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Powermeter - Is it time?

DizeeeDizeee Posts: 337
edited June 2017 in Road general
The answer I guess has to be a yes.

I have been cycling since 2012 now, and do anywhere between 5 to 8 thousand miles a year. I have never used power or even a HRM but I am getting bored with putting in 8 hour weeks on the bike and seemingly not getting any further than I currently am. In addition I am not training for anything specific, kids and shiftwork rule out any spare time I have. I have done RideLondon and some longer sportives so I am just enjoying commuting and weekend club riding as and when I do it. I also do the odd 10 mile TT.

There must be more to riding than measuring onself against Strava segments and power guestimates that show up on there. I don't take Strava stats that seriously anymore as over time I have learned that effect winds and group rides have on most of the data on there.

I have a Garmin 810 and am unsure as to how easy / straightforward it would be to get some power data up on my screen. I am guessing I would need a HRM and a device that would sit on my wheel and speak to the Garmin - is that all I need? Budget is an issue at the moment.

All advice appreciated.
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  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    edited May 2017
    You haven't actually said what you want to achieve by using a power meter? I have never used one but really enjoy cycling from 10 mile pootles on my own, 50 mile club thrashes through to 300k audaxes.

    Lot's of people use a HR to gauge effort (yes, there is a lag at times but it does generally work) and I will often use HR to keep my efforts down on a long ride, so that I go faster overall but this is not essential.

    Why not take a step back, define what exactly it is you want to achieve and then see if a power meter is the answer. Hard to overlook physiology though, an average rider fully trained and riding at their peak power will still be average, just at the top end of that scale. That should cheer you up and motivate you :-)

    Edit: Oh, I ride with some very good riders (right up to Elite level) and the vast majority of them never use a PM.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    No point in droppng 100s on a powermeter if you're not training.
  • I've always wondered why we make our hobbies/ spare time so competitive,
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Dont get me wrong - theres nothing against having a powermeter and using it for training - theres something very rewarding about improving yourself.

    So if you were training for a certain event - then yeah go fo it.
  • DizeeeDizeee Posts: 337
    I have no sepcific requirements as such and am not training for an event. But I wonder whether the training I am doing, which is commuting miles at pace plus weekend rides, can be better utlised or shaped by using power data.

    I like the idea of setting myself interval / segment goals of "x" power for "y" amount of time, rest and repeat. It is the obvious choice of getting results to my mind rather than just spinning to work all week and going out on a club run now and again.
  • pirniepirnie Posts: 242
    Dizeee wrote:
    I have no sepcific requirements as such and am not training for an event. But I wonder whether the training I am doing, which is commuting miles at pace plus weekend rides, can be better utlised or shaped by using power data.

    I like the idea of setting myself interval / segment goals of "x" power for "y" amount of time, rest and repeat. It is the obvious choice of getting results to my mind rather than just spinning to work all week and going out on a club run now and again.

    If you have a turbo trainer you could always sign up for TrainerRoad to get a taste of structured power training before shelling out the cash. All you need is a supported trainer and an ANT+/bluetooth speed sensor to get an approximation of your power, which works well if you only compare it to itself
  • But I wonder whether the training I am doing, which is commuting miles at pace plus weekend rides, can be better utlised or shaped by using power data.

    IME a powermeter is great if you really have a specific target and/or area of fitness you want to work on and improve. For example if you want to improve your 20 minute power for climbing or hone your 3-5 minutes efforts for races etc. as it will pinpoint your improvements far more accurately than other training metrics. If you are not doing or intending to do intervals and just use it to look at average and NP after ever ride and try and loosely track improvements (which I suspect a lot of people do, and I have been guilty of) then there are far cheaper ways to measure fitness gains. Having said that I am sure there are lots of people who just like to look at the numbers and have an extra bit of kit on the bike which is completely their choice.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    Surely it keeps coming back to what does the OP want to achieve? Any trainer worth his salt will ask that as one of the first questions and then structure the training around it. Just riding with a power meter will be, erm, 'interesting' but about as useful as tits on a fish.

    The riding that the OP is doing will make him good at the riding he is doing, so job done. If he wants to achieve something else then he needs to think about that and then work towards it.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 890
    Dizeee wrote:
    I have a Garmin 810 and am unsure as to how easy / straightforward it would be to get some power data up on my screen. I am guessing I would need a HRM and a device that would sit on my wheel and speak to the Garmin - is that all I need? Budget is an issue at the moment.
    If you want power data on your 810 you need to buy a powermeter, install it on your bike, pair it to the Garmin, and then add a power data field to a screen you look at on the Garmin. It is not complicated but power meters are not particularly cheap.

    If you want to see what sort of power meters are available head on over to the DC Rainmaker site and read his in depth reviews of the various options.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I use a P2M for riding and training. I have no events or TTs I intend using it for, but I find power far more useful than HR. For me though, power is more relevant due to a subclavian occlusion that means my heart rate rockets even at a steady pace. Power is consistent whether I'm feeling good or off and isn't affected by what I've eaten or drank or the temperature etc.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • HumphUKHumphUK Posts: 30
    I guess I was in a similar position. Started cycling about 10 years ago as a break from running. I am now more a cyclist that runs (!). Unless you are into structured training, I am not sure you NEED one...but if you love data and toys - its the obvious add-on. I found it interesting to see how I cycle....where I over do it, where I lift off. I am now more disciplined, and perhaps as a result a bit faster. I was worried that when I bought mine - the price of power-meters would drop....they havent. So I take advantage from mine....I stare at heart rate, cadence and power on my Garmin....and feel better for it (occasionally "Frooming it" on hills). I analyse my power figures at the end of a ride....and nod accordingly. I have power on my road bike (Vector S), on my turbo....and on the Watt bikes I use at a local tri-centre. To be honest, being shouted at on a watt bike with a workout based on your FTP (preferably measured on the same kit...as all three differ) worked best for me. They are expensive...and organised workouts may improve you more....but if you are like me, there will always be a hole until you have had one
  • Simon MastersonSimon Masterson Posts: 2,740
    A PM can be a great training tool, but will not be useful to you unless you know how. You haven't given us very much to go on, but if you aren't managing to follow a structured programme of high quality training sessions, a PM isn't going to change anything.
  • frisbeefrisbee Posts: 691
    I've found a power meter is still an interesting tool even when not currently doing structured training. I've found that it really helps me with controlling my efforts over longer rides, especially if its the first long ride in a while.
  • HumphUK wrote:
    ....I stare at heart rate, cadence

    Kinda defeats the object of training with power...
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • HumphUKHumphUK Posts: 30
    Why? (genuine question). I am not sure I can easily train to power on the road if I dont use perceived exertion or heart-rate too. On the turbo in a set session only one number is enough. If you cant do it - you cant do it. But on the road I use heart rate too as the sessions can be significantly longer and not so structured. Wrong?
  • MiddleRingerMiddleRinger Posts: 678
    - What are you hoping to achieve from it?

    - Are you a numbers person?

    - Can you stick to structured training?

    Before you buy a powermeter, buy this book and read it cover to cover.

    Then read it again.


    https://www.velopress.com/books/training-and-racing-with-a-power-meter/

    If you still want one after that then go for it!


    If budget is an issue like you say, I'd err on not getting a powermeter! Don't get me wrong they are great and I love training to power and also just having the numbers there on (and after) a regular ride, but they're not for everyone. They are great for time trial training or learning how to pace. I'm a data geek at heart so for me it was a good buy. Worth it? Probably not, but I enjoy having it.
  • ben@31[email protected] Posts: 2,322
    edited May 2017
    The OP is correct that as soon as you get a power meter you find that speed alone is a irrelevant or pointless way to gauge on Strava segs. I always thought I was fast on one particular road, riding at mid 20s mph. It wasn't until I got a powermeter and saw that I was only doing 80 watts that I realised it wasn't me but the gradient, road surface and prevailing tail wind. Like wise with climbs or slogs into headwind, I might be going slow but the intensity im cycling at is much higher without even realising.
    I've stopped looking at speed on my Garmin 520 but now use power 10second average as a gauge to how I'm cycling.

    The way I answer the OPs question is... if you cycle all the time and it's your favourite sport or hobby, then go for it, you'll get your money's worth in the long run.
    Theres a lot worse things to spend your money on, I work with guys who p!ss £100 up the wall every weekend on beer and have zero to show for it. At least spending money on cycling keeps you fit and a power meter will last a few years. I've spent £1000s on cycling but when I look at it per mile it's working out cheap.

    In my own case, I get most use out of my powermeter on long rides, where I can pace myself 130 to 160 watts. I can keep going all day without fatiguing myself.
    On my short rides I find the powermeter isnt as useful , its telling me what I already know... I'm too small for big power on the flats and on the climbs I'm working hard as the power jumps up by another 100 to 150 watts.
    I can imagine I'd get more use out if it, if I did structured interval training.
    "The Prince of Wales is now the King of France" - Calton Kirby
  • overlord2overlord2 Posts: 336
    If you do get one get one cheap (under £500) and reasonably easy to install and use for a first. Probably stages if you have a popular crank. All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise. Do lots of research and get opinions from real people not plonkers on the internet.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    All of the above plus, to be honest, 8 hours a week isn't actually that much - but this is where the problems of having a life, job, family come into it.

    Set yourself some goals then set yourself some new attainable goals. See if you can get them without shelling out £500 on something no one in this thread actually thinks you need.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • overlord2 wrote:
    Probably stages if you have a popular crank. All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise.

    This isn't true. You've suggested one of the worst power meters for accuracy and reliability.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    I bought one in January. Did some serious training for around 3 months, got miles better. Won a race, smashed all my strava times to pieces. Now in a bit of a flat spot and riding round with some very expensive cranks.

    If you have somehting to train for and understand how to use a PM then it's an unbelievably good training tool, you do have to put the work in though.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    overlord2 wrote:
    If you do get one get one cheap (under £500) and reasonably easy to install and use for a first. Probably stages if you have a popular crank. All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise. Do lots of research and get opinions from real people not plonkers on the internet.

    Interesting viewpoint considering Stages is probably the most notoriously unreliable and inaccurate power meter out there. :roll:
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Does anyone do a rental service? This may be good for you to see if you'll actually use it properly/understand how to use it without shelling out the cost of some coaching and a decent riding weekend or two (which some say would say will benefit you more) on something that will turn out to be an expensive trinket of mammon.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,919
    overlord2 wrote:
    All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise. Do lots of research and get opinions from real people not plonkers on the internet.

    :roll:

    I've used Favero BePro's for a year with no issues, 10-18 hours a week. I got them at the pre-Brexit price of £350 (single sided), I'm considering that a bargain right now.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,030
    All of the above plus, to be honest, 8 hours a week isn't actually that much - but this is where the problems of having a life, job, family come into it.

    Set yourself some goals then set yourself some new attainable goals. See if you can get them without shelling out £500 on something no one in this thread actually thinks you need.
    8 hours is enough to be pretty fast if you use it right. 8 hours of structured interval sessions, chaingangs etc is very different to 8 hours of commuting though.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    philthy3 wrote:
    overlord2 wrote:
    If you do get one get one cheap (under £500) and reasonably easy to install and use for a first. Probably stages if you have a popular crank. All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise. Do lots of research and get opinions from real people not plonkers on the internet.

    Interesting viewpoint considering Stages is probably the most notoriously unreliable and inaccurate power meter out there. :roll:

    That's the trouble with plonkers on the internet ;)
  • DizeeeDizeee Posts: 337
    Thanks for all the replies. I agree that I probably don't need one hence why I haven't bought one before. That said I do ride a fair bit... I am interested in numbers and I can structure my training.

    My current regime which I am copying from my strongest year is just regular rides but varying them each time... so going from flat to hilly to a combination of both and always changing it up. That combined with some intervals and hard efforts along the way normally on climbs. I hardly ever ascend a climb without being at least 80 percent effort often I will max out.

    It may not be structured as per a die hard racer bit I'm not just pootling along the same route to work each day.
  • overlord2 wrote:
    Probably stages if you have a popular crank. All power meters have their issues no matter what various fanboys say otherwise.

    This isn't true. You've suggested one of the worst power meters for accuracy and reliability.

    A powermeter doesn't need to be accurate. It just needs to be consistent.

    Find your FTP by doing a max effort 20 minute ride and then use your FTP as a benchmark on all your other rides. It doesnt matter if the figure is accurate, as long as you are using percentages of this figure for training zones. For example, cycling in the endurance zone on a long day.

    training-zones.jpg
    "The Prince of Wales is now the King of France" - Calton Kirby
  • HumphUK wrote:
    Why? (genuine question). I am not sure I can easily train to power on the road if I dont use perceived exertion or heart-rate too.

    Then why bother with a powermeter if you are using PE/ Heartrate
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • TonyJamsTonyJams Posts: 214
    Does anyone do a rental service? This may be good for you to see if you'll actually use it properly/understand how to use it without shelling out the cost of some coaching and a decent riding weekend or two (which some say would say will benefit you more) on something that will turn out to be an expensive trinket of mammon.
    Yep these guys have been in it since day one
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