Just for the roadies?
Dear Auntie mbr,
I’ve been getting along fine for years with my sweet little heart rate monitor and bike computer, but now I’m having my doubts. I’ve heard whispers that I’m not being told everything I should know about my, erm, performance.
What’s more, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better — I’m not improving and, to be honest, I’m not getting any younger. My gadgets and I have had some lovely times together, but I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something that could be more fulfilling?
Yours anxiously, Wayne
You are not alone. I’ve heard from many readers who are looking for a little bit extra from their relationship with their bike at this time of year and I tell them to look to their idols — Jared Graves, Danny Hart and Jerome Clementz, to name but three.
They’ve been geeking up their rides with some gadgetry you may have seen on road bikes — namely power meters.
They do exactly what the name suggests; recording the power you put through your transmission system, to help you train. They can fit seamlessly into many places — the soles of your shoes, cleats, pedals, cranks, chainrings, chain, rear derailleur or rear hub. But the big question has always been — are they worth it off-road? Can they deal with a bit of rough and still be accurate?
Watch our Pro bike check with Jerome Clementz
Well, Wayne, four scientists from the University of Central Lancashire, who understand exactly your kind of dilemma, have done some research that shows they can’t be trusted: power meters tend to be less than impressed with your average output, telling you it was eight per cent lower than it really was when off-road. It then rubs salt in the wound by underestimating your peak power by six per cent.
In the real world, EWS rider Jared Graves has an explanation for this: rough trails wear you out and demand lots of work, but not necessarily from your legs.
This makes it seem like you’re just dawdling even when you’re blowing through your ears. And on race day, fatigue and altitude can make the readings even less useful.
So is there a future in the relationship between rider and power meter? Wayne, we reckon it can provide an extra frisson to enhance your pleasure and promote lasting happiness — if you choose wisely where to use it: training rides, smooth climbs and roadie sections.
Yours sincerely, Auntie mbr
*Agreement Between the Stages Cycling and SRM Powermeter Systems during Field-Based Off-Road Climbing by Howard T Hurst, Stephen Atkins, Jonathan Sinclair and John Metcalfe