A power meter is only as powerful as the person using it – and that doesn’t mean the number of watts being produced, but the ability to analyse those watts, says Gallagher. In short, knowledge is power.
“The first question you have to ask yourself is: is this something that I’m going to be able to use 100 per cent effectively as a tool to get the most out of it?” he says. “A power meter isn’t a quick fix – it’s an investment in your training.
“The long-term return on investment is a lot more than a fast set of wheels, but there’s a big difference between buying a power meter and it looking nice on your bike, and buying a power meter and knowing how to use it.”
A fitness test is likely to give a cyclist the key training zones they need to work with a power meter but it’s then up to the rider to use that data to maximum effect – and that requires a dedication to the subject.
Mill agrees and doesn’t advocate that his clients have to use a power meter, and nor does he believe a power meter represents a value-for-money investment for many cyclists. “I believe in training with power but only for the right individuals,” he says, “but some people buy a power meter and don’t know how to use the data. That’s a waste of money.
“I’m not just saying that you need a coach to use a power meter – there’s lots of good information available out there – but I’m a firm believer that a clever athlete is a good athlete.”
Gallagher and Mill believe a rider has to be disciplined to get the most out of a power meter, and discipline, for some cyclists, can be in short supply.
“The tendency when riding with a power meter is to go out and try and hit personal bests on every ride so have you to be disciplined to use it effectively,” says Gallagher.
So if you’re a number-cruncher and gadget-geek who thinks a power meter could take your cycling to the next level, what should you look for when making a purchase? Two key factors are likely to influence your decision: price and it’s suitability for your type of riding (or, more specifically, do you need a power meter that can be used across a number of bikes?).