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Mountain Bike Power Meters

Since the introduction of that first power meter in the late 80’s, the market has grown substantially. However, during this time, the vast majority of new power meters have been aimed at road cyclists. Why? It’s just a bigger market and that’s where the majority of the demand is. However, it was only a matter of time before MTBers decided they wanted to get in on the action. If power meters were helping road cyclists become faster and stronger – why couldn’t everyone benefit from them? In addition to the numerous other reasons to use a power meter, seeing the exact physiological demands of your specific discipline, in this case MTB, allows you to structure a training program that can target weaknesses while emphasizing strengths. Manufacturers recognized this demand and in the last several years, have started launching mountain bike power meters.

While the road market still dominates demand, there are now several different mountain bike power meters that are available. In this article, we will review your options for adding power to your MTB.

Banner image for our Mountain Bike Power Meters article

 

Mountain Bike Power Meters

To begin with, it’s important to understand that mountain bike power meters are just like their road bike counterparts. The power meter’s house strain gauges and electronics within a bike component. This could be within a crank, a hub, or on a crank arm for example. The strain gauges measure the power, or torque, produced by the cyclist. Cadence data is also measured (either using accelerometers or magnets). Both power and cadence data is sent to your bicycle computer or watch.

The difference is that there are more power meter choices for the road. For example, there are more cranksets that have power to choose from, more crank arm-based power meters, etc. In addition, some power meter types, such as pedal- and chainring based power meters, don’t currently exist for MTB. However, as we previously stated, while the selection of MTB power meters isn’t what it is for road, you do have a number of good choices. So the chances are high that you can find something that fits both your bike and your budget.

 

Power Meter Types and MTB Power Meter Options

1. Crank

MTB power meter – Yes

Manufacturer – SRM and FSA

SRM is widely known for manufacturing some of the best road power meters. Their mountain bike power meters use essentially the same spider-based power meter – so they are every bit as good. SRM offers MTB power meters in both a 1x and 2x chainring set-up, with crank arms for SRM, Shimano, ROTOR, FSA, Cannondale and more. The SRM MTB units are available in crank arm lengths ranging from 165 to 175 mm, come with proprietary batteries that last up to 950 hours (depending on the model), and feature SRM’s legendary +/- 1.0% accuracy levels. In addition, SRM’s newest power meter, the SRM Origin is MTB compatible when used with the proper spindle. The Origin uses a super stiff and light LOOK carbon crank arm, features Trilobe Technology and the entire unit weighs in at only 599 grams. Some reviews are already calling it the best MTB power meter.

In addition, FSA offers their PowerBox, which is available in a carbon version for MTB. The FSA PowerBox MTB Carbon uses Power2Max’s proven spider design and comes with FSA aluminum chainrings and FSA hollow carbon composite arms. The power meter uses a CR2450 battery and is accurate to within 2% (industry standard). The  FSA PowerBox MTB Carbon sells for $1,150. This is quite reasonable for a MTB crankset-based power meter.

SRM Origin Power Meter

Image of SRM Origin Power Meter

FSA MTB PowerBox Carbon

Image of FSA MTB PowerBox Carbon Crankset Power Meter

 

2. Hub

MTB power meter – Yes

Manufacturer – PowerTap

PowerTap manufactures a MTB-specific version of their popular G3 hub. At $799, the PowerTap G3 Rear Disc Hub is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a dedicated, MTB-specific power meter. Like all G3 hubs, the G3 Rear Disc Hub features +/- 1.5% accuracy, Bluetooth SMART technology, and transmits power, speed and cadence data.

PowerTap G3 Rear Disc Hub

Image of PowerTap G3 MTB power meter

 

3. Crank Arm

MTB power meter – Yes

Manufacturer – 4iiii

4iiii manufactures the PRECISION power meter for both road and MTB bikes. The PRECISION is a left-only crank arm-based power meter and replaces your current left side crank arm. The power meter takes the power that is generated by your left leg and doubles it in order to determine your total power. While the PRECISION is only compatible with Shimano cranksets, at $499 for the 4iiii PRECISION Shimano XT M8000 or $599 for the 4iiii PRECISION Shimano XTR M9000, the PRECISION is most affordable direct force power meter available. It is also extremely light with an added weight of only 9 grams.

4iiii PRECISION for Shimano XTR M9000

Image of 4iiii Precision Power Meter

4. Handlebars (OFPM)

MTB power meter – Yes

Manufacturer – Velocomp

Velocomp’s PowerPod Power Meter, which starts at $299, can be used on just about any bike, MTB included. Unlike the other power meters discussed here which are direct force power meters and use strain gauges to measure power, the PowerPod mounts on your handlebars and uses opposing force technology to measure power. In order to account for off-road terrain (bumps, rocks, etc.), the PowerPod features Dynamic Coefficient of Rolling Resistance (DCRR). DCRR enables the PowerPod to measure road vibration 800 times per second and convert the measurements into rolling resistance corrections. This keeps the PowerPod accurate regardless of road surface.

PowerPod Power Meter

Image of front side of PowerPod Power Meter

5. Bottom Bracket

MTB power meter – Yes

Manufacturer – ROTOR

ROTOR makes the INpower REX for MTB which use strain gauges located in the axle (the only power meter to locate strain gauges here). With the REX, you purchase an entire crankset less new chainrings. ROTOR offers the REX in both a single and dual chainring configuration. In addition, if you already have a ROTOR crankset, you can purchase the left crank arm only at a lower cost. ROTOR INpower REX power meters range from $779 to $1,079 based on the model.

ROTOR INpower REX 1.2

Image of ROTOR INpower REX 1.2 Mountain Bike power meter

6. Pedal

MTB power meter – No

We are big fans of pedal-based power meters. They are easy to install, are compatible with almost any bike, can be transferred between bikes easily and offer dual-sided power (based on the model). PowerTap, Garmin and Favero Electronics all make pedals for the road. However unfortunately, if you’re looking for a pair of MTB power meter pedals, you’ll have to wait. Currently, none of these manufactures, nor anyone else for that matter, currently makes an MTB pedal. We hope we’ll see one soon.

 

7. Chainring

MTB power meter – No

PowerTap makes the C1 Chainring Power Meter, which uniquely measures power at the chainring. However it mounts to 110 BCD 5-bolt road cranks only, so it doesn’t work with all cranksets. There is no word yet on whether they plan to offer a MTB version.

 

Mountain Bike Power Meters: Summary

While there are not as many mountain bike power meters as there are road options, you should be able to find something that works among the available options. The most popular MTB option is probably the crank arm-based power meter. They are affordable, accurate and easy to install. If you plan to make a change to your crankset (perhaps you’re moving to a 2x or 1x setup), you might consider a crank-based power meter. These units cost a bit more, but they are durable, reliable and offer best in class accuracy. If you want to explore your options in more depth, give us a call – we’re here to help!

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