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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tried searching but did not find much. would a power meter be overkill for a recreational rider club ride or just overkill .
 

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gazing from the shadows
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Do you have a current training plan? Do you actually stick to that training plan?

If so, then a power meter would be useful to maximize the benefits of your training time.
 

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I got one after tiring of dragging my ass around on long rides. They produce lots of data, call BS as needed, and are generally invaluable for a recreational rider, IMHO. Note the older PowerTap alloy wheelset is occasionally available under $500.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Do you have a current training plan? Do you actually stick to that training plan?

If so, then a power meter would be useful to maximize the benefits of your training time.
no I do not train or plan to do serious training.

just looking to improve
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just want to get better overall fitness strength and endurance .


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...and are generally invaluable for a recreational rider, IMHO.
Invaluable to be able maximize benefits, I can agree with that.

If someone can't/won't stick to a structured training program without a power meter, they won't with one either. For such a person, there are other ways to get improved performance that would be better than a power meter. My wife would hate truly structured training, for example. She would ride less if I tried to impose it on her, even for a couple months to get ready for a cycling trip. For her, a power meter would have negative value. $500 spent other cycling ways would be far more incentive to ride more for her.

So we have a series of rides we use at the start of the season, middle, and late. There are options both flat and hilly at all those times. I just try to make sure we get a couple non-flat routes in a week, and we ride a bit more in terms of time week to week. Admittedly, we've been riding for a few decades and don't race*, so we are pretty chill about these things.




*I admit I will contest any sprint with any person at any time, so be ready if we approach a city limits sign!
 

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no I do not train or plan to do serious training.

just looking to improve
I suggest you do this:

Do 2 "hard" rides each week. Some really fast sprints, or some climbing will do this. Make sure the "hard" part is 20 minutes at least to start. For many, a good MTB ride on singletrack will count for a hard road ride.

Do at least 2 easy rides, 3 is better. Steady on flat terrain.

Take at least one day off the bike, but two is likely better for you at this point.

Add 10% in terms of total time each week.

You will get stronger, you will get faster. Simple, free, easy to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I suggest you do this:

Do 2 "hard" rides each week. Some really fast sprints, or some climbing will do this. Make sure the "hard" part is 20 minutes at least to start. For many, a good MTB ride on singletrack will count for a hard road ride.

Do at least 2 easy rides, 3 is better. Steady on flat terrain.

Take at least one day off the bike, but two is likely better for you at this point.

Add 10% in terms of total time each week.

You will get stronger, you will get faster. Simple, free, easy to do.
That's that's pretty much what I was looking for, I can do it without getting too technical .
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Invaluable to be able maximize benefits, I can agree with that.

If someone can't/won't stick to a structured training program without a power meter, they won't with one either. For such a person, there are other ways to get improved performance that would be better than a power meter. My wife would hate truly structured training, for example. She would ride less if I tried to impose it on her, even for a couple months to get ready for a cycling trip. For her, a power meter would have negative value. $500 spent other cycling ways would be far more incentive to ride more for her.

So we have a series of rides we use at the start of the season, middle, and late. There are options both flat and hilly at all those times. I just try to make sure we get a couple non-flat routes in a week, and we ride a bit more in terms of time week to week. Admittedly, we've been riding for a few decades and don't race*, so we are pretty chill about these things.




*I admit I will contest any sprint with any person at any time, so be ready if we approach a city limits sign!
im pretty much the same way, mixing it up is good.
 

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Just want to get better overall fitness strength and endurance .


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More riding will do that. Increasing duration and miles as you go along.

I used to want an external powermeter. For a recreational rider that is doing it for general fitness, i don't see it as a necessity now.
 

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As you follow the plan QQQ laid out for you, find a group to ride with that, when you first ride with them, is faster than you so you can't hang on to the end of the ride. Be sure you know the way home though. In between group rides, train by yourself to get to the point where you can hang with the group to the end.

You don't need a power meter for that since, on rides like that, your level of power output doesn't really matter, you have to put out whatever power is needed to not get dropped. Trust me, you will get stronger and, ultimately, have fun doing it.
 

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Overkill. But so is a carbon bike with Zipps. I'm a fast Club rider with no aspirations to race or train seriously, but I'm a data geek and enjoy the metrics provided by my Garmin Vector 2s.
 

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A power meter will provide data that will track your fitness improvement and deterioration. If you use strava, for example, next year you'll be able to track your fitness and compare it to your level at the same time a year earlier.

For most people, a semi structured training program with a power meter will allow you to see your fitness as the year progresses and that is typically a real motivator.

"why can't I just time my rides" you ask? Two things. Doing the same ride day after day is boring as hell. Further, If you have a 2mph tail wind one day and a 2mph headwind the next you will not notice it except that data will tell you that your fitness is moving backwards. The power meter doesn't lie.
Just want to get better overall fitness strength and endurance .


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As someone who got 'stuck' last year, riding nearly 10k miles and not really improving, I did some research into how to better make use of my time on the bike in such a way as to improve my endurance and speed/power.

I invested in a Stages PM and determined some baselines, then found some good guides for improving.

The suggestion to do a couple of 'hard' rides and several easier rides a week is a pretty good one. The idea is that if you are riding hard, you are pushing your threshold up, and if you are riding easy and long, you are pushing your endurance out. Both good things.

My mistake was doing many many hours/miles in between - kind of a no-mans-land. "Zone 3" - often called (inappropriately in my opinion ) Junk Miles. Riding in this zone is fine - it's good exercise, you'll get relatively fit and maintain it as well. It's just not a good way to improve.

Coming to understand these things has helped tremendously - and having a powermeter on my road bike, and a smartrainer at home for the dark/cold/rainy months makes it easier to optimize.

As far as how to use the data, you can use tools like Strava (there are many others that do similar things) to review your data post ride. Here is an example of a Zone Distribution chart in Strava - it was for an indoor Sweet Spot (SST) ride, where I was doing long sub threshold intervals with lots of recovery in Z1/Z2. Notice the lack time spent in Zone 3.

If you were doing sprints, you would see a little more Z5 and up. If you were strictly doing endurance or recovery, all Z2.



Note that this was done on a smart trainer indoors using ERG mode, where it's really easy to control your efforts into specific zones like this.

Outdoors, it's a little harder. Without a power meter, you pretty much go by feel and heart rate - with a power meter you can program your head unit to display your current power zone and try to follow similar principles.

By learning to optimize my rides using these 'zones', I've increased my FTP considerably, and improved my endurance, and done it in a relatively short period of time (i started this in earnest around the first of the year).

To specifically answer the OP's questions. Is a power meter needed? Nope. Is it nice to have, and will it help make 'improving' easier? Absolutely! And it doesn't have to be an expensive unit - one of the simple single sided units is fine - hub based, crank based or pedal based all work great - doesn't really matter - all you need is a good idea where your power is averaged over 3-5 seconds and you can use this information to improve your riding.
 

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Most beginners end up discovering they need/want a lot more stuff than they initially expected. More clothing, lights, new/different tires, home trainer, pumps, different gearing, tools, the list goes on and on. Most people calling themselves beginners probably don't have everything yet and probably didn't budget for future want/needs.

I don't know if you'd like a power meter or not but as a beginner I'd wait until you're sure you have the basics before allocating your money to the luxury stuff like a power meter.
 

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Boy am I happy that I've had a power meter for years and years.

Got one well before I knew how to use it effectively.

Now I can look back over those years and make graphs and chart progress and analyze how I felt vs. how I performed. I can see my weaknesses and strengths (which are opposite to what myself and all around me thought).

Boy I'm happy that as a newbie I had a power meter, even if I wasn't "using" it the right way at the time. Seeing how the wheels were less than $500 from performance with a power meter included, it didn't even cost me much of anything. What a great decision that was at the time.

People were telling me it was just a luxury item I didn't need or wouldn't be useful. Glad I didn't listen to them.
 

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Just want to get better overall fitness strength and endurance .
In that case save the money for a PM and use it to enter in a few events each month for a year, doesn't matter what, just enter. Club rides twice a week will do more for your performance than anything you can buy. Good luck.
 

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"why can't I just time my rides" you ask? Two things. Doing the same ride day after day is boring as hell. Further, If you have a 2mph tail wind one day and a 2mph headwind the next you will not notice it except that data will tell you that your fitness is moving backwards. The power meter doesn't lie.
Yes, but this guy is just getting started. Unless he is bringing major fitness from some other sport, he will be able to easily see improvements over the year and season to season. No "need" for a power meter to see this.
 

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That would be true if training and fitness were linear--but they are not for most folks. Winter and other distractions cause setbacks.

Beyond that, comparing last years data to this year for the same time period confirms that the setbacks are related to the lack of similar training time. That should be encouraging for most folks to get with it. Memory is often too vague to have a good handle on what happened last year.

Since he has to recharge his computer anyway, I can't see any rational reason to avoid gathering power data?
Yes, but this guy is just getting started. Unless he is bringing major fitness from some other sport, he will be able to easily see improvements over the year and season to season. No "need" for a power meter to see this.
 
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