I’m a big fan of racing and training with power. I bought my first power meter in March of 2013 and have not looked back since. That purchase was a Wahoo KICKR and it has served me well over these last three years. Training and racing with power has given me insight on my progress as a cyclist over those years too. Right now, I am at a crossroads. I would love to just have one power meter that could move across all four of my bicycles (Road, Gravel, Cyclocross). That is not a choice on the market right now. The only real similarity I have between my bicycles is the BB30/PF30 bottom bracket. That’s where it ends though. The introduction of the 11 speed has also thrown me for a loop. What if we just had one Power Meter to rule them all?
What do I get out of a power meter? For me, it is consistent tracking of power and work over my rides. Last year I made a 10 watt improvement on my 20 minute power. I would not have been able to tell that difference if I wasn’t using a power meter. Even though 10 watts seems small, seeing that number keeps me motivated. However, I made a 100 watt improvement on my 60 second power. That was pretty evident and I didn’t need a power meter to feel that improvement. What about Heart Rate? Heart rate is too inconsistent for training.
I remember first using a Polar Heart Rate Monitor in 2000 when I was training for triathlons. At the time, it was a fantastic training tool. However, heart rate is influenced by so many other factors it does not provide reliable information on a consistent basis. Using heart rate to estimate calorie expenditure is also very inaccurate, where estimating calorie expenditure with a power meter is very precise (important if you are tracking calories to lose weight). With all of that said, here is my current setup and problem:
Road Bike: 1999 Specialized Allez, 10 Speed Convert, Shimano 105, BB30, Trainer Bike on Wahoo KICKR.
Road Bike: 2012 Specialized SL2 Pro, BB30, 10 speed, Shimano 105, Quark Riken AL.
Cross Bike/Trail Bike: 2011 Blue Norcross, BB30, 10 Speed, SRAM Apex parts/Shimano 105 Crank, Stages 105 Crank Arm.
Cross Bike: 2014 Santa Cruz Stigmata, PF30, 11 speed, SRAM Rival22, No Power Meter.
Here is my dilemma. Putting the Stages or Quarq Riken on the 11 speed Santa Cruz isn’t really going to work. Quarq’s website says that the Riken can work with an 11 speed SRAM setup, but my Riken AL was purchased when they first came out. I don’t know if that statement holds true for the original Riken AL, nor do I want to do a full crank swap when I decide to ride the Stigmata. Maybe I can put a Shimano 11 speed crank on the Stigmata and then just swap the stages crank arm. That could be a solution, but I’d have another bike with a Shimano 105 crank with SRAM parts (I don’t want to Frankenstein that beautiful Stigmata). That’s not the only problem.
If I wanted to choose a power meter to move seamlessly across all platforms it becomes impossible. Not only is the diversity between bicycle bottom brackets problematic, but the complexity of the components are also just as troublesome. There is nothing currently on the market that can seamlessly be swapped between a road bike, cross bike, or even a mountain bike. There could be though!
The power meter market is getting more and more diversified as the years go by. As the market share has increased within the realm of power meters, so has the competition. This competition for market share has begun driving down the price of power meters. That’s good news for those who are consumers or future consumers of power meters. However, no one has cracked the one power meter that could move across all platforms, and I don’t now why. SPD Pedal Power Meter anyone!
Garmin has the Vector power meter (LOOK), Power Tap has a LOOK power meter, and the company Look is even offering a pedal power meter; which is great if you ride and compete on road/TT/Triathlon bikes. I can’t move a LOOK pedal across to the cyclocross bicycles. Cyclocross people know why that is. However, I could easily use an SPD pedal that is also a power meter across road, cyclocross, and mountain. Sure, the road guys would say that the LOOK is far superior for stiffness, but I would sacrifice a little stiffness for the sake of my wallet. This is so easy, I don’t know why it hasn’t been developed yet. Swapping pedals is super duper easy, and the only thing you really need to worry about is stripping out the crank arm.
That leaves me with some choices to make on a very limited budget (Unless some power meter company wants to sponsor a Retired Marine, Stay at Home Dad, Spin Instructor, and all around awesome guy…).
Choice 1) Frankenstein the Stigmata by purchasing a 11 speed 105 crank (Ughh! The bike is too sexy to do that).
Choice 2) Purchase another Quarq Riken AL (teach 70 more spin classes).
Choice 3) Purchase Stages’ new crank arm that comes with a spindle that works with the Force 22 crank (teach 60 more spin classes).
Choice 4) Power2Max power meter that replaces the crank spider (dress up as an unemployed veteran and panhandle for money).
Choice 5) Disavow power all together, start a 12 step poweraholics program, and raise money for my new foundation to help bicyclists relearn how to ride and enjoy their bikes without technology, all the while stashing the profits to secretly buy more power meters.
I almost wish I never started down the road of tracking fitness by using power. Someone once said that “Power Corrupts,” and that dude was right! What I am doing is scratching my head and wondering why the SPD Pedals haven’t been integrated with power. I you can do it for LOOK then how hard is it to do for SPD? That’s seems like an easy solution. I would buy that and not even worry about any other power option out there. Matter of fact, it would get me out of my abusive relationship with the crank brothers’ eggbeaters (I stay with them even though they keep failing me). For now, I will sit back and ponder how many spin classes I need to teach in order to buy one. (I do like the Power2max option where you can just change out the crank spider) Well, thanks for listening to the rant in my head. I guess I’ll start first and admit that I have a power problem. Whiskey, Three, Juliet, Out!