Looking to get a power meter to bring your cycling to the next level?
You’re at the right page.
Before you commit to buy a power meter, there are things you need to know such as the types of power meter, how the measurements are taken and more importantly, which one is compatible to your current bike set up.
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But if you’re reading to find out your options, here are 9 of the best cycling power meters to consider.
Best Value for Shimano - 4iii (Left Sided)
At $500, this power meter is a steal for riders already using Shimano Ultegra cranks.
Manufactured by Canada-based 4iii, this power meter measures left-leg power within 1% accuracy. It’s lightweight, adding just 9 grams to the left crank arm’s weight, and can be installed in minutes.
It can communicate via ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART, making it compatible with most bike computers and smartphones.
The meter is powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that packs around 60 hours of battery life. You’ll have a choice of crank arm lengths from 165 mm up to 175 mm and is compatible with all Shimano R6800 and R8000 cranksets.
Best Value for Non-Shimano Power2Max NG Eco
The German company, Power2Max specializes in spider-based power meters, began development of its power meters and released its first model in 2010.
Power2Max has power meters for all the major crankset brands including SRAM, Praxis, ROTOR, Shimano, FSA, Cannondale, Easton, NGeco and Campagnolo.
The NG Eco is one of the most versatile and budget-friendly options out there today. It combines left/right leg power measurement, comes with ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility, and is accurate within 2% at a price point that is well below other spider-based power meters.
The unit is powered by a coin-style CR2450 battery that gets between 300 and 400 hours of battery life and includes a 2-year warranty.
Best for Shimano Crankset - Stages DuraAce R9100 (Left Sided)
If you’re looking for the best left-sided crankarm powermeter for Shimano groupsets, then you know it’s going to have to be DuraAce, Shimano’s top-of-line group of components for road bikes. You’ll often find DuraAce on the setups of pro cyclists.
This Stages powemeter is accurate within 1.5% and only adds 20 grams of weight to your bike. It’s compatible with both ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to your cycling computer and your smartphone or even tablet if you’re riding indoors.
It’s available for crankarm length from 165mm to up to 180mm.
Best for SRAM Cranksets - Quarq DZero
The Quarq DZero powermeter combines the best that two companies have to offer. Quarq began producing power meters in 2008 in Australia before being sold to SRAM in 2011.
This spider-based powermeter combines the Quarq’s DZero technology with SRAM’s DUB technology. The result is a powermeter that is perfectly suited towards those who’re already riding on SRAM components, especially the crankset.
It’s compatible with all SRAM crankarms and 5-bolt chainrings (10 and 11 speed). It also comes with a 2-year warranty. The Quarq DZero is powered by a coin-style CR2032 battery that provides about 200 hours of battery life.
Best for Campagnolo Cranksets - Power2Max NG
If you ride Campy components and you’re willing to spend a little more, then consider the Power2Max NG.
It’s probably the prettiest looking powermeter for those using Campagnolo components. It comes with both left and right, carbon crankarm, but minus the 4-bolt Campagnolo chainring.
Accuracy is excellent at +/- 1% and is powered through USB recharging. It also comes with one of the best warranties available for power meters. Power2Max has you covered for five years.
Campagnolo components tend to be the most expensive and this powermeter is no exception. While it may be priced on the premium side of things, it’s important to note that this model does give you a spider AND left and right carbon cranks.
Best Left and Right Sided - Stages Shimano R9100 Crankset
If you’re looking for a powermeter that will help you work through balance issues with your left and right legs then consider Stages’s Shimano DuraAce R9100.
This is a complete crankset, allowing you to choose your chainring size as well as your desired crankarm length.
It features left/right power measurement within 1% accuracy. Connectivity is via ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to most bike computers as well as a smart device if you wish.
The unit is powered by a coin-style CR2032 battery that provides around 175 hours of usage. Despite being a dual-sided powermeter, it actually just adds 35g when compared to the same crankset without the powermeter.
Best Wheel Hub Based - Powertap G3
Choosing a wheel hub-based powermeter is a relatively simple task. Why?
Because there’s only one company that has figured out how to make them. And that company would be Powertap, which has been producing hub-based meters for the past 20 years.
It features accuracy to within 1.5% and is powered by a CR2032 battery with 200 hours of riding time. The Powertap G3 comes with a 2-year warranty.
Perhaps the biggest lure of this power meter is its price. At $400 this gives you a powermeter at a fraction of the price of other options on the market.
Best Pedal Based - Garmin Vector 3
Pedal-based powermeters offer the advantage of easily swapping between bikes.
If this is what you’re after, then you can’t go wrong with the Garmin Vector 3. The Vector is available as dual-sided, with meters in both pedals, or single-sided, with a meter in the left pedal only.
The Vector 3 is designed for easy installation. Just install them in and you’re ready to go.
It supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth smart devices and is accurate to within 1%. If you’re a data geek, the Garmin Vector 3 gives you access to all of Garmin’s cycling data points including power phase, peak power phases and platform center offset.
Best Accuracy - SRM Origin
If you’re super serious about improving your performance then you want a power meter that is super accurate. Look no further than the SRM.
SRM is one of the pioneers of cycling power meters, developing its first powermeter all the way back in 1986.
Their latest model, the SRM Origin uses a 144 point calibration method and its Auto-Offset feature to make this powermeter as consistent and accurate as possible, to within 1.5%.
You also won’t compromise weight with this power meter. With its LOOK carbon crank arm, it weighs in at just 599 grams. The crank arm is also adjustable from 170 mm to 175 mm through the use of its Trilobe Technology. The SRM Origin also includes interchangeable spindles that make it compatible with virtually any frame.
Types of Bike Power Meters
Power meters can be located on several places on your bike.
Which kind you want depends largely on several factors, such as ease of installation, accuracy and data type.
Let’s take a look at the different types of power meters that are on the market and how they stack up in terms of accuracy, ease-of-install, and data output.
1. Spider Based
Since SRM designed the first spider power meter more than 30 years ago, spider-style power meters have become one of the most popular styles of meters available.
These power meters come in a wide variety of configurations, are designed to be compatible with the broad range of crank arm brands and chain ring sizes that exist in the market today.
This versatility coupled with the fact that they are very accurate make them an attractive option.
However, it should be noted that because they’re mounted onto the chain ring, they can’t be easily removed and installed on another bike. You’ll have to remove the entire crankset.
2. Wheel Hub
Wheel hub powermeters aren’t one of the more popular options out there today. In fact, only one company manufactures them, PowerTap, who was acquired by SRAM last spring.
They add more weight to your set up than other types of powermeter.
Installation is also not something you can do yourself. Since they’re located in the rear wheel hub, the wheel will need to be custom built in order for them to be installed.
Wheel hub powermeters do have their advantages though.
They’re cheaper than other types, making them a great option for budget-minded cyclists.
And since they are incorporated into the wheel hub, they can also be easily swapped in and out with the wheel, making this a great option for those who have several bikes.
3. Crank Arms
Like pedals, power meters that attach to the crank arms are easy to swap in and out, making them a great option for cyclists looking to use their power meter on multiple bikes.
These meters also offer several data options. They can be single-sided for left-leg power only or double-sided, which allow you to measure left-side and right-side power. These are probably the lightest power meter today as they only add 30-40g of weight to your existing crank arms.
The two leading brands for crank arm power meters today are Stages and 4iii.
4. Pedal Based
Pedal-based power meters are easy to swap between bikes.
Compatibility also isn’t an issue here as they can generally attach to any crank arms.
However, you might need to change your cleats. The major manufacturers of pedal-based power meters, including Powertap, Garmin and SRM use LOOK style cleats.
And while they stay clear of your drivetrain, they are also in a more vulnerable location as the pedals on a bike have a tendency to take a beating. These types of meters are usually sold as single-sided, which measures one side only, and double-sided options which offer left side and right side power data.
Powermeters Buyer's Guide
1. Existing Setup Compatibility
For most cyclists, power meters are an add-on purchase that come after they’ve been on their bike for a while.
Because of that, it’s important to understand that not all power meters will fit all bikes’ setup.
You need to familiarize yourself with your bike before purchasing a power meter.
Spider based power meters will also require you to know the brand of the crank arm and the BCD size of your chainrings.
BCD is the distance between the bolts that are across from each other on a chain ring. Common chainring sizes include 110 and 130, 4-bolt Shimano and Campagnolo. Since the spider-based power meter will replace your existing spider, it must match up with the chainrings that will attach to it.
Spider-based power meter manufacturers such as Power2Max and SRM offer many different variants that are compatible with a wide range of of crankarm brands and chainring sizes.
Single Sided (Left Side)
If you plan on using a power meter that attaches to the left crank arms, you’ll need to know the brand of your cranksarms. For example, Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, Specialized or Cannondale to name the common ones in order to determine what power meters are compatible.
You also need to match the length of your existing cranks to the new ones. Crankarm lengths generally range from 165 mm to 175 mm.
Compatibility for pedals is not usually an issue. Most pedals are compatible with most cranksets, and so most power meter pedals will be compatible with your bike.
For wheel hub meters you’ve pretty much got one choice as PowerTap remains the only manufacturer here.
You’ll need to either build a new rear wheel, or replace your existing rear wheel hub with the power meter.
If you’re going to invest in a power meter, and it’s quite an investment ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,000, you want to know that it’s going to provide you with accurate and consistent data.
And since the goal of a power meter is to help you to improve your power output, consistency is just as important.
If the power meter if 1.5% off one day, you need it to be 1.5% off every day in order to get useful data. Keep in mind that different brands of meters offer different levels of accuracy.
3. ANT+ and Bluetooth Connectivity
Most power meters transmit using ANT+, which allows them to connect most bike computer systems such as Garmin. Newer power meters offer bluetooth connectivity, which allows them to connect to smart phones. Some offer both options.
Decide what type of device you will be using to track your power then determine if you will need a device that offers Bluetooth, ANT+ or both. Most cyclists use a bike computer.
There are some things to consider when making this decision. ANT+ meters can connect with multiple ANT+ head units at once, while a bluetooth power meter can only communicate with one head unit at a time.
4. Battery Life
I suppose it goes without saying that a power meter will need its own power in order to tell you how much power you’re producing.
Power for your power meter comes in two forms, USB charge and coin-style batteries. Newer models and high end power meters are mostly USB rechargeable today.
Coin-style batteries generally give between 200 and 400 hours of riding time before needing replacement. Battery times for USB rechargeable power meters vary from brand to brand.
5. Ease of Maintenance
The maintenance for a power meter isn’t particularly involved as bike accessories go.
They may require battery changes and firmware updates. This sounds simple, but you still want to make sure that swapping out a battery doesn’t involve a lengthy uninstall and reinstall of the power meter from your bike or worse, having to send it off.
For example, older SRM power meters require that they be sent back to the manufacturer for battery replacement.
You also want firmware updates to be relatively easy either through a USB cord or quick bluetooth connection.
6. Support and Warranty
Power meters are delicate pieces of electronics that need to be correctly calibrated and installed in order to work properly.
Although power meters are designed to handle the perils of being attached to a bike hurtling down the road through all manner of weather, they’re still expensive delicate pieces of electronics that can fail.
With that in mind, you’ll want a manufacturer that offers support when something isn’t working and replacement or repair for as long as possible if something stops working.
Look for manufacturers that offer some kind of warranty that will cover manufacturer’s defects for at least one year. Also, stick to tried and true known manufacturers in the bike industry like Shimano, Power2Max, SRM, Garmin and PowerTap. These are companies that you know will stand behind their products and offer solid customer support.