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Banner image for our Mountain Bike Power Meters article

Mountain Bike Power Meters

Since the introduction of the first power meter in the late 80’s, the market has grown substantially – both in terms of manufacturers and power meter types. However, 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. The good news is though, that in the last several years, manufacturers have seen demand from the offroad crowd as well. They have responded by introducing several new mountain bike power meters.

To be true, the road market still dominates demand. 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, there are now quite a few different mountain bike power meters that are available and the chances are high that you can find something that fits both your bike and your budget. 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.

 

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 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 have called it the best MTB power meter.

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 2.0% (industry standard). The  FSA PowerBox MTB Carbon sells for $1,150. While not cheap, this is actually quite reasonable for a MTB crankset-based power meter.

SRM Origin Power Meter

SRM Origin Carbon MTB Power Meter

FSA MTB PowerBox Carbon

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 Innovations and Stages Cycling

Both 4iiii Innovations and Stages Cycling manufactures MTB power meters. These left-only crank arm-based power meters replace your current left side crank arm. Specifically, these units take the power that is generated by your left leg and doubles it in order to determine your total power.

4iiii makes the PRECISION which is compatible with Shimano cranksets. Currently, they offer the 4iiii PRECISION Shimano XT M8000 for $499 and the 4iiii PRECISION Shimano XTR M9000 for $599. The PRECISION is one of the more affordable direct force power meter available. It is also extremely light with an added weight of only 9 grams.

Stages Cycling makes units that are very similar to 4iiii, however they offer a wider selection with MTB versions for Shimano, SRAM and Cannondale. Prices range from $579 for the Stages Shimano XT M8000 to $699 for the Stages Carbon SRAM BB30.

4iiii PRECISION for Shimano XTR M9000

Image of 4iiii Precision Power Meter

Stages Carbon for SRAM BB30

Stages-branded-meter-3-up-1-1-1024x794 (3)

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. 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 and Race Face

ROTOR makes a range of mountain bike power meters that use strain gauges located in the axle. Their newest offering is the ROTOR 2INpower MTB Crankset. The 2INpower MTB is made to run in 1x (single chainring) configuration and features Bluetooth SMART and rechargeable li-ion battery technology. In addition, with a second strain gauge located on the chainring side, the 2INpower MTB can measure total as well as independent left/right power which is a nice bonus.

ROTOR also offers the INpower REX series which is a more affordable option, but measures left leg power only. With the INpower REX, you can purchase an entire crankset (as with the 2INpower MTB) or, if you already have a ROTOR crankset, you can purchase the left crank arm only at a lower cost. ROTOR offers the REX in both a single and dual chainring configuration. Prices for the REX range from $779 to $1,079 based on the model.

Race Face also offers a bottom bracket-based power meter. The Race Face CINCH is a power-equipped spindle that replaces your current spindle. The CINCH sells for $599 and is compatible with Race Face cranksets such as the Next SL G4, Next G3, Next R and Turbine. Like the ROTOR 2INpower, the CINCH features Bluetooth SMART and rechargeable li-ion battery technology, however it measures left leg power only like the INpower REX.

ROTOR 2INpower MTB Crankset

ROTOR-2INpower-MTB-6-1-1024x725

ROTOR INpower REX 1.2

Image of ROTOR INpower REX 1.2 Mountain Bike power meter

Race Face CINCH Spindle

Race Face CINCH Power Meter Spindle

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 MTB cranksets. We don’t believe there are plans for a MTB version.

 

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. Based on our experience, the most popular MTB option is the crank arm-based power meter (4iiii and Stages). While they only measure left leg power, they are affordable, accurate and easy to install. In addition, you can find one to fit almost any crankset. If you plan to make a change to your crankset (perhaps you’re moving to a 2x or 1x setup and have to buy a new crankset anyway), you might consider a crank-based power meter. These units cost a bit more, but they are measure both legs and some also offer independent left/right power measurement. If you want to explore your options in more depth, give us a call – we’re here to help!

Josh Matthew

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