The power meter market is growing as more of us take up the tech to improve our riding data capture and understanding of how we ride.
I’ve used both single sided Stages which give a very basic wattage output and the common misconception is that this relates to your strength on a bike, it doesn’t, what watts actually refers to is your speed when the environmental factors have been taken into account, all of this math is done quickly and seamlessly in your Garmin as Kph.
Your strength on a bike is all down to your torque, or how the you apply power through your pedals but you can’t get this data from a single crank arm and after my crash I switched to PowerTap and had a whole new world opened to me.
I’ve been riding for over 30 years and it’s only now that I see how badly I’ve been pedalling for decades, Double sided power pedal have been the best investment I’ve made in my recovery and the understanding of my broken body and in understanding how I have to train it to work.
It’s a new kind of training that I’ve never been able to do before, I don’t look at my 20min normalised power, I’m not interested in speed, those are the last figures I check when I upload my ride data to WK04 from Trainingpeaks which harvests so much data I’m only just scratching the surface and I’ll dig deeper as my pedalling improves.
The relationship between torque, watts and cadence can be quite a brain boggler, I see Froomey spinning up climbs at 105 RPM pushing 600 Watts and the cycling media banging on about how high cadence is king but unless you have the cardio system for it or the technical understanding of your pedal stroke I would suggest that many riders might find themselves struggling to climb as most of the energy they use goes into making the legs move fast with very little going through the pedals resulting in you going pop and having to stop. It’s happened to me a few times.
Torque has direction and this is why your cleat position is vital to your pedalling efficiency and even the smallest change can alter both the direction and the application of the force through your pedal. I’d been fighting with my pedals because I hadn’t altered them since my ReTul fit and the damage to my right leg and hip meant that to apply the torque I was shifting the my foot in my shoe, I four mill alteration to my cleat means that not only do I get the torque I want but also reducing the lower leg cramps and the pedal motion while not smooth is natural without me needing to move my foot about.
Our ability to be torque effective has a direct effect on wattage, and also I would guess your Total Time to Exhaustion; the more effective your torque, the better your watts the more efficient you are the further you can travel and that’s the goal isn’t it? To see new coffee shops and eat cake in a lovely little village somewhere.
Another metric that PowerTap give me is smoothness, mine’s pretty shit at around 25%, now I take smoothness to mean how much your legs fight against each other, as you push down on the right pedal you produce torque however you also have a left leg which resists slightly so instead of that going to the back wheel through your drive train your left leg absorbs a bit. My understanding of smoothness is that it’s how your both legs work together adding to efficiency.
Smoothness I feel is also my route to being a stylist, that effortless cyclist that seems to glide along and it’s something that I actively work on using the Powertap mobile app which has a real time graphic representation of your pedal motion that allows me to produce a new way of pedalling and understanding what my body needs to do to get where I want to be, the app also has similar real time graphic representation for both torque direction and a power zone heat map, all designed to make you more efficient.
These are my favourite metrics right now