Wednesday, February 17, 2010

iBike Power Meter

As a Certified USA Cycling Power Based Training Coach, I'm often asked what the best power meter on the market is. And, as usual, I give them the standard reply, "it depends". It depends on:
a. how much you want to spend
b. how often you're going to use it
c. under what conditions you'll use it (most often)
d. whether you want to be able to move it from bike to bike
e. what you want it to do/tell you
f. what added features, other than power, you want it to read. i.e. elevation/altitude, GPS, etc.
g. what precision/accuracy you're looking for
h. whether you want to train and/or race with it
i. how simple an install you're looking at
j. etc.
I don't have the time (or space on this blog) to review each Power Meter (PM) on the market and tell you the pros and cons of each. If you want a good review of what's currently out there, check out this Wikipedia page: It sums it up pretty nicely.
Now, if you want my opinion on what I think are the "best bang for the buck" PMs on the market I'd have to say it's the Saris/Cycleops Power Tap and the iBike Pro PM. As far as price is concerned, the Power Tap is middle of the road (est. $2,000) and the iBike is the least expensive of the bunch (est. <$1,000). If money was no issue (and I can't see where that's ever the case...unless you're independently wealthy) I'd choose the SRM Power Meter (est. $3,000) (gotta love German Engineering- there is no better).
Ok, lets start with the Power Tap (which I own by-the-way). What I like about the PT is that it's pretty much "plug and play". Since the power meter is integrated into the wheel hub, you just throw the wheel on the back of the bike, install a speed and cadence sensor, setup the head unit and away you go. You can ride the PT in all kinds of weather and there is no re-calibration or messing with settings once it's initially setup. Pretty simple!
The iBike (which I also own) on the other hand..takes a little bit more setup time...and a little bit more tweaking once it's setup to get it "dialed-in". Once "dialed-in" however, the iBike is just as accurate as the Power a few watts during a group ride or race. On training rides, I ride with my Power Tap wheel and my iBike Head Unit. After the ride, I do an iBike/Power Tap comparison with the FREE iBike software. The results are almost identical. If you don't believe me..I'll send you my files and you can see for yourself. Even during a race, when you're drafting the pack or sticking your nose out front..the iBike reads almost identical to the Power Tap. That's pretty impressive (I think) for a sub $1000 Power Meter. Although, the entry level iSport sells for $200..I recommend the iPro (MSRP $700) or iAero (MSRP $800). They just have more features and are more accurate than the iSport. Plus, if you're one of the athletes I coach..I can get you an iPro or an iAero at a substantial cost savings...cha-ching!
Hey, don't just listen to what the experts are saying about the iBike. Here's a recent article in Velo News: In addition to this article, visit the iBike website and click on the News articles they have: Also check out Professional Cycling Team DLPs power files in the archives.
Lastly, there is no other company that I know of- period..that will give you the customer support that iBike will...NONE! From the CEO right down to the Pros that are racing with them every weekend of the racing season. That is in addition to the iBike forum with thousands of online owners who are willing to help you with anything you don't understand about your NEW iBike. And, since I own one..I can also give you some good advice/suggestions. If you're an athlete that I coach, I'll even help you set it up for FREE. So, lets see...FREE 24 hr customer support, FREE software, FREE help in setup...all for well under $1000.
And, trust me, I don't make a dime off of iBike sales. I'm just happy to help people start training and racing with Power. Power ON! Coach Rob

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