Should I buy a power meter

colm_gti Posts: 173
edited June 2013 in Road general
Sold my TT bike last week, wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket, trying to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on a power meter...

A bit about me;
Started cycling about 18 months ago, started racing about 12 months ago
24yo competitive cat 3 racer
Work in science, thrive off numbers and feedback
Pretty structured training regime, based on HR

I've come on leaps and bounds in the past year, going from a mediocre cat 4 to a competitive cat 3 racer. A lot of that is to do with a fairly structured training program, based around HR zone training. I have no doubt that it may also be to do with getting miles in the legs, learning how to race and loosing weight.

My question to the experienced amongst us, is if I would be at a level where I would benefit from training with a power meter?

I have no doubt that I still have more bodyweight to loose, and plenty to learn with regard to race-craft that no amount of bike gear would aid with, but I'm wondering if it's time my training was brought to the next level through the use of a power meter.

Your thoughts?


  • schweiz
    schweiz Posts: 1,644
    I'm an Engineer and like seeing numbers and stats too.

    I have a power meter and I don't use it to its full potential. I tend to ride the summer with it, seeing my power develop through non-power based training as usually I just ride wherever, whatever, whenever.

    I find it more useful in winter when on the rollers as I can compare my roller effort to real world effort and try and keep my power levels up over winter. I find doing specific training based on power is far more productive than HR based training or gear/resistance/time based training alone.

    If you do get a power meter you need to understand what it is telling you and how to use that data effectively, just knowing the numbers is pointless.

    Get the book 'Training and Racing with a Power Meter' sign up to the Google group about power meters, learn what you can about training with power and it will be a benefit. Other than that it is just an interesting toy.
  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    If you want a power meter, get a power meter...

    They are neither necessary nor sufficient for training improvements, in fact I've seen people clearly get worse as they focus on numbers, what motivates you to train is highly individual. You cannot know if it's right for you or not...
    Jibbering Sports Stuff:
  • steve6690
    steve6690 Posts: 190
    It's your money. Think of it as an experiment. You've asked whether a power meter will be a useful tool. No-one can really tell you that so buy one, use it properly and if it doesn't help you then sell it to me really cheap :D
    I want one because I love gadgets and data. I'll never be a competitive cyclist but anyone who scoffs at me for getting one can go and get stuffed.
  • stueys
    stueys Posts: 1,332
    Never tried a power meter so this is speculation on my part, but I figure training by HR gets you 80-85% of the way there. HR tells you what you are putting in, a power meter gives you the output so removes the variability you get from heart rate (ie how tired you are, the extra cup of coffee, etc, etc). You can be more precise with training but i suspect it's a fairly incremental gain. Clearly worth it if results pay the mortgage, otherwise I think you need to be pretty keen.
  • rozzer32
    rozzer32 Posts: 3,827
    My next cycling purchase will be a power meter. But then it is the next tool for my progression. I already have a coach so I have someone who understands the number. No point in having a powermeter with shed loads of data if you don't know what to do with it.
    ***** Pro Tour Pundit Champion 2020, 2018, 2017 & 2011 *****
  • LegendLust
    LegendLust Posts: 1,022
    If you've been sorting your training out yourself then I'd recommend spending the dosh on a coach.

    I know loads of guys (myself included) who have vastly improved by getting on board with a good coach.

    Perhaps after a season of gains with a coach then look at investing in a PM - a good coach will help you get the most out of it.
  • colm_gti
    colm_gti Posts: 173
    Thanks for the input lads, much appreciated.

    I guess what I'm hoping to figure out is whether the money I have burning a hole in my pocket would be better spent on a powermeter of some description, or a set of fancy race wheels and a holiday...
  • GiantMike
    GiantMike Posts: 3,139
    I'm coaching 2 guys, one has a PM. Coaching them is different but both have to spend time to improve, there are no shortcuts. A PM will make it easier to quantify the training, but the training has to be right in the first place.

    I love mine and it has motivated me to train.
  • Wheelspinner
    Wheelspinner Posts: 6,560
    Can't remember where I read it, but the quote stuck in my head...

    "For anyone other than a professional cyclist, buying and using a power meter is rather like hiring an accountant to tell you you're broke."

    Nifty gagdets though :mrgreen:
    Open One+ BMC TE29 Seven 622SL On One Scandal Cervelo RS
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    If you can use it, understand it and can be bothered to train with it - then yes. Get it.

    If not - then don't bother. It's not a toy - its a proper training tool. Most people definitely don't need them.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    A PM will not replace coaching which is what you should be looking at if you're looking to improve in road racing.

    I have one but only use it on my TT bike (once swapped it to the road bike for fun, but didn't use it) as that's the only place I need to see a measured output. Even then, I ride most TTs on feel.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • danowat
    danowat Posts: 2,877
    A power meter changed my training completely, however, it alone will not make you faster.......
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,471
    Hmm, why are people pointing out to the OP that just getting a power meter won't make him better? There's nothing in his post that suggests he thinks that and he points out that he currently has a structured training regime based on HR. I would have thought therefore that (assuming it is a good structured routine) doing similar with the aid of a power meter would be of assistance. That said, if funds permit I would say get a coach on board as well as the PM to make the most out of it but it doesn't sound like he is someone who intends just riding around with a PM attached under the mis-apprehension that he would somehow improve.
  • LegendLust
    LegendLust Posts: 1,022
    Grill wrote:
    A PM will not replace coaching which is what you should be looking at if you're looking to improve in road racing.

    I have one but only use it on my TT bike (once swapped it to the road bike for fun, but didn't use it) as that's the only place I need to see a measured output. Even then, I ride most TTs on feel.

    :!: That PM is wasted on you
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610

    I train for TTs with power, which is the important part. You'll find that many TTers race on feel. Ride a 12hr or 24hr on power and let me know how you get on...
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,471
    To be fair your original post made it sound like you just put it on to watch the pretty numbers during a TT :wink:
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Haha, fair enough. I should clarify that I find it most useful in TTs for measuring efforts on specific sections (uphill drags for example) or conditions (headwinds). It was also great in the 4up I did last week as I could gauge my workload when I was on the front.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • kwozzymodo
    kwozzymodo Posts: 45
    I bought a powermeter - Like the OP, I am interested in the numbers and the feedback provided by the meter is more detailed than I can interpret from heart rate. Teamed up with the Garmin, I can track my power over cetertain sections of my training routes and then see the effects of things like changing position, pedalling style, cadence, etc. Over the 3 months I have been using the unit, I have improved my average power output on my training route by around 20%. So, I am happy with the results - I'm not going to be winning any races but seeing that I am improving with my efforts is reward enough - the cost, around £400 for a used Powertap. If you are worried about the economics, if I sold it at the end of the season, for £300, I would have paid £100 for the ability to accurately measure power, considerably less than the rental of a meter over the same period.

    Buy some good looking wheels by all means, but I bet that you still have the thoughts about being able to measure power.

    Just my thoughts....
  • colm_gti
    colm_gti Posts: 173
    Thanks for all the input folks. As was mentioned, I followed a fairly structured HR based program this year, so would just be incorporating power data into this...

    So I done an FTP test in yesterday afternoon, threw in the towel when it ramped up to 420W, just couldn't maintain a cadence of 85-90 anymore. In hindsight I should have just ground it out at whatever cadence I could manage and they could have omitted it from the results if they wanted, ah well, c'est la vie, I'll know for next time!

    Anyway, got a good deal on a power2max power meter, picked it up yesterday and have it on the bike already...though I'm not sure I'll keep the q-rings on it yet...


    Have ordered the training and racing with a power meter book, and I work in science so have a decent background in numbers and statistical analysis, so I'll see how I get on with it for the rest of this season, and decide then whether I want to go down the route of working with a coach or not.