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Powertap - for training only?

portuguese mikeportuguese mike Posts: 695
I'm seriously considering taking the plunge and getting a powrtap power meter and i have few questions for current users of the system:

Do you only use it for training?

If you race/do sportives etc with it as well; do you have a second system built in to racing wheels?

Do you use it year round?

how do they cope in wet weather, particularly long term?

How easy are they to service by your LBS?

i'd be grateful for any other insight anyone might add, thanks in advance,

Mikey
pm

Posts

  • Do you only use it for training?
    No. Race data is some of the most valuable you can collect.
    If you race/do sportives etc with it as well; do you have a second system built in to racing wheels?
    Yes, although it is not necessary and I train on it as well. A wheel choice has never held me back in racing. The only time this is a factor is in timed cycling events, such as time trials and pursuits.
    Do you use it year round?
    Yes
    how do they cope in wet weather, particularly long term?
    Fine - I have ridden in many torrential downpours without a problem. The current models are well sealed from weather problems.

    The older Pro model did have some troubles as the hub seal system was not totally watertight. Early release SL models did also have some problems with condensation (not so much a weather issue as a change in temperature issue) but these issues were well and truly fixed in 2005/6 when the electronics were given an extra layer of protection inside the hub.

    For wired/harness models, what can happen is the contacts on the handlebar cradle can get wet and disrupt the signal getting to the CPU. A light dab of dielectric grease or vaseline fixes that in a jiffy.
    How easy are they to service by your LBS?
    Depends on what you mean by service. If you mean bearing replacement, then that can be done by someone with experience but Saris do recommend a return to their service centre for such things, so that the torque tube is not damaged and to ensure the calibration remains in tact.

    The hubs, from a bearing design POV, are not the best in the world and like any hub they will need service/replacement at some stage.
  • Thanks for the detailed response, now i just need to decide on what model to get and whether to get a second set to put on my race bike!
    pm
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    I have a Powertap, in fact I now have 3, since I ended up wanting to upgrade my wheels and still use power for pacing.

    Be aware the head unit is poor in terms of functionality compared with others. A "solution" to this may shortly (not yet available?) be (if you have the most expensive wireless version) to buy an Edge 705.

    So be sure you can live with Powertaps limitations or you may end up spending more than if you got an alternative.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzob wrote:
    Be aware the head unit is poor in terms of functionality compared with others. A "solution" to this may shortly (not yet available?) be (if you have the most expensive wireless version) to buy an Edge 705.
    It might not be feature rich but I would hardly call it 'poor".

    It reliable.
    It's light.
    It's smaller.
    It's easy to use and set up.
    It's easy to read.
    It doesn't chew through batteries.
    It holds more ride data at 1 sec recording rate. You could do a week's riding before a download was necessary.
    It's a lot cheaper.

    It doesn't have GPS
    It doesn't have mapping
    It doesn't have a backlight
    It doesn't have altitude
    It's not programmable (in the sense of having your own running TSS calcs etc) or setting up the display to show all functions at once.
    It doesn't have 8 buttons and a joystick :D
  • i have an edge 705 and according to recent reports on bikeradar powertap will be releasing a number of ANTplus wireless system compatible hubs which can be used with it as a head unit 8)
    pm
  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    i have an edge 705 and according to recent reports on bikeradar powertap will be releasing a number of ANTplus wireless system compatible hubs which can be used with it as a head unit 8)
    I think there will also be a firmware update for existing wireless hubs:

    http://www.saris.com/athletes/PermaLink ... 27920.aspx
    FCN 2-4 "Shut up legs", Jens Voigt
    Planet-x Scott
    Rides
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    For what it's worth. I feel that racing is NOT the place for a handlebar full of various
    monitors that can distract you from the task at hand. Watching monitors can be dangerous, not only for you but for those around you, in the sense that things happen in races in split seconds or, put another way, less than the time it takes to look at a screen
    and punch a button. Ask yourself how comfortable you would be racing near someone
    who was constantly glancing at his little screens and not devoting his full attention to the
    race, racers around him, and road conditions. You may say "well, I've never seen this happen", but do you have to see someone get hit head on by a car, in a race, to know
    that the rule(here in the states anyway) "stay on your side of the center line" is a good idea. Also, what good will all this info be if you are off the back, off the front, or riding
    with the main pack? Will it help you get back on if you're dropped? Will it help you stay out
    front? I think not. Sorry, but I'm ranting on a bit. Imagine that, me ranting on. Who would have thought? :shock: :shock:

    Dennis Noward
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    Dennis, did you read Alex's first post, "race data is some of the most valuable you can collect"

    That is what is useful about power meters in races.

    Plus if you are on a lone breakaway, you can measure your effort.

    I agree that looking at your computer etc. in the middle of the bunch is stupid, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't record the data for later analysis.
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    Jez mon wrote:
    Dennis, did you read Alex's first post, "race data is some of the most valuable you can collect"

    That is what is useful about power meters in races.

    Plus if you are on a lone breakaway, you can measure your effort.

    I agree that looking at your computer etc. in the middle of the bunch is stupid, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't record the data for later analysis.

    I'll play devils advocate here.
    Because Alex said so is not a good enough reason. I say a lot of things too but not all of them work out to be true in the end. It's his opinion. Plus he has a vested interest in them
    in that, he's a coach and because no one knows what to do with all this info you may have to "hire" him to tell you.
    If you're off the front, back ,or in the pack, a power meter won't help because it's not about power, it's about getting back on, staying out front, or keeping pace with the pack.
    You need to do what you have to do, the meter won't tell you. How much power you put up is up to you, not the meter, and what you need to accomplish.
    As for "RACE" data for later - well, I'll pass on that(no comment). Maybe these things have their uses for training, then again heart rate monitors were touted as the best things out there when they first came out. Now, this power meter is what you must have. I'm sure something new, that you must have, that sells for even more, will come
    along fairly soon and the power meter will no longer be what "you need to win".

    Dennis Noward
  • A few pithy power proverbs:

    "Training with a Power Meter, does it work? No, you work!" - Hunter Allen

    "The best thing about a power-meter? It tells you where you are. The worst thing about a power-meter? It tells you where you are" - Bob Tobin

    "The PowerTap is a tool, not a bolt on motor :) " - Chris Mayhew


    Anyone who thinks that buying a power meter is an instant guarantee of success is kidding themselves. Only hard and smart training in the right doses will help do that.

    I don't have a vested interest in power meters. I have a vested interest in helping people perform better and reach their goals. I do use power meters to precisely quantify where they are now vs where they need to be (physiologically speaking). Otherwise, you would essentially be guessing.

    The "where they need to be" part is best determined through understanding the unique power demand characteristics of the goal event(s).

    And to paraphrase one the quotes above, with a power meter, there is no hiding as a coach. Either my clients are generating more power when it counts or they're not. It is a very strong two way accountability tool.

    How they choose to use that power in a race is a whole 'nuther issue.

    A power meter doesn't tell you which attack to respond to, or when to lay it down. It doesn't decide on the strategy or tactics. But no one I know is claiming they do and to suggest otherwise is just folly.

    As an example, the power meter file for Markus Burghardt's TdF stage win is now available to view. There are a number of things that can be learned from an inspection of the data about the physiological requirements of winning a long breakaway in a TdF stage. To suggest that this type of data is of no/limited value to athletes and coaches is silly. May as well go and stick our ostrich heads in the sand.
  • dealdeal Posts: 857
    anyone know if there are any issues regarding warranties if you buy a powertap from one of the numerous american based ebayers who seem to be knocking these out fairly cheap ?

    im tempted to get one just so i have some interesting graphsto look at to measure progress and so i can finally answer the question - how much harder am i working on climbs than I am on the flat ?
  • deal wrote:
    anyone know if there are any issues regarding warranties if you buy a powertap from one of the numerous american based ebayers who seem to be knocking these out fairly cheap ?

    im tempted to get one just so i have some interesting graphsto look at to measure progress and so i can finally answer the question - how much harder am i working on climbs than I am on the flat ?
    I suppose the legal answer is different to what actually happens.

    My experience has been that Saris stand behind their products and their service is excellent. They have always repaired hubs for me, no charge.

    However, they are no longer servicing the older Pro models (version with the hub cap held on by two allen head screws). So if you are buying one of those older models, bear that in mind.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    bahzob wrote:
    Be aware the head unit is poor in terms of functionality compared with others. A "solution" to this may shortly (not yet available?) be (if you have the most expensive wireless version) to buy an Edge 705.
    It might not be feature rich but I would hardly call it 'poor".

    For its price (£175 replacement) its poor. Its worse than the Ergomo (not seen an SRM so dont know about that). And if you have used a HR computer for training before you will be very frustrated, most obviously by the lack of any facility to set plan zones for a workout.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzob wrote:
    bahzob wrote:
    Be aware the head unit is poor in terms of functionality compared with others. A "solution" to this may shortly (not yet available?) be (if you have the most expensive wireless version) to buy an Edge 705.
    It might not be feature rich but I would hardly call it 'poor".

    For its price (£175 replacement) its poor. Its worse than the Ergomo (not seen an SRM so dont know about that). And if you have used a HR computer for training before you will be very frustrated, most obviously by the lack of any facility to set plan zones for a workout.
    £175 :shock:
    First place I looked it is $US163 here:
    http://www.swimandtri.com/scripts/prodL ... agodnxc9SA
    which is about £80-85

    SRM PCV is much dearer.

    And as far as I know (I could be wrong) ergomo have announced they are filing for bankrupcy in Germany so I wouldn't be rushing their way (although you could probably find a bargain before long, just hope nothing goes wrong with it).

    And yes I have used a programmable HRM before (Polar 720x). The programmable features were nice but most people haven't a clue how to use them and If I had a choice of power measurement over programming in the fact that I'm going to do a few efforts today, well I know which is by far the most important. I don't need a CPU to remind me what I have in store.

    The SRM PCV doesn't have such features either (well unless you have the online option which can interface with a PC for programmable power workouts) but that's an indoor thing only.
  • idaviesmooreidaviesmoore Posts: 557
    :? 'Plus he has a vested interest in them....'
    C'mon Dennis, that's a bit 'Conspiracy Theory' innit? :shock:

    This chap races all the time, I reckon he probably knows what he's talking about. And, furthermore, to suggest that he is trying to fish for clients is a bit much :D
    'How can an opinion be bullsh1t?' High Fidelity
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Sorry but even for £85 I expect a bit more from my head unit than 3 basic figures.

    And dont understand why there has to be a choice between having a power meter or decent features. I would like both.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • bahzob wrote:
    Sorry but even for £85 I expect a bit more from my head unit than 3 basic figures.

    And dont understand why there has to be a choice between having a power meter or decent features. I would like both.
    I have no objection to that either but then you are talking a Garmin-705 $ or £ and that is considerably more expensive than a PT CPU.

    And I suspect many of the power features would require after market programming as well, have no idea if that's likely to add to the cost.

    Couple of years back I provided Jim at Quarq a whole list of features I'd like to see in a power meter/CPU. I don't know how many made it as the Cinq isn't out yet.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    On the subject of whether a power meter can help during a race: I think this is a complex issue and there are so many variables in terms of types of racing and racers that the only thing that is for sure is that there wont be one rule that fits all.

    I remember a story David Millar re Mark Cavendish's first tour of France, when on an early stage he climbed a hill and was suprised to see the results. David Millar advised him not to get distracted and pointed to his display which had masking tape over the power reading. Next day Cavendish followed suit. Not sure if Cavendish was doing the same this year or not...

    On the other hand Floyd Landis (regardless of how he got the power in the first place) made great use of power both in training and during actual rides (on climbs). Both he and Armstrong had a formula expressed in power/weight/time as to what level of performance they needed to win. (In Landis case think 420W for 10 minutes was what was needed to sustain a break on a long climb, Armstong think it was 6.7W/kg for ditto). Relevant to this topic they got this information from a combination of training and actual race data. The race data may or may not be useful at the rime but retrospective analysis would help for the next time both in focussing training and pacing.

    On a personal (and much lower) level using power has helped me improve performance this year. But there can be a disadvantage. Seeing actual power (or I would say HR if you are using that) during an event can be a distraction and may even be a barrier to reaching your limits. One change I have already decided to make next year is to do some training/racing with power being measured but display masked.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    :? 'Plus he has a vested interest in them....'
    C'mon Dennis, that's a bit 'Conspiracy Theory' innit? :shock:

    This chap races all the time, I reckon he probably knows what he's talking about. And, furthermore, to suggest that he is trying to fish for clients is a bit much :D

    It's ONLY my opinions, not necessarily any kind of true or false statements. This is the
    internet and believing all that you read is really not a good idea. :shock:
    I'd also say that just because he "races all the time" doesn't mean he knows what he's
    talking about. I know plenty of people who "race all the time" and don't have a clue about
    correct training or even fixing a bike. It's hammer everyday and take it to the shop.

    Dennis Noward
  • idaviesmooreidaviesmoore Posts: 557
    dennisn wrote:
    :? 'Plus he has a vested interest in them....'
    C'mon Dennis, that's a bit 'Conspiracy Theory' innit? :shock:

    This chap races all the time, I reckon he probably knows what he's talking about. And, furthermore, to suggest that he is trying to fish for clients is a bit much :D

    It's ONLY my opinions, not necessarily any kind of true or false statements. This is the
    internet and believing all that you read is really not a good idea. :shock:
    I'd also say that just because he "races all the time" doesn't mean he knows what he's
    talking about. I know plenty of people who "race all the time" and don't have a clue about
    correct training or even fixing a bike. It's hammer everyday and take it to the shop.

    Dennis Noward

    :D Nah mate. The more you go the more you know. And he's a prof coach. Put the pieces together and you get the picture :wink:
    'How can an opinion be bullsh1t?' High Fidelity
  • dealdeal Posts: 857
    bahzob wrote:
    I remember a story David Millar re Mark Cavendish's first tour of France, when on an early stage he climbed a hill and was suprised to see the results. David Millar advised him not to get distracted and pointed to his display which had masking tape over the power reading. Next day Cavendish followed suit. Not sure if Cavendish was doing the same this year or not...

    maybe Millar should have taken his own advice at the giro too ? :wink:

    "That was f***ing savage," he said after the finish. "It was just mega fast. I was expecting it to be hard, but that was quite a bit harder than I expected! It was full on right from the beginning, they went sprinting off and I was way above my threshold for the whole first hour. Eventually I decided that I was digging way too deep and that is when I pulled off." - http://www.bike-zone.com/news.php?id=ne ... /jan29news
  • dennisn wrote:
    It's ONLY my opinions, not necessarily any kind of true or false statements. This is the
    internet and believing all that you read is really not a good idea. :shock:
    I'd also say that just because he "races all the time" doesn't mean he knows what he's
    talking about. I know plenty of people who "race all the time" and don't have a clue about
    correct training or even fixing a bike. It's hammer everyday and take it to the shop.

    Dennis Noward
    Nothing wrong with healthy skepticism but I'm pretty sure I back up most of what I say with sound reason, argument and/or evidence.

    Otherwise all my athletes would be in the gym lifting some big ones, riding clutch based cranks and spending all their time in the "fat burning zone" :lol:

    And I agree, just cause someone races a lot doesn't mean they understand these things. When you do understand them though it really helps to have raced a lot to put them in context. Man there are some Pros that know diddly about training.

    What I can say is that I have a lot of experience and knowledge in the use of power meters and the data they provide, both for myself and for my clients, and how to use them and the data effectively. I am fortunate to have learned from some of the best and leaders in the "field" for want of a better phrase. I am still learning (you never stop learning).
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