PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Training Smarter: The PowerTap Pro

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Training Smarter: The PowerTap Pro
The "Lance Effect", it's changed how everyone looks at cycling. One of the biggest influences of the Lance Effect has been the mainstreaming of power-based training. The idea has been around for years, but only recently has it come to down from the pro peloton to the consumer level. The PowerTap Pro by Graber Products brings affordable and accurate power measurement to everyone with its hub-based measurement system. The PowerTap Pro gives you all the standard data of a cycling computer with the addition of power measurement.

Having been the owner of one of the original PowerTap hubs (before Graber took over) I was interested to see what improvements Graber brought to the table. A new hub body design going from a plastic to aluminum brings added structural integrity. An improved double
o-ring sealant system adds extra weather protection but still there have been reports of some people having problems, though they are much less frequent than with the previous version.

My favorite improvement has been the PowerTap Pro's improved memory storage. Previous models had a maximum storage of 7 hours with 2 second intervals. The new PowerTap Pro can store up to 7.5 hours at 1 second. No worries now about going away for a weekend trip and not being able to download all your ride data, just up the interval recording to 5 seconds and get an incredible 180 hours data. There is also and improved interval function increased to unlimited intervals from the previous 9.

In addition to a computer upgrade the new mounting unit for the bike comes with a separate cadence sensor allowing you to no longer rely on the hub-based cadence sensor which was limited to 40 to 120 rpm. The accuracy has been significantly improved. Both the previous PowerTap and the Pro are downloadable, but features improved transfer speeds making those 5 hours rides download about twice as fast. The software that comes with the system is sufficient for tracking your progress but does not have the annalistic power many
power system geeks want.

So what are my thoughts on the new PowerTap Pro. I like it, but it hasn't totally won me over. The hub based power reading is great for accuracy because it is the closest to the actual point of power reading (the contact of the tire to the road and after chain friction) and with an accuracy of +/- 2% it is in the same range as the SRM Professional and the recently released Ergomo, but at a lower cost than both of those models.

I did experience some problems with the reliability of the hub. There were times it would often experience anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes of "black out" time unexceptionally during a ride or race. Some times a hard sprint effort would result in a similar short black out period of a few seconds. I did have one day where the hub wouldn't even register, but it worked fine the next day, still haven't figured out why that one happened. On the subject of reliability the heart rate monitor has to be my least favorite part. I would only get consistent readings from a trainer ride and any data from a race was worthless, as only about 5 to 10% of the race would end up getting recorded.

(*NOTE: After being informed by our many up-to-date
readers the PowerTap Pro can be used as a cycle only
computer by following the steps in Setup 4 of the
manual. So I will elevate my review a little higher in
praise as it has this "really cool" feature. Thanks to all
those who have pointed out my error, got a little
distracted by the 80's VCR-like manual. - GG)

What could be added to make the system even better? Not much, with the addition of the cadence monitor cable there isn't much more than an altimeter one would really want or need. It would be really cool if you can run the whole PowerTap system on a "race mode" when you aren't using the hub, but still have the ability to record everything (speed, heart rate, cadence) but power and download that after a race.

Overall there is room for improvement, but with a price tag under $900 dollars the Pro version of the PowerTap is a good choice for serious-recreation riders who want to track their miles, but serious racers will be drawn back by the hubs weight and raceablity.

Find more information on the PowerTap Pro at:


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