Tools for measuring power output in cycling have been available for quite a while now. In the early days, it was very expensive and unpractical regarding calibration and maintenance. It has done small progression each year but still been on the expensive and unpractical. At least until now.
This year a few new products were launched who satisfied my requirements for a power meter, and not to say a low, but reasonable price. I am talking about the pedal based power meters and more specifically the Garmin Vector 3 or the Favero Assioma (and with Powertap P1 as the second choice if none of the other above is available). Of them, I have only personal experience with the Assioma. I did write an initial review about them in this blog post, and a full review will come soon but as for now, I can say that the issue of deviation compared to my Tacx Neo is sorted out.
In my view, pedal-based power meters are supreme compared to the other solutions.
- It is very easy to mount/dismount
- It enables you to play around with crank lengths and crank types
- You get left/right power balance and pedal stroke analysis
- It is small and light, and therefore easy to bring along
- The ease of mount and small size/weight makes it possible to bring along and mount to a spinning bike if you are out travelling ensuring you are training in the right intensity even on a crappy spinning bike at a hotel.
The drawback? It is impossible to use other pedal types, like Speedplay, if those are your favourite pedals. Also, if you race both triathlon/road races and CX and want to use the same power meter, which is not possible with pedal based power meters. Other than that I do not see any other obvious reasons why not to chose pedal based power meters. Some might say it is fragile in a crash, but I do not find that to be very likely to crash in a way that destroys the pedals, which would not damage the pedal arms or crank.
With this, I do not say that all other power meters suck, because they do not. I have used both hub-based power meters and crank based power meters with good result. For my needs, however, with several bikes in use at home and regularly travels to places with other bikes, the pedal based power meters are much better. While I have used the Polar Look Keo power pedals for 3 years now I did not bring them with me since the mounting was too time-consuming. They had to be aligned perfectly with the right torque, which was more hassle than it sounds. If not done right they were off. With the Assioma and Vector 3, you just tighten them like a regular pedal, and you can change both in less than a minute. The price is also decreased to the level of a single mid-range high profile carbon wheel, while worth at least ten times as much regarding potential performance increase.
I truly mean that you can be a triathlete on a budget, and be very happy with that. There is both inexpensive equipment and races that holds good quality. A power meter should not be your first priority. Begin with swim goggles, wetsuit, trishorts, bike, helmet and running shoes. Then prioritize a power meter (and a multisport watch to read the data). I find it such a powerful tool.