A power meter is an essential gadget for indoor trainers and triathletes. It helps you measure the force in watts you apply when cycling, helping cyclists to crank up their speed and conditioning.
It then sends the data via ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart to your smartphone, laptop, or the cloud.
Easy to install, you can use the power meter along with apps such as Zwift and even outdoors if you prefer.
So, can you add a power meter to an indoor cycling bike?
Of course, you can!
It’s going to help you know your true effort, your performance and how to improve upon it, this is all expressed in watts.
So, want to know the types of power meters you can get for your spin bike & why you should invest in one.
Well, in this post we’ll discuss how you can add a power meter to your own spin bike.
Types of Power Meters
Over the years, there are many companies who have developed different types of power meters to install on various locations of your bike. The most common areas to set up your power meter are the rear hubs, pedals, and cranksets.
There are a few types of power meters:
- Pedal power meters
- Hub power meters
- Crank power meters
Pedal Power Meter
A pedal power meter is one of the most user-friendly power meters on the market.
This is true, especially for indoor trainers and triathletes with more than one bike.
Most people love pedal power meters because they’re so easy to fit. You can swap the pedal power meter from one bike and fit it on another.
You don’t need any major tools, additional parts, or calibration. Another advantage of the pedal power meter is that it allows wheel swaps for different situations. It also leaves your drivetrain alone.
Once you fit the power meter, the next step is to sync with your smartphone or laptop. This allows you to receive data in real-time as you train. The most popular pedal power meters are:
- Garmin Vector 2
- Favero Assioma (Check out my review of them here)
- Look Keo Power
- PowerTap P1
Hub Power Meters
Hub-based power meters are among the most reliable power meters.
(Now, these can only be used on either a road bike or mountain bike as an indoor cycling bike only has a flywheel so there is nowhere for the hub to be connected but they are worth mentioning)
The strain gauges are usually located in the rear hub (rear wheel) and measure your effort as you train.
Just like pedal-based power meters, hub power meters are easy to install. In fact, you can move them from bike to bike, thanks to the quick-release format.
They also leave the drivetrain alone and enable you to use your favoured pedal system.
One of the most popular hub-based power meters is the PowerTap G3 power meter. As the world’s first wireless power meter, it’s available as a hub or complete wheel option.
Besides PowerTap G3, you also have the GS hub power meter.
Crank Power Meters
The crank-based power meter is usually located on the cranks of the exercise bike.
It helps to measure torque using a strain gauge. This gauge is inside the crank spider power meter. You need to know that these units require specific cranksets.
The good news is; you can interchange the power meter between exercise bikes, but you must check for compatibility.
Crank based power meters are popular among professional athletes. This is because of their consistency, durability, and accuracy.
Like the hub-based power meter, a crank power meter allows you to use your favoured pedal systems and wheel swapping.
Sadly, it’s the most difficult type of power meter to swap from bike to bike as the crank must fit perfectly with the power meter dimensions.
One of the best crank-based power meters is the 4iii Precision 105 R7000.
Best Power Meter For Your Type of Bike
Choosing a power meter for your bike can be difficult to know.
There are so many on the market and you want to get the best for you and your cycling needs.
The good news is, we researched and matched the best power meter with the correct type of bike.
Indoor Cycling Bike
As your ticket to indoor training, an indoor cycling bike boosts your cardio fitness, helps with weight loss, strengthens your legs and lower body muscles. It also acts as a low impact workout that’s safer than road cycling.
One of the best power meters you can use on your indoor cycling bike is the pedal power meter.
This is because it’s easy to swap.
Almost all indoor cycling bikes have a universal pedal fitting so you can swap the pedal-based power meter from any bike to your indoor cycling bike.
To do so, remove the existing pedals, screw on the set of pedal power meters, and you’re good to go.
You can also use a crank-based power meter but just make sure of the dimensions so it fits well onto the crank arm. Crank power meters like those from Stages use small pods packed with electronics. You can bond the power meter to the back of one of both of your exercise bike’s crank arms.
This is my current setup with my indoor cycling bike.
I have the Favero Assioma power pedals attached to my bike.
They were easy to install by simply screwing in with a 8mm hex wrench.
Then calibrate them with the Favero app I installed through Google Play and I was able to transmit Bluetooth and ANT+ to show my power and cadence.
While you may not need a power meter to become a successful cyclist, it can do wonders for your performance. There is no denying that a power meter will deliver useful data to your smartphone or laptop. Such data can include torque and heart rate for example.
With a good coach, you can use the numbers generated by your power meter to ensure your training helps you achieve your goals.
Now for people who train on road bikes, they love to cycle outdoors first and foremost however, when Winter hits and the roads become slightly more dangerous, they like to move their training indoors.
For that reason alone, the road bike is provided with so much more opportunities when it comes to power meters.
You can use any type of power meter really from pedal, hub, and crank-based power meters.
If you are more serious cyclist and prefer to train on a road bike then we recommend going for dual-sided power meters, especially for crank-based power meters.
The dual-sided model offers a high-level analysis of your pedalling metrics and allows you to see the difference in power generated from each leg.
If you are a person who enjoys the outdoors and prefers to cycle off-road on different types of terrains and elevations then you do need a more robust type of power meter.
Now, as a side-note a mountain bike can be used indoor also when connected up to a turbo trainer or rollers just the same as a road bike so any of the hub, pedal or crank based power meters can be used.
However, I understand that by owning a mountain bike I’m sure you prefer cycling outdoors rather than in your home.
A good example is the crank-based 4iii Precision Power Meter for Shimano XTR. It is one of the lightest direct force power meters and it’s accurate within +/- 1.0%.
Next up is the PowerTap G3 hub power meter.
It features proven G3 hub technology and extra stopping power in the way of a 160 mm disc brake motor. The power meter is compatible with all mountain bikes.
You also can use power pedals and I would recommend the Favero Assioma power pedals as they have also have complete accuracy within +/- 1.0% range.
It has a standard Shimano SPD cleat plus tough construction. As such, it’s ready for the dirt. Made of aluminium alloy and stainless steel, it uses high quality sealing for protection against water and mud.
All electronics and batteries are housed inside the pedal spindle. This protects them from crashes, rock strikes, and the elements.
Now, as these pedals make the use of cleats it depends if this is something you make like within your cycling or not.
Yes, it will keep your feet firm, secure and connected to the pedals however, if you need to remove your feet very quickly it can be difficult to remove straight away as it requires a wriggle of your heels to unclick your shoes from the pedals themselves.
Why Use a Power Meter?
Allows for Structured Training
The ticket to achieving your training goals is improvements in your performance and power. This isn’t easy to accomplish without a power meter. A power meter can help you build a structured training plan. In fact, you can do so with power-based training zones. This enables you to target your energy and power system for maximum performance.
Enables You to Track Your Fitness Accurately
Power meters are usually packed with electronics that collect data in real-time about your fitness. You can track your maximum power numbers, distance travelled, and functional threshold power. You can relay the data to your laptop or smartphone for analysis. Software for tracking important metrics include Acute Training Load and Training Stress Score.
Serves as a Great Motivational Tool
A power meter collects data accurately. These numbers give you an accurate picture of your performance. For example, a power meter can help you hit the 100% effort target. Since you’ll achieve this gradually, you’ll be motivated to continue training until you reach your objective.
Helps You Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
A power meter can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a time trialist or triathlete, you desire to achieve high 30 or 60 minutes power. The data from your power meter can help you recognize your weaknesses. Using these numbers, you can create a workout plan to address your weakness.
Maximize Your Training Time
Now that you’ve identified your weakness, you can achieve your goals through several sessions. You can do so by designing workout plans to meet your needs. For example, if you’re training for a 40K distance race, you can create workout plans to help you work out at threshold. You can use the workout plans to stimulate physiological change.
We hope you’re convinced that a power meter is an effective training tool that every cyclist needs to improve their cycling performance. A power meter can unlock your endurance and speed compared to other training tools. If you’re looking for the perfect tool to measure and track your performance while on your exercise bike, we recommend a pedal, hub, or crank-based power meter.
Best of luck!