I don't need a power meter

I am a recreational cyclist. I don’t race and don’t plan on it. I have roughly 500 to burn and really want to get a power meter. I train indoors during the week on a smart trainer and ride outdoors mostly club rides on the weekends. Thinking about it though why would I need a pm other than being able to look at my power numbers outside
So what do you all think?

Do you want to kick asses generally or specifically. If you want to be specific about it you need a PM, otherwise dont bother.

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If you’re not going to train with it, especially on your outdoor rides since you use a smart trainer inside, then don’t bother getting it. It would not serve a purpose. Get some nice new tires, or a new Garmin head unit and call it a day.

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Power meters can be useful for pacing a climb or getting accurate data post-ride, especially caloric expenditure.

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Until I bought a power meter I would of had the same thought. I am 59 and dont race either. I find them useful when I go to a different area with long climbs. Helps to keep the power sustainable. Riding into the wind it definitely lets you know how hard you can ride into the wind. Benefits are both inside and outside. Well worth it from my perspective.

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:+1: This.

I do use my PM as a tool to get faster but yes, it’s also great for keeping climbs sustainable. I also like it for monitoring my output on the front of a group ride. It has also made the wind a non-factor to me. Rather than get frustrated with it, I just ride into winds at a sustainable level and pay it no mind beyond that.

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Applying stress to the 3 energy systems can be done with out a PM. Or a HR monitor. So no one needs a PM. Including pro’s. It is just another tool to quantify stress. With that said, perhaps you can find value over time better understanding your strengths and weaknesses while group riding. Sort of real a world validation of your indoor training which I assume you’re doing to become faster for group riding.

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I don’t have a PM on my outside bikes. I get by fine, but I’d classify myself as a recreational cyclist also. I do some races, but the only person I’m competing with is myself.

I’ve thought about what would change if I was to get a PM. I think the biggest thing is it would be interesting data for me to look at after my rides. I don’t think it would change my training. Perhaps it might change my pacing for long rides - although it would take some time to calibrate the IF I can ride at for different durations.

If I had one outside bike, maybe I’d get one. But I ride three bikes over the course of the year, and am not keen on buying either three PMs or moving one PM between bikes.

So for now I’ll continue to just use power when riding indoors on my smart trainer.

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I truly enjoy geeking out over power planning with things like bestbikesplit.com, and checking PRs, and seeing my numbers grow. Does having a PM outdoors make me faster? That’s pretty questionable, if there are gains they are marginal, but to me it adds to the fun of the sport. I’m also pretty inexperienced, I’m only two seasons into cycling, so power helps me be consistent and not let my enthusiasm run away with my legs on race day. I personally will always ride outdoors with power, but you will do absolutely fine without it.

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Also good for pacing your pulls to know that you are maintaining the appropriate pace for the group.

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I don’t like spending money on things that don’t give me actionable data. If you’re just gonna ride with your club in the future just like you do now, don’t waste the money. Knowing that you averaged 180W one week and 174 the next and 192 the next will be nothing more than a “Huh, neat” to you. If all you’re doing is riding with the group, that’s not any more useful than the amount of squirrels you pass.

Now, if you get to the point where you want to do more structured training outdoors, or you want to break away from your group and do it at a pace that you can hold for 10 minutes, now the PM is useful, as it will give you info that affects what you do.

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I was of the same mindset, but bought power meter peddles so I could travel with them and train more consistently when on the road. I thought they’d be a gimmick outdoors as a non-competitive rider, but nope, I’m totally sold, they help me pace myself so much better than I used to. If I were only allowed to see 1 thing on the head unit during a cycle it would be power.

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Hi I’m interested in cycling but not THAT interested.

I want to know SOME stuff but not TOO much.

Get the powermeter

What motivates you on these group rides? Why are you on TR to get faster? How do you get feedback or confidence that you are getting faster?

We all buy lots of things we really don’t need. If you want a power meter and you can afford it. Then buy it!

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I was in a similar position to you up until about 15 months ago. Did some structured indoor riding on a smart trainer, my outdoor riding was mostly fairly unstructured group rides and races. Always wanted a PM, but there was always something more pressing to spend my money on.

Eventually got one. Definitely hasn’t been a major game changer, but I do like having it. I don’t look at power a huge amount when riding in groups, but can be useful for club rides even if you don’t race e.g. pacing up a hill, or for keeping steady power when doing turns on the front. Can also help you try to add a bit more structure to your rides if it’s possible to do so within the etiquette of the group. The post-ride analysis is pretty useful - quantifying effort such as TSS and time spent in zones, which can then feed into how you approach the rest of your training and recovery. I think it gives a much better idea of what my power curve looks like, as you’re actually pushing to the max as opposed to pushing to a target power as prescribed by the workout - nearly all the PRs on my power curve come from outdoor rides.

I’m in the “you don’t need it” camp. You can do pacing with a HR monitor. You can even do very effective structured training outside with an HR monitor. I’d say to only buy it when you want to get more serious with training.

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You don’t need it.

I ride with 2 very fast Cat 1 frequent podium guys (XCO and CX) and neither of them have power meters. They do ride with power on their trainers but don’t worry about it outside. I hoped that me having a PM would really close the gap between them and me but they are insanely fast and have no interest in PM’s for their outdoor bikes.

Puts things into perspective for me when I consider buying the latest and greatest whatever.

Want? Sure…need, likely not.

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Like the OP, I’m a recreational cyclist and TR subscriber who has never raced and likely never will. For one thing, I’m 78, and can’t think of who I’d race or why. I just ride to stay healthy, have fun, and see where I can still go on two wheels at my age. And it’s for the outdoor riding that my power meter has become nearly indispensable, although I wouldn’t have guessed that a few years back — I would have assumed “oh that gadget is only for young racers.” But the young racers — e.g. Pete and Amber — are not actually checking their power numbers while racing — they’re laser-focused on the race itself, as they say. It’s us old guys — old pacers — who just want to get home on their own steam who can really use a power meter to guage that. Others here have mentioned the power meter as a pacing tool. I’m going to add Planning tool as another prime reason for a recreational cyclist to get and use a power meter — if your riding includes the occasional challenge. Here’s my for-instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxyzxlrc2WA

I’m lucky to live a couple hours drive from Mt Baker and the stunningly beautiful stretch of steep windy alpine road up to Artist Point. I knew people got up there on bikes but politely excused myself because of the car traffic — tourists and skiers all intent on killing an old man on a bicycle. But in 2018 some enthusiasts revived the Mt Baker Hill Climb — and arranged a 5-hour road closure to accomodate it, so my Too Dangerous excuse was gone. The event was only a few weeks away so the question became whether it was just a fantasy for this old guy or whether I had any reasonable chance of actually making it.

I got out the wonderful maps. It’s longer than Alpe d’Huez, with more gain, and though never as steep is just as relentless for the last 10+miles. I pored through my numbers from a couple years messing with TR on dumb trainer with virtual power, supplemented by a year of numbers from outside rides after I got a power meter. I googled Sheldon Brown tables on gearing, cadence, grade, etc. After a lot of head-scratching it turned out that theoretically I could get up those 4000 feet in time, if I went slow enough — and could still keep the bike upright. And I remembered of all people Coach Chad talking about this very problem after his Alps trip, going slow enough not to blow up, without falling over. I practiced this on nearby hills to know exactly what it would feel like to stay within sustainable power at that cadence and speed. I couldn’t extrapolate everything, but a lot of it I could.

The power meter is what connected a scary ride I’d never actually done with all the riding I had actually done. It allowed me to plan rather than wish — not with certainty, but with high probability — and precisely because I was not racing others, just riding up the physics of this mountain with my physiology, both of them pretty well mapped. A lot of uncertainty of course remained — the weather, which can change wildly up there, and whatever the altitude would add to the challenge. But planning instead of just hoping / fearing reduced a lot of the anxiety. I might not make it if x or y or z happened, but I was not simply an old fool who of course was going to have to be rescued a couple miles up the mountainside and shoulda known better.

There are no doubt dozens of other old coots on this forum with a lifetime of experience who would know by “feel” exactly how to pace themselves on the first easier part of this climb. I’m a latecomer, and dependent on the experience of others and on gadgets. If I’d gone by how I felt — full of carbs and adrenalin at 7 in the morning, “just great!" — I’d have raced off with folks a third my age and likely not have made it at all to the real climb. Instead I just tortoised along at what you all and my power meter assured me would get me up there, surely if slowly. When the real climb started, it was hard but doable, the weather lifted, and I could even enjoy the scenery. Not even dead last, and in plenty of time to enjoy the wheee! down the mountain before the road opened and the rain started.

Sorry to go on so long. But yes, a power meter has uses other than generating numbers to brag about or to help me crush you in competition (ha!). In this case it helped a real old man really climb a real old mountain without too much fuss and get home again on his own steam. Of course a bit of bad luck — weather, flats, a mechanical — could have made the outcome different. But barring bad luck I knew before I started that I’d likely be able to do my part OK— thanks to the data, the power meter, and the practice — and that was huge in deciding to try.

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@oldcrank you nailed it with your eloquent description and planned execution. You made my day! I’m a tiny bit younger than you (70) but participate in a couple century rides a year. My goal is to finish the ride and not be the last one. So far so good for the past 8 years since I started riding my bike again. For me a power meter is as important as my garmin, or my bike for that matter. I’ve been using TR for the past ~2 years which has been a mammoth help in improving my fitness and endurance. The power meter both inside and outside is a must for me. Like you I realize I can’t keep up with these young farts in their 50s (and younger) who use TR , but occasionally I pass a few riders younger than me that most assuredly don’t use TR. And when I do it sure feels good.

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