Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Which do you need- data comparison Stages Cycling and PowerTap?

While I'm not the sort of weekend racer that merits a power meter on the bike, I can appreciate the data collection that goes along with targeted training.





On a team ride last month, guest rider, Jake Sitler of Haymarket/ Van Dessel Racing, was talking about the build up of training he was doing to prepare for racing at Redlands. Heavy blocks of training, sticking to the structure of hitting your numbers during each and every training ride can turn a cyclist into a head down, Chris Froome kind of guy. That's what I got from Sitler's conversation he was having with Skip Menard, as I was huffing up a hill in front of those two.

The takeaway of Skip's talk with Jake is that there are times during a race when you are going to burn more matches than what you want to. And there are times when you might be trying to reserve some matches because your power meter on your bike is telling you to throttle back. To paraphrase what Skip was explaining-- the next match you burn, having only a few left, might burn longer than you expect, and not striking it due to be a conservative slave to the data collection unit on your handlebar, could mean victory or 14th place for the day's race. Skip is the most prophetic cyclist I've ridden with.



The Stages crank based power meter seems to be making some inroads for the racers in my world. Being a guy that likes simple things, this non-drive side crank arm application has me very interested in data collection should I ever go down that dark, dark hole of wanting a power meter on any of my bikes. Notice I said WANTED, not NEEDED. This lovely arm was in stock at Uptown Cycles in Charlotte, NC. Check them out if you're in the Queen City doing some of that bike stuff you like.

Last year, I was contacted by a tall, Bianchi Fan who was in the market for an Oltre XR and ran across a post of my photos on a forum. Stoked to find another tall rider out there, he hammered out an email of questions for me, hoping to validate the size and the purchase of his Oltre XR. We've been come man-sized buds ever since.

Anyway, tall guy emails me this week, still gushing over his Oltre and also sharing with me his latest video edit which covers a Stages Cycling power meter and a PowerTap meter being compared on the same ride- telemetry overlaid on top of his GoPro footage. If you have 36 minutes to watch all of this, you'll get the picture.

Regardless, there's differences between the Stages and the PowerTap readings as there should be. The level of strain gauges at the rear hub is more complex than the crank based version and you have forces between your pedals and hub, that affects the hubs ability to measure and react accordingly. Like chain movement, tire squish/bump absorption, when rocking the bike out of the saddle. In my opinion, the Stages would be a more consistent measuring device over the PowerTap and easier to use on the road bike-to-the-cyclocross bike. Not everyone wants to use a PM laced up to only one wheel for training and racing and Stages is half the cost of a PT- seems to be the buzz of conversation I'm hearing.



None the less, it's pretty neat what this guy did to compare the two power measuring devices on one ride. At the end of the day, it's your choice on which power measuring device is best for you. 

All the best to his season of racing and riding!
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