And then the geeks ruled the world...

It's a great time to be a geek and a cyclist.  Your geekiness has been rewarded. 

Think it's odd how Lynda and I went from nowhwere to the podium in the last couple of years?  A large part of our success has to be attributed to training with power meters and the various tools available for data analysis & planning.  The best of the bunch is the performance manager.  I've been a beta tester for it (as a result of getting the ball rolling with a similar tool I developed, rolling TSS) since the idea sprung forth from Andrew Coggan's noggin and we've been learning how to make it hum ever since.

It is now available to all.  Check out Hunter Allen's post here:

That's the good news. 

The bad news:  if you don't know what I'm blabbering about, you are way behind the 8 ball friend.  You have 3 choices:  start studying, get a coach who understands it, or get left behind. 

Competition is going up a few notches next year.

Published Thursday, August 17, 2006 1:45 PM by Dave


# @ Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:09 PM


What you recommend for:

A) someone new to using Power, and

B) someone on a tight budget.

Adam Lisonbee

# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 4:51 AM

Good questions Adam.

New to power - that's a tough one, especially for those that could benefit from power on the MTB and road. My solution has been to have a Power Tap hub for each type of bike - I have one for the road, 26er, and 29er. This setup requires 3 hubs obviously, but each can operate on the same computer head so doesn't require 3 complete units, just the hubs. The PT hubs can usually be found for 500 or less on ebay. The primary drawback with the PT? No freaking disc compatible hub. WTF graber, get crackin!

There are other systems, of course. SRM - which for reasons I'd rather not discuss I simply think is far overpriced and inadequate for MTB use. The Ergomo system looks like a really good option - it measures power by optically detecting BB twist so requires a special BB. I think for MTB use you only have a square taper option but I could be wrong...this is the PM being used by the angry asian in the recent update to the cyclingnews 26er/29er comparo study (watching that closely!!). The Ergomo head unit has Coggan's power metrics TSS/IF already built in, as well as an altimiter. There's one in my future I know, but it's hard to stomach how power meters dictate component choice (cranks for SRM & Ergomo, wheels for PT).

One other option is the Polar system. It measures chain frequency and calculates power from that. Super clunky looking setup (big sensor on chainstay) and is a bitch to setup, and isn't very accurate, but gets you in the ballpark. It's relatively cheap.

One more option for the road might be the IBike. It is a power estimator, but has advanced sensors to get the job done. I'm not familiar with it, can't recommend it, but check out for some links to reviews on it.

Have I confused the crap outta ya yet? This should be it's own given all the above, what do I recommend? If I was starting over, it'd be the ergomo all the way. I can live with the BB/crank restriction, and love the systems power based features. Hunter Allen race tested it across La Ruta last year and it survived, that's saying a lot. Once you have the system, you can set up additional bikes by purchasing extra BBs. Second choice is the PT system. They have been a gold mine for me, super reliable in all sorts of conditions. The no disc brake thing makes it tough though, unless you are currently on Vs. It isn't so simple to switch out between a rim brake wheel and disc brake wheel as you end up switching a lot of components as well. I have a training bike and a race bike, the PT is of course on the training rig. Seems I only ride the race bike these days though ;)

Cost: that's a big one. It leaves a family guy with tough decisions. All I can say is a lesser system (like the Polar) will eventually have you more frustrated than enlightened, so if you make the jump, do it right. You have to determine for yourself how much performance improvement is worth to you - in $. Being a good cyclist is all about sacrifice and priorities, and I respect your tight-rope dance...

Something else to be aware of. When first tossing a power meter on a bike, it will just flood your head with numbers, mostly meaningless. The fastest way to get on top of the learning curve is through the help of a coach. It took me a good year before any pieces started to form a picture. Training with power, and especially using the performance manager, will change (probably drastically) how you view your roadmap to better fitness.

There's a lot more to this subject...I could go on forever...but I'll stop before your eyes glaze over, or am I too late?


# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 5:08 AM

Ah, forgot perhaps the most important part - the studying. It's free, well mostly anyway. Check out the "Training Links" to the left, plenty of good resources there. Find the book by Coggan and Allen on power based training at amazon - it is the best read to get going. You'll have plenty of questions on how to tailor that info for and Ultra MTB focus - shoot those my way, I'll take care of ya.


# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 9:04 AM


I've read that the Polar model is pretty inaccurate, but it's consistent. As someone who simply isn't going to spend any money on a power meter (at least this year), this is the only potential option I could forsee in the future. Would you suggest saving the (almost) $400 entirely? I don't think I'll ever buy it because I'd rather not have one than have a bad one. But it does make me wonder, especially if I could grab one on Ebay for closer to $200 (my guess.)



# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 9:56 AM


I can't be too critical of the Polar unit. I did use it the first year it came out and learned a lot. It was helpful. The issue I had - it was not consistent. It read higher powers at higher cadences, a lot higher. How do I know? When I first got a PT I ran them both simultaneously. The Polar over a period read about 25W higher than the PT, but at times was well over 100 W higher than the PT display when cadence was over 110. Before I got the PT, I mistakenly thought my power was much higher at cadences over 110 - garbage in garbage out!

That said, there are those that have had great success with the Polar. I would not recommend it for the dirt though, not one bit. Too many wires and too fragile!

That help any?


# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 12:13 PM


Yes, very helpful. It might work for me since I would likely put it on the road bike (or trainer bike) and use it exclusively there. Sounds like an inconsistent device which becomes moreso off-road. My plan is to actually put together a full season of proper training (read: not just get out and ride) and see where it goes from there. Maybe for the 2008 season, assuming I don't break myself in 2007.

I bought the Coggan book based on several recommendations from people who said it didn't matter if you owned a power meter.



# @ Friday, August 18, 2006 12:31 PM

Doh! The Polar gets crazy on trainers - it was useless for me on trainers. Check out the wattage faq:


# @ Sunday, August 20, 2006 9:16 AM

Thanks for the link. That has a world of information that I'll probably reference in the near future. Sounds like Polar isn't a great option, plus it isn't exactly cheap when it comes down to it. Though it might work if it were strictly on the road bike, which is where I end up spending all but 1/2 rides a week anyway.