Hi everyone. I am curious what is out there to cheaply get power on an existing bike. I have a smart trainer and am eager to get power outside. I have sram s900 cranks and would prefer dual sided power. Any thoughts?
Cheapest options seem to be single sided cranks (4iiii or stages).
I recently got a Shimano DA left sided crank arm for around £300
the cheapest options for dual power meter from the top of my head:
(I haven’t used them, make sure to checkout some reviews first)
and here’s a pretty good overview about power meters in general (placement, options, etc.)
I would say that the cheapest option is the Watteam Powerbeat. The single-sided version is $259, dual sided is $399. (RRP - street price may vary). However, I would wait for some time until there are reviews that document some serious use. The concept is very clever in that Watteam expects the end user to mount the meter on their crank and perform the crank-specific calibration, but there have been an awful lot of reports about that process not being very stable (units coming off the crank, stopping to work reliably or stopping to work altogether). I think the concept is brilliant and I hope that they are able to stabilise long-term performance with the G3.
Next up is probably Power2Max NGEco. They measure spider-based, so it’s total power and not quite the same as dual sided. Depends on whether you really need dual sided or if total power is good enough.
Things I would consider and that I would attribute a monetary value to so you can put “cheap power” into context:
- Do you really need dual sided with independent sensors? Is spider based ok? Maybe even single sided?
- How much mounting are you willing to perform yourself?
- Power2Max is a unit that does not require calibration, temperature compensation or anything - it just works. Different units require different levels of interaction, I would factor that in, too.
As always, DC Rainmaker has a reeeeeeeaaaaally extensive and elaborate overview of the market, covering every question you ever wanted to ask (and then some more).
The market is so big at the moment that there are tons of options.
I just purchased my first powermeter a month ago and my shortlist really changed significantly every time I re-read the recommendations - mainly because every time I judged the pros and cons, I also had new insights about what I really needed from a power meter.
Another vote for Power2Max NGeco. It was $500, installed on my cranks in a jiffy, and has worked flawlessly.
I think IQ2 looks very promising. They’ve been very open with manufacturing and ship dates as well as data. They’re 100 euro cheaper if you order now (at €260 for dual sided) but I think I will wait until people have had them in their hands for a couple months before I get them. Some people have gripes about the q-factor but I already do all my training on a wattbike which is greater than a road bike so it’s not a big concern for me.
Will be good as well when DC Rainmaker it as well for proper testing.
Short story: I went with Power2Max NGEco.
I started with “I need the best deal ever with most data points per $$$$ spent. But I don’t really have $$$$$, so let’s minimise that. But still maximise data. Because data.” (I never trained with power before, I only knew that the addition of a heart rate monitor into my rides a couple of years ago completely changed the way of how I looked at proper training impulse. I kind of felt that power was what I needed to progress to the next level, but really had no idea. I think I still don’t, but that’s a different topic. )
Initially I looked at cranks, hubs, pedals, spiders, virtual meters (Garmin apps, post processing, etc.). I am a bit suspicious about my left leg and believe I’m not well balanced, so I wanted something that could give me a view on both sides.
I already had a bike and didn’t intend to swap wheel sets, so hub based systems were ruled out. Furthermore I wanted consistency when using the trainer, that also ruled out hub based systems. I only have one bike, so the option of using one power meter with two bikes didn’t apply.
Pedal based systems didn’t have favourable reviews or were very costly, so those went to the bottom of my list. I’m currently using the Shimano MTB cleats on my road bike and new pedals meant new cleats which also meant new shoes. This caused the pedal systems to stay at the bottom of the list.
I then spent lots of time to look at crank based systems and was tip-toeing around 4iii and Stages. Stages had a few failure reports and didn’t offer an upgrade to dual sided meters and I was about to convince myself to invest into a single 4iii crank, since they offered the option to upgrade to dual-sided later on. This helped me to justify the cost. On the other hand, having to send in the crank (or procure an additional part) kept holding me back.
That’s when I discovered the significantly cheaper Watteam Powerbeat and if there wouldn’t have been so many failure reports, I would have purchased either the G2 or G3. The failure reports of the Powerbeat caused me to read up more on the internal workings of power meters and which approaches each manufacturer takes and then I realised that even with crank-based systems you don’t always get a true picture of the story.
Finally I settled on changing my selection criteria to getting the most “actionable data” for the money spent. As a newbie, I figured out
- I may not immediately know if the power values that are displayed make sense
- I may not immediately see under which circumstances the meter works or doesn’t work
- I am likely to make mistakes with calibration, maintenance, mounting or anything else
- I may not yet know what I really need
- I am not ready to flush money down the toilet for a meter that either doesn’t work, doesn’t give me confidence or that I’m likely to use incorrectly
That’s when I selected the Power2Max NGEco, because
- it’s zero maintenance / zero interaction
- it gives total power
- I didn’t find any complaints and all reviews were favourable
- it’s the same price or cheaper as many single-sided crank solutions
- works flawlessly on or off the trainer and provides both ANT+ and Bluetooth
- I can choose to upgrade to left/right estimation if I ever want to - as a stomper it may actually give me good readings
Sorry for the long write-up - not sure if it provides any value. It was a long road from first idea to final product choice and in the end I understand that the answer to “what’s the best power meter?” can only be “it depends”. I do feel that I chose the right product for my use case though and am very happy with the purchase.
I’ve heard nothing but bad things about the watteam powerbeats (YMMV). My recommendation would be the Favero Assioma - you can buy one and upgrade later or just opt for dual sided at $799: https://www.clevertraining.com/assioma-pedal-based-cycling-power-meter .
Cheaper than the garmin vector 3’s but based on Dcrainmaker and Shane Miller’s reviews seem to be just as good.
I’ve been using a single sided Shimano style crank arm power meter from Zwatt. They call is the Zimanox. They make a few different options, and mine has been working well so far. Its a cheaper option for sure. It was a simple remove/replace install of the non-drive side crank arm. Their payment model is a bit different and uses the subscription fee similar to all kinds of other services, including TR as that is a proven better money maker for companies than a one time purchase. The monthly fee is minimal (mine is less that $5) if you provide some data which is what they seem to be after since they are a fledgling company. It requires 18 months or something. Can’t remember, but I worked it out price wise and it was still cheaper. There is a one time bigger payment for the purchase as well, and they offer a rate to buy without uploading data. But there is some savings if you do. The power meters are made by the same manufacturer as Stages, which is Sensitivus Gauge.
They have a promotion going right now for their full crank power meter that requires you to submit at least one 20 min ftp test per month for so many months. But it is a generally cheaper rate than I have seen on others I’ve looked at. I think it can be had for around $450 or so, which includes the subscription payments. I haven’t had any issues with dropping from Garmin or Apps, and its been really nice to have power outside so I can get TSS from those rides as well. I’m sure the firmware is not as refined as some of the bigger companies, but it seems consistent and reliable from my experience. When I’m riding with groups, it seems pretty close to what their meters are reporting, although I’ve never compared the data together. I’m satisfied with how close it is. It seems to be a lesser known company and I haven’t read too much online about it from third parties. But DC Rainmaker looked at them a while back when they were even newer. Would like to see an updated review though.