What is a power meter? 3 of the best

As a keen cyclist, you will doubtless be aware of the rise in popularity and availability of power meters. In this article, we will discuss the value of having a power meter, how you can use it to monitor and improve your performance and three of the best power meters that you may wish to buy. We will take budget constraints, overall functionality and user ratings to determine which one is right for you.

Power meters are a popular accessory in the cycling world with many professional and casual cyclists alike. Once the accessory of the elite cyclist, they are now mainstream and affordable. Put simply, a power meter measures the power output of a cyclist during a ride. It does this by using strain gauges to measure both torque and speed to calculate the rider’s power. This can be a great tool for all cyclists, professional and casual, to measure performance and take your training to the next level.

power meter

Why do I need one?

As a cyclist in the digital world, the amount of data you can get from your watch can be overwhelming so why add power to the equation?

Power is a useful metric to measure as it is a more accurate reflection of your effort than the time it takes you to complete a particular route or segment. You can drill down into your power data to analyse where you were exerting the most effort, giving you a good indication of how effective your strategy was either in a race or in training. You can also use your power output to determine where you can ease back on a ride, saving your energy reserves for when you really need them.

The types of power meter

There are a number of power meters on the market, so it is important to know what to look out for when choosing yours. The most accurate power readings are taken when the power measured by placing the unit on the crank. Other types of power meter allow you to measure your power from the pedals and from the hub.

We would also advise against selecting a single-sided power meter as these do not account for the potential imbalance between your left and right leg properly and could skew the data as you become fatigued and potentially amplify any imbalance that exists.

Before you use a power meter

Once you have bought your power meter, there are a couple of things you need to do to make sure that you are using the power meter to full effect and to ensure that your power meter is accurate. After all, there is no point having a wealth of data if it’s all wrong.

You can install your power meter in a number of places including the peddles. However, most riders opt to measure their power output by locating the power meter at the crank. Once you have chosen where to put it, your next step should be to calibrate it.

You will need to calibrate your device regularly and even during a ride should conditions change significantly. Calibration ensures that your device measures your ride accurately. We recommend doing this on a regular basis for the most accurate readings and especially if you find yourself out in very different conditions to your previous ride.

The next step is optional, but we recommend it if you want to know exactly where you are at and how you can improve. Once you have installed your device and calibrated it, the next thing that we recommend is to perform some fitness tests. Fitness tests might be uncomfortable, but they give you your baseline fitness and this is important if you want to know how you can improve. Your fitness test should be selected depending on the type of riding that you intend to be doing with the power meter and several options can be found here to suit your training needs.

The best power meter on the market – Garmin Rally RS200 

The Garmin Rally RS200 is a dual-sensing power meter fitted at the peddles which is suitable for both road and off-road cycling. The meter has a high degree of accuracy to within 1% meaning that you can rely on the data that the device provides. The device is compatible with a vast array of Garmin devices which are handily listed on the website for you to check that your devices are a good match.

The best power meter on a budget – Stages Cycling G3 Power El Shimano 

Our best budget buy is a crank-mounted power meter that is currently on sale for £225, considerably cheaper than the other devices we have reviewed.

The device is compatible with popular apps including Garmin and Strava and boasts compatibility to within 1.5%. The device also has a handy battery level, so you know when you need to change your battery before a ride and don’t get caught short when you are out on the road.

The best-rated power meter – Favero Assioma Duo

With a recommended retail price (RRP) of £699, the best-rated power meter on Wiggle does not come cheap. However, with the highest average rating of any power meter featured on the site, riders are firmly of the opinion that they are worth the money.

Users laud the Favero Assioma Duo as an easy-to-install and accurate device that aids their riding performance. The product description also details that the power meter is the lightest ever made by Favero, also powered by rechargeable batteries. If you can afford it, the Favero Assioma Duo is worth the outlay.

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