Having the ability to see and record your power allows for tremendous insight into your fitness. A power meter is the single, most effective tool you can use for improving your cycling performance. It is for this reason that power meters have become an essential training tool for cyclists of all levels. Power meters used to only dominate the professional peloton, however their popularity was less so among more common cyclists. Why? Because they can be expensive – plain and simple. However, costs have come down significantly in the last few years. There are now a host of quality power meters available for as little as $400-$700. But the truth is, you can buy the cheapest cycling power meter for a mere $299. Oh, and as it turns out…it’s a pretty good one too.
Cheapest Cycling Power Meter
Power Meter Prices: Then vs. Now
It wasn’t long ago that you might have to spend several thousand dollars to get a quality power meter. Heck, you can still spend this much if you are looking for a top-notch offering from SRM for example. However in the last few years, the power meter market has seen rapid growth. This growth has largely been due to the increased awareness of the numerous benefits power meters provide. More power meters mean more choices and cheaper prices. This is a great thing for consumers. You no longer have to spend a lot in order to put a quality power meter on your bike.
However, if you are looking for the cheapest cycling power meter of all, we introduce you to the Velocomp PowerPod. At only $299, the PowerPod is not only an affordable power meter, but is remarkably accurate, convenient and easy to use. How do they do it – opposing force technology is how.
The Cheapest Power Meter Uses Opposing Force Technology
Traditional or direct force power meters (also known as DFPMs) measure torque using what is called a strain gauge. A strain gauge is a small, electronic device whose electrical resistance varies depending on how much force (or torque) is put on them. In the case of a crank arm-based power meter for example, the strain gauge measures how much the crank arm flexes when you push down on the pedals. The strain gauge converts this flex into a power number, measured in watts.
Opposing force power meters (also known as OFPMs) however take a completely different approach to measuring power. OFPMs don’t measure power through the drivetrain like a DFPM. Rather, an opposing force power meter measures power by calculating the forces that oppose the rider. So in the case of cycling, the opposing forces are wind, gradient, acceleration and friction.
Velocomp PowerPod: The Cheapest Cycling Power Meter of All!
The Velocomp PowerPod uses accelerometers, dynamic wind pressure sensors, elevation sensors and speed sensors to measure a rider’s total opposing force. If that sounds complicated…it’s because it is. We’re glad we didn’t have to do the engineering. But after over a decade in development, Velocomp got it figured out and the science highly refined.
Once this total opposing force is determined, it is then multiplied by bike speed in order to calculate power. This is another important distinction. With the PowerPod, you must attach a separate speed sensor to your bike. We have found that many cyclists already have one, but if you don’t, you can pick up the PowerPod ANT+ Speed Sensor for only $29.99.
In addition, the benefits to the PowerPod are numerous. Compared to a more traditional power meter, it’s much easier to move between bikes, there are no compatibility issues, it works on both road bikes and mountain bikes and you don’t have to change out any of your prized components. However perhaps best of all, at $299 it’s the cheapest cycling power meter on the market.
Let’s talk accuracy
When set up properly and calibrated (more on this in a second), the PowerPod’s accuracy is on par with the more expensive, traditional type power meters. In some testing done against an SRM power meter, the PowerPod was shown to be within +/- 3% of the SRM. This is not too bad considering the PowerPod is a very affordable power meter, costing only a fraction of what an SRM power meter does.
Let’s talk installation
On one hand, the PowerPod is remarkably easy to install when compared to a direct force power meter. The PowerPod simply mounts to your handlebars. You don’t need to fuss with changing pedals, your crankset or any other bike component. However you do need to give it some love and attention when you first set it up. Unlike other power meters, the PowerPod requires an initial (one-time) 10 minute calibration ride. In addition, we recommend you spend a few minutes playing with its software – through which you can fine-tune the power meter’s precision.
One more thing…
The PowerPod comes with its free Isaac software. Isaac allows you to do in depth ride analysis in order to get the most out of your training. You can model aerodynamic drag (CdA), rolling resistance and lots more. Furthermore, PowerPod offers PowerStroke, an upgraded software package for $99. PowerStroke allows you to analyze your entire pedal stroke in great detail. With this data, you can experiment with changes to your pedal motion, bike position and bike fit in order to improve your riding efficiency – and therefore your power and speed.
If you’re on a budget or are simply looking for an affordable power meter, the PowerPod might be the perfect option for you. It’s without a doubt the cheapest power meter for cyclists.