PowerMatch Experiences


#1

I wanted to start a discussion with those using PowerMatch with a modern smart trainer. Specifically, what has your experience been?

My equipment, I have a Kickr v1 (I’d upgrade, but using my own PM negates any upgrade benefit), and a Verve InfoCrank (true dual-sided PM).

The first thing that one will notice is the fluctuation in power, none of that artificial smoothing the Kickr does, and second, it’s my opinion and that of many others that the smart trainers are VERY generous in reading power. I found it to be about 8-10%, which makes sense. For example, on the Kickr I can hold 310-320W for 30-40 mins without issue, on the road, using two different PMs it’s more like 275-285W.

Now using a PM w/ the Kickr my numbers are back in-line, but I find ERG modes at 120+% of FTP are brutal, I think it could be attributed to the slight lag from the software reading my PM then adjusting the Kickr resistance. For everything else, it’s fine.

In summary, I’ve learned to be wary of claims of W/KG from folks measuring on a smart trainer. :slight_smile:

@Nate, you mentioned on a podcast a while ago that you switch from ERG to Resistance mode for certain workout types, I can’t remember the difference and I can’t remember which podcast you said it. Can you elaborate?


Power Match and ERG mode?
Vector 3S, Wahoo Kickr, and TrainerRoad
Discrepancies between PowerMeter and SmartTrainer
#2

I agree w/ this completely. I have 2015 era Kickr and when I got a powermeter I found the Kickr was off by ~10%. Bummer. I tried to work with Wahoo support to see if there was a way to fix the Kickr’s pm and they were fairly unhelpful.

The slight lag from powermatch does make efforts more challenging I find, but I figure it’ll just help make me stronger.

The Kickr does have an option in the firmware to replace it’s internal powermeter with an external one, but it requires a code which the Wahoo people will not share. Seems stupid of them, but not a huge deal for me.


#3

My gen1 Kickr read high. I basically had to exclude an entire year worth of power data once I got my Quarq. That being said, Powermatch works well for me using the Quarq and the Kickr over bluetooth.


#4

I will add my experiences to this for the sake of people reading this in the future. I am a recent convert from Kickr Gen1 only having power indoors to dual sided Favero Assioma pedals. As is common in this thread, the Kickr reads about 10% high across the board. FTP on the Kickr was 340, a test only 2 weeks later with the Favero was 304 (wasn’t a great test and I have since bumped it up a little bit).

The HUGE issue with PowerMatch for me is at supra-threshold effort levels. As we all know, every percentage above threshold is a massive task, and over/unders that are “over” at 105% can often have you riding at 110% for 15 seconds or so while PowerMatch sorts itself out. Also, I’m sure we’ve all experienced the phenomenon of intervals continuing on into the rest period for sometimes up to 10 seconds.

This is especially difficult during the ramp test, as when you’re really in the hurt locker at higher percentages of FTP, every 3 seconds or so there will be a “correction” that will put you at the wattage of a ramp or two ahead. These little surges over and over and over end up sapping your legs. However, it is also worth saying that this sort of thing will also happen during your workouts throughout the plan, so it sort of evens itself out.


#5

Yep, you’ve nailed it, the “adjustment” above threshold is very painful, every seconds counts at that level. But you also correct in that it all evens outs in the end.


#6

I’ve never heard of this firmware option, got any more details? And like you, I had to trash all my old power records too, there’s not attaining those numbers without the extra 10% the smart trainer gives.


#7

You can set your Kickr to use your external PM, bypassing its own internal one. No more spindowns and no need to use PowerMatch. You will need a iOS device and the Wahoo Fitness app. Connect to your Kickr, then enable the Control with 3rd party PM. Enter the ant+ id of your PM. This only needs to be set once, and maybe after any Kickr firmware updates.


#8

You can disable the artificial power smoothing in the Wahoo Fitness app. Details here:

Turn “ERG Mode Power Smoothing” off.


#9

I’ve got a Kickr 2017 and using PowerMatch with Stages single sided. Works well.

Only one problem - doing independent leg drill. When I uncleat the left leg the Stages power drops to 0 watts exactly as it should. However the TR app thinks I have stopped and pauses the workout. And if I uncleat right leg then power is roughly 2x higher than it is. This is the only real limitation of single-sided power and PowerMatch, as far as I know.

For that reason, if I want to do independent leg drills then its time to switch off PowerMatch and tell TR app to only use Stages for cadence.


#10

Thanks, yeah I did that for a period of time, but it’s still nothing like the reporting you get with a PM. It’s documented here as well.


#11

Also bringing up the topic of the ramp test with TrainerRoad and a PM. The lag makes it quite difficult for the first few seconds of those 100%+ of current FTP ramps. Some of it my be psychological, watching the screen in anticipation of another ramp, but also the lag, updated power, then the trainer cranking on the resistance to catch up.

Is there anything the TrainerRoad team can do to smooth out the resistance increase for the ramp test and other high intensity intervals? @Nate @Jonathan


#12

Thanks for that! Hopefully will work with a Gen1 Kickr and Android.


#13

Thanks, will try this today. :facepunch:


#14

I’m not aware of this problem. Are you saying that with your power meter your power isn’t updating quickly? IE you apply more power but the numbers don’t change?

If that is the problem, what power meter are you using on which platform and how are you connecting (ANT or BT)?

It should update around 4 times a second.


#15

Power is instantaneous, but there is a lag to when the Kickr adjusts, better said, it’s not smoothly ramped. Naturally I increase my cadence slightly when the a new ramp starts which then the Kickr seems to over compensate then settle down. It’s OK at normal output, up to 105% FTP, but over that a couple of percentage points too high can drop cadence. I guess it’s hard to explain, but it’s due to something in the PM to smart trainer realm, I never had this experience when using the Kickr as the power source. I use ANT+ for power and the connection to the PC, no BT is involved at all.

I guess in summary this could be due to the cadence increase which is minimal, but there is definitely something at play while the trainer plays catch up.

Also, per the note above I’m going to try to use the Kickr integration w/ the PM, then maybe disabling PowerMatch will sort it out. Either way, high intensity intervals in ERG mode are much more difficult using PowerMatch due to the trainer overcompensating.


#16

Yes, I know what you’re talking about now.

You’re right in thinking that cadence is the #1 thing that you have to keep consistent.

Other than that we just tell the Kickr to “Keep it at 200”. All the overcompensation is built into the Kickr firmware :frowning: .

Without access to the code we can’t fix this, although I would love to.

In general, PowerMatch tries to compensate for when trainer power doesn’t match up with a power meter. It’s a hard problem because each trainer reacts differently and people naturally change their cadence and slightly adjust power at the same time.

On top of that, people have been trained by overly smooth power (in my opinion) output by the trainer. So they think the trainer is really locking them in EXACTLY at 200. When really the power is all over the place but it’s just smoothing it to display 200.

A few years ago we even had a company just blatantly lie about what the power was. If you set it to “200” the display would say 200. Even if you were putting out 500 watts the display would say 200. We told them about it and they were like “oh, you can do that?”…


Power Match with Neo and Garmin Vector 3's
#17

Thanks for the reply @Nate. I will try to be mindful of the cadence which in should smooth out the power hit, mentally it’s hard not to increase cadence when the new interval chimes go off, I’ve been conditioned by those tones (and actually hearing Chad’s voice when reading the on-screen text, that one is a bit more awkward).

To your point, I definitely learned a lot about power fluctuations using a PM over the very smooth power of the smart trainer, this is of the big reasons for going with a dual PM. Perhaps ERG mode isn’t the best option, but I’m going to try to keep the cadence more constant to see if that helps. And at the end of the day, I guess it behaves the same whether testing or working out so the net training effect is still the same. I’ve lost faith in the smart trainers ability to read power over the last few years so it’s a price worth paying to have some accurate data.

Last, funny store about the company’s response to power output… doesn’t surprise me, only a few will care about having total accuracy, and total accuracy costs $$$. Please do continue to develop PM features in TR, like L/R power etc, this is going to make a big impact your Analytics software. Thanks again!


#18

The difference between the false smoothing the Kickr outputs and PowerMatch I think is that I can literally feel the power changing underneath me with PowerMatch, but using the Kickr inbuilt power meter never really felt like that. I know it’s not constant, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t FEEL like it. I think that’s mostly because “all over the place” for PowerMatch and “all over the place” for the inbuilt power meter are actually two different things. I would say that I wouldn’t have experienced swings of more than +/-5% with the inbuilt, but sometimes I see +/-10% with PowerMatch. Really strange, and I know a lot of it is my fault for not being smooth.

It’s completely changed how training feels and has changed my perception of effort though. Such a big learning experience.


#19

That’s a good point. Our jump steps might be too big.

We try to balance between not adjusting too quickly but adjusting quickly if you’re way above your power output for an interval. Then there’s the “you start out hard, then settle in” where you don’t want to down adjust there because you’d put them in a valley.


#20

Yeah. I was thinking about it today during my recovery. I don’t envy you at all, it seems like an almost impossible coding task of chasing your tail adjusting then adjusting again and so on and so forth. Not to mention having different adjustment ramp rates based on how far above/below the target you are. I’m actually amazed that it’s robust enough to not result in either a spiral of death or spinning out every 30 seconds. It’s 95% there and I think you’ve done a great job.

BTW, this is unrelated but since you’re clearly online at the moment I just want to say thank you for an awesome product. Even though I’m not as strong as I thought I was after switching to external power (stupid overestimating Kickr…) your program has seriously changed my life. Your product makes people fitter but I don’t think it’s possible to grasp how it helps people mentally as well. You and your staff should be extremely proud.