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Should I buy a Powertap?

sward29sward29 Posts: 205
I'd really appreciate some feedback please from riders who have taken the leap and bought a powermeter.

I currently do my indoor training on a Cateye Cyclosimulator which measures power, and am seriously thinking about buying a Powertap Pro+ to be able to use power as a means of improving the efficiency of my training outdoors. I've read lots of posts on various forums from people who swear by power training but I'm concerned about a couple of things:

1. How easy is it to train with power without spending hours downloading and analysing every training session. I simply want to be able to work out my training zones according to Allen/Coggan's method and perform intervals/rides at the correct intensity rather than going on perceived exertion as I do now. I'm not sure I've got the time or desire to calculate my TSS, CTL, etc...as I don't get many hours to train as it is.

2. Given the fact that power output fluctuates quite a bit even when riding on flat terrain, how easy is it to ride within a fairly narrow power band to ensure that you are working in the correct zones. I've seen the phrase that you should train 'with' power rather than 'by' power, but wondered how easy it is do do in practice. The Powertaps display average power but normalised power seems to be more useful according to the reading I've done so far, which I believe can only be calculated after downloading the data.


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Posts

  • BarteosBarteos Posts: 657
    1. Once you've determined your functional threshold power from a 20 or 60min test, you can easily work out training zones as percentage of that value. It's as simple as that. You can download data after every session and then decide what you want to analyze.

    2. Power does fluctuates but you'll learn to pace yourself within a range of 10-20W while glancing at the screen from time to time. It should be easier on flats and steady climbs and more tricky on rolling hills, but you don't have to be in the zone 100% of the time or keep within 5W range.

    Check www.roadbikereview.com forums for more info.

    Just go for it. You won't look back:)
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    1. Easy. And if you buy a copy of WKO+ all the calculation is done for you.

    2. Riding to an exact power on a second-by-second basis by watching the display is very hard, but you quickly get used to doing a more broad-brush mental averaging of the figures and taking a quick look now and then. This gets you into the zone ranges no problem.

    The PT is a very useful tool and I wouldn't train without one now.

    Neil
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • APIIIAPIII Posts: 2,010
    1. As the others have said, it's easy. WKO+ calculates it all for you. You can analyse your rides as much or as little as you want, but I think you need to understand TSS, CTL ,etc and the effect on your training program to get the most out of the powertap.
    2. I wouldn't get hung up too much on riding to exact wattages on longer endurance/tempo rides. You should aim to maximise 'time in the zone'. For shorter intervals, choose a suitable route that will help you maintain a steady wattage.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    You could always rent one for 3 months for c.£150 and see how you get on with it first before committing to a big spend.

    You do need to set aside a bit of time each week to download and look over your data (plus you also need a copy of the WKO+ software at $99), but how far you take the analysis is up to you. An hour a week should suffice I think. You don't have to get into TSS etc but they can be pretty useful tools when you get the hang of them. Depends how much of a data junkie you are I guess.

    Normalised power is a more useful metric than average power when power is highly variable (ie road race). In more steady state situations (TT's, long or short intervals) average power for the interval as displayed on the unit is pretty much the same as NP.

    After a while you get a feel for what say 200W feels like etc. and can use the lap average power to act as a carrot during an interval. It's certainly easier to do this than trying to use heart rate to govern your effort.
  • sward29sward29 Posts: 205
    Thanks for all of your replies.

    I didn't fancy renting one first as I thought I may as well spend the £150 on buying the thing. If I really can't get on with I can always sell it, but I reckon it's the way forward so I'll take the plunge.
  • GavHGavH Posts: 998
    I'm looking at the renting vs buying debate at the minute.

    Renting a PRO+ and a wheel from cyclepowermeters.com is £103 for 12 weeks. Buying one with a wheel from the same mob is £832.50. None of these prices include a head unit, which is ok, as I already have a 705. I think renting initially makes the most sense.

    Why do you reckon spending over £700 more when you are already unsure represents in any way, shape or form 'the way forward'? Rent it and be sure first. If you buy, you may well end up selling it on ebay or such like for £500 - 600 but that is still more of a loss compared to the cost of renting for 12 weeks in order to be sure that the investment in a powertap is justified. That's my logic anyway. :?
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    GavH wrote:
    I'm looking at the renting vs buying debate at the minute.

    Renting a PRO+ and a wheel from cyclepowermeters.com is £103 for 12 weeks. Buying one with a wheel from the same mob is £832.50. None of these prices include a head unit, which is ok, as I already have a 705. I think renting initially makes the most sense.

    Why do you reckon spending over £700 more when you are already unsure represents in any way, shape or form 'the way forward'? Rent it and be sure first. If you buy, you may well end up selling it on ebay or such like for £500 - 600 but that is still more of a loss compared to the cost of renting for 12 weeks in order to be sure that the investment in a powertap is justified. That's my logic anyway. :?

    Because the cost of renting is about a 1/5 of the cost of the powertap to buy if you need the full kit and the second hand market for power meters is very heatlhy therefore the OP is unlikely to lose much more than the cost of renting would be for the 3 months so I would say hiring is only suitable for those that don't have the cash to buy immediately like poor little me :lol:
  • I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
  • I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
    You really didn't "get it", did you?
  • sward29sward29 Posts: 205
    doyler78 wrote:
    GavH wrote:
    I'm looking at the renting vs buying debate at the minute.

    Renting a PRO+ and a wheel from cyclepowermeters.com is £103 for 12 weeks. Buying one with a wheel from the same mob is £832.50. None of these prices include a head unit, which is ok, as I already have a 705. I think renting initially makes the most sense.

    Why do you reckon spending over £700 more when you are already unsure represents in any way, shape or form 'the way forward'? Rent it and be sure first. If you buy, you may well end up selling it on ebay or such like for £500 - 600 but that is still more of a loss compared to the cost of renting for 12 weeks in order to be sure that the investment in a powertap is justified. That's my logic anyway. :?

    Because the cost of renting is about a 1/5 of the cost of the powertap to buy if you need the full kit and the second hand market for power meters is very heatlhy therefore the OP is unlikely to lose much more than the cost of renting would be for the 3 months so I would say hiring is only suitable for those that don't have the cash to buy immediately like poor little me :lol:


    Wiggle and All Terrain cycles offer 3ys finance which works out at about £30 per month.
  • sward29 wrote:
    Wiggle and All Terrain cycles offer 3ys finance which works out at about £30 per month.
    I wouldn't suggest financing a power meter over 3 years.

    It wouldn't surprise me if you could purchase a rental meter and receive some of the rental back as part payment. I'm sure Bob Tobin does something like that.

    I'm starting Powertap hire here in Australia and will probably do something similar (Bob has been quite helpful to me in this regard).
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I'm sure at Cyclepowermeters.com if you buy the one you rent you get a good proportion of the rental money you've paid towards it...

    Bob Tobin is a pleasure to deal with.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
    You really didn't "get it", did you?

    \didn't get what? The meter? :D no.
    I was lucky enough to be lent one for a couple of months but I although I found the data useful after downloading it I did not find it very useful when riding as the display was eratic and I was hoping it would be stable so that I could ride and modify my effort to maintain a certain effort during intervals. I ended up going harder, easing off, going harder etc. Going uphill was a nightmare as it was indication anything from 200w to 800w!! which I guess is due to the pedalling action uphill not being through the full stroke so the strain gauge response would be eratic due to this. WOuld have thought the meter would be intelligent to average the oputput for a complete revolution.
    Anyway I am sure many find them extremley useful, personally I did not due to the eratic output during rides so I am back to old fashion training, going by feel, with the occasional sessions with HR :D
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
    You really didn't "get it", did you?

    \didn't get what? The meter? :D no.
    I was lucky enough to be lent one for a couple of months but I although I found the data useful after downloading it I did not find it very useful when riding as the display was eratic and I was hoping it would be stable so that I could ride and modify my effort to maintain a certain effort during intervals. I ended up going harder, easing off, going harder etc. Going uphill was a nightmare as it was indication anything from 200w to 800w!! which I guess is due to the pedalling action uphill not being through the full stroke so the strain gauge response would be eratic due to this. WOuld have thought the meter would be intelligent to average the oputput for a complete revolution.
    Anyway I am sure many find them extremley useful, personally I did not due to the eratic output during rides so I am back to old fashion training, going by feel, with the occasional sessions with HR :D

    You should have adjusted the display so it only gave you an average of the last 5 or 10 seconds whilst still recording at all points. Much better that way...
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    napoleond wrote:
    I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
    You really didn't "get it", did you?

    \didn't get what? The meter? :D no.
    I was lucky enough to be lent one for a couple of months but I although I found the data useful after downloading it I did not find it very useful when riding as the display was eratic and I was hoping it would be stable so that I could ride and modify my effort to maintain a certain effort during intervals. I ended up going harder, easing off, going harder etc. Going uphill was a nightmare as it was indication anything from 200w to 800w!! which I guess is due to the pedalling action uphill not being through the full stroke so the strain gauge response would be eratic due to this. WOuld have thought the meter would be intelligent to average the oputput for a complete revolution.
    Anyway I am sure many find them extremley useful, personally I did not due to the eratic output during rides so I am back to old fashion training, going by feel, with the occasional sessions with HR :D

    You should have adjusted the display so it only gave you an average of the last 5 or 10 seconds whilst still recording at all points. Much better that way...

    To be honest thats not much use to me becuse that would rule out judgung your effort using the meter as it is always 5 or 10 seconds lag.
    What happens if I do a 20 second sprint? I get 2 readouts averaged over 20 seconds and I do not know what current wattage is in those 20 seconds.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    If you are reading the power output during a sprint you are doing it wrong!!

    Besides, when you come to download it it gives you the actual power, not the smoothed out one.
  • napoleond wrote:
    I had same issue as you state in point 2 so did not see any difference than using HR to train. It was intermittent on the flat and worse when climbing so I decided not to buy.
    I suppose it depends how rich, and serious you are :D
    You really didn't "get it", did you?

    \didn't get what? The meter? :D no.
    I was lucky enough to be lent one for a couple of months but I although I found the data useful after downloading it I did not find it very useful when riding as the display was eratic and I was hoping it would be stable so that I could ride and modify my effort to maintain a certain effort during intervals. I ended up going harder, easing off, going harder etc. Going uphill was a nightmare as it was indication anything from 200w to 800w!! which I guess is due to the pedalling action uphill not being through the full stroke so the strain gauge response would be eratic due to this. WOuld have thought the meter would be intelligent to average the oputput for a complete revolution.
    Anyway I am sure many find them extremley useful, personally I did not due to the eratic output during rides so I am back to old fashion training, going by feel, with the occasional sessions with HR :D

    You should have adjusted the display so it only gave you an average of the last 5 or 10 seconds whilst still recording at all points. Much better that way...

    To be honest thats not much use to me becuse that would rule out judgung your effort using the meter as it is always 5 or 10 seconds lag.
    What happens if I do a 20 second sprint? I get 2 readouts averaged over 20 seconds and I do not know what current wattage is in those 20 seconds.

    You fell for the trap of training by power rather than training with power.
    Attempting to moderate the power precisely from second to second when out on the road is a pointless exercise, which is neither (i) possible or (ii) of much training value.

    It's a bit like becoming a "zone drone" and being so concerned about drifting outside of the targeted training level at times.

    If sprinting, it's a max effort. End of story. Look at the data later.

    One uses a power meter to enhance their training.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    napoleond wrote:
    If you are reading the power output during a sprint you are doing it wrong!!

    Besides, when you come to download it it gives you the actual power, not the smoothed out one.

    Thanks for that :D
    I did not say I was using it to read during a sprint, I am not that stupid I would try to read it during a sprint effort.
    I mentioned it for climbing and for longer intervals of 5 minutes or more where I believe it would be useful to know what output your doing.
    What is the point of reading the power data after the ride, I want to know what the power is as I am riding to try to sustain a certain power level over a period of time. Others have mentioned hr is no good due to lag in hr but what is the difference as the power meter does the same.
    Anyway that is my personal view, others think they are great but for me personally I would not fork out so much money for one, if it was £100 comparable with decent bike computer then maybe I would :D
  • What is the point of reading the power data after the ride, I want to know what the power is as I am riding to try to sustain a certain power level over a period of time.
    And there, my friend, is precisely where you are missing out on some of the most important elements of using power meter data to enhance your training.[/i]
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    What is the point of reading the power data after the ride, I want to know what the power is as I am riding to try to sustain a certain power level over a period of time.
    And there, my friend, is precisely where you are missing out on some of the most important elements of using power meter data to enhance your training.[/i]

    :D Yes I can see the use of the data after the ride but cannot see how it enhances my actual training as I could not use the meter during ride to monitor effort :D
    Obviously can see improvements or not from data after rides.
    Just not my cup of tea.
    I am not very "technical " when it ocmes to training anyway.
    I mostly do structured training on track with a gropu, but for road just do steady rides alone with some climbs in, and long hard weekend rides with some race effort sections in.
    MAybe next year!!
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