Power Meters Help Athletes Boost Cycling Performance logo menu-toggler menu-toggler
Monday - March 27, 2023

Power Meters Help Athletes Boost Cycling Performance

Pro athletes are constantly looking for new training methods and equipment that can help improve their endurance, form and technique in order to optimize their overall performance. This trend is expanding within amateur athlete communities as advanced technology becomes more accessible and user-friendly. Miniaturized sensors and wireless technology can be easily integrated into shoes, weights, cardio equipment and more to provide intelligent, actionable feedback to athletes.

Pro and amateur cyclists invest significantly in their equipment and training. High performance bicycles are expensive and typically, athletes will add enhanced features to customize their bike such as special pedals, seats and handlebars. In addition, home gym equipment is necessary for cyclists to continue training during adverse weather conditions.

Due to the high upfront cost, many athletes who cycle regularly are keen to improve their performance and output. This can be accomplished by integrating a power meter into the pedal crank to measure pedaling force and distribution.

What is a Cycling Power Meter?

Simply put, cycling power meters are electronic training devices for serious cyclists. They essentially work to measure the power output being generated as the cyclist pedals and use a strain gauge to calculate torque, or how hard the rider is pushing the pedals, and cadence, or the number of pedal revolutions generated per minute. This power is measured in watts, which essentially helps riders understand just how much power they’re using to pedal the bike.

Power meters are designed to track performance and monitor progress and pace when cyclists are training for upcoming events or races. They can also help riders meet certain fitness goals and determine how many calories they’re burning while riding.

How do Cycling Power Meters Work?

Where the power meter is installed on the bike depends on what type of power meter a cyclist is training with. Power meter pedals are power meters that are installed on the pedals, while other cycling power meters are installed in the rear hub and some are even installed on the crank arms. Power meters include strain gauges that measure deflections. Deflection changes resistance, which is translated into torque. A cycling power meter also includes an accelerometer, which measures RPM, or pedal revolutions per minute. When torque is multiplied by RPM, power is calculated. This is the data that is displayed on the power meter’s unit or display.

Different Types of Power Meters

As we noted above, there are different types of power meters, which include:

  • Crank arm power meters
  • Crank spider power meters
  • Pedal power meters
  • Rear hub power meters
  • Crank spindle power meters

All power meters have their advantages and disadvantages. However, there are a few key factors that riders should take into account when making their selection. For instance:

Accuracy: Power meter accuracy is expressed within a certain +/- percentage range. The lower the range, the better the accuracy. The more accurate the power meter, the better you’re able to measure training performance.

Display type: Some power meters attach to a display that can be mounted on the bike. Others send data wirelessly via Bluetooth or ANT+.

Dual measurement: Make sure that power output from both legs is captured and reflected in power meter data.

Reliability: Consistency is key when using a power meter. It’s important to select a quality meter where there aren’t wild data fluctuations on each ride.

Precision Strain Gauges Support Accurate Performance Measurement

It is important for athletes to get accurate readings from their power meter in order to optimize their training and form. Strain gauge sensors offer precise force measurement that is converted to quantify the rider’s output. This reading can then be analyzed to identify areas for improvement.

Advanced power meter solutions incorporate a 4-axis force sensor which can measure force distribution and direction in addition to input force. This allows riders to evaluate the position of their foot while pedaling and adjust the pedaling angle to boost efficiency.

The design of a power meter should be optimized to provide the most accurate data without interfering with pedaling. Our local engineering team has advanced knowledge of flexure materials and formats, and the properties of strain sensors. If you need assistance with strain gauge sensor design, we can help identify an ideal solution to meet your application requirements.

Fernando Palarca Fernando Palarca
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