What Power Meter Format Is Best On The Mountain Bike

Greetings All,

I just recently found the podcast and am addicted; such great stuff!
I have a two part question about using a power meter on a mountain bike.
First, what format do riders find to be the most durable. I have a pedal system on my road bike and a crank arm system on my cross bike. Both have been really solid.
For mountain biking I ride in New England and our trails are laden with lots of rocks and roots. My Time ATAC pedals look pretty ratty after two seasons but they work fine. Not sure how a pedal power system would hold up. Then again the ends of the crank arms are heavily scuffed too. I have a 2x non boost frame so a spider system it out.

The second part of the question is how practical is it to even have a power meter on a mountain bike?Our terrain here is really varied with lots of steep punchy climbs over 16%. But, it’s rare to find climbs that are longer than 15’. This varied terrain along with the technical are often what dictates power. Sticking to and interval workout even using +/- 5 watts on either side of a target seems tricky. But, I haven’t yet tried it.

With the possibility to now move workouts outside, I’d like to move them to my favorite discipline. Thoughts?


Clearly, a crank-based power meter is most durable. It is protected by the cranks, the pedals and everything else.

Are you using a 2x or is the frame 2x?

If you are on a 1x, you should be able to use e. g. a Rotor InPower or 2InPower power meter, for example. Although I do not see why Rotor’s InSpider power meter does not fit. Or if you have Shimano 2x cranks, you should be able to send them in to 4iiii or Stages to have a power meter fitted to the left crankarm.

Power is useful for many reasons. You could use it to train or to gauge your efforts on longer rides and races. Or just to collect accurate TSS data.


I typically default to crank based, but getting 170mm Hollowgram with power wasn’t happening. Instead I put a Power2Max NGeco on my Scalpel. I really like it.

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Crank based every time. I wouldn’t get a singled sided PM as it produces to many data spikes in my experience.

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  • Do you mean Spider based power meter? Ones like Quarq, Power2Max, SRM and such.

  • Admittedly, it’s confusing since “Crank” power might relate to a meter placed on any of the 3 main locations of the “crank”: Crank Arm, Crank Spindle, Crank Spider

  • Since you mention single-sided as a concern, there are multiple options that are or are not SS power data. Crank Arm can be either Single or Double. Most Spindle options are Single only, and most Spider systems are Full (similar to double, but don’t offer true Left/Right tracking).

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Just made my first foray into power meter on an mtb - I have garmin pedals on my road bike and did consider converting them to use on my mtb but instead opted for a 4iiii single sided crank power meter.
I know reviews aren’t brilliant of the Precision 3 but I think it totally depends what you want out of it.
All I wanted was the ability to very occasionally perform outside workouts on my mtb, and when riding generally have a better view of the effort involved. As AI and TrainerRoad adaptions improve I felt this was important.
If you’re wanting to run all your workouts on your mtb and need better accuracy then you may find a spindle type power meter is better suited. I think you get what you pay for and I understand a 4iiii meter is at the budget end and have set my expectations based on this bit for my needs it ticks the boxes.


Just to clarify then, spider based power meter.

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I’ve been using the Garmin XC pedals and swapping them between my MB and my gravel bike. I love them. I live and ride tech trails in BC so lots of mud, roots, rocks, gnar, drops etc. I’ve had them for over a year now with no issues.

Full disclosure, I’m not at the pointy end of a race (I call them ‘events’ myself) and I’m not fussed if there is some margin of error. I use them for pacing longer steady state events - gravel races, marathon MB etc - to prevent myself from blowing up early in the ‘event’ or on longer climbs. So I don’t really care if I’m doing 240 w vs 250 w for 20 minutes, I just don’t want to be doing 350w. So far so good!


I give my vote to Quarq. I am running XX1 cranks with power meter on my two MTBs (as I did on another one I sold last year) and they didn’t ever skip a beat. Very solid, reliable and work really long with a coin cell (which can be replaced on-trail).

I have used a Powe2Max spider based power meter for over 2 years (single sided) and it has been great. I use P2 Pedals on my road bike but was concerned that MTB SPD pedals are not quite there yet.

I am in the process of changing my bike and going from Sram to Shimano can’t swap that power meter so I am going for a left sided crank Stages XTR so as not to have to change chainrings, also it has the added advantage of being lighter and more discreet. Time wil tell though.

Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses everyone. FWIW I’m on a 2012 Pivot 429c. It was designed for 2x. Spider or spindle power systems seem the best suited for MTB but I’m running an XT 7850 double.
Think I’ll contact stages and see if they can fit the left arm or if any current left crank arms would work.


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That’s a nice bike. When I was in Chile my tour guide rented me a later version of the same model, and that was an amazing bike. Very, very capable, very quick.

4iiii’s and Stages’ sensor pods are quite small, but still, make sure you have enough clearance in advance. I am sure their support will help you here. But I don’t see any obstacle, your cranks is already a Hollowtech 2 crank, so their sensor pods should be compatible — provided you have the clearance.

Spider power meters are nice for 3 reasons:

  1. Protected by everything else
  2. Full power - not single sided
  3. Many auto-calibrate, so you don’t need to worry about calibrating at the start of a ride or anything else.

Might be worth seeing if there is a direct mount crankset that supports 2x non-boost, get aPower2Max (gets rave reviews here and from @dcrainmaker and @GPLama ), and have a great long term setup…