When we saw top athletes training with the PowerTap SL, we thought we had the greatest power meter in the world. But we decided we needed more. In the end, we got less...less wires that is. The PowerTap SL 2.4 is the first wireless power meter on the market. It combines the lightweight reliable SL hub with a 2.4GHz transmission. Hub to handlebar...no strings attached!
Strengths: Easily transferred from one bike to another. Reliable once possible bugs are fixed.
Weaknesses: Mine has horrific bearing performance. Definitely has an issue with the accuracy of the hub shell bearing recesses. Brand new bearings run roughly after 1 or two rides. Locknuts can't be torqued to spec without locking up and pitting hub shell bearings. You end up with roughly running tight bearings, or somewhat smooth running bearings that have excessive play.
A system that had it's share of growing pains. A better choice than an SRM if you train on several bikes in a week.
Similar Products Used: This has been my only power meter, but I have worked on many types of hubs before-sealed mechanism and sealed bearing. None of them have the performance issues my Powertap has.
Bike Setup: I've used this Powertap on a 1993 TI Serotta, a 2009 LOOK 595 Ultra, and a 2008 Specialized Transition.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: April 27, 2009
Strengths: So far, flawless operation (no drop outs, easy USB PC connectivity, great software).
Excellent display ...easy to set intervals on-the-fly ...easy to scroll display options.
Easy USB download ...also you can program the on-bike computer from your PC to the extent needed.
Gives much more meaning to roller work-outs.
Weaknesses: Expensive (I got a break buying last years model ...no ANT+ but I don't think i will miss that).
Have to use the same rear wheel all the time. It's a little heavier, but I dont notice too much.
You can't hide from the power numbers if you're having a bad day.
One of the best products I've ever used. The included software tracks your peak average power over many intervals (5 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, 20 min, etc) and then shows how each ride compares to your personal records. For me, this give a reason to push hard in interval training. The software also shows how your peak power changes over time ...and how much time you spend in each power zone.
It also has built in HRM, cadence, speed, time, etc all thru the hub. So no need for any spoke magnets or sensors, which is nice.
The values all seem very accurate and respond quickly on-screen. Extremely well designed and executed.
Not cheap, but I believe that this will help me advance more than any other purchase because of the training advantages.
In the words of Ferris B, "if you have the means I would highly recommend picking one up."
Similar Products Used: Polar HRM (725). This seemed way more complicated and difficult to use...req'd an infra-red rather than USB interface. I didnt use the power kit, and HRM for me is hard to get motivated about.
Strengths: Easy to read display. Easy to understand instructions. Great support and guidance for determining your power threshold and setting your power zones. Clean set up with the wireless unit (SL 2.4.) In three months I have not had any problems; this is riding in snow melt & rain, and very cold weekend rides. The heart rate is accurate by what I can tell (comparing my HR numbers with my Suunto HR monitor on the same rides) and the cadence is pretty close while riding. For a super accurate cadence you might want to get the cadence unit, the cadence on the SL 2.4 is somewhat virtual and gives a really high max cadence when the information is downloaded (200+ at times) but I just use cadence as a general guide- the watts are what I ride against. I rarely watch my HR anymore and follow my watts for intervals.
The threshold setup guided by Dr. Lim on the Saris web site is very helpful. I tested myself and then had my wife help with the same test a few days later and I was 3 watts off on my threshold from what I had determined. (My wife held the computer wrote down my perceived efforts every three min. and tracked my average power for that three min interval.)
Weaknesses: After two months of 3-4 rides a week I had to replace the CPU battery. Not a big deal, the battery was only $2, and the display is as bright as ever. This may have been from riding in really cold temps or sitting in the cold garage, not a really problem, and an easy fix.
I have not found a weakness with this product. I bought it to help me use the available time that I do have to ride more effeciently. The PowerTap SL 2.4 has done just that.
I usually ride alone or on the trainer (which is still alone, just not alone outside.) Riding by watts is pretty basic and straight forward; either you are putting out the numbers or you are not. The PowerTap SL 2.4 has really helped me to improve the time I spend on the riding.
The unit is easy to set up- wireless is the way to go. Put the wheel on your bike, mount the computer head on your handle bar, and ride.
The PowerTap is a great training tool, and not just for racers. I ride to improve my fitness and for the workout.
Using the PowerTap has allowed me to "train" and follow my riding plan for improving my fitness. Once I figured out the workouts that I needed to follow, I just ride according to the numbers. There are many web sites and books to help determine a workout plan that will work best for the time and the intensity that you can ride.
The Saris web site is very helpful for setting up your power zones and explaining how the meter works. In the past my hard days were not hard enough, or may not have been too hard and my slow recovery days were not always slow enough. Riding based on power is a great way to know that you are riding at the approiate levels and making each ride count for improving fitness. This is a great product with great support on the company web site (www.saris.com)
Strengths: Being able to swap the wheel out between road, TT, and cyclocross bikes is great. Try that with SRM or Ergomo. Wireless model is more expensive but nice to have (cleaner setup). No need to buy additional wire kits for different bikes. Just get an additional $10 computer mount for each bike and you are good to go w/a quick change of the rear wheel.
Adds a new dimension/meaning to indoor training. Before, my winter training indoors involved alot of guesswork and going by HR (not the optimal way to do it). The power meter gives me something to focus on/target/etc, and, as such, has actually made my indoor training, dare I say it, somewhat enjoyable? Anyway it is nice to focus on power vs HR on the trainer. Nothing wrong with HR, power is just a superior means of training, IMO.
Weaknesses: Limited to 1 wheel. I would like to race w/my power meter but use my race wheels I already have, which means buying another hub for the race wheels (still cheaper than SRM this way).
Cadence function (w/out the separate speed/cadence sensor) is WAY off at times. My downloads show max RPMs around 190-200, but it works 95% of the time.
These are my preferences rather than weaknesses: 1) a backlight function for pre-dawn/night rides would be VERY useful. w/out a helmet mounted light, i cannot see the computer display unless I ride under a street light. i ride in the early morning alot so this would be nice; 2) allow user to program power zones into the computer. you can configure the device with certain data, but not you're power zones. right now, i print them out and tape them to my stem. would be cool if the computer would show which zone you're in next to wattage display.
Bought from an eBay seller called "bentleybrooks". It came as a fully-built wheel. The rim needed a bit of truing out of the box, but other than that, the setup was simple and self explanatory.
I read some reviews of the non-wireless models which said the hub had problems in the rain. I've ridden in the rain a few times since owning mine and have not had a single issue (knock on wood).
I spent alot of time reviewing and comparing all the different power meters on the market and the PowerTap made the most sense for my needs. Ideally, I'd have the SRM so I can use any wheels on my road bike and still have power data. But I can also buy another PowerTap SL 2.4 hub for my existing carbon tubular race wheels and STILL save $1000 over SRM.
This is my first season, in 15 years of racing, to use a power meter. I won't say I am stronger now b/c of the power meter (time will tell), but I am definitely training MUCH more specifically than ever before. Heart Rate just isn't as useful as power.
For example, you can do a sprint workout and HR is virtually useless b/c the efforts are so short that HR will lag behind and not really indicate your level of effort. With a power meter, you can actually see how hard you're working and, more importantly, if you're improving over time. Of course, this applies to all power meters, not just Power Tap.
Bike Setup: 2008 Orbea Opal 54cm with full Dura Ace 10 speed, a Mavic Open Pro 32 hole rear wheel w/PowerTap SL 2.4 hub, Mavic Ksyrium SL front wheel, Time Carbon RSX pedals, Fizik Arione saddle, and Orbea carbon seatpost. Race wheels are American Classic Carbon 58mm Tubular (awesome wheels, BTW).
I've been using a powertap sl 2.4 (which I purchased used) for almost a year. It worked well (with very occasional signal drop issues) for most of this period, and I didn't need to replace the batteries which came with the hub for several months. A few weeks ago, the hub unit suddenly started draini ... Read More »
Cycle Ops PowerTap 2.4 SL wireless hub laced to a Mavic Open Pro 32 hole rim. This is the perfect training tool for someone looking to start using power in their tr ... Read More »
Last night during a training ride I discovered my rear wheel no longer wanted to freewheel. When I stopped pedaling, the chain would pull on the RD and the freehub wouldn't budge. I took the freehub off tonight and found the culprit. Turns out the spring around the three pawls somehow migrated so ... Read More »
What do people think of the quality of bearings used in the Powertap SL 2.4 hubs? Are they comparable to, better than, worse than bearings used in Campagnolo Chorus or Eurus hubs? I know a lot of it is subjective, just trying to get a feel for what people think.
ThanksRead More »
I've decided I really hate the Powertap CPU! I'd like to simultaneously display (1) power, (2) speed, (3) cadence, (4) heart rate, and (5) while doing intervals, elapsed time (or a count-down timer)
Unfortunately, the Powertap Sl 2.4 CPU doesn't come close to offering this functionality. I thought ... Read More »