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6 Reasons Why You Need A Cycling Powermeter

6 Reasons Why You Need A Cycling Powermeter

– Do you need a powermeter? Now although they are
coming down in price, they still do represent a
pretty serious investment. So, here are six good reasons why we think you should seriously consider investing your hard-earned cash. (electronic chill music) – First up, having a
powermeter is going to lead to huge gains in fitness. – Hold on a second, Dan. You can’t just plug it on your
bike and expect to do that. You need to learn how to train with one, analyse the data, and then use that data to form
a personalised training plan. – That is true. But if you do do all that, I stick to my original statement. And I will give a personal
example to back this up. I got my first powermeter
at the age of 23. At that point, I’d been a
full-time rider for four years and I’d been racing for over 10. Nevertheless, within the
first 12 months of using one and training with it properly, I made a 10% improvement in FTP, which is pretty big. Secondly, powermeters make segment times completely irrelevant. You can set a new PB, bike
power, instead of bike time. – Well, hold on a minute, Dan. You need to make sure that you
keep aerodynamics and weight the same because even if you say you’re 10 watt improvement in your power, it’s not gonna mean
much if at the same time you’re gonna be 10 kilogrammes heavier. – That is very true. But if you do keep all those
other factors the same, a powermeter is going to let
you see the bigger picture. So if, for example, if you were slower on a particular part of your ride, but your power is higher, you’ll know there is good reason for it. It might be you got a slight headwind. Or it might be that the
air pressure was higher. Whatever the reason, you can be satisfied. For although you were slower, it was a better physiological performance. – Because power is absolute. – That’s true. Speaking of which, the powermeter is a great tool to help you mentally deal with those
types of conditions. I don’t know about you,
Matt, but I hate a headwind. In fact, when I was a lot younger, I actually cried to a
headwind because it forced me below my average speed goal for the ride of 20 miles per hour. – Well, I used to hate headwinds, Dan. And I still do, but the good
thing about powermeters, they allow you to keep a
really good, even tempo. And like how last point, and
not worry about the speed that that power produces. In fact, I use headwind
sections to help me climb. – [Dan] Next up, a powermeter
will allow you to go faster even without getting any fitter. – [Matt] Hold on a minute, Dan. Really? – Yes, really, Matt. Through pacing. So, a powermeter will enable you to ensure that you don’t go in the red
at the start of your event and pay for it at the finish. Through testing in training, you’re going to know what
you’ve got in the tank, and therefore, empty
your tank at your event at exactly the right time. Whether that’s 24 minutes or 24 hours. – powermeters give you a reference, allowing you to compare
yourself with yourself. Which is really important
if you’re looking to make performance improvements. – [Dan] Now, you may be
thinking that you’ve got a local test climb that
allows you to do exactly that. But the beauty of the powermeter is that it allows you to
compare efforts on unknown roads with the efforts that you do at home. It would also allow you
to create a power profile. That will show you what your
strengths and weaknesses are. And you’ll even be able
to compare your efforts with those of the pros. – A watt is a watt no matter where in the world you may be. And, no matter what the weather. – In the words of Doctor Andy Coggan, one of the pioneers of
training with a powermeter, testing is training, and training is testing. And a powermeter allows
you to do your testing out on the open road without the need to head to a laboratory. – [Matt] They’re a great
tool to track your progress and see if you’re training
is leading to improvements. And in conjunction with your heart rate, you’ll also be able to
see if you’re making efficiency improvements. You can test your sprint,
your ability on short climbs, on mountains, and in
time trials, et cetera. – What we would like to know are your experiences
of training and racing with a powermeter, both good and bad. You can leave them in the
comments section down below. On the other hand, if you
don’t have a powermeter and you also have no
interest in every buying one, please let us know why
in the comment section just down below. – And if you haven’t
already subscribed to GCN, you’re one stop short
for all things cycling. Click on the globe. Now, for how to test for your FTP, click just down here. And for how to pace yourself
for an individual time trial, click just down here. And don’t forget to like, and share this video, too. Cheers, lads.

100 comments on “6 Reasons Why You Need A Cycling Powermeter

  1. If they ever drop to sub £200 I may get one but I can't justify getting one as I'm not a competitive cyclist, I just ride for the enjoyment of being out there. I do use sim-Watts when turbo training but I can't correlate that to actual outdoor riding

  2. I have no intention of ever buying a power meter because I'm such a good GCN viewer I'm sure to win a giveaway for one some day. Easy.

  3. I have been riding with a powermeter for the last 10 years. I could not even imagine riding without one. It does improve the performance, helps with the pacing and not getting too much into the red. A number of times I manged to drop people because of the meter. ride close to my 4 min max and never dip in the red. Then a short sprint is enough to drop people. I have a power meter that also shows pedaling efficiency it is great to see how efficiently I pedal and if position changes do improve this. I agree with the fact that riding should be about the fun of it. For me the numbers have made it more enjoyable. I only care really about 2-3 numbers now : power, m climbed and time

  4. Cycling is a hobby, i don't care if it takes longer to reach the top of a mountain. I look at my heart rate. It says when i have to ride slower, that's a health issue, what i think is the most important issue. Besides that ,too much $$$ for a gadget for a 53 yr old hobby cyclist.And most of all : cycling for me is ENJOY THE VIEW :). I do +100 miles rides. What's gone be the bonus with a power meter : drive faster, drive longer ? It' s all in the society we live nowadays : all about efficiëncy, data, information….. When i ride in the Alps i care about the surroundings not the data.

  5. I like watching my wattage on the exercise bikes at the gym as I watch television–I like to set a wattage goal and maintain it for a specified length of time and keep an eye on my output. It is great for training, no question, but I have to yet to do the same out on the open road and that's probably a mix of not really being able to afford it and thinking what more do you need than an Avocet computer?

  6. #Torqueback If you are relying on powermeter information too much, don't you risk losing the ability to ride on "feel"?

    I respect what you say about powermeters, but I have used toe clips and natural feel and know what my legs are telling me: do I need to lessen off, or am I feeling strong and can push harder?

    Hasn't let me down thus far, and I can witness that I ride on my road bike in the top drive gear around the 4th (middle gear) at the back… Going in to 5th when I want to accelerate, and dropping to 3rd when I want to climb. I rarely use the bottom 1st or 2nd gear, and the top 6th and 7th gear.

    All this I do on "feel"… So surely this is what people need to learn?

  7. Training / Riding with a power meter has changed the way I ride. Prior to using a power meter I relied on cadence and HR to judge/monitor my effort on a ride. However, there are many factors that can and will affect ones HR on any given ride. After purchasing my first power meter and training to power I soon noticed that my ability to ride longer distances and attaining a higher average speed were achieved. I don't race, though I am a competitive person my nature. I'm also not a numbers cruncher either. I don't dig into the numbers of a ride and try to determine where I could have shaved off a few seconds here and there and where I could/should have ridden at a higher power output. What I do do is use my power meter to maintain certain wattage throughout a ride and when I need to dig into my power reserves I know my tank will not be empty. Riding with a power meter also allows me to better enjoy each and every ride. On a closing thought. I will admit that I regularly do a FTP test. And since starting to use a power meter my FTP has risen by over 10% (actually closer to 15% but whose tracking – LOL).


  8. I did invest in the Garmin single side power meter, which I find gives me a good indication of my overall power and other power values. I still however have great difficulty understanding the numbers and relating them to a training program. Even though it only does one side, was it still worth getting it, or should I have kept my money? I have watched all your videos on power meters but still just can't understand all the data or relate it to my training. I have even tried training peaks which only added to my confusion.

  9. Reason 7: You can use a power meter to measure performance both outdoors and in on Zwift without regard to the type of trainer you own.

  10. So funny how they are dropping fools on the climb while talking into the camera (other dudes gasping for air)

  11. Ugh! I just need the purchase of my home to go through!! All cycling related spending is on hold till we've got the keys- hubby's orders 🙁

  12. Well I mean I think it's just a matter of 'use case'. – I ride primarily for fitness (and fun), and by fitness I mean keeping myself at a good weight and a good level of endurance. I'm not in competition with anyone. I don't enter competitive races. If I did (depending on level) then the gains you mention would certainly become relevant, certainly as regards proper pacing during events (I can only imagine the level of fine tuning that power meters allow pro teams to achieve).
    There's no doubt that, for my use case, having one could prove in some way useful, but more importantly perhaps it could also make things a little more interesting? But there again, am I prepared to pay the kind of prices that these things go for, for the very limited final difference it would make to what I personally do? And even though I could afford one if I really wanted one? Still nope. In fact I'd say it'd be a little silly for me to do that. Perhaps even a little pretentious.

    If they could produce one at a more reasonable price someday (perhaps dude to economy of scale or even a trickle down effect?), at a price that didn't make me feel like I was pretending to be something I'm not, then yeah, I'd probably buy one.

    Sorry for the wall of text, but yeah, that'd be my answer to the question.
    – Cheers for all the vids guys. They help keep me on my bike! Much appreciated.

  13. Let me take an econometrician point of view. Dan claims he made huge gains of 10%, with a powermeter, of his FTP over 12 months. Let's extrapolate that dataset. First of all, we need to understand we are looking at a time series, which is subject to autocorrelation. Therefore, I could argue the lag structure of his data could have already determined by yesterday (ie, my FTP today, on average, is 300 watts, tomorrow's FTP must be baselined on yesterday). So for him to make that claim, I need to look at his dataset for the past 4 years and then correct for autocorrelation using a GLS estimator. Then, I need to run a Chow Test to see if the variables (having a powermeter, rolling resistance change, weight change) is statistically significant. Otherwise, other factors (diet, training, even mood) could have influenced that result.

    Take this with a grain of salt, I'm just being scientific on the matter. Of course, personal feel may matter more to others.

  14. The only time I've been able to use a power meter is in a cycling studio where they use power meter controlled trainers. It greatly improved my riding and my perception of effort in various conditions but I wish I could have one to use outside the studio. They're just very expensive.

  15. Definitely nonsense for cyclists without any professional objectives – approx. 97% of the pack. It will not make them faster or better cyclists. My recommendations:
    1. Decrease body weight
    2. Increase your annual and lifetime mileage
    Just spend some additional time on your bike rather than sitting in front of the pc trying to tease out an advantage from the data of your powermeter.

  16. I personally use my Garmin Forerunner 235 Watch and the Garmin Speed + Cadence Sensor to evaluate
    1) Speed
    2) Cadence
    3) Altitude
    4) Heart Rate + Heart Zone
    All for under $300 and in this case i use my watch for Cycling + Track/Cross Country(Running) instead of having my watch only for Competetive Running and Having a power meter for cycling which would Triple or Quadruple my total investment into the sports; as if Road Bikes + Gear arent already expensive.

    Although in the end i would rather increase my overall fitness by Lifting, Competetive running and Swimming to get those "Free" gains instead of spending $$.

  17. I'm 51 years old, and I don't plan on getting a power meter. For the money it costs right now, it really wouldn't make much of a difference. I don't race, and at my weight (220 pounds or so) all efforts are work, whatever the wattage. If I can spend money on a new bike that has one in a few years, I wouldn't be against it.

  18. I bought a sub £1k bike on the cycle to work scheme. Instead of upgrading with wheels and fancy bits I bought a power meter (powertap pedals). It's the best thing I could have done, it's enabled me to get stronger and ride smarter so I'm able to be more comfortable on the social rides and know when I can push. I'd rather upgrade myself than blame the bike and drop money on aero wheels etc.

  19. Well as director sportif Brian Holm once said about recreational riders buying power meters: "it is like paying an accountant to tell you that you are poor" 🙂

  20. I start using power meter very late in my cycing history. The fact was i always tend to train on feel and HR. Why well becaouse HR in my opinion tells you exact body condition each day. You might set power levels right way but once you are fatiqued during season each day following those power levels just doesn t feel right. And what is the most important from my experiances that i was faster and stronger following HR training than power levels. My 45min effort was based on HR training 5.2w/kg and using power meter training was 5,05W/kg. Why the difference i have no idea but it seems power numbers kind of held me back. And 10min effort based on HR training was 6w/kg and 5.4w/kg based on power meter. In my opinion investing in power meter i would say its right time once you can put out 5w/kg +. Becaouse at that point its very hard to control the training. I have never used any stimulants and im vegan for 18years so far and i would say if you are ready to suffer and hard train you only need cadence , HR meassurment and it will push your performance at high level. Now im using power meter mostly for long trip distances to control exact KJ consumption and steady tempo efforts based on critical power profiles.

  21. I've had a P-meter for a few weeks, not done an FTP or anything training specific yet, but using it for pacing & getting a feel for my numbers, I've already taken some substantial gains on local climbs & segments.

  22. Loved you Powermeter video – What do you think about the Velocomp – Powerpods as power meters. Are the pedal mounted untis better than these handlebar mounted units

  23. I have a Garmin bike computer and just downloaded and installed a watt data field. While not as accurate as a $1,000 Powermeter the calculated watt display value provides real time feed back to the effort I'm making. As GCN suggests in this video the benefits of using this information while riding or training is important. At a minimum I love it for pacing my effort while doing my training rides. And it costs nothing!

  24. Hi, Dan,
    You said that you got into racing when you ~13 years old. I'm 14 so I'd like to know how to get into races. Thanks

  25. I dont compete..i dont ride for numbers other than how many miles I ride..too many electronics and complications associated with riding a bike these days..Whatever happened to just simply "riding a bike"??

  26. I have a power meter of sorts. I look around at the other riders faces. If they aren't grimacing, then I need to put out some more power. If I look around and everyone seems to be dropped, then I am making a PR. Best part: no batteries required!

  27. A HRM does the job as well and costs a lot less. I think most gcn viewers ride with them instead of an expensive powermeter. Maybe more videos on that subject?

  28. A Power Meter would be nice, I'll likely replace the stock wheels first though. That is of course after two kids are out of college.

  29. Since I put on my wool shorts on back in 1970s and nailed my cleats on the bottom of my wooden soled Sidi cycling shoes.. I do not think I need a power meter to tell me I am getting older and slower..

  30. For anyone serious about training its a no brainer. I couldn't afford 1 till now and trained with HR for a very long time, but it just doesn't compare! Thank God prices are coming down to a more affordable level.

  31. I love cycling……but I'm not a racer….I understand the benefits that might bring to one's performance….but to me it's about enjoyment. If you get in the red too often you need to control your efforts, diet….I think it's another big sales for the bike industry, like carbon bikes

  32. I've waited AGES for a power meter, and am building up a new bike that will include one. However, the hills around here are so steep that I may not be able to use it while also having a 1x setup. I mean, what's the use if you're grinding? Either way, I am totally excited about this. There are trails that have long moderate sections, and maybe that's all one needs for testing. Those 20-30% grades either need more gears, or just more power (grinding). And the steep sections aren't very long anyways.

  33. I don't use a power meter simply because of their price. I train regularly and use my breathing and cadence to maintain a steady tempo along with my heart rate. If I ever plan to race I might invest in one. Train on feel. If you are feeling good go hard. If you are not then just tempo and maintain consistency. My cadence average is anywhere between 90-100 rpm depending on the day, the wind and terrain. But no matter what, I always try to keep it there. If it's super windy and I can't turn a particular gear I drop it down and raise the cadence and try to keep the same speed. Obviously in the hills or mountains speed will be different and so will cadence. But I find what cadence I can tempo and match my breathing pattern to go uphill. Training on feel is also so much more free! The way riding a bike is supposed to feel. Either way, do what you feel is most comfortable for you and use what you can afford.
    : )

  34. Power meter + the LEDs on and wahoo bolt makes training to power easy! You can look down and quickly and easily see what power zone you are in. Just completed ride London which I knocked 1hr off my previous time, just by knowing if I was going in to the red and easing off a bit.

  35. I wont be needing one. good information if one is racing. I commute by bicycle and go on occasional tours. Other than that, i bike for pure enjoyment and freedom.

  36. I don't need a power meter, just like I don't need the latest Big Bertha Bubble Burner Driver. I'm not out there to race, I'm only out for the enjoyment / fitness of the ride. I'm guessing that my heart rate monitor (for me) will be good enough. The $$ are better spent on other things

  37. Can't see the need (nice to have maybe) for the majority of Amateur racers for a power meter due to the varied fitness and power levels from other competitors in each and every race, as i have found out from recent experience you need to be able to deal with the surges as and when they occur, not being able to sustain 300W for an hour. Yes it will make you train smarter and better but if you are frequently racing then your race results will show an improvement and of course your FTP and fitness will increase. If you are doing it solely to see your fitness gains on "paper" then, its an expensive way to do it.

    That said i would rather spend the money, say £400 on a power meter than a better/lighter set of wheels, as i think the majority of people would see better results from the power meter data, providing of course they take the time to look at it.

    Although spend a bit more and then you can install yourself a small motor, which would see even more benefit 😉 Too soon?

  38. Loved the information, Dan & Matt,
    After riding with a power meter for the last year I feel better informed on how I am progressing and not depressed by missing a certain KOM or average speed because of the conditions. Unlike the commentators below the watts help keep my mind isolated from the pain especially on the long interval training rides shooting for an eventual higher FTP!
    After reading the many comments below GCN may never do another power meter specific video again or try to lead a horse to water, lol!

  39. I use a power meter but I don't really do tests or set structured training. That's quite possibly the most boring thing ever. I have become familiar with my numbers through usage though. As long as you sprint now and again, do a few time trials of different lengths and some long rides Strava does a pretty good job of calculating your power profile. More than anything it's useful for pacing on long rides where you need to keep yourself restrained and for pacing up climbs. Also it taught me I had inadequate gearing on my bike as the power spiked dramatically even with relatively minor climbs before.

  40. I'm hoping those that are anti-powermeter, anti-data have no computer on their bike. Any measuring device. That's the only way any of their comments make one bit of sense… If I were going to choose one data point, it would be power. If I could add just one more, it would be cadence. All the others can be heavily influenced by Mother Nature or other inputs

  41. PM help to overcome boredome and set your mind on headwinds. With PM you can track your effords to the dot. It does not take away the joy of cycling as you do not have to ride looking at it all the time and frankly if one says PM takes away the joy of cycling he does not see the big picture: cycling is about joy, excercise and number can spice it up. For non pro PM is nice thing to have, it pricey (even S1) so it sits some way back in cycling queue but when you take Zwift into account and ability to compare hometraining with RLC I would say its worth the money.

  42. Would power meters make commuters faster? If so, it can encourage biking to work. I like the idea of less junk miles.

  43. Are there any major differences training with a single sided vs a dual power meter? Is the additional cost worth it?

  44. I've just got a power meter because I'm crap at climbing so the pacing will help. it's interesting to see the negative comments, having seen power trained riders cycling up the second highest mountain in Thailand it made me realise that you can unlock a riders true potential very quickly. putting one on your bike won't instantly make you a pro level rider but you'll learn very quickly how to smash those experienced riders that have never trained with power 😉 it's all good fun.

  45. Really doesn't matter if there is a point😊 I am a self confessed MAMIL!! I love going out on my roadbike and churning out the miles as fast as I can without killing myself and I absolutely love my garmin with all the numbers. I haven't got a power meter yet and want one so I have the full set of performance metrics. I will never be a competitive athlete or win a time trial so you could argue there's no point, but I find the numbers interesting whether they are awesome or mediocre and like the idea of maybe improving them. It doesn't spoil my ride, it enhances it. Sometimes it's good to embrace the tech. The kit and the bike bling🤔😂 I often get slagged for being the way I am by the riders who just want to enjoy the scenery and also by the all out performance riders who say there's no point in me having the kit. On both levels I think we may be taking it all too seriously. However you ride, enjoy it. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the bling, enjoy the tech. Enjoy the race 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

  46. Given the advantages and disadvantages of having a PM, having one just isn't worth it to me. I ride for fitness/fun and i'm not a data junkie. I use map my ride to track my rides and Fitbit to monitor my heart rate. That's good enough for me.

  47. I have been put off these things because of their expense, but it seems that there are some new versions these days starting from around 200+ EUR. There is the Powerbeat for around 250, then 4iii Precision for around 400 then in Aliexpress there are quite a few models at around 200-300 price depending if it is with crank or not So I guess it is getting about time to get one.

  48. I'm keen to be a guinea pig for this to see how a structured training plan will improve performance

  49. I would love a power meter and might get one since I have the Edge 1030…. maybe the vector 3…. I’m not fast or even a killer on hills but I’d like to be able to look down once in awhile and see what I am doing. Figured the exercise would be good a month out after having open heart surgery….

  50. It is obvious that the benefit for coach or team manager for precise number out of their rider. But for no-team racer I still see many losers with their power meter. Powermeter will come with coaching course. It is another hiding cost that to prepare. It is a good tool but i dont think it is effective for anyone that not take cycling as career.

  51. For running I understand it’s a little more straightforward. There are online calculators that determine your power based solely on distance, time, body weight, and elevation gain. I guess having an instantaneous readout could be interesting. My bike speedometer/odometer/pedometer is more useful for me I think.

  52. Old video, but had I had to say that honestly…I have seen 0 difference with a powermeter thus far…My problem though, is also I have avery hard time reading my head unit numbers while riding, thanks to eyesight and sunglare.

  53. I bought an powermeter four years ago at the age of 57 … I didn’t use it properly the first year, then I bought a book about how to train peoperly with one … I am going faster and getting stronger every uesr since .. well I think I soon will hit my limit because of my age, beside byuing an bicycle, byuing an powermeter is the next best thing … for me ☺️☺️

  54. If power is torque and not cadence then i can't see how a power metre can measure the torque whilst riding a bike.. Can someone please explain this science or technology..

  55. I started using an Avio power meter a little while ago – dirt cheap at £249 factory fitted to my campy crank and I LOVE it. Its slightly annoying that you have to zero offset before every ride and then wait ten seconds, but at that price its a bargain compared to the alternatives!!

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