Power Meter or Smart Trainer? Only want to purchase one or the other. Talk me out of one of them

I’ve been using virtual power with a Kinetic Rock-n-Roll + dedicated trainer bike for 6 years now. It has been working for me and I have seen improvements in fitness. But I’ve been considering making things a little more accurate and possibly upping my game a bit.

I try my best to make sure that I always use the same settings from session to session but worry that there is some inaccuracy that could be hurting my progress. I try to control for tire pressure and pressure of the resistance unit on the wheel as best I can but I know that there is always some difference from workout to workout. I’m also using Bluetooth connections and there is that BT lag with virtual power. My VO2 max workouts always record low, but I’m not sure if that is me wimping out or the tech that I’m using.

My options are:

  1. Staying with the “dumb trainer” and purchasing two power meters. I’m most likely going to get Power2Max meters. One for my dedicated trainer bike and one for my gravel/cross/road bike.

I like this idea because it is the cheapest option, I like the challenge of hitting and holding power targets on my indoor workouts, and having the same PM means that I can use my indoor FTP when riding outdoors.

Using a crank based PM will give me accurate numbers from workout to workout. I also like how the P2M meters automatically calibrate. This is one less step I need to do before do my workouts where I’m already time crunched before work. I’m pushing it as it is and barely making it to work on-time most days as it is and adding an extra step to calibrate before/during every workout is just an added annoyance for me.

My only real reservation is that the PM that I purchase for my dedicated trainer bike wouldn’t be able to be used with any of my other bikes if for some reason that bike bit the dust.

  1. Purchasing a smart trainer and getting a P2M meter for my cross/gravel/road bike. I’m leaning towards a Kickr Core or Tacx Neo 2/2T as of now but could be swayed to get whatever the majority recommends.

I like this idea for the addition of erg mode. I’d have to hit my numbers especially on VO2 workouts where I typically underperform. It would force me to up my game. It’s also not too much more expensive than option one when I factor in the discount I get at my bike shop. I can also use it with more than one bike if for some reason my dedicated trainer bike dies. Both trainers also don’t require daily calibration. Wahoo recommends every two week, although I’d most likely do it every Saturday when I have time, and the Neo never needs it.

Drawbacks. 1. Not sure if my indoor FTP can be used outdoors because of the differences in the way the two PMs would be recording. 2. My issues with VO2 max workouts and I worry that I will have the spiral of death because of low cadence but I have a feeling that this is pretty much a non issue as most people use erg mode when doing VO2 max workouts. 3. Durability is my last concern. I want something that can last with routine maintenance.

I need help in deciding. I’m beginning to think that neither option is better and right now I’m leaning towards one but a good argument could lean me the other way.

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