Over the past thirty years, the technology of Power Meters has been evolving and developing. Let’s take a closer look at the technology and the ‘whys and wherefores’.
My immediate question to the engineering chaps here was: ‘Why are Power Meters placed in differing positions on the bike? The answer is, ‘to accommodate the customers’ expectations’. So, for example, if you want to use your Power Meter on more than one bike you are probably going to look at Pedal Power Meters.
However chatting further to our engineers, I soon became aware that the best position ever for a Power Meter to be placed is as close to where the ‘force is applied’. So surely the best place would be the bottom bracket spindle? They agreed, technically it is good, but it’s not necessarily practical as spindle sizes vary, so there would have to be more than one model, which would increase the price for production – which in turn would increase the price for the customer.
So when choosing the product you need from the market, here are the questions you might ask yourself:
What Price point?
There is a huge difference between the cheapest and the most expensive, it does compromise on the number features somewhat, but the most expensive have been developed for the professional athlete, so we might aspire to have these units but in reality, most of us will be looking for the best product to suit our needs and pocket. Going back to positioning, the next best place for the Power Meter is the spider, which is why they rose to prominence in the late 1980’s. They can be purchased individually or as part of a chainset. Price points reflect the weight and measuring functionality. They range from £700 – £2000; pretty hefty for the weekend warrior?
How durable do I need a Power Meter to be?
The best option here is to have them tucked away so they avoid any knocks, something Mountain bikers might appreciate more, although I’ve seen my fair share of roadies fall off 😉 This also helps avoid moisture creeping in. Rear Hub Power Meters are pretty good at this, as once fitted they utilize a cap that is squeezed. Their shortcoming though is that they are further away from the ‘force’ so they will suffer drive chain losses and therefore give marginally lower readings and not necessarily reflect the physiological effort and responses, something power meters are almost explicitly used for. These are priced at £350 mostly.
Bottom bracket Power Meters could also be a contender for the best durability prize, but they are difficult to install and are not compatible with all bottom bracket systems. Prices are upwards of £800, maybe a touch less on a good deal.
How easily can a Power Meter be fitted and maintained?
This is where the Left crank and the Pedal versions rise to the top. They’re straight forward, as maintenance / access is easy. Technology wise, the Left crank Power Meter is a great idea as it’s close to the source of power (the legs by the way). Left crank prices range from £350 – £1000, so the Avio PowerSense is the best ever value, as we’ll fit it for you for £249. We also have the standard +/- 2 % accuracy. (Which is an industry-standard in the bike biz.)
Avio is also doing stuff on a Dual Pedal Power Meter solution to power, as we have said above, which can be easily switched between bikes. (For some reason one of the competitors has produced a set that is not easily switched?) You’re looking at between £400 – £2000 for a set, don’t doubt that our idea will be competitively priced! We are so excited about 2020 🙂
Single Sided Pedal Power Meters are around the £400 mark, which is about half the price of the dual sided ones. These have the same premise as the Left Crank Power Meter, so the metrics are gathered from the left side only. Dual sided pedals on the other hand send readings from both right and left, so the metrics are individual, and don’t have to be doubled.
Is there a reason to choose between the Single or Dual Pedal options, I immediately asked the engineers? There is, put simply (I will expand on this in a later blog post), the Dual will give more detailed metrics, but having said that, the Avio PowerSense has a Rider Dynamics Feature which means metrics are as accurate.