Power meter vs New bike?

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Power meter vs New bike?

Postby GAV!N » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:06 pm

Hi all.

I've been riding for a bit over a year now, and am quite enjoying. I plan to start racing next calendar year in the lower grades and see how I go. When I stated out, I didn't want to commit to an expensive bike, in case I didn't enjoy it, so I bought Polygon Helios 500. It's certainly done the job so far, relatively light for a alloy frame/carbon fork set up, with carbon forks, and mavic Kyserium wheelset.

Now I have the dilemma...I want to improve my riding. Would you suggest I fork out and buy a full carbon bike (mind you I'd still be looking at the lower end market, up to $3k), or by a power meter (probably stages).

Obviously I'd love to do both, but the wife has been cracking the whip on this 'bike stuff' I've been buying :p

I'm leaning towards the power meter, which I think would improve my riding, and I'm sure I could manage another year or two on the Polygon before buying a better bike...

What would you choose?
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by BNA » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:12 pm

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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby twizzle » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:12 pm

Power meter.
Not Stages. Unless you are buying a power meter to be able to say to your mates "Look, I have a power meter, let's go have a beer!"
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby GAV!N » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:34 pm

I thought the reviews weren't all that bad, besides being only on 1 crank. But wheel based power meter wouldn't pick up on those discrepancies either... recommendations?
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby twizzle » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:12 pm

GAV!N wrote:I thought the reviews weren't all that bad, besides being only on 1 crank. But wheel based power meter wouldn't pick up on those discrepancies either... recommendations?


Please explain?

Recommendations : PowerTap, any of the common crank ones. I'm not convinced about pedal based ones yet... we will have to wait and see how well they work out.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby jcjordan » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:22 pm

The potential error problem which inherent to stages is the single leg measuring of power.

All you need is for one leg to be 1% more dominant and you instantly have a 2% error rate.

Considering you could get a powertap in a wheel for the same price or full crank based meter for only a couple of hundred more with a much higher level of accuracy I would agree with twizzle.

Stages is at best for people who want to see some numbers and say that they train with power for appearances sake

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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby thearthurdog » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:42 pm

Get a Quarq Riken crankset and a set of nice carbon wheels for your old bike.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:43 pm

Don't forget some coaching or a good training plan ;-)

I say buy whatever will help you to ride more and enjoy it, but the best upgrade is to the engine and that requires work. A PM helps to quantify the work, but it's not an absolute necessity to improve, but used well can be a great aid.

I do generally find though one can have more fun when they are fitter :)
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby filip » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:26 pm

I would go for a new bike. Once you start racing and you see all these other guys with fancy equipment, you will start to believe that the reason you got dropped/struggled/beaten on the line/failed to stay away, is because these other guys have better bikes/wheels/running gear. Once you have upgraded, race on your good bike, train your heart out on your other bike. Once you decided racing is something you enjoy and you believe that training with power will make a difference, you can think of buying a power meter. However, even better, upgrade your wheels.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby Xplora » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:01 pm

For the exact opposite opinion to everything filip said, get a powermeter. The functional difference between your current bike and a better one is noticeable, but it won't change your top speed or your ability to train. You might shed 3-5 watts at FTP from the inferior bike. A nice aero set of wheels and a crank based powermeter like the Riken or even a used SRM will cost 3000 bucks and will be a bigger difference to your results. Power meters don't win races, but they certainly change the way you approach riding. I've been using the PowerCal and it gives a quick, mean guesstimate of how hard the ride was, and how reasonable it is to try another hard ride in 3 days time. You can look down and see 300W and think "hmmm, be careful because this won't last long". A new bike doesn't give you that feedback, and my experience is that you will hit the wall and not realise it without a powermeter.

Riders win races, and powermeters help inform riders. Aero wheels make you look awesome - you'll get more praise from a pair of hot wheels than a new frame. lol
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby g-boaf » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:44 pm

Get a power meter.

I notice the Garmin Vector is now out on the market, saw them myself today. Noticed the pedals with Garmin logos on them and realised what they were.

Interesting idea but I'm not sure I'd like the results of those hitting the deck if you went down. $1600 worth there. :shock:
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby Derny Driver » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:06 pm

GAV!N wrote:Hi all.

I've been riding for a bit over a year now...

Now I have the dilemma...I want to improve my riding.

Neither.
Its a common fallacy that spending money will make a person go faster.
Of the NRS / Elite State A grade riders I know, only one has a powermeter, and he is basically just a time trial specialist.
As for bikes, well I bought my son an aluminium framed 9 speed Tiagra equipped bike from the footpath of a pawnbrokers for 300 bucks, and he was downsizing quite a few A grade egos on it before I got him a second hand Malvern Star with Mavic Equipe wheels, which has not made him any faster or slower. He still goes better than 198 people in our club of 200.
What makes you a better cyclist is training, knowing what you are doing (having a mentor or coach), and racing.
Sorry to rain on the parade but you are barking up the wrong tree.
Go join Nowra club, start racing and start talking to experienced people there.
Take your wife on a nice holiday with the funds you have saved.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby nickobec » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:38 am

+1 for what ever will get you out and riding more

be that the joys of a new bike, using the numbers from power meter to improve your performance or working with a coach.

though why wait to start racing next year, get your CA licence now and get 15 months from the price of 12.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby skull » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:51 am

I found a power meter encouraged me to train more and smarter. My upgrade to power also included getting a coach and utilising software for analysis of my training.

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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby schroeds » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:03 am

You want cheap feedback and encouragement? Use Strava...its free.

Next, I'd get a decent bike...you'll want to ride it harder. Half this whole thing is mental.

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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby thearthurdog » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:30 am

Derny Driver wrote:Of the NRS / Elite State A grade riders I know, only one has a powermeter, and he is basically just a time trial specialist.


That really surprises me. I can barely think of an NRS rider or Elite A rider I know who doesn't use a power meter.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby macca33 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:35 am

I've only been at this for almost a year now and am REALLY enjoying the cycling - particularly the racing aspect - as it has improved my cycling markedly. I have tossed up a powermeter, but honestly, cannot say it would be top of my list. Sure, it helps with training as it is very accurate in measuring power, but for an amateur cyclist who is in the lower grades, it is a bit of overkill. Monitoring improvement over longer rides with Strava has proven beneficial for me and naturally, the pace, surging and chasing of racing certainly raises your cycling capacity. Just my opinion.

If I was the OP, I'd look at a new rig as it really raises the motivation and for $3k there is a lot of choice. What I would say though, is for $3k or so, you can get onto a CAAD10 - which I cannot say enough about at my level of cycling and which is, arguably, the best aluminium frame getting around - with a good groupset such as Ultegra and almost have change for the Stages!!! 8)

Cheers and good luck!
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby jcjordan » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:08 pm

thearthurdog wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:Of the NRS / Elite State A grade riders I know, only one has a powermeter, and he is basically just a time trial specialist.


That really surprises me. I can barely think of an NRS rider or Elite A rider I know who doesn't use a power meter.

At least 3/4 of the Peleton at the recent National Capital Tour had a power meter on there bike.


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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby Derny Driver » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:19 pm

jcjordan wrote:
thearthurdog wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:Of the NRS / Elite State A grade riders I know, only one has a powermeter, and he is basically just a time trial specialist.


That really surprises me. I can barely think of an NRS rider or Elite A rider I know who doesn't use a power meter.

At least 3/4 of the Peleton at the recent National Capital Tour had a power meter on there bike.


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Well it did start with a 17k Time Trial....even so, by your estimation, 36 of the 145 riders were able to race at the highest level without one?
And here we are recommending a bloke who doesn't even race Club E grade should get one to "make him faster"
He's been on a bike for 12 months FFS.

5 teams in this years Tour De France did not use Powermeters.
Last edited by Derny Driver on Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby dalai47 » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:21 pm

Buy THE BOOK V2 (Training and Racing with a Power Meter [Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan PhD]) and read it from cover to cover. If the content sounds good and you are keen to train with a schedule and structure then buy the PM.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby thearthurdog » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:13 pm

I think if he is serious about improving, there are many ways he can do it. A power meter is one of those ways. To be fair, he initially asked about power meters (no one recommended it 'out of the blue').

He could get a coach, join a club, get a heart rate monitor, get a new bike, get a power meter, join some bunch rides; there are lots of things. Any one (or combination) of those things will help him improve.

I say if he wants to try a power meter at this 'early' stage - then why not? There are places you can rent a powertap if he wants to try one out.

I suspect the 5 teams in the TPF operating sans powermeters will change their ways before long.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby vander » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:42 pm

New bike will not make you massively faster. A powermeter and/or coaching will (caveat with a powermeter you have to know how to and want to use it).

About the teams not having powermeters, first I doubt 5 teams didnt, the team might not be sponsored to have one but individual riders will. Secondly, its one thing to race with a powermeter and another thing to train with them. In a race all you can do is all you can do, not much use having a powermeter saying you can do 5w/kg when you need to be doing 6w/kg in a race. You just have to follow the wheels infront of you. Personally all my goal races this year I wont be training with a powermeter, however 99% of my training I use one. Also I started training with power early (only a few months) and I think it is the reason I got to A grade within a year of starting cycling.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby toolonglegs » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:46 pm

dalai47 wrote:Buy THE BOOK V2 (Training and Racing with a Power Meter [Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan PhD]) and read it from cover to cover. If the content sounds good and you are keen to train with a schedule and structure then buy the PM.

I think the book is a good buy even if you never own a PM... I trained for a year doing similar intervals on perceived effort, heart rate seemed a bit pointless for me. When I finally got a PM I found I was pretty close, except I realized on the down slopes I wasn't pushing hard enough. I think after you have spent a year or so on a PM it is then also much easier to judge your efforts with out one.
I wasn't considering buying another one but if they do keep coming down in price that may change.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby twizzle » Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:22 pm

I bought a PM back when I was riding a 20+ year old steel frame. I average less than 9 hour a week of riding these days, but by tracking my efforts with the PM I'm not wasting time on useless hours on the bike. People who can spare 20 hours a week are in a very different game, a PM is invaluable if you are time limited and need quality over quantity.


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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:20 am

thearthurdog wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:Of the NRS / Elite State A grade riders I know, only one has a powermeter, and he is basically just a time trial specialist.


That really surprises me. I can barely think of an NRS rider or Elite A rider I know who doesn't use a power meter.

Indeed when looking at the bikes at the recent NRS week long Tours of Gippsland and Murray River (I was there for each), power meters were a common feature. Whether or not the data are being utilised effectively is another matter.
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Re: Power meter vs New bike?

Postby winstonw » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:41 am

nothing wrong with your current bike Gavin. the frame alloy is lighter than a lot of carbon bikes, and 105 is excellent for racing. in my neck of the woods gear changes are minimal in crits. a mate who podiums regularly does it on a similar bike to yours....BUT he has 1150g tubs on it....so I'd suggest you upgrade your wheels for races.

as most others are saying, the engine and race craft are going to give you the biggest gains in performance.

hence spend the money on
- lighter wheels for racing only
- sports dietitian to get your nutrition optimized and body fat under 10%
- coach
- bike fit

if anything left over, get a power meter...but ask yourself whether you are going to race with one.
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