Power Meters: The right one?
Vault Cycle Services will not be beaten when it comes to information or price on power meters. We pride ourselves as being industry experts when it comes to power meter advice.
There are a great many different types of power meters on the market, how do you know which is the ‘right’ one? Fortunately, there is a right one and it is dependent on what you want out of a power meter device. All options are compatible with Garmin head units or other ANT+ devices. We explore some options for you below, in order of price point, considering most buyers are money conscious:
Stages Power meters are the cheapest power meter on the market and have revolutionized the market for this reason, generating their own market entry point. A pod containing strain gauges and an accelerometer placed on the non drive side crank arm measures the force application through a pedal stroke generating torque and measures the cadence of the crank. The benefit of this device is its price point, with crank arms coming in 105, Ultegra, Dura ace, Mountain Bike, track and other equivalents. Batteries are also easily replaceable. The downside of these units is that we are only measuring one side of the force equation, but the price component is low enough that almost everyone can enter the power market for the first time.
The Power tap hub based power unit is a hub that can be laced to almost any wheel-set. The units are highly accurate and stable over time, but their strong point is they can be applied to any bike you own, meaning a power meter for every bike. Their price point is between $800-$1000 for the Hub only. You will then need to have them built into a wheel-set, so the price of rims and spokes needs to also be accounted for. Batteries are replaceable by the user. A good quality unit with these unique features making it a very usable option.
The Garmin Vector is a power meter device that can be used on any bike. It has a power measuring device in each pedal spindle for left and right pedals. The advantage is the units can be moved across from bike to bike, with care required in order to tighten the pedal only to a recommended tension. Failure to do this results in very inaccurate readings. This unit measures left and right leg power through the Garmin head-unit device. Cost is approximately $1500RRP
The Quark power meter has the strain gauges placed in the spider of the drive side crank. The crank software segments left and right data through the pedal stroke without measuring each crank directly. Thus it approximates the left and hand side power generation. The brand has been around a long time and offers great product support and regular updates to its firmware which can be completed through an Apple device and wifi connection. Batteries are also easily replaced by the user. Price is from $1800 upwards depending on crank configuration.
The Pioneer power meter works on a similar premise as the Stages, in that a pod is placed onto the non drive side crank arm and also on the drive side crank spider. This device measures both left and right crank power which can be transmitted to the pioneer head-unit or Garmin device for analysis and data collection. The benefit of this unit is also in the software. You can see the magnitude of force being created through every moment through the cranks, which allows you to see, quite clearly, where in the crank rotation you are generating the most power, or the least. With this device you are able to capture every moment through both cranks. Batteries are also replaced by the user. For a new set of cranks with power meters and the headset the price is as high at $2200 RRP. However Pioneer also offer after market installs to crank sets for around $1500 RRP.
The Verve Infocrank works in a similar fashion to the Pioneer, but for very different reasons. The Infocrank has a set of strain gauges in each crank arm. These devices measure force through the crank arm and also offer feedback about left and right leg power production through some innovative software technology. Importantly the Infocrank was made for the strain gauges, not the other way around. This means the quality of measurement is precise and highly stable over time and changing climatic conditions. Considering temperature changes across a ride and metal components expand and contract through these conditions, a power meter needs to calibrate in order to read accurately across a ride. The need to calibrate the unit across a ride is almost non-existent owing to the level of precision in engineering. The Infocrank was made with one goal in mind: accuracy. Batteries are also replaced by the user. The price for the Infocrank is around $2250.
The SRM power meter has been around the longest and is the more costly power meter device on the market. It has excellent features pertaining to accuracy using hardware that has been refined across decades of engineering. For a great many years it was almost the only power meter on the market. The benefits of the SRM include accuracy, reliability and options with respect to what crank set you would like. The downside is cost. Recommended retail for these units is still above its competitors ranging from $3000 RRP upwards depending on configuration.
These listed brands offer the bulk of power meters on the market presently, but not all of them. With an ever increasing scope for customers to choose from the consumer will have a hard task in choosing the right one. You will no doubt still have more questions and we are here to help assist you in getting the best outcome for your purchase.
Vault are Perth’s experts on power meters and we only want the best outcome for your cycling needs when offering advice. We hope to hear from you soon.
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