We have reviewed the best pedal power meters. If you are in a hurry, the table below gives a quick snapshot. Or you can scroll down for detailed product reviews.
Last update 2021-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
While pedal power meters have been around for a fairly long time, recent advancements in technology have made them a lot more affordable and easy to use.
They have been gaining in popularity in the amateur biker segment for accurately measuring the power they are generating, which helps them understand their performance better and accordingly modify their training program.
If you are interested in increasing your bike’s capability, we also have a separate article on electric conversion kits for bicycles.
What Are the Different Types of Power Meters?
Based on the position in which the power meter is installed on your bike, there are broadly 5 categories in which you can put them. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages, which we have discussed further.
Pedal-based systems are perhaps the most common type of power meters. As the name suggests, Pedal-based systems are installed as part of the pedals of the bike. Typically they are fairly easy to use and are versatile since they can be used with almost any bike.
However, one disadvantage of pedal-based systems is that they are not as accurate as other methods of power measurement. Secondly, pedal-based systems are under the most stress (since they are being pushed the whole time!) and therefore are at a higher risk of damage.
Pedal-type power measuring systems can be either single-sided or double-sided. Double-sided pedals are more accurate in their measurements than single-sided ones.
Bottom Bracket Based
Bottom bracket-based systems are probably the most accurate in their output. However, the accuracy in measurement comes at a price – they are quite difficult to install, and given the various standards available today you have to be extremely careful with which measure will work with your bike.
To install a bottom bracket power measure, you might end up having to run a completely separate brand of chains to the rest of your assembly. Once installed, bottom bracket measures are easy to maintain.
Hub-based systems are in one of the best places to measure pedal strength, as there are very few forces working on the strain gauges in the hub. Hub-based power measures are amongst the simplest to install.
The power measurement of hub-based systems will always be lower than pedal-based systems since what is being measured is the output AFTER the drivetrain losses (which includes losses from the chain, the derailleur pulley, the bottom bracket, and the pedals).
This also implies that you might get different results for the same kind of power exerted on different days – for example, if you are riding the bike after a rainy day when all the oil on the chain has gotten washed away, you will get a lower power output because of the drivetrain loss from the frictional chain.
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Chainring-based power measures are accurate but don’t measure the force separately on the left and right pedal. Just like bottom bracket systems, chainring-based systems need to be carefully matched with your bike’s assembly and there is a lack of standards here as well.
Crank Arm-Based Systems
Crank arm systems are fairly standardized and like pedal systems, they can be used to measure both left single-sided and double-sided power.
Single-Sided, Combined, Left/Right Separate Measures
Pedal Power Measures can be either single-sided, combined, or separate right/left measures. Single-sided measures are the most inexpensive, though you have to assume that both sides have the same power, which may not always be the case.
Combined power measures are fairly accurate, but you will still not get a fair idea of how each side is individually performing. Separate left and right measures are the most accurate, but at the same type, these systems are the most expensive as well.
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Understanding the Science Behind Power Meters
Power is defined as the force applied X distance covered / time taken
It is usually measured in Watts, where 1W = 1N m/s, which means that 1 Watt power moves 1, Newton of mass, to by 1 meter in 1 second.
In the case of a bike, the power being measured is what has pushed the mass of your and your bike’s weight by 1meter in 1 second. However, due to the friction that the bike is facing at various points, including on the wheels, the chain and all through the chain assembly creates a resistive force, which also needs to be overcome by the power being exerted.
Best Pedal Power Meters
Below we have listed our list of the best pedal power meters based on various criteria, such as accuracy, reliability, durability, and where they are installed.
#1 Garmin Vector 3S Pedal-Based Power Meter
Garmin is, of course, the industry leader in Bike Power Meters. The Vector 3S is Garmin’s Pedal-based offering for a single pedal (left one) based power meter.
The Garmin 3S has a podless design which improves its cornering clearance, while also making it easier to install. The power sensors are installed inside the pedals, which make it very easy to transfer the meter since it just requires detaching the pedal from one crankshaft and fitting it onto another.
Garmin has a huge ecosystem of cycling-related measurement, and Garmin devices fit easily into this set of data. So you can put all your data together in one place. The Vector 3S has BlueTooth connectivity as well so that you can easily transfer data from the pedal onto your laptop and mobile phone.
Some of the measures that you can get off the Vector 3S include total power, cadence, and cycling dynamics to show how and where you’re producing power.
The device has a sturdy battery life of 120 hours. It is a lightweight pedal weighing only 324 grams/pair.
Here we have a video on how to install Garmin Vector 3S.
- Podless design for better cornering clearance
- A pedal-based system, easy to shift to another cycle
- Garmin’s large ecosystem of cycling data devices is always an advantage
- Solid Battery life and lightweight
- Few users complained that the battery does not last very long, it needs to be replaced frequently
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#2 GEN 3 Stages Power LR | ULTEGRA R8000 CRANKSET
Stages power has been used by athletes for many of the top cycling competitions in the world, making it one of the top brands out there for power measurement.
The LR is a crankset based power meter that uses direct force power measurement at the crank to give one of the most accurate readings, with each side being calibrated individually and tallied to give a ± 1.5% accuracy.
Another great feature is the active temperature compensation method which makes sure that the readings remain true and consistent in different types of weather.
The LR has both Bluetooth and ANT+ technologies so that you can pair your power measure with your favorite cycling computer.
The LR is lightweight and adds merely 20g to the weight of the crank. It has a killer battery life of 175+ hours, and the battery is easily replaceable without the need for any tools.
- Direct force power measurement at the crank for the most accurate reading (± 1.5%accuracy)
- Active temperature compensation feature to ensure the same reading in different weather conditions
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Lightweight and long battery life
- This power measure is fairly expensive and is meant for more professional bikers
#3 Magene P35 R8000 Power Meter Crankset
The Magene P35 is a dual-sided, crank-based power measure that promises accuracy with style.
The dual-sided independent readings make this power measure very accurate with only a ± 1.5% scope for error. The device also provides some unique data that is very useful for improving your cycling performance such as Torque Efficiency, Power Balance, and pedaling smoothness.
The device is compatible with both Bluetooth and ANT+ technology. It is lightweight (only 25g), dustproof, waterproof, and has 350-hour battery life.
- Accurate power measurement
- Unique parameters measured such as torque efficiency and power balance
- Lightweight, dustproof and waterproof
- The instructions are partly in mandarin, which makes it difficult to pair this device to other systems
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#4 4iiii Precision Power Meter Shimano 105 R7000
4iiii Precision is one of the most lightweight power meters on the market. It is again a crank-based meter, which features 3DPower Meter technology, which measures the triaxial strain on the crank to give an accurate measurement with ±1% scope for error.
The device is lightweight (25grams) and can connect to other devices using both Bluetooth and ANT+. The battery life is about 100+ hours.
- A very accurate measure of power
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Battery life is quite low compared to other power measures on the list
#5 PowerTap P2 Cycling Power Meter Pedals
The PowerTap P2 is a pedal type power meter that has independent measures on both sides of the pedals. It is fairly lightweight (adds only 400g to the assembly), easy to install, and super durable.
The power measure has 80 hours of battery life and a sensor on each side of the pedal for more accurate measurement. It has advanced power metrics
As this is a pedal-type measure, it is easy to change it over to a new cycle.
- Measures both sides to get an accurate reading
- Easy to install and shift to other bikes
- Battery life is not very good
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Bike power measures come in several varieties, but the most popular ones are those that are mounted on the crank and those that are installed as part of the pedal. For amateur bikers who are training for races, power measures are a great source of information on their own cycling performance and how they can improve various parameters that can help them win.
In this article, we have discussed 5 of the best pedal power meters available in the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
However, the Garmin Vector 3S is our choice for the overall best pedal power meter, simply because of the large ecosystem of Garmin devices for capturing cycling data to which Garmin devices connect and sync seamlessly.
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