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Ever wanted to know your power output during cycling?
Maybe your looking to improve cycling performance or perhaps you want to view, analyse and store your cycling data.
Then, what you want is a power meter or more specifically in this article anyway is a power meter pedal.
Table of Contents
What is a Power Meter Pedal Exactly?
A power meter pedal is designed to be fitted to the pedal of your bike and measure the power output produced as you cycle whether this be indoors on a turbo trainer or a an indoor cycling bike or outdoors on a road or mountain bike.
It is typical for a power meter to use strain gauges (these gauges deflect slightly when you apply force). Using electronics inside the power meter, the strain gauge will convert your flex into a corresponding electrical resistance.
This obtained electrical resistance is used to calculate the amount of torque generated by the rider. Torque measurements are normally multiplied by cadence to calculate the rider’s cycling power.
Who Power Meter Pedals Are Suited to?
Power meter pedals are really suited to anyone who is basically looking for more from there cycling performance or if it’s a need to connect up to certain apps such as Zwift or Motosumo so you can visually see your cadence, speed, watts or distance travelled.
It’s also great if:
You want quality data and no excuses – A power meter will measure exactly how hard you are working regardless of your terrain, fitness, conditions, or any other mitigating factor, and it will give you reliable figures that can be meaningfully compared over a given period to gauge progress.
You want to fully utilize your training time – A power meter removes the guesswork out of a cyclist’s training efforts, allowing them to train more efficiently. With it, the cyclist can plan exactly what they need to do before going out there and doing it. At the end of the session, they can take their cues from the numbers displayed by the computer.
You want those weaknesses to go away – A power meter can be just the right device you need to identify flaws in your fitness. Let’s say your anaerobic endurance is so bad that it lags behind every other area but you haven’t been able to find out, this issue will not hide from the figures generated by the power meter pedal. With the obtained data, you can easily work your way to improvement.
Power Meter Pedals Buyers Guide
In a market with many brands offering impressive devices, you need a sharp eye to choose nothing but the best as you want to make sure your receiving accurate and real-time cycling data detailed specifically to yourself.
Bluetooth & ANT+
Look for pedals that have both Bluetooth and ANT+ equipped.
These are a wireless data sharing protocol used to transmit data to recording devices like smartphones or a Garmin. Most of the power meters you will find come with ANT+ but also look for Bluetooth within them as it allows you to connect more devices to your cycling computer such as a heart rate monitor for example.
Because the sensitive strain gauges of the power meter are incorporated into components (pedals, hubs, spiders, cranks), which can cool or heat during a ride, it is vital that your power meter can easily adjust to this arrangement while cycling.
Otherwise, the device’s readings will drift erratically with changing temperatures which could result in inaccuracies.
This is obviously more applied if you’re cycling outdoors.
It is typical for power meters to require the user to perform a zero-offset before every ride.
It doesn’t need to be done all of the time but it allows the power pedals to recalibrate itself so that it makes sure that the correct watts and cadence is being detected as accurately as possible.
When you perform a zero-offset, your power meter zeroes out any remaining torque built up in the device from previous rides, installations, or temperature changes.
Power meter pedals can be sturdy and robust in design. If you add the weight of the sturdy design and that of the sensors inside, you can end up with something heavy enough to negatively affect the way you cycle.
While lightweight doesn’t necessarily mean the product is better, it’s advisable that you choose power pedals lightweight enough to not affect the data collection and your cycling experience.
A weight of anything less than 200g per pedal (400 grams for the pair) is ideal!
Affordability is probably the biggest factor worth considering for most cyclists. Yes, SRM units are great but can be expensive if you’re on a budget.
The cost of these devices varies widely based on an array of factors, including the brand.
It really comes down to how much money are you willing to spend on a power meter?
Now, power meter pedals don’t come cheap simply because they’re not cheaply made.
They are designed with the upmost perfection to deliver the most correct and accurate results for each individual rider.
For a great set of power meter pedals, you should have a budget somewhere between £550 – £750 ($726 – $990).
Best Power Meter Pedals
Favero Assioma Power Meter Pedals
A power meter unit needs to – first and foremost – be reliable, come with manageable weight, and, more importantly, be easy to swap between bikes in no time.
The Favero Assioma power meter pedals provides all these essentials.
Favero’s Assioma power meter pedals have one of the lowest RRPs out there. They are also the most lightweight, and they are one of only a few power meter pedals that offers a built-in USB rechargeable battery.
A unit weighs about 302 grams – you can buy a single option (the ‘Uno’) which is designed to take a reading from a single leg – here there is one sensor attached to the left pedal.
You can also purchase the ‘Duo’ option which has sensors on each pedal. This allows you to compare the force applied from each leg and provide a more detailed comparison on your cycling.
The cadence and power sensor lays just to the side of the pedal itself. Now this may seem exposed but don’t fret – the internal housing of the electrical components are completely sealed off and protected by a bi-component resin block which is shock-resistant and waterproof.
It uses breakthrough IAV technology that provides an incredible accuracy between +/- 1% range.
The Q-factor, however, is 54 mm, which feels to be within the range of a conventional standard pedal.
Pros & Cons
Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter Pedals
The Garmin Vector 3 seems to solve the cons of it’s predecessor. Unlike its outgoing cousin, Vector 2, this power meter is wholly housed inside a sleek pedal – this design does away with the unpopular idea of dangling an unprotected and expensive strain gauge off the pedal.
It also removes the need to set the unit up with the right level of torque.
Garmin initially claimed that their pair of pedals weigh 316 g, but they actually weigh around 324g. The pedals themselves, originally made by Exustar, an external brand, have now become Garmin’s in-house project.
Instead of the overused bronze pedals, they use needle bearings and can easily support a heavier rider, weighing up to 105 kg.
They are both Bluetooth and Ant+ compatible, which makes them open to work with more software options without the need for a dongle.
Better yet, you can choose to buy the pedals as a pair (with 1 sensor in each pedal) –’Garmin Vector 3′ which costs more, obviously.
Or you can buy a single sensor in one of the pedals in the form of ‘Garmin Vector 3S’.
The latter option measures power from your left pedal and is equipped with an algorithm that it uses to establish output of both sides.
Pros and Cons
PowerTap Quarq P2 Power Meter Pedals
The weight of PowerTap Quarq P2 has been reduced to slightly below 400 g (with batteries) from the 437g we saw in the predecessor P1.
In a very rare occurrence, this is exactly what you will see on the scales – it is still heavier than the sorts of the Garmin Vectors (316 g) and Favero Assioma pedals (304.8 g). It seems this reduction largely took place inside the pedal’s body, mainly by cutting out some innards. However, a tiny cutout can be observed beneath the skid, an indicator that part of the weight reduction efforts occurred outside as well.
Externally there are no more visible differences in shape or size when it is compared to P1. The difference in weight is fairly sizable. It encloses all of the costly componentry in a neat protective aluminium casing.
Even better, the battery cover is made from aluminium and fits snuggly into the aluminium thread.
The battery life is impressive. The company claimed the units would now increase to 80 hours per battery (still size AAA), however with longer and more steady-state rides, you can see up to 100 hrs of battery life.
The company noted that this improvement was achieved by tweaking the electronics inside the unit.
When it comes to accuracy, the PowerTap Quarq also has incredible accuracy rate of about +/- 1.5%.
This is incredibly accurate and will be able to provide very close, if not spot on, data readings in real-time.
Pros and cons
Look SRM Exakt Power Meter Pedals
The Exakt power pedal is the brainchild of 2 market leaders, SRM and Look.
They collaborated together to create and develop this incredible power meter pedal, the Look SRM Exakt.
It’s made with a carbon frame for ultimate robustness and fitted with a CrMo axle to ensure complete connection with your crank set on the bike.
What I really like is that the electronic data reading components are installed within the pedal itself to ensure protection from water, dirt, and dust.
If you’re using these outside also it just means it saves the components from becoming damaged.
Bluetooth and ANT+ are both available for you to share and connect your power readings to any smartphone or computer so you see and track your cycling progress.
You can pair your pedals up to the SRM’s own Power Control 8 head unit which can add to the price of it but there are other cheaper non-SRM head units you can connect to.
To collect data readings, you can share your data to the Windows-based SRMX app (which is also available for Mac). Here this will display your training zones, power curve, watts etc.
These can also be linked to your Strava or Training Peaks account.
What’s great about these power meter pedals is that from one single charge you should be able to get around 100 hours of cycling data from it…which is awesome!
It does away with the use of battery coins which is good, however to charge the pedals you need to remove them from your bike and plug the USB cable into the inside of the pedal itself.
Overall though, these pedals look great, are completely durable and are lightweight at just 314g for the pair.
Pros and Cons
When looking out for a power meter pedal you want to make sure it has:
- A strong, durable and robust design,
- Can connect to both ANT+ and Bluetooth,
- Has accurate data readings – generally in a range of +/- 1.5%.
If you’re training for a race and want the absolute best out of your cycling – consider the weight of the pedal as an extra few grams of weight can add to the power and consistency of your pedalling.
Duel sensors on the two pedals isn’t a necessity now. You can choose power meter pedals with just one sensor and this will measure your full power from both legs by simply multiplying it by 2.
If you’re really looking to get the most of your cycling though and delve deep into any inconsistences between the power of each leg then duel sensors may be more suited to you.
Either way, these power meter pedals are the best on the market right now and will provide reliable, consistent and real-time tracking your cycling.
If you do have any questions about any of the power meter pedals here, simply drop me a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you.