I’m sure you’ve friends who ride with a power meter and you probably have contemplated getting one for yourself.
The question is, do you actually need a power meter?
To begin with, power meters do offer huge benefits for structured training and for accurately measuring and quantifying your efforts.
But, they are not for everyone.
For many, power meter is more of a want than need.
This isn’t an anti-power meter rant. Not in the least.
This is an objective look at why a power meter is not suitable for all cyclist. If they work for you then great, but if they don’t, they can be a waste of money.
Here are 5 reasons why a power meter might not be for you.
1. You're An Old School Cyclist
I don’t mean old school in a derogatory manner here. I mean old school in you know how you feel on any given day or you prefer the barebones approach to cycling.
You, your bike, a water bottle and the great outdoors. There is nothing at all wrong with that and if it works for you then a power meter isn’t going to make your rides any better.
Power meters are either a boon or a bane to cycling, depending on who you talk to.
Grand Tours are definitely the worse for them. Chris Froome may be a multiple Tour de France winner but nobody can say watching him pedal at 110rpm with his eyes constantly looking at his stem is entertaining.
There’s even a dedicated page for it.
Data is clinical by its very nature. If that’s your thing then great. If you’re more about the experience of riding a bike then it isn’t so great.
2. You're A Weekend Warrior
If you’re a casual cyclist or a weekend warrior who do 2 to 3 rides a week, then a power meter may not be for you either.
Casual cyclists don’t need to train to a level where a power meter offers value.
There may be too long a break between rides and riding to numbers may take out all of the joy that getting out on your bike over a weekend brings. It’s difficult to unwind and forget about life for a while when staring at a screen at wattage numbers!
Riding with a club or your local bunch is not the place for power meters either unless you’re training. A club ride will typically include different abilities, relaxed attitudes and riding at a pace that suits all riders, all roads and all conditions and not your desired wattage.
When you only have a couple of hours a week for your favorite hobby, the last thing you want to be doing is staring at your bike computer instead of being in the moment!
Even if you’re more serious about your cycling but can only ride on weekends, a power meter is not going to deliver the gains you’re looking for. Too much time between rides, not enough time to dedicate to intervals, to recovery rides, to base miles and all those other things structured training requires.
That’s no bad thing, just the way our lives are unless you’re lucky enough to get paid to ride bikes for a living.
3. You Just Want to Enjoy the Ride
Unless you’re following a structured training plan or riding for a purpose, a power meter is going to get in the way of the enjoyment of a ride.
We all ride for different reasons but one of the reasons I love to ride is to leave the world behind, not have to check emails or answer text messages and enjoy some me time on the bike.
I don’t want to have my head down staring at my bike computer like a pro on a Tour stage. I don’t want to be riding to numbers.
My life is full of words, numbers, technology and rules. A bike ride is my time to leave all that behind and just spend time in the great outdoors.
I live in a very scenic part of the world and I love taking time out to slow down and enjoy that scenery.
A power meter is antithesis of that. It demands my attention like emails and text messages, takes my eye away from my surroundings and forces my mind to concentrate instead of relax.
4. You're on A Budget
Power meters may be half the price they used to be but they are still quite an investment.
For the same price of SRM power meter, you could buy a decent set of training wheels, several jerseys, cycling shoes or enough inner tubes to last a few years.
It isn’t just about the power meter either.
To get the most out of it you will need a bike computer able to display and download all the data, a coach with the expertise to interpret all that data into something useful and then convert it into a structured training plan and the software to log and track your progress.
By the time you have paid for all of that, you may have little left for anything else!
Read More : 10 Money Saving Tips for All Cyclists
Cycling is an expensive business even if you just count the cost of the bike tires, tubes, nutrition and the basics.
Add expensive accessories like power meters into the equation and that cost can quickly become prohibitive. Especially as you then need a coach, Strava or other training tool subscriptions and everything else that goes with structured training.
5. You're not A Data Driven Cyclist
Some cyclists cannot get enough of data and thrive on it.
Others, not so much.
A power meter requires an element of spreadsheet management to make sense of the data, build it into a structured training plan, interpret gains and losses and create training rides around all that data. This is usually done through an online cycling analytics software these days.
If that’s not you then a power meter isn’t either.
If you don’t go all in and accept the data and numbers, the requirement for a coach, Strava and all that good stuff, then you’re not maximizing the potential that power meters offer.
If you don’t use them properly, why use them at all?
Our lives are surrounded by statistics and data. Isn’t it nice to sometimes just switch off from it all and ride for the love of riding?
The Bottom Line
If you’re a serious cyclist, are training for an event, preparing to turn professional or have the time and money to dedicate to using a power meter then they are the perfect training tool.
Power meters are more accurate now than ever before and can record as much data as you could ever need.
If you’re anything other than serious about structured training, they are much less useful and perhaps even a waste of money. If you prefer cycling for the love of cycling, use your bike as a means of escape or like to switch off and embrace the physical activity, a power meter may not be for you.
Only you can decide whether a power meter is right for you or not but don’t be taken in by the marketing or the hype. They are excellent tools for a specific job but if you’re not in that job, your money could be better spent elsewhere!