Power meter vs better trainer


Some background: I’m currently using an old bike (with Campag) on a Tacx Vortex for TR. Even with calibrating before (well, after the warm-up) each ride it feels the power/resistance can vary quite a lot from ride to ride, e.g. similar sweet-spot workouts sometimes feel very easy and sometimes impossible in a way that I don’t think is down to other things (like freshness, nutrition etc). And this is very frustrating. So, I’m considering two options. Either (a) a one-sided pedal PM and using powermatch for TR workouts or (b) get a mid-range direct-drive trainer. Obviously this wouldn’t give me power outdoors but would likely be a better TR experience.

I’m asking then for thoughts on powermatch and whether it makes for a decent TR experienced matched with something like a Tacx Vortex. Or if you had the choice would you go for a direct-drive trainer. Any views on this or better ideas welcome!

Save and get both? Left side power meters don’t go for much at all I just sold one on eBay for peanuts.

Do you want to be able to use ERG mode as well?
If so, Elite Direto, Tacx Flux or Wahoos Kickr Core might be what you’re looking at. Also Elite Suito received great reviews, I think even from DCRainmaker. Maybe you can find one of them used.

If not, you might want to look at sth. like the Elite Kura. It has a PM installed and is super reliable, and besides doesn’t require power supply for that.
The only drawback is that ERG is missing, so you’ll have to shift gears or change cadence to adapt required power output. But that can also be a great thing, especially for very short intervals.
You may want to check the following as well, there has been a related discussion already:
Best Dumb Trainers

For me, I feel that training according to power is great. At the same time riding outside according to RPE is also great, so I’m not really missing a powermeter outside.

Lots of threads on here for power meter vs smart trainer, if you want more opinions.

I’d go for a power meter it just gives you more options.


A reliable power meter gets my vote as it can be used outside too.

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Will you ride this bike outside? If yes, I would say PM. If you’re never going to take it outside, I’d save up for a good trainer since it sounds like yours has issues with consistency.

My initial thought are power meter because you can have consistent power both inside and out. However if your trainer has a hard time holding power now in ERG mode I don’t think that is something that power match is necessarily going to cure. Power match is just going to tell it to use a different power source. It could very likely struggle to hold consistent power with the powermeter in power match too.
So if the money invested is more about solving the annoyance of your current indoor training situation than buying a better trainer might be a better solution.
Another option is a powermeter and a good dumb trainer like a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. No ERG benefits but also no ERG issues either.


Thanks for the replies all. The vortex seems consistent within a session, so I went for the Vector 3s pedals. Was interesting to compare the Vortex and the Vector readings. After re-calibrating when very warmed-up, the trainer and the pedals agreed very well at between about 180-240w, but diverged increasingly as power went up, with the Vector over-reporting power greatly in the high 300s. Also, they seemed to come apart as cadence increased (at the same power).

Anyway, it’ll be good now not stressing about calibrating and if I’m struggling I’ll know it’s my fault and not the trainer! (And equally if it’s going well that’s good and I don’t have to think it’s probably that the trainer was over-reporting today!)