Now I know there are a lot of people writing about power meters who have a lot more experience and knowledge than me but I just wanted to write a short post about my experience after using 2 different types last season.
When I decided I would use Trainerroad, I decided I would buy a power meter. After a lot of research I decided that I would first try a ‘cheap’ powertap – a second hand one which I bought on Ebay. It was not that cheap but a lot cheaper than a new one! I loved it immediately, being able to see exactly how hard I was working at any given time.
The problem I had was that I have two bikes and after I saw how useful it was I wanted to put one on my other bike. Some of my friends had Stages power meters and I decided to get one of them. It was just after I purchased the second one that the Powertap broke! I couldn’t use it until I paid for a VERY expensive repair – it would cost the same as a new Stages power meter!
So, what are my feelings about the two?
Accuracy: Both claim to have the same accuracy.
Price: A new Powertap is still considerably more expensive than Stages.
Use: For a novice user like me, they both do the same job! One negative of Stages is that it only measures power on one leg, which limits your ability to do one-legged drills, especially on Trainerroad, as it pauses the workout!
Transfer between bikes: The Powertap, you just need to change wheels, but if you have a race bike you either need 2 Powertaps or you need to race with your training wheels! For me the Stages power meter is much better in this respect as you can change out your wheels whenever you want and don’t need to worry about it at all.
In summary, I think you need to take your own circumstances into account when choosing a power meter, and there is a lot of information about the pros and cons of different types on the internet. Bear in mind that whichever one you choose, you will probably want to use it for both training and racing 🙂
And another thing is that it’s not magic – you still need to use it as any other tool! It’s not infallible and it’s not going to help you win races by itself! Sometimes when I read about using power meters it sounds like you will become better just by having one, but I’ve found that you still need to make decisions based on what you see and it helps to have another number to look at as well as heart rate, particularly early in a race. The main benefit for me has been the extra motivation it gives me in my day-to-day training, to work harder than I could without one. If you can afford one – I’d buy one, but I’m not sure it matters which one you get!