Sunday, February 10, 2008

Q&A: CycleOps PowerTap power meter review

Q: I'm writing you because I have been researching power meters and I have
some questions for you. I have read that there are a lot of problems with
the harness on the wired CycleOps PowerTap. I have also heard that the new
wireless version suffers from battery issues. What has been your experience
so far with your PowerTap? Have you had any problems with irregular readings
or black outs? I would hate to spend $1500 on a brand new wireless unit to
have to send it back for warranty repairs soon after. What can you tell me?

A: I can only speak from my experiences with the CycleOps PowerTap, Roberto. I have had the
wired one on my bike for about a month now. I installed the same model on my
friend's bike 3 weeks ago. And, I helped my coach install the wireless one
on his bike about a year ago. All 3 of these have worked very well, no
problems at all so far. No harness or battery or blackout or irregular
reading issues.

I have also ridden mine in the rain 3 times even though I was told they are
not very waterproof. I have not had any issues. I will try to keep it dry
but if I get stuck in the rain I think it'll be okay as long as I don't
really soak the rear hub by riding through a creek, or something silly like

My friend's wasn't working one day but it turned out that he had just not
pressed the head firmly into the mount. There's a little detent and you have
to push the head until it clicks in place or the pickups won't get a signal.

My coach has the most miles on one (his is the wireless one) and he says the
only issue is that since it's wireless he will sometimes lose the signal
when he's near high power lines but otherwise it works great.

One thing I notice is that the display can sometimes get little dark patches
on it. I checked with the other guys and they've seen this, too. It doesn't
seem to cause any problems, just looks a little bad.

Overall, though, our experience with the PowerTap has been very good and I
would recommend them, wired or wireless. FYI: One of our teammates has the
SRM power meter, which is more expensive than the PowerTap. He has had to
send it back to the factory twice for repairs and has more difficulty
setting it on rides to display what he wants to see for the day's workout.

I have also tried the iBike, which is a neat little unit and has a nice
price. The issue with that for me was that the roads here are so bumpy that
they effected to accuracy of the readings so I decided to spend more money
and get the CycleOps PowerTap and so far it's been really nice and worked

I would say that the instruction manual could be better written and easier
to understand. You can figure it out and learn what you need if you read it
a few times and also read what's on their website. But, if you were in a
hurry and didn't read carefully I can see how you might never fully
understand how to use the different functions of the PowerTap. Luckily I
have teammates using it so we compare notes and teach each other and that's
been a big help. Ideally the CycleOps people would polish their manual and
improve it. The PowerAgent software, however, was easy to setup and use -
though I did need to download it from their website since the CD that came
with the PowerTap was a bad one.

Overall, though, we all have been very happy with our PowerTaps so far.

I hope this helps,


Edwin said...

I agree with Jim about the durability of the PowerTap. Mine is on a Bontrager xlite wheel, however, and its ride hen compared to the campy nucleon I had on it before is not nearly as good. what's been folks experience with this and other wheels?

Bicycle Aficionado said...

The only person I know with a PowerTap on a Bontrager wheel is my coach and he's never had anything but great things to say about that wheel so I don't know why you'd be having trouble. Since Bontrager is owned by Trek, maybe you could have a Trek shop take a look at the wheel. If something was wrong, maybe it would be handled under warranty. Worth a try.

Jos (the Netherlands) said...

I've been using a wireless cycleops powertap 2.4SL hub built into a Ritchey Protocol rim. No problems at all ('till now). Have been using the wheel on some wet rides and also that hasn't given any problems although I always try to use a spare wheel if i know it's going to be a wet ride (but sometimes you just get caught in the rain)

Only problem I recently came up against was that I tried to use a cadance sensor (the 'calculated' cadance from the hub is not accurate enough for my taste)....

I have to let the small computer know that it needs to pick up a different signal (from the cadance sensor) but i'm a bit confused how to make that happen... manual isn't sufficient.

Anyone know a sollution to this?

Last remark: i'd like to know how long before the hub battery dies...

Sam said...

has any body tested compatibility with a wired version reading from a "wireless" hub?

Eg. has someone run an SL ANT+ wireless hub onto a wired system?

Jim Langley said...

I'm not a wireless device expert, Sam, but my best guess is that, unless the hub and computer include the transmitter/receiver to talk to each other it won't work. The wired PowerTaps do not have this functionality as far as I know so I don't think they could work.