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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Please don't just post whichever power meter you think is best. Yeah, I'd love a verve infocrank, but I'm not spending more than I did on my bike for a power meter.

-Budget is $500 or less. Okay buying used.

-Currently have a wired powertap wheel. Works great, but would like to not use two headunits, and would like power on my race bike. I'll probably sell the PT setup when I get a new PM.

-Would like to swap between at least two and maybe three bikes (cross bike with mtb pedals, road bike with road pedals, possibly mtb with mtb pedals)

-all three bikes use shimano hollowtech II cranks, but my cross bike is 9 speed while the other are 10. Running 50/34 on both my road and cross bikes and would like to stick with compacts.

-Headunit can pick up BT smart or Ant+ power meters.

-Would like to be on Zwift this winter with the PM.

Are stages, 4III precision, or watteam powerbeat (not currently shipping) my best options? As I already have a power meter, not sure I want to go with a single-sided option and find out my leg imbalance is not linear. Or is my better option to buy a better non-portable pm for the race bike and keep the powertap for the cross bike? Seems like those are all more expensive though.
 

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I would strongly suggest staying away from used if you can help it. Especially on the low end like this. Warranty support is very likely to come in handy.

From personal experience, I recommend a Stages if they make one that matches your crank. I own two of them (soon three), and other than an initial warranty problem with one, I've had no issues with them. They work great.

I've never used a 4IIII, so I have no thoughts there.

If you haven't, please go read Ray Maker's 2016-2017 Power Meter Buyers Guide. It will likely tell you what you need to know.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/09/power-meters-buyers-guide2016-edition.html

Edit to Clarify: If you can buy used from someone you know and trust, you are probably OK, as if there is a Warranty issue, they may be willing to deal with (Warranties are generally not transferrable).

Edit2: Your budget will not likely manage a dual sided PM. Pioneers is probably the least expensive at $999 (you send your crank off to them for modification).

I would not concern yourself with left/right imbalance. Honestly unless you are seriously out of whack, it's not going to make much difference in the long run. The thing to consider with many of the newer PM's is that they use an accelerometer for cadence, which can be inaccurate in some situations (super high cadence, super low cadence under high power, or over really rough terrain), and those inaccuracies, if they affect you , could lead to power anomalous power readings.
 

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Given your requirements for a power meter your only options are really a left crank arm power meter. Watteam powerbeat can't easily be switched from bike to bike.

As far as I know only Stages, 4iiii and pioneer make left crank arm power meters. Stages have a decent reputation of being reliable, but make sure you get the Gen 2 models of their power meters as they had some water ingress issues with their first generation.

Check out stages for some of their close out deals. I believe they have a shimano 105 5700 series on close out. It should still be compatible with newer groupsets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses. I've read Ray's reviews into all of these products; helpful. Just want to make sure I'm not missing anything or thinking of another angle. I suppose I could use the favero road pedals on my 'cross bike for everything except when I ride singletrack and cyclocross on the 'cross bike, which is decidedly not often. I think I'd rather not get a pedal based PM system though-pedals wear out a lot quicker than crankarms.

I guess another option would be to just put the powerbeat on one crank and switch that crank from the road to the cross bike. One is 6800, one is 5800. But they're not shipping currently. Any problems with stages on gravel?
 

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I just picked up the single-sided Powertap P1S pedals for 20% off on a black Friday sale. They were like $450 after discount. Work great so far and I'm not near serious enough to worry about a power imbalance. And why does it really matter as long as you're always basing your power numbers off the same foot? I doubt one leg will have a drastic increase in power or endurance over the life of your training.

When is the last time you wore out a set of pedals?
 

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I personally wouldn't want to run a pedal based PM on a cross or MTB when riding in those rough areas. Much higher chance of impact with those.

I'd say Pionner is another option for the left side only and if you ever decide you can upgrade to dual later on.

Or, since both your cross and road bikes are compact why not Powertap C1 chainrings? They are only in 110BCD (5 bolt pattern) and you just swap the rings between the 2 bikes. Not super portable/swappable as a stages, pedals or left arm cranks but manageable.

but a new PM unless on clearance is going to run you more than $500 on some of them (C1 for example is $699 I believe...for that money I'd rather a crank spider based unit instead but it's your money so you decide what works for you).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Leg imbalance matters because it might not be 48/52 all the time. At high wattages it might be more like 44/56, but I don't know because I've only used a powertap hub. Maybe I'm perfectly 50/50, who knows.

I wear out road pedals just about every other year. Look keo classic are what I usually use. bearings develop play, cleat/pedal interface gets super beat up and develops play, etc. Look pedals aren't really serviceable so I just buy new ones for like $30 bucks every other year. Don't think I've ever worn out a set of shimano m520's, though I've had to service them from time to time.
 

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I would vote for Powertap C1 or Power2Max FSA Gossamer crank power meter. These are a little over your budget full price but frequently you can use coupons for the powertaps at places like competitive cyclist. Unfortunately you missed the black friday sale for power2max which I think is their only sale of the year.

Left only is probably fine if all you are doing is setting training zones off a FTP test. If you want to do things like virtual elevation testing to improve your CdA or other more demanding applications it probably isn't. Some of the single sided meters can now be upgraded to dual though so that might be a good way to start and upgrade at a later time if you get into the more advanced stuff.
 

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Leg imbalance matters because it might not be 48/52 all the time. At high wattages it might be more like 44/56, but I don't know because I've only used a powertap hub. Maybe I'm perfectly 50/50, who knows.

I wear out road pedals just about every other year. Look keo classic are what I usually use. bearings develop play, cleat/pedal interface gets super beat up and develops play, etc. Look pedals aren't really serviceable so I just buy new ones for like $30 bucks every other year. Don't think I've ever worn out a set of shimano m520's, though I've had to service them from time to time.
So, if 48/52 degrades to 44/56 under heavier loads what exactly are you doing about it? What's actionable from that data? Specifically? So leg imbalance matters a lot? Why? Are you training the imbalance that might exist closer to equal? How do you plan to do that? Does that even matter for your riding?
 

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So, if 48/52 degrades to 44/56 under heavier loads what exactly are you doing about it? What's actionable from that data? Specifically?
Like all things, it depends on what you're trying to do with the data. It appears that most riders don't do things that demand very high data quality so it won't much matter; OTOH a few do, and for them that amount of variation will matter quite a bit.

The OP has been using a wired PT for a while so he knows what he does with the data. More importantly, long time power meter users have years of records and switching to a different PM can sometimes mean that those years of records are no longer comparable. For me, that'd suck. For others, it may not matter.
 

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Like all things, it depends on what you're trying to do with the data. It appears that most riders don't do things that demand very high data quality so it won't much matter; OTOH a few do, and for them that amount of variation will matter quite a bit.

The OP has been using a wired PT for a while so he knows what he does with the data. More importantly, long time power meter users have years of records and switching to a different PM can sometimes mean that those years of records are no longer comparable. For me, that'd suck. For others, it may not matter.
I was hoping you'd chime in here.

What power meter would suggest for him then, considering his portability requirement, budget limitations ($500), and preference for dual sided ?
 

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Like all things, it depends on what you're trying to do with the data. It appears that most riders don't do things that demand very high data quality so it won't much matter; OTOH a few do, and for them that amount of variation will matter quite a bit.

The OP has been using a wired PT for a while so he knows what he does with the data. More importantly, long time power meter users have years of records and switching to a different PM can sometimes mean that those years of records are no longer comparable. For me, that'd suck. For others, it may not matter.
based on OP's post about a week ago, he's a newbie in cycling and based on his questions, seems like he's still learning the rope.

My question is this. When people compare a single-side vs a dual-sided pm, do they want dual because:

1) they truly have a need for data fidelity? So far in these discussions, except for you and maybe Alex, nobody seems to know what to do with the data, and I have not seen the others on RBR discussing the details and elaboration of why they would want dual-sided, or if dual-sided is addressing any particular need for them.

2) do they want dual because "more is better"? If given the same price, of course go for dual. But single- and dual-sided meters are not the same, yet at the same time, dual-side is not costing 2x single-sided either. So now the question of "value" and "best bang for the bux" come into play. Some folks are simply saying buy dual-sided based on a value play. More is always better, especially when 2x the equipment does not cost 2x the price, and some folks are surely thinking along value play here.

What I see in these "power meter" discussions is a knowledge gap between the (slight) insistance of wanting a piece of equipment versus the reality of knowing how to best utilize that piece of equipment. The "wanting" part is being pitched way too aggressively by folks who might not know the why and the how of what to do. Like The only people who seem to know what they're talking about are you and Alex, but the rest just seem to preach and regurgitate from their bro's
 

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I was hoping you'd chime in here.

What power meter would suggest for him then, considering his portability requirement, budget limitations ($500), and preference for dual sided ?
Hmmm. The tough part is the MTB. It depends on how much he values having power on the MTB. Because of the way single-sided PMs like the Stages and 4iiii work, they're not ideal for MTB applications when you sometimes have to operate on rough and sketchy surfaces where traction is critical. As a not-so-aside, MTBer's often have the most "circular" pedal strokes since large variation will cause spin. In addition, sometimes in MTB racing you get caught in situations where you have to apply high torque at low rpm, and we know that accelerometer-based cadence tends to do poorly in that situation, even when the surface is smooth and firm. So, all in all, single-sided PMs haven't done well in MTB applications.

Cyclocross runs into similar problems, or even more so since there are run-ups and you're going to miss a significant portion of power production and demand.

I actually try to stay out of specific product recommendations -- I try to describe the pros and cons of general approaches, but I can't know everyone's specific situation. Some people are pretty comfortable making blanket statements about what others should -- or don't need to -- care about. I'm not one of those people. I can tell people what to expect from a particular power meter but I can't tell whether they'll be happy with the choice they make. All that said, I'm a cheapskate, so when I'm on my MTB I just use RPE and my phone with the Strava app.
 

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What I see in these "power meter" discussions is a knowledge gap between the (slight) insistance of wanting a piece of equipment versus the reality of knowing how to best utilize that piece of equipment. The "wanting" part is being pitched way too aggressively by folks who might not know the why and the how of what to do. Like The only people who seem to know what they're talking about are you and Alex, but the rest just seem to preach and regurgitate from their bro's
People aren't static -- they can change and learn over time, and their needs can change, too. A device that's an appropriate choice at one point in time may not be at a different time. Alex and I have been using power meters for a pretty long time, so we've had lots of opportunity to learn and figure out some things that don't require a lot of data fidelity, and some that do. We're not that special, we've just been around for a while.
 

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My question is this. When people compare a single-side vs a dual-sided pm, do they want dual because:

1) they truly have a need for data fidelity? So far in these discussions, except for you and maybe Alex, nobody seems to know what to do with the data, and I have not seen the others on RBR discussing the details and elaboration of why they would want dual-sided, or if dual-sided is addressing any particular need for them.
Most riders do just fine with low-fidelity power, because their training needs are low fidelity. Most use it as a high tech HRM, looking for overall "improvement", instead of targeting specific areas that low fidelity power might not be suited for. Riders that focus on FTP improvement or other steady state efforts (e.g. triathletes) generally get just as much out of a low fidelity system as they would out of a high fidelity system.

A bunch of riders just see it as another block to fill on Strava (or whatever), and don't really train with the data. It's more of an abstract data point. Let's be honest- most people really don't train by power. They ride with power. Why go high-fidelity in this case if you don't need it?

I do a lot of sprint training. Where within a sprint interval maximum power is applied and how quickly it is reached is very important to me. I launch intervals from low cadence and high cadence, depending on what the goal is.

I'm not sure why, but my Riken (accelerometer-enabled) responded quicker than my Stages. I still have magnets on my frames, so the reed switch may still be in play.

I originally wanted the Stages for 'cross, where I wasn't getting any data other than heartrate. I figured lo-fi data was better than none. Unfortunately, the water ingress problem killed that idea before it got off the ground.

I still recommend Stages to people once I know their goals. The price is becoming less of a selling point for Stages, as other brands are approaching their price point, and I think a couple hundred bucks shouldn't be the deciding factor when choosing a power meter. We're not talking about the difference between a SRM and a Stages. Saving up for a little while longer to get the tool that will truly meet your long-term needs (f that's the case) is always the best option.

2) do they want dual because "more is better"? If given the same price, of course go for dual.
Probably, but I prefer spider-based systems. I still haven't found a great application for dual-sided powermeters, but the last Velonews podcast about neuromuscular training has me intrigued. Maybe not enough to shell out for a different system, but intrigued at the possibilities. After years of training with power, my FTP pretty much is what it is (within a given range). Likewise, my short term power has reached a certain plateau. Efficiency is something I might be able to make significant gains with, and does bear some researching.

The biggest thing for me is that the results are reliable, consistent, and repeatable. If multiple measurement tools are used, then the results need to be consistent. If only a single standard is used, it's not as much of an issue. For most people, if these goals are met there's no need to go further.
 

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I agree with your post.

Three little things:

1. If you left the magnets on the frame I believe the Riken will continue to use them for cadence.

2. Sometimes when I know them and their needs well, I've recommended the Stages. Occasionally I've recommended the PT PowerCal HR strap. I don't recall ever recommending the iBike to anyone, but maybe if I ran across someone with very (very) specific needs it could be the right choice.

3. Training FTP is one of the least demanding things you can do with a power meter. It's also probably the most common.
 

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Occasionally I've recommended the PT PowerCal HR strap.
I guess since a lot of people use power meters like a fancy HRM, that makes sense. It's in the ballpark in certain situations, and is certainly portable.

Training FTP is one of the least demanding things you can do with a power meter. It's also probably the most common.
It's kinda like buying a Rolls Royce so you can listen to the radio. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe that a high FTP is the gold standard of "fast".

How many people rode around with a heart rate strap without every really analyzing what it was telling them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Alright this is helpful. I'll provide a little more detail.

Rchung is right, I am a relative newbie cyclist. I've had the powertap since early October. Used it to figure out my ftp, and am using it for workouts. I own "training and racing with a power meter" and do workouts from there.

Really the only reason I wouldn't want a single sided only is because the data from my powertap I've accumulated will/might? be slightly skewed when compared with a stages or 4iii.

Power on the mtb is not a big deal, though my "A" race in 2017 is the Lutsen 99er in June, and for that race it would be very helpful for pacing purposes, as well as longer gravel training rides I do on the mtb in prep for Lutsen. The race is a roadie mtb race.


I use my 'cross bike as my indoor winter training bike, bad weather summer bike, for gravel races and gravel rides. I don't race 'cross, nor do I ride singletrack on the cross bike often. Hence the compact gearing. It's basically another road bike.

Edit: Before owning a power meter, I used heart rate for everything. Running, skiing, cycling; paced with heart rate for the longer gravel races and mtb events I did. Because I knew exactly what 10k/5k/mile/half marathon/marathon heart rates were, I could extrapolate from there and figured out what bpm I could maintain for x minutes on the bike. My hr max is lower on the bike than when running.
 

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Like all things, it depends on what you're trying to do with the data. It appears that most riders don't do things that demand very high data quality so it won't much matter; OTOH a few do, and for them that amount of variation will matter quite a bit.

The OP has been using a wired PT for a while so he knows what he does with the data. More importantly, long time power meter users have years of records and switching to a different PM can sometimes mean that those years of records are no longer comparable. For me, that'd suck. For others, it may not matter.
Right. Severing that kind of data history would be nearly tragic. As my mother used to say, "begin as you intend to go on" takes on a whole new level of significance given this point. Alaska Mike's point makes such sense.... save and get the best tool for your needs, don't let a few hundred sway the decision.
 
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