One of my favorite lines I hear all the time is: “I’ve got a power meter now, so I should be faster this year.” OK. A power meter isn’t like adding an aero helmet in a TT. It doesn’t correlate into additional speed, it only helps you know how much power you are producing. It isn’t performance enhancing, just performance reporting.
So why get one at all, especially when some cost more than the whole bike? You should get one if you are dedicated to tracking your training, developing a plan, consistently monitoring the results and making adjustments based on the results. That can make you faster. And a power meter just adds more information to that process. More good data in should result in good adjustments coming out.
So what is that process like? For one, I really like to have heart rate data as part of the equation. Using a power meter without HR data is tough because you can’t fully understand the effort your body is making in correlation with the amount of work that is being produced. Secondly, consistent review is important. Making adjustments 3 months down the road can essentially nullify the concept of using a power meter.
Once you get used to the idea that having a power meter requires you to spend additional time off the bike reviewing data and making training action based on that data, you are now on the path of becoming “faster this year.” many folks don’t want to learn how to do this or don’t have the time. This is where coaching can be a big benefit to a cyclist. Also having an outside, unbiased review of the data can be helpful.