Does a power meter for a MTB makes sense based on your location?

Hi there,

I’m using a Kickr for my indoor training sessions and I have a Power2Max power meter on my Canyon road bike. I usually ride the Kickr during the week following a structured training plan and venture outside on the weekend with my road or mountain bike. While riding the road bike, I use the power data to pace myself. However I don’t follow a strict workout riding outdoors. I currently don’t have a power meter on my mountain bike, but I’m thinking about it for a while.
In my mind, it would make absolutely sense to invest in a mountain bike PM when you live in an area with long climbs/mountains or if you ride for long hours on roads or fire roads with your mountain bikes.
We live in South-Central Texas and I’m (unfortunately) not planning to ride Leadville 100 this year. That means no long climbs and no longer endurance rides on the MTB this year (hopefully next year again). I would most likely ride some local trails and I’m not sure about the use of a power meter for these rides. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to get a valid TSS on these rides with a power meter. However I’m not sure if this would warrant an investment in a power meter. Power data most likely jumps around like crazy with constant on/off type riding.
What are your thoughts?

That variability is not a reason to disqualify it from review. If anything, having more accurate tracking of that data is more necessary and useful than more linear and predictable riding like on the road.

It all comes down to looking at things like TSS, peak power at various time intervals. You can analyze and learn what your true needs are and then apply proper training and pacing (in some cases) to execute a better race or event.

Bottom line, info that is possible and worthwhile of review, even if it’s not “perfect and steady”.


So I’m about to pull the trigger for a Quarq XX1 powermeter for my MTB. That being said, I have a Kickr Snap and no road bike. I want power to backup my Kickr Snap numbers (power match as well) and to use when I want to do TrainerRoad workouts outside (aerobic and endurance rides). Furthermore, I like having an accurate TSS for all my outdoor rides. Lastly, I race XCO, XCM and some MTB 100s. I want power for all my post race analysis.

For me it makes plenty of sense and the decision is easy. Plus I have this money from Santa that’s burning a hole in my pocket.

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The TSS for your MTB rides will still be lower than expected, since your NP will probably not match the same type of effort on the road (as measured by HR response). As discussed on the podcast, it is really hard to really gauge MTB stress since it really depends on the terrain. That said, once you learn how to really scan through the power file it is helpful to understand how you should be optimizing your training. The TR analytics really help with analyzing a MTB power file, since you can tease out those hard efforts (say 30 s at X watts).

What I really notice is it helps me critique if I’m actually keeping on the gas over the top of a hill, or really trying to power out of those slow speed turns. Its crazy to see how much the watts can drop off as the hill starts to flatten out and you aren’t on top of your gear changes.


I purchased a PM for my MTB just a few months ago for the main reason of wanting to more properly analyze race data. I do a lot of the same races year to year and I figure this will give me a good idea of what power targets I need to be hitting for specific racing and what kind of efforts I’ll be doing. I don’t have any sustained climbs where I live either, so during the ride I’m not looking at the power data very often. I do like to see the IF at times though. But for me, it’s mostly for post analyzing.


Just did my first ride on my MTB with Quarq PM on XX1 Eagle cranks. Holy cow the NP, I.F., TSS etc are vastly different from road ride. Didn’t expect those numbers to be that different from road when my Avg HR for nearly 3 hrs on my MTB was 155/my max hr ever recorded was 186.


On the fence about getting a PM for MTB since I know TSS will be understated. Am I better off just going by RPE and estimating TSS manually, or using hrTSS? How has your experience been Fetier?

Hey all, mostly a roadie but love CX and have started doing some XC. Having fun so far, working out on the road and working on skills on mtb days.

Interested in opinions about adding a power meter to the XC bike. Can’t imagine actually looking at it during an XC race but would be interesting after the fact. More interested in doing some structured work on the mtb.

Found a bunch of info about which PM options work on mtb groupsets but not a lot about how people are using the data. Thoughts?

@RightSaidFred , I moved your post under a very similar one with good comments.

I know the TR crew has discussed power use on MTB a bit too, but would need to search to find those mentions.

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You most certainly can, and that data is immensely useful.

Also fun to have just riding local trails. The vast majority of MTBers do not have power meters, and watching them blow up from bad pacing is very entertaining.

It’s definitely worth adding to the MTB, especially for training sessions and analysing races.

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I’ve been considering getting a power meter for my MTB. Mostly held off due to cost, I’m semi-retired so not a lot of money coming in. I’ve a 4iiii PM on the road bike so I’ll likely get the XT version for the MTB.

I’ve been doing some workouts outdoors on one or other of them (I’ve three!) but going by RPE, I do use a HRM. What’s interesting is that Strava’s “estimated power” is pretty close to what I’d be riding at anyway. OK, Strava’s algorithm is most likely aimed at riding a road bike on tarmac rather than a single speed fat bike up a snow covered field that’s been churned up by horses :joy: but even so I’d say it was within a couple of percent. I’ve done rides on consistent flat terrain like a canal tow path and also got reasonable figures so I’m reasonably confident in my interpretation of RPE.

As @team_bunty says, being able to pace yourself, especially when that competitive instinct kicks in, is a big plus.

MTB does tend to have to have some very spiky power requirements - things like short rock steps that need 6 or 7 * FTP for a second or so.

I have a Quarq PM on my XC bike for 2 years. It’s great for targeting outdoor workouts and getting accurate TSS/power levels for trail riding. It’s definitely beneficial when I race XCMs and critical for MTB 100s for pacing. Additionally, post race analysis is invaluable as I’ve learned what my power needs are, which were different than what I thought. Lastly, looking at my power when races have gone good or bad provides areas for improvement.


I have a quarq PM for my mtb too. I have never yet been in a race situation where I’d pace by power or even want to look at it at all, but to each his or her own and im sure that’s terrain dependent to some extent. That said it is nonetheless valuable for training and analysis applications.

One other thing is the more time you spend on the MTB, the more valuable it becomes. If I just had a trail bike that I ride every two weeks, I’m not sure if bother. But I’m on mine at least two or three times a week.

I put a PM on all my bikes. Mostly because I am a data whore and I did get a couple of the PM’s at a good price (my XC race bike came with one) when my friend owned a bike shop.

Do I need them? No. I race primarily on feel. I look at my HR to confirm how I feel, and the power number seems to mostly back up the other two data points. TSS doesn’t matter to me, just another interesting data point.

I do have big climbs. One of my loops has a 2 hour climb (listed KOM time). One of my local races has a 1 hour climb (listed KOM time). On both of those I ride them by feel only.

My main trail bike is a 170mm, 40 pound machine (that 2 hour climb is actually 3 hours on that bike) but I will occasionally do intervals on it with power. I really wish I could say that the PM is useful for me, but so far I have found it to be of little help at all, except for curiosity. I use the road bike the most and only find power to be useful for structure. Occasionally I will use the numbers to try and tackle a Strava KOM or something, but most of the time I could probably just pace by feel and be just as good.

The numbers are probably interesting on my friends videos.