What is exactly a powermeter?
A powermeter is a device commonly used in cycling that provides accurate measurements of the force or power exerted by the cyclist.
The majority of powermeters employ "strain gauges" to gauge the force applied through the pedals. These gauges experience slight deformation during pedaling, which is almost imperceptible. This deformation allows for the measurement of force. However, power is not solely force; it is the result of dividing the work performed (force multiplied by distance) by the time taken. In this case, the distance is represented by the number of crank revolutions. Consequently, powermeters measure both power and pedal cadence.
To be precise, powermeters calculate power rather than directly measuring it. The measured power, along with other parameters such as pedal cadence, is then wirelessly transmitted (previously via cables) from the powermeter to a suitable display device, typically a bike computer.
Who benefits from using a powermeter?
Various metrics are used to measure and evaluate training intensity, including heart rate, speed, perceived exertion, lactate levels, and more. However, these measurements can often be complex to obtain or subject to external influences. For example, heart rate reflects the physiological response to exertion and tends to change relatively slowly. It is also influenced by factors such as temperature, training duration, previous exertion, and diet.
Power meters provide an objective and quantifiable means of measuring current power output, thereby allowing for the precise assessment of training and competition effort.
Training across different power zones is a common practice, and a powermeter enables cyclists to target these zones accurately. This not only pleases coaches but, more importantly, helps individuals maximize their limited training time. Additionally, powermeters facilitate easy tracking of training progress, enabling cyclists to gauge their improvement over time.