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Riding with a power meter

Training data is one of the most useful non mechanical additions a cyclist can make to their bike. The technology and the collection of bike specific power data makes cycling unique among sports and fitness activities. However, both running and swimming are begining to find the technolgies to measure running and swim power data. Moreover, software recording and analysis with widely used platforms such as TrainingPeaks™are able to anaylze and allow coaches and athletes to utilize the data in training.

The Power Meter Options

The five main areas we see power meters placed today on both road/tri and mountain bikes:

  • rear wheel (PowerTap)
  • crank spider (Quarq / SRAM, Power2Max, SRM, PowerTap C1, Team Zwatt Zpider)
  • crank arms (Rotor, Stages, Pioneer, 4iiii, WatTeam, ROTOR INPower2, Team Zwatt Zimanox, Shimano)
  • pedals/cleats (Garmin Vector, PowerTap P1, Polar/Look combo, bePRO, Look, Xpedo)
  • bottom bracket/axle (Ashton Instruments, Dyno Velo, ROTOR INpower, Team Zwatt Zpindle)

Mountain Bike Power meters

SRM developed the first power meter in the late 80’s. It was a crank-based power meter that was intended for road use. Since the introduction of that first power meter, the market has grown substantially. During this time, the vast majority of new power meters have been aimed at road cyclists. Why? It was a bigger market (and still is actually) and that’s where the majority of the demand was (and still is). Mountain bike power meters would have to wait.

However, it was only a matter of time before MTBers decided they wanted to get in on the action. If power meters were helping road cyclists become faster and stronger – why couldn’t everyone benefit from them? In addition to the numerous other reasons to use a power meter, seeing the exact physiological demands of your specific discipline, in this case MTB, allows you to structure a training program that can target weaknesses while emphasizing strengths. Manufacturers recognized this demand and in the last several years, have started launching MTB power meters – which are basically MTB versions of many of their popular road offerings. While the road market still dominates demand, there are now several different mountain bike power meters that are available.