Cycleops Powercal With Heart Rate
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- Calculates in watts and kilojoules based on the user's heart rate
- Displays power on any existing ANT+ compatible power computer display or watch
- Uses the same units of measure across a variety of disciplines or cross-training activities
- Does NOT include ANT (USB) stick
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|Are Batteries Included||—||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Are Batteries Required||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Color||Black||Black||Blue, White, Black||Black||—|
|Item Dimensions||5 x 1 x 5 in||5.51 x 2.75 x 2.24 in||4.72 x 6.69 x 0.91 in||3 x 2.74 x 2.5 in||4.72 x 6.69 x 0.91 in|
|Item Weight||—||3.2 ounces||—||3.53 ounces||1.92 ounces|
|Lithium-Battery Packaging||—||Batteries contained in equipment||Batteries contained in equipment||Batteries contained in equipment||Batteries contained in equipment|
|Size||Sensors||—||one size fits all||universal||—|
Power meters are a great way to train...if you have a spare grand or two laying around. Fortunately, for those of us of more modest means, there's the CycleOps Powercal. This innovative little computer uses your heart rate and a special algorithm to determine how much power you're putting out. And the best part is, it costs about 1/10th of a traditional power meter. Just pair it with your power-meter compatible cycling computer and you're good to go. World's first-ever power meter calculated from heart rate gives you easy to use, accurate power data Displays your wattage output without needing to modify any components on your bicycle Displays real data in real time to aid in your training Easy to install, set up and maintain Multisport functionality lets you get consistent measurements across different sport activities ANT+ compatibility lets you pair with any ANT+ display or computer capable of supporting a power meter
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I was really confused with how it could possibly work, but basically it uses heart rate VARIATION and probably the actual number to come up with a power value based on an algorithm developed by analyzing hundreds (maybe thousands?) of data files from various athletes to correlate heart rate + variation to actual power. When your heart rate goes up, you will see your power spike, when it is going down, you will see the power go down and even down to zero as your heart rate continues to drop. If Garmin is able to come up with their own algorithm, I think they could essentially make this product obsolete... they could do the calcualation within a head unit, like a garmin 500, and also use way more variables (speed/grade etc.) to come up with a great algorithm that would probably be way more accurate.
I naturally have a heart rate on the higher end of the scale during intense exercise(I can average near 180 for 2+ hours), and I believe my power is exaggerated with this device with what is actual. However, using this device as a training tool, I can compare my efforts across rides and see improvement/gauge how hard I went. This device is much less useful during a ride, except to maybe see the average power over the entire ride. I have found the 3s and 5s average power to even be useless, since it jumps around way too erratically to try to use that as a pacing guide. The overall ride average power though will at least give you some idea of how hard you have been going. Since the feedback is not immediate, it is particularly not a good tool for short intervals, although maybe for longer 10-20min efforts, using a lap average might come in handy.
I did take this device on a ride where I essentially "blew up" with cramps during a very hot ride, and my heart rate was sky high until I was able to get back to sufficient hydration. I would say that this device was definitely very inaccurate during this time, as I could barely turn over the pedals, yet the power was still very high due to my heart rate being abnormally high for the power I was putting out due to the environmental conditions. Which is why I approach this device more of as an effort meter at times, than a power meter.
Overall, I would say this product, for it's cost, is a great addition if you aren't looking to drop the $1k-2k for a true power meter, as an introduction into training with power. I would equate it to a heart rate monitor on steroids. But I would weigh its limitations in your decision for purchasing. If you need to use it for pacing purposes, I would say using straight heart rate might be better for pacing (and of course a true power meter will trump all), while using a long average of the power (10m-20m) might give you some indication of effort. However, 3s-5s power for pacing with this device is pretty useless since it is not consistent and has way too much variability.
Great introduction to training with power
Heart rate monitor on steroids
Cost (compared to alternatives)
Nothing like it on the market
Useless for short intervals (due to heart rate lag)
Bad 3s/5s power data, can't be used for that type of pacing
If your heart rate is behaving abnormally due to environment/extreme fatigue, expect numbers to be off also
I typically log 70-80 miles per week across 3 different bikes (my 16lb road bike, a back up road bike for towing a 2yr old, and my "questionable parenting" drop bar converted mountain bike that i also tow him behind) I have done a decent amount of research and realized that i wanted to start some power-based training .The cheapest power meter would be "stages" at $700x3 bikes (until 4iiii comes out at half the price). There was just no way i was spending that.
I have to say that this thing is pretty accurate. It has allowed me to calculate my ftp and do some serious (ok semi serious) zone training. I have watched my power improve over the last several months. Although the power number jumps around a lot, you can do a kind of "quick average" to roughly know what you are putting out. It is great to see a number that represents what you can hold, either on a road bike powering down a hill or towing 100 pounds up a dirt trail fighting a head wind... That number is the same. Just pretty much stay there. Again, you are averaging tons of numbers being thrown at you.
I look forward to riding next to a buddy of mine (who owns a stages) when the weather gets warmer. The plan is to do some side by side rides (or sprint) at 1,5,15,40 and 100 miles and compare numbers (after doing the math on our different weights of course).
I will update with some actual numbers when this happens.
In the meantime i will look forward to training with this "power meter" and heart rate monitor.
Sync'd up to my garmin 500 with no problems.
So.... I needed to replace the 15 year old crank on my craigslist backup bike which forced me down a rabbit hole. I was looking at 200 bucks plus 50 or so for the bottom bracket (converting it to gxp to match my sram red cannondale) when a buddy sent me a link to a 400 dollar sale on STAGES power meters. For 40 dollars extra, they sent me the full crank, bottom bracket, and power meter. I now have all the parts to update the backup bike and swap power meters between the two. 200 dollars for a brand new direct force powermeter was not a bad deal i thought.
Power meter came yesterday, so popped it on the cannondale and hooked it up to the trainer. 45mins ago i figured i would start test #1.
Wearing the powercal and dumping that data into the garmin, while throwing stages into Zwift via an Ant+ dongle and laptop, i started my ride. The goal was to only watch the Stages data, while averaging 240ish watts (with some gradual dips and surges along the way) for 30 minutes, then compare numbers. Stages registered 245W and Powercal 241W! Yes that is only a FOUR watt difference (chart attached). This 59 dollar meter is now even more impressive.
Tomorrow will be test #2.
45 minute trainer session with intervals of varying lengths
I have done a side-by-side comparison of this unit with the Kinetic inRide on my Road Machine Trainer(accuracy +/- 1%) and the Powercal is usually about 10 to 12kW below the inRide for the Avg power of a workout. Not too bad.
One other thing I noticed that when your heart rate doesn't increase as normal for a given workout(usually a sign of overtraining and time for recovery), then the power measure is affected as well and the readings are lower than normal. Makes sense since it is based on HR. Where with a real power meter the power would most likely be higher(considering you are working as hard) and just your heart rate would be lower.
Now that I have a baseline for this unit from comparing it with my inRide trainer, I can transfer that to my outdoor rides without a very expensive power meter. So if you want power with a little less investment this may work for you.
If you want more details and see the numbers, check out my blog article here... [...]