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Old 04-09-15, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Hard training combined with lots of racing will do a good job of increasing your fitness. A powermeter might be slightly more efficient and it's certainly interesting so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons. I wouldn't expect you're going to boost your FTP by 5% just because you get a powermeter.
^ This.

There are ways that a power meter might be able to make you faster, especially if you're doing TT or Triathlons on that DA -- but you were only asking about training and pacing. For training and pacing purposes a power meter is more efficient, and maybe more fun, and maybe more interesting -- but you still have to do the work. You have to do the work whether you're using a power meter, or a HRM, or a wristwatch and speedometer.

The other way a power meter can help you get faster is minimizing drag -- but for that you'll need a power meter that's accurate across the entire range of power output.
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Old 04-09-15, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Everyone says iBike is inaccurate. But if you look at dcrainmaker review, magazines, youtube, etc... It seems pretty close to the big boys. I wonder just how much position changes and road surfaces effect the iBike readings.

If I get a decent used power tap, how much $ would I be spending? Can somebody list all the things I need to get a setup going? I would probably end up selling the wheelset I have (reynolds solitude) and upgrading to carbon while I'm at it, as I already have a spare carbon front zipp wheel. How much would the head unit cost? Does the hub need maintenance?
Go check on eBay. I'm sure they have dozens of listings.
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Old 04-09-15, 10:35 PM
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Before you buy a used Powertap realize that you can get a very nice Powertap rear wheel custom built for ~$800-900. Then you can get a matching front wheel built up when the funds permit. Used Powertaps are somewhat of a gamble because if they break it's $350-400 to have Saris repair them (and new they go for $700-800). If it were my money buying now I'd get this:

HOOPs Wheels - HOOPs 2431 Elite Kinlin 31t Wheelset
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Old 04-10-15, 04:42 AM
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I had an iBike unit for a while. I could never get it to work properly, and finally just sold it at a loss.

Here's a typical ride, with the data being somewhat less accurate than what I get from my Garmin 500.

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Old 04-10-15, 05:05 AM
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You might want to check out the Powertap/Cyclops PowerCal HR strap as a very affordable gateway to power to bridge the gap between HR and a direct force power meter. I had one before I got a G3 and it worked well for training and gauging fitness. It has an algorithm that estimates your power based on analyzing variability in your HR and it works pretty well. Just don't fall into the trap of trying to compare it to others using direct force power meters. Use it as designed to benchmark your fitness, track estimated Weighted Average Power, TSS and IF, for a ride etc using Strava or TrainingPeaks. DCRainmaker has a good writeup here.

CycleOps PowerCal In-Depth Review | DC Rainmaker

Don't waste your money on an iBike, you'd be better off putting the $ towards a G3, Stages PM, or 4iiii PM.

Last edited by bgav; 04-10-15 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 04-10-15, 05:35 AM
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I am a bit biased, as stated above I did have a hand in developing some of the iBike line and still keep in touch with the owner. When I started with the company they sponsored the pro team I was riding for and they had just released Gen 1. I used it for a while, comparing it to my Ergomo I had at the time. When we got our team bikes I had to get rid of the Ergomo (we were also sponsored by Sram, so we couldn't use that bottom bracket).

For a while I used just the Gen 1 and there were definitely issues with chip seal roads and changing slope readings. I called up the owner of iBike and said "Hey, this works pretty well. . .but I can help make it better." By Interbike of that year we released Gen 3 with slope correction, much faster processing (removing filters), and an accelerometer that handles the chip seal roads better.

I know the physics engine was just rewritten (the base code that calculates power) and there are hundreds of measurements every second that are going into determining the power output. One of the cool things I like is that you can start off with the iBike as your power meter and head unit. If you did later on want to get a power tap wheel or a crank based power meter, you still need a head unit to read the info from those and the iBike can do that. A lot of times when people say that a certain power meter is 500-800 dollars that is true, but the head units can be another few hundred bucks on top of that.

I don't officially work for iBike anymore and there are some things that I wish would go into a new product like a better screen and GPS. I know there's a couple things they are working on that are really unique.

Bottom line, I know it works well enough to be a big asset in training. It does require a good set up in order to get good results, and that is where a lot of people had problems and said that it's not accurate.
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Old 04-10-15, 07:07 AM
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since folks are talking power here, I don't know if anyone has seen or tried this app called poweredge, which uses weather data and gps to calculate power. I've only used it a couple of times as a novelty item (I don't have a phone mount and it doesn't work with the rflkt, so i can only review after the fact). Last week, I went out for a long ride which I'd categorize as tempo given the amount of effort I was putting in. The app said I had an avg power of 240 and NP of 274 on a 49 mile ride (I'm not sure what my FTP is, an educated guess is 280). I may be borrowing a powertap this weekend and I may put this app to the test, along with my FTP. I've seen zero real reviews on it, which says a lot, because if it was really spot on I think people would be raving about it.
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Old 04-10-15, 09:42 AM
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PowerTap makes a great product. Mine worked flawlessly for six years. (I sold it to another BF member when I bought a Quarq.)

I'm now on SRM, and like it much better than the Quarq. If you look hard enough, you can probably find a good deal on used, wired SRM. For about $500, you can get the crank, PM and head unit. You won't have GPS, but you will have power.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
since folks are talking power here, I don't know if anyone has seen or tried this app called poweredge, which uses weather data and gps to calculate power [...] I've seen zero real reviews on it, which says a lot, because if it was really spot on I think people would be raving about it.
How much does it cost? When it was first released it was something like $120, which is a lot for a phone app. I've looked on their website but I can't find what the price is -- they only say that it's free for the first 30 days, and then switches to a monthly subscription fee.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
How much does it cost? When it was first released it was something like $120, which is a lot for a phone app. I've looked on their website but I can't find what the price is -- they only say that it's free for the first 30 days, and then switches to a monthly subscription fee.
I'm using the free trial, and then it's $6/month for subscription.
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Old 04-10-15, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I'm using the free trial, and then it's $6/month for subscription.
Thanks. I couldn't find that on their website.

What I did find on their website was that they justify their app by examining 14 year old files taken from my webpage, uncredited, comparing a 2001-era Power Tap with a 2001-era SRM.
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Old 04-10-15, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bgav View Post
You might want to check out the Powertap/Cyclops PowerCal HR strap as a very affordable gateway to power to bridge the gap between HR and a direct force power meter. I had one before I got a G3 and it worked well for training and gauging fitness. It has an algorithm that estimates your power based on analyzing variability in your HR and it works pretty well. Just don't fall into the trap of trying to compare it to others using direct force power meters. Use it as designed to benchmark your fitness, track estimated Weighted Average Power, TSS and IF, for a ride etc using Strava or TrainingPeaks. DCRainmaker has a good writeup here.

CycleOps PowerCal In-Depth Review | DC Rainmaker

Don't waste your money on an iBike, you'd be better off putting the $ towards a G3, Stages PM, or 4iiii PM.
I have a powercal. Works okay for tracking your fitness after the ride, but sucks as an in-ride pacing tool (until you learn how to use it, which most people won't since there is so little info about it on the net). Even though it calculates "power" from HR variability it still suffers from the same shortcomings as regular HR; just last weekend I took a sip of caffeinated carb mix and my power numbers went through the roof! 30s avg smoothing does seem to somewhat control for quick jumps in HR due to stimulants, but it becomes absolutely useless when you have a steadily rising core temp as a result of a long, hard effort (e.g. 203lb guy climbing). I can maintain a steady rhythm/torque on the pedals with good cadence and good feeling in my legs but obviously my HR is going to be working a lot harder which will generate some pretty much useless power numbers.

I like this device but I really think it takes a lot of effort to learn to use correctly. A direct force PM does take effort to learn as well, but at least you have the internet to give you advice and Hunter Allen's book. There is pretty much no information out there on how to use powercal. You can use it to track changes in your power averages on Strava, TP, etc, but if that's all you're using it for then its not any more useful than Strava estimated power algorithms.

I like to think of Powercal as quantifying how hard your heart is working as opposed to attempting to estimate power. Understanding HR variability is much more informative than simple HR zones, but as said before there isn't much info on HR variability as it relates to cycling, since no other HR monitor tries to measure this. Being a stats/data science geek I love having a new data-generating gadget to play with and I am learning more from it on each ride, but I wouldn't recommend it over a regular HR monitor to anyone. If you simply plan on looking at your averages over the entire ride, Strava's estimated power calcs do a fine job.
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