Sunday, March 20, 2011

Evesham Vale Road Race

20/03/2011
Evesham Vale RR
Category E1/2/3
90km
Start Time - 9.30am
Conditions - Cool start but soon warmed up to around 10-12 degrees

8 months is a long time, its a long time to be away from any form of competition. yet this is the fact i was facing going in to my first race of the year and my first race since last august when i sustained a broken collar bone, a broken nose and other facial injuries when i was ht by an oncoming car whilst descending a mountain in the Pyrenees during a training camp. i didn't race cyclocross during the winter due to my injuries and the development of various other physiological circumstances that have plagued me over the off season resulting in the loss of a lot of weight and physical strength, however this is now being sorted and i am progressing along the road of recovery with my sights set firmly on the goal of getting back to my best.

So with all of this previous history in mind, i was skeptical about how i would fair at today's race, especially when you consider it was an E/1/2/3 and looked more like a premier calendar event with the whole Raleigh Professional Cycling team in attendance along with various other prestigious squads making appearances.
Even so, i was still very excited about the race and not particularly nervous or worried about the outcome. I am beginning to learn that pressure only makes things worse which is why i learnt to channel this self pressure in different ways and it makes a big difference.
I spent the previous day attending to my Trek Madone which has also experienced 8 months of not been ridden in anger just like me. Degreasing, hosing, washing, scrubbing, hosing, lubing and oiling, these are the things that relax me before a race, knowing that i have done everything to ensure my equipment wont let me down and i can only blame myself or other uncontrollable elements for any misfortune that i may experience.

The race bike - cleaned and ready for action complete with
new cobbled classic look tubular wheels.

 


Arriving at the HQ early in my own set of wheels for a change, i stood debating about what to wear, the air was cold and i didn't want to be shivering in the bunch so i opted for a few layer, a decision which i would regret later in the race! The race is located at the same venue every year; Inkburrow, which is on the way to Worcester and provides a good mix of terrain which overall is generally rolling with a few extended kicks.
It soon became apparent how tough the race would be when the competition began filling the car park: Team Raleigh, Motorpoint, Mammoth, Corley Cycles, Primal Europe, Wiggle and many more big name teams. like i say, more like a premier calendar than a Regional A!!


Gather for the pre race rider briefing

the bike is ready to race




with the rider briefing done and every one set, the bunch were on the roads at 9.30 sharp and as soon as the flag was dropped, signalling the official start, so began the two and half hour slog which i like to call "The Raleigh Rampage". Basically, as the term suggests, the Raleigh boys hit the front and never let up until they had there man, Liam Holohan, off the front with a few other Raleigh guys there with him. The remaining Members of there team then set about policing the front of the main bunch not letting anything get away.When you describe a race in that way it kind of sound so so but when you are actually racing it, the whole things feels very different. Here i was, fighting to maintain my position in the bunch with lifeless, un punchy legs. some sections left me gutter crawling as the bunch ploughed on through the cross winds, i found myself scrambling to get towards the front before the climbs to allow myself slipping room through the bunch, at which point i was also searching for the magic gear which you hope is there but you never find.  

I may be making this sound like a horrible experience but i was actually relishing the challenge and the thrill of being in these situations. i also know that as the season progresses i will become accustom to the kind of repeated efforts and micro burst that you experience in bunch racing, something that can be quite a challenge to recreate in training. Basically you could say that i haven't gotten my race legs yet and i think its fair to say that this Little quote has some real meaning in the world of Competitive cycling, 8 moths away can have a drastic effect on a riders racing ability and its only when they begin racing again that they begin to regain that magic something that allows them to deal with the repeated accelertaions and respond to various attacks. i look forward to feeling this again later in the year.

So back to the race and at the half way point it was still the same, the break had about a minute and the bunch were still trying to shoot riders off the front whilst Raleigh were closing everything down. I was beginning to gain confidence as the race went on and was holding my position better in the bunch as time went on. at this point the sun was shining in clear sky and soon realised that i had far too much clothing on and was beginning to cook, this didn't help.
On the last lap a number of riders did manage to break free from the Raleigh death grip that had been dominating the bunch for the entire race. The leading riders approached the finish line a good minute clear of any chasing riders, 3 Raleigh riders broke away from this break in the last mile to claim a solid Raleigh 1, 2, 3 before also claiming 6th, 7th and 10th. i think its fair to say that Raleigh pretty much dominated today's ride but only as every one expected.
I sprinted in with the pack after 2.5 hrs of racing and was actually very pleased with my ride today. obviously not because of my outstanding result :) no, instead it was because i had fun which for me is something that i don't usually say after a race like today. it gives me a positive outlook for the rest of the season, it might not be my year for results but it will be a year which i remember for being fun and exciting and hopefully overcoming long term issues.

 










Results:
1st - Liam holohan (Raleigh)
2nd - awaiting official result
3rd - awaiting official result

Ride Data
Duration - 2.27.46
Distance - 62.5 miles
Speed - 25.5
Work - 1714 kj
Ave power - 193 watts
Norm power - 231 watts
TSS - 200.8
I.F - 0.903
Cadence - 87 rpm
Ave HR - 150 bpm
(Power calculated off FTP of 256 watts (18/03/2011)







Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Introducing the Helmet Camera

When i did my first post on this blog, i mentioned that i would eventually be getting a hemlmet camera and making some home movies. Well finally i have my camera and figured out how to use it and edit the footage.
This is something that i have never done before so my first attempt may lok very ameturish but hey, it was good fun.
I havent collected loads of footage yet but i had a play around with what i did have and put together this little sample, hopefully you will enjoy it. It includes some footage of an easy spin around the lanes, some hard intervals and lots of the local Club run. It all takes place in and around the historic town of Stratford upon Avon and with Stratford Cycling Club.
I have my first races of the season coming up in the next few weeks so i should have some great footage of racing and will do some analysis post about my rides.
Take care all and happy riding.
video
Dan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mad March Hare Sportive

6th March 2011
Written by Dan.

Route Profile:
72 miles
Start and finishes at Cult Racing Cycles, Earlswood.
Undulating terrain and mainly quite back roads with 1 main climb; Dovers Hill, Broadway.
Cold conditions with little wind, brightened up towards the end.

The Mad March Hare has established its self as one of the best sportive rides in the country and it’s only in its third year. Designed, promoted and organized by Cult Racing Cycles, the ride offers the chance for a whole range of cyclists to take part in mass participation event which great HQ, official timing, on route photography, feed station and riders support, all this for only £10 and you can also trade your number for a bacon sarnie at the finish, bonus. As RPC and Cult have recently partnered up, this gave us the chance to promote and advertise out company and give our support the Cult as well. This following post is my days riding experience at one of the best organised sportive around, hope you enjoy.

Rise and Shine
As I only live 15 miles away from Cult Racing which is where the event HQ was being staged, I decided to make a big training day out of this ride and cycle to and from the event as well as doing the ride itself. This will make the day about 100 miles of pretty fast riding which is just what I was after. As I wanted to get there early so as me and Jamie could plaster the riders cars in out promotional flyers, I awoke at 6am to what looked like being a fine day, cold but dry and that’s great in my book. After a big breakfast I was on my bike by 6.45am and heading off to the HQ, soon after getting going I had decided that I had too many layers on and would need to remove some when I got to the start but I would always rather be warm than cold. It took me about 40 mins to get to the shop and even though I am still suffering from the effects of a cold I was feeling ok and was looking forward to a good day

Arriving at the HQ I was in awe of the fantastic show that Paul had once again put on for us cyclists. It was early yet the place was packed with riders all trying to get signed on, but last minute energy food and find there riding partners. Groups could set off as and when they wanted from 8.00am onwards, my dad was one of these early starters having driven down shortly after I left. I met with Jamie and we began handing out our leaflets as the car park began to fill, Jamie decided to jump in to a group that set off at about 8.30 but I decided to hang around and eventually set off on my own ride at around 9.15.

On the Road
I always struggle to get going after I have stopped which is why generally I don’t stop on my rides unless it’s for a nature break or a mechanical, so it took me a good 5 minutes to get my legs going round in smooth circles again but one they were I was feeling pretty comfortable. Obviously I was riding with my Quarq power meter and had a rough idea of what power I could manage for the event duration as well as factoring what I had already ridden and the ride home. I didn’t get the chance to upload the route file on to my Garmin but thankfully  the route is so well sign posted I didn’t need to worry, not once did I worry I was heading in the wrong direction. The one thing I do love about these mass participation events is the vast number of riders on the road, I love jumping from group to group as I make my progress towards the finish, its like in a time trial when you are catching your minute man and acting like a dangling carrot, it always just seems to make it more interesting a spur you on. As there were so many groups out on the road I had no problems with looking ahead and aiming for the next one, although when I did reach the group I acknowledged them and just kept going, I was riding at my own pace with my own intentions but those who wished to join me were more than welcome.

That Competitive Flair.
After about an hour and a half of riding the route was heading through Inkburrow and onwards towards the Cotswolds, I was making good progress and was feeling good. I eventually began to close the gap on a rider who was making good progress himself and once I had passed him he didn’t hesitate to lock on to my wheel, which is suspected he would. Now even though sportive rides are all about personal challenges and socializing, there are always a few that want to make it in to a race. As soon as this other riding got on my wheel and simply sat there as I plugged away in to the head wind on the longest straightest bit of road, my competitive side soon began to make its self-known.  Even though I was riding at my own pace with my own goals, I still felt the strong desire to get this guy off of my wheel, I know that might sound harsh but it’s just a natural instinct for me as I’m sure it is for most people. I knew I wasn’t going to drop him in to the head wind as I was still pacing myself, so I decided that I would wait for the routes main challenge, the ascent of Dovers Hill. Used for the nation hill climb championships on a number of occasions, the ascent consists of a consistent 1 mile gradient at around 12% making a pretty tough climb if you are willing to ride hard and on this occasion I was more than willing!

After coming up on the group containing my business buddy, Jamie, and exchanging a few jokes and words of encouragement, I soon hit the slopes of dover with my now well established living shadow firmly glued to my wheel, still not having come through and said hello. I shifter in to the small ring as the climb kicked up and soon after riding the first few meters of the main slope I heard a faint gasp and grunt from behind, I turned around to see that my Siamese twin and cracked and snapped the elastic. I maintained a good tempo up the climb being careful not to overdo it and continued on with a good solid pace once I had crested the top. From here the route dropped down in to Mickleton which sits on the outskirts of the Cotswolds, before heading through Long Marston, Welford on Avon, Billersly and Aston Cantlow. From this point it was about 10 mile or so back to the HQ and ultimately the finish. I was still feeling pretty good having ate and drank to a consistent schedule during the ride, something that I am beginning to work quite hard as I take part in longer road races. With only a few miles left before the finish I eventually came up on the group containing my dad who started just over an hour before me, he had put in a great ride, one that he was very pleased with in the end. After a quick hello I put my head down and continued towards the shop.

Done and Dusted……….Almost.
After turning in to the car park of the HQ, it was still a bustling hive of activity with riders and people wounding around checking out the bikes and kit on display, exchanging there number for a bacon butty and sharing there riding experiences with fellow riders over a nice cup of tea, I also enjoyed one myself whilst I waited for my old man and Jamie. Once they both arrived we had a brief chat, compared times, said our good byes and set off on our separate ways. For me this meant more miles as I decided I would ride home which at first sounded like a great idea as the sun was shining and the day was bright. However, once I got going my legs were pretty tired and as I was still aiming to maintain the same power that I had ridding for the rest of the ride, I soon began to run low on fuel and energy. Thankfully the ride home seems mainly downhill and its only 0 minutes so I did managed to make it back home before the dreaded bonk came over me.

A tiring day but a great one at that and a fantastic show thanks in whole to Paul, all of his helpers and marshals who gave up there Sunday to stand in the cold, the photographer, the caterers, the supporters and of course the hundreds of riders that made the event what it is. I will be back again next year to give my support as will Jamie and almost every one that took part. Hope you had as good a day as I did.
For those that are interested, here is a link to my ride data as shown in TrainingPeaks online training account.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review - PowerTap Vs. Quarq

If you type “Powertap vs. Quarq” in to an internet search engine you will get tone of results on this topic and all follow the same lines, basically cyclists who are looking to invest in  powermeteres to improve their training but are undecided on which product to go with. Most have generally decided that an SRM is too expensive and is not included in the equation, so this means they are left with the 2 best consumer powermeteres that are currently available on the market today: A Wireless Powertap or a Wireless Quarq Chainset.
As I am lucky enough to be the owner of both of these power measuring devices and have been using both for some time, I feel it my duty to help those of you who are in this predicament with my views on each product and which I feel is the one that I would keep if I had to get rid of one. This is a direct comparison of a 2008 Powertap 2.4SL ANT+ Wireless power meter that I brought direct from Bontrager and is built in to a 2009 Race X Lite Aero wheel and a 2010 Quarq SRAM S975 Wireless Chainset and not a generalised review of the companies or of the products that they produce. This is purely something that I feel compelled to share with other and I am in no way endorsed by either company in order to provide a biased view, these are my own thoughts and my own conclusions and you can either take them on board or dismiss them as you wish, I just love to write about power meters and there related subjects.
The Technical specification of the products
Category
Bontrager Powertap 2.4 sl
Quarq SRAM S975
Price
(at time of purchase)
£1499.99
Complete Wheel with Cyclops CPU head unit, HR strap and software (2008)
£1349.99
Chainset only.
(not including head unit, HR strap or software)
The 3rd party accessories I use are
Garmin 800 - £310.00
HR Strap - £40.00
GXP BB – 29.99
Total Set up cost - £ 1729.98
Accessories
CPU head unit
HR Strap
Power agent Software
Cap removal tool
Carry case
Download cradle
Installed batteries
Installed batteries
Spare battery cap
3 magnets
Adhesive putty

Added weight
to standard Product
412g
Total product weight – 1407g
124g
Total product weight – 884g
Wireless Technology
ANT +
ANT +
Calibration
Factory Process
Factory Process, although software is being developed to allow user to calibrate slope at home.
Battery replacement
User replaceable
User replaceable
Claimed Accuracy
+/- 1.5%
+/- 2%
Measurement
Hub – 4 strain gauges
Crank spider – 20 strain gauges


First time set up
Powertap.
One of the big advantages of the powertap is the ridiculously easy initial installation. If like me you buy the hub pre built in to a wheel then all you have to do is simply slap the wheel in to your bike, attach the computer mount,  pop in the head unit and that’s pretty much it as far as bike installation. You don’t have to install any speed or cadence sensors as all of this measured from the hub including the cadence which is measured through what Cyclops call virtual cadence. This is done by calculating where torque is being applied to the hub and at what frequency, sounds sceptical but in my experience its works very well with only the occasional spike.
The manuals are detailed and easy to understand which is good as setting up the head unit can be a bit of a faff due to the lack of buttons and screen space meaning that all of the settings must be done through the use of various button combinations and on screen abbreviations. However, the setting are detailed and allow for a good customisable set up such as choosing the smoothing rate of the power update and which metrics you want displayed on the main screes. The hub found the CPU within a minute and stores the ID so it picks up even faster in the future.
Quarq
The first thing I noticed when I received my fully packaged crank set was the lack of weight, it is impressively light adding almost no weight to the standard SRAM red cranks. Installation is a bit more technical than the PT but as long as you are fairly mechanically minded it is simple enough. It’s basically the same as installing a standard chainset; Install the bearings first, pop the spindle through and attach the non-drive side crank and tighten to the required torque. The only difference with this chainset is the need to install a small magnet behind the cranks; this is what triggers the read switches and is a key part in the power measuring method. This can either be easy or hard depending on your frame. If you have an external BB then you can use the supplied bracket which simple sits behind the BB when tightened and houses the magnet which is already positioned where it needs to be. However, if like me you own a frame with press fit bearings, the fitting of the magnet requires some creativity. Quarq do supply adhesive putty but I used a mix of rubber patches, super glue and Mastic Glue. This has proven solid so far and very weather proof.
As the Quarq doesn’t come with a head unit, it requires you to use a 3rd party computer and the most obvious choice is the Garmin which is what I am using. This requires no speed sensors as it calculates it of off GPS, cadence is taken care of by the magnet that you installed and the computer Is a fantastic training tool with a huge range of features, to many to mention here. Set up is much easier than the Powertap CPU due to the touch screen navigation and large display, the Garmin picked up the Quarq in less than 30 seconds and again stores the ID so as no cross interference occurs

Calibration Process.
 All power meters require you to calibrate them before you set off on your ride. This process must be done to ensure accurate reading and essentially what you are doing is storing what is known as an offset number, this is like a starting point for the power measurement and allows for reliable readings.
The Powertap calibration process is simple enough and has the added bonus of being able to see the actual torque of the hub in real time, this means that users are able perform such things as stomp tests to see if there hub is working correctly, search stomp test to understand more. Before a ride calibrations takes about 30 seconds once the hub has woken up, the PT has the added feature known as auto calibration. This is where the hub will continually re calibrate itself whilst you are riding to ensure power measurement remains consistent as sometimes offset can drift, mainly due to temperature changes. It does this every time you freewheel which is great as you don’t even have to think about it during a ride.
The Quarq also requires a pre ride calibration and is done by waking the cranks by spinning the backwards, placing the drive side arm at 6 o’clock, and going through the setting on the Garmin before pressing calibrate. The Quarq will the return an offset number which should be between +500/-500 nm, this will vary from day to day but eventually it will stabilise around the same figure but providing it is with in those limits then all is fine. The key thing is to make sure that the offset hasn’t shifted by more than 50 points during your ride, if you do feel that your power has changed during ride such as reading low then you can auto calibrate by pedalling backwards. This is not as seamless as the PT but does work great every time. The Quarq is more susceptible to offset changes due to its sensitivity, especially to temperature so it’s best to auto calibrate often during your rides. Once you get in to the habit its fine and now I am finding that I only need to do it once or twice during a training ride.
User friendliness and reliability
Power meter are expensive and when you are parting with a big lump of cash you expect the product to be of high quality and not suffer from to many technical faults or issues. Here is a rundown of how user friendly each power meter is and what problems I have experienced with each.
Powertap
The powertap doesn’t require much maintenance over what you would give your standard wheel, look after it and it should be fine. The PT has user replaceable batteries which are a must as you don’t want to have to ship it off every time the batteries die. The process of changing the batteries isn’t too difficult but does require a specific tool to remove the hub cap and to be honest the first time I had to do this I was extremely nervous and wasn’t entirely sue if I was doing it right. The manual’s instructions are a bit vague and I had to do some forum searching to make sure. However, once I had done it once it’s a synch. The only other aspect of the hub which will tire and need replacing are the hub bearings and if you have done your research you will already know that this is a huge fault with the PT and caused me a huge amount of grief in the past. The bearing that Cyclops put in the hubs are rubbish, there’s no other description. I don’t know why but they wear out in a few months and not subtly either, one day they will be fine and then the next day your when will be moving a few millimetres from side to side, not good. Worst of all is that Cyclops state that the bearings must be replaced by their technicians, this isn’t entirely true but I will come back to that. So the first time my bearing went, the UK didn’t have a service centre, this meant that I had to send my wheel back to the us to have the bearing replaced. 6 WEEKS, 6 weeks went by before I got my wheel back, this was the most stressful time ever and was not a pleasant experience. The whole point of this piece of kit is that you use it every ride and being without it for that long can really mess up you data history. I was not impressed. Thankfully, Saris have set up a UK service centre which is good because only a few months after I had new bearings, it had to go back for more. This time the process was only a few days and they guys also replaced the axel with the newer 15 millimetre one and also re calibrated it. Great, or so I thought. I got the wheel back but noticed there were still huge amounts of play in the wheel but it wasn’t coming from worn bearing but instead the axel had play in it. This meant the wheel had to go back again, so another week went by with no wheel but they did solve the problem and got it back as fast as they could. For a good number of months the PT had been functioning faultlessly until very recently when the bearing when again. However, due to the wheel being out if warranty the bearing replacement would cost me about £60, I did some research and discovered that over time various people discovered that you could replace the bearings yourself without the need for shipping back. I found a bike shop that had done a few and the process took 2 day and cost me £30. Now that I know this it takes a lot of the worry out of the equation. Just remember that if it does go wrong, your warranty is void and a new toque tube will cost you about £300, so make sure you trust the person doing it.
Quarq
Like the PT, the Quarq features a user replaceable battery only it’s much easier to replace than the PT. it’s simple a screw on cap that sits on the outside of the crank and takes about a minute to change. The Quarq trumps the PT in that one for sure. Other parts that may need to be replaced include the BB bearing; however this is just the same as any other bike and requires nothing specific and also you will eventually need to replace the chain rings when they wear out. Quarq recommend that you send the cranks back to the factory once you have replaced the rings as it will need to be re-calibrated, this is a bit of pain but thankfully this can be done through the UK SRAM service centre, although there have been reports that people have replaced the chaining’s and not needed to send them back but personally I would send them off just to make sure. Now, I have only had my Quarq since September 2010 and I will be honest with you, I am on my 3 set already but before you dismiss this product let me explain why. The first set I received were an early 2010 model, I began using them and done a lot of research in how to use them with best practise as far as the calibration was concerned. As I have mention, the initial offset should be within +/- 500 which they were, however, the offset should not shift more than 50 n/m during a ride and in this case something was wrong as mine were shifting by over 100 in some cases. I traded various emails with Quarq to try and solve the problem and here I will say they Quarq have the best customer service I have ever received bar non which is very reassuring. I was told to try re-torqueing the chainring bolts to 10 n/m, but this didn’t help. Eventually I pinpointed the problem, a missing screw on the back of the power unit. Because this was clearly a warranty issue I had to send it back to the shop I sent it through who then sent it on for repair, this whole process was done with is a week and received my chainset back which had been fitted with a brand new power unit. I fitted the cranks to my bike, tried to pair it with my Garmin and………..nothing. There was no life in the cranks; I tried replacing the battery but still nothing. I contacted the man at SRAM who serviced my cranks and he had no idea why it didn’t work, this meant that I had to send the cranks back again, I was informed a few days later that they couldn’t find out why they weren’t functioning and that they would send me out a brand new set rather than trying to repair them again. The process was again complete with in a week and I have been enjoying perfectly functioning cranks since. I must reiterate that the customers service I received during this time from Quarq, SRAM and the shop I purchased the cranks from was exceptional, Cyclops have very good customer service but Quarq’s is second to none.
As you can see, you may be parting with a lot of cash but power meter are still relatively new and there are still a lot of issues that need ironing out. Yes I have had to send both power meters back to their respective service centres 3 times but no I didn’t once regret buying either at any point. Just be prepared to be without you power meter as some point irrespective of which you decide to but both are delicate pieces of technology and at the end of the day, technology always has a habit of going wrong.

Overview
Powertap
Firstly the power powertap is amazing value for money, you not only get the power measuring hub but also the CPU, HR strap and software meaning that once you receive you PT you are set ready to go without the need for anything else. One of the biggest advantages with the PT is the ability to switch it between bikes extremely easily; all you need is a few computer mounts for your individual bikes. However, it does leave you with the nasty decision of what wheel to have your hub build in to and when and when not to use the wheel. If you get it built in to a training rim to use for training, this means that if you want data from races you will also have to use this when rather than your flash, light weight carbon clinchers. If you do it the opposite way, you will have to use your best wheels for training meaning they are going to get a lot of winter wear. You could get 2 hubs and build one in to each kind of wheel but this makes it very expensive. I have used my PT in all weather conditions and only ever once had an issue where water has gotten in to the battery compartment and caused the power to stop reading, once it had dried out it was fine and hasn’t happened since. I now always make sure I put weather proof grease in the hub cap seal whenever I remove it.

Quarq
A shade under £1400 might seem like a lot for a power meter when you compare it to the PT and realise that you don’t get a head unit, HR strap or any other software with it. But when you compare it to its closest rival, the SRM, it represents amazing value for money as if you were to buy the equivalent SRM you won’t see much change from about £4000, admittedly you do get a CPU and training software but if even buying the Quarq with a top of the range Garmin head unit which offers the most information of all of the cycling computers on the market and also taking in to account purchasing WKO+ which is considered the best training software available, you are still getting a package that could be considered better than the SRM for less than £2000. When you look at it this was it suddenly seems like a very good buy.  As with any crank based power meter, swapping the chainset between bikes is a bit more involved that with the PT but it can still be very quick; I saw a video on YouTube of a rider swapping is Quarq between bikes in less than 30 seconds!
The one thing that I can say about the Quarq over the PT is its overall robustness, the Quarq just feels so much more solid than the PT and a lot less vulnerable to damage in a crash, although I have crashed a few times with my PT and haven’t had any issues. But if you think how vulnerable a wheel can be in general such as buckles or bending spokes, it does make you ride with caution all of time, especially when racing. With the Quarq I don’t feel the same worry as it feels more a part of the bike rather than just an add on. It also feel stiffer and have always felt that my powertap wheel was sometimes rather heavy and sloppy, although I suppose this depends on what wheel you have it built in to. The Quarq claims to be extremely weather proof and have proved it by supplying cross riders with chainset to use during some of the muddiest cross races during the season and have had no problems.

Out on the road both power meters have performed pretty much faultlessly. Having come from using the powertap for a long time before switching to the Quarq I have noticed that the Quarq is a lot more responsive to changes in power than the PT. according to other source the Quarq updates somewhere between 3-4 times per second depending on cadence whereas the PT averages the samples out over a second and then updates to the head unit. It took some getting used to but I do prefer the faster sampling of the Quarq now I have used it more and depending on what head unit you have you can smooth out the sampling rate to make it smoother, I run a 3 second sampling rate which means it averages out the power over that duration and then updates the head unit, this is still visibly faster that PT.
The one big thing that I will say about the PT over the Quarq is the lack of attention you have to pay to the offset and calibration out on the road, because it does it all for you whenever you free wheel you don’t ever have to think about it, this can also be a negative as you can never quite tell if the offset has shifter during a ride unless you spot tell-tale signs. The Quarq is also a lot more sensitive to changes in tempura than the PT and this is mainly due to the amount of strain gauges it uses and just how sensitive they actually are. This means that I have noticed changes in off set a lot more than with the PT meaning that I have had to consciously back pedal in order calibrate on the road, not quite a seamless as the PT but does its job fine.

Comparing ride data
Not all power meters are created equally and this is especially true with the PT and the Quarq as one is hub based and one is crank based. The Quarq has the benefit of being a direct drive measuring power meter which means that it’s measuring the power that is coming directly out of your legs. The PT on the other hand will generally measure slightly less due to power being lost as it travels down you transmission  and in to the hub, this is exacerbated if you drivetrain is in bad condition. This scenario can cause some riders concern if they are planning on using both power meters throughout the season, the difference could be up to 10 watts in some cases and when talking about power, 10 watts is quite a lot.
I decided to do some first-hand testing to see how the ride data for both units compare and I ended up with a pretty interesting analysis. I put my PT wheel in the same bike as the Quarq, Paired the Quarq to the Garmin first and the paired the PT to its own CPU after, I then rode to the power from the Quarq which is displayed on my Garmin and had the PT CPU in my pocket. I rode out at a steady level 2 pace and the did a few 20 minute threshold intervals before heading back, as the PT would have been auto zeroing its self during the ride I decided to make it comparable by auto zeroing the Quarq a few times as well so as to see if any big changes appeared in the results.
Here is the data from the ride for both units as displayed by WKO+
Data Field
Quarq
Powertap
Ride time
2..45.00
2.45.00
Average Power
220 watts
225 watts
Norm Power
235 watts
233 watts
TSS
204.2
206.4
Max Power
619 watts
606 watts
Average Cadence
76 rpm
77 rpm
Work
2153 KJ
2155 KJ
20 min Interval 1 Ave Power
263 (22.1 mph)
257
20 min Interval 2 Ave Power
263 (22.0 mph)
259
20 min Interval 3 Ave Power
264 (22.0 mph)
267


So from the ride data we can see that the entire ride metrics come out almost exact with the PT reading a few watts lower which as I have already said is to be expected. However, when looking at the individual interval we can see that whilst the Quarq’s averages come almost identical over the 3 efforts, the PT starts off reading 6 watts lower, it eventually ends up reading 3 watts higher that the Quarq by the 3rd interval. I auto zeroed the Quarq after each effort to ensure repeatability and can say that my RPE during the efforts only increased due to the expected fatigue experienced over the session, also note that the average speed from each interval sits perfectly with the power and as these efforts were done around a 20 minute loop with no changes in weather conditions, this metric can be considered a pretty reliable indicator during this session. With all of this in mind it appears that throughout the session the PT was steadily rifting upwards and possibly over recording power towards the end of the session, or maybe it was under recording power at the beginning of the session. This is something we will never really know but what would be interesting is to go out and do a similar ride but riding to the powertap and seeing how the Quarq’s power shifts throughout the session, although my personal feeling are that it wouldn’t proving you auto zero occasionally. This is something that I will do and will update you all on the results as they could prove interesting.  Ultimately though, having used the PT for the previous 2 seasons, I can say that I have never really experienced any noticeable shift in power during repetitive intervals so even if it has it has never been enough to really effect the accuracy of the session. With anything like this, it depends on how much difference a few watts are going to make to you. For a 20 minute interval I feel that a drop or a rise in 5 watts wouldn’t affect the quality of my intervals too much.

Conclusion
So, this is the tricky bit. Which power meter would I recommend for a power training virgin who was looking to take the lunge and buy in to this amazing advancement in cycling technology? Well there no doubting that both units have the strong points as well as their flaws but thankfully these flaws aren’t enough to warrant no buying one of the other. It very much comes down to preference and you own situation. If you are going to be continuously swapping bikes then the PT is the obvious choice due to how much easier this is. But if you plan to keep it on one bike which you will use for training and racing the crank based system is the winner due to being able to chop and choose your own wheel. For most people it will all come down to costa and at the moment you can’t buy a cheaper complete unit that the PT as it comes with everything you need to get you started. The thing is though, as you become more involved in training with power the chances of wanting to upgrade your head unit and training software are likely so you end up forking out for these items in the future anyway. The Quarq doesn’t come with any other kit so if you have nothing at the moment the initial outlay is more than buying the PT but still hugely cheaper than a complete SRM system. If you do already own a Garmin or other ANT+ compatible head unit then I would say there is only one choice and that’s the Quarq.
Both units have their technical issues and I have experienced first-hand what can go wrong although it does seem that the PT needs more work when it comes to general maintenance due to the bearing, free hub etc., I can’t ever see myself having to send my Quarq back very often due to standard wear and tear so for user longevity I would say Quarq wins that round. When I have had to send my units back to their respective service centres I got to experience the company’s customer service first hand and I am pleased to say that if you are planning on shelling out £1500 for a power meter, the customer service is well up to standard and you will have no issues in this respect which is very comforting.
So overall, both are great units, both are great value in their own way and both will do everything that you could ever want from them. But if you were to ask me which one I would keep if I could only have one then I think I would swing in favour of the Quarq. My main reason for this is that a crank based unit suits my needs more than a wheel based unit as I will only be sapping it between bikes 2 a year, once to change to my winter bike and once to change back to my raining bike. During the season it will stay on my raining bike and I will have the choice of what wheel I can use depending on the parcours of the race. I also feel that the Quarq is more robust that the PT and less likely to be damaged in the event of a crash and isn’t susceptible to silly little things like a buckled wheel or broken spoke like the PT is. Accuracy wise there is very little to choose between them, yes the PT displayed some drift during my testing but like I say I have rarely being able to see this myself before the test so don’t let the factor of accuracy or repeatability come in to you decision, it’s not something you really have to worry about.

I hope this review has helped you in some way if you have been torn between which unit to buy; either that or I have just made you change your mind for the 100th time. Things aren’t going to get any easier in the future either as a new wave or power meter begin to make their way on to the market, the most interesting ones being from Garmin/Metrigear and Polar/Look who are both racing to be the first to officially release the pedal based power meters on to consumer market. Both are in the testing stages at the moment and are expected out towards the end of the year, they are reportedly going to be retailing for around the £1000 mark but what this will include is anyone’s guess. Expect another power meter review on here in about 12 months’ time after I have brought myself a pedal based unit as well!!!!!
Feel free to ask any questions related to this topic by simply adding a comment, I would be more than happy to respond.

Train Smarter, Ride Faster. Simple.
Dan