In my last post I explained how I first heard of cycling power meters and how I came to use one. That first one was very basic. It just told me instantaneous power and average power. It was heavy. The batteries were a challenge to replace. Riding in the rain wasn’t such a good idea. And it’s hard to believe now, but no one back then bothered to look at ride data afterwards to see what they had done. In fact, when TrainingPeaks first launched an app (circa 2001) that would upload power data and help ride analysis one of the managers at a power meter company back then asked, “Why would anyone want to do that?” In the early 2000s we were only concerned with real-time data. My how things have changed in 20 years.
And to make matters even worse, power meters then were very expensive. The first power meters on the market cost in the neighborhood of US$4000. By the early 2000s they had come down to a little less than half that price. That’s still not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
Because of all of this, and especially because of the price, very few riders had power meters back then. Most continued to use their heart rate monitors as they were typically well under US$200. It would be another 10 years after I got my first such power meter in 1998 that they started becoming popular. The first athletes to enthusiastically adopt them were road cyclists with triathletes lagging well behind. This latter was unusual as triathletes had up until then always led the way with technology – heart rate monitors, aero bars, clipless pedals, deep section wheels, carbon frames, and much more. They were nearly always the first to adopt and enthusiastically use such new products. But by the late 2000s triathletes were still resisting power. In fact, for the first time I heard many of the sport’s leaders downplaying the role of technology in sport. Triathlon’s leaders were becoming Luddites.
In the last few years that trend in multisport has reversed. It appears that triathletes are now fully onboard with power. For most of them, however, price is still the greatest obstacle to using power. It commonly comes down to, “Do I buy new wheels or a power meter.” Given that choice I’d opt for the power meter every time as it’s better to have a big engine than a sleek chassis. And training with power will definitely help you ride more powerfully – which means faster. Of course, a power meter isn’t magic. You still have to learn how to train with it, what to look for post-ride to see how you are progressing, and what you need to focus on going forward. That’s why I wrote The Power Meter Handbook. It was meant as an introduction to using power in training. It doesn’t dive deep, but it gets at what is most important based on your sport and level of performance.
Over the years I’ve used several power meters. They’ve continued to improve in many ways. What were once clunky and complicated have become light and simple to use. The prices have also come down considerably. My newest power meter is a great example of this. It’s the Assioma DUO by Favero Electronics. It’s a pedal-based system as you can see here in the picture. I’ve been using the Assioma for about five weeks now and I’m very pleased with it. Why? Well, first of all, the price is well below what has been common for the past several years for top-of-the-line technology. With two pedals and a power meter in both (the Assioma DUO) the retail price is US$628. Or you can buy the two-pedals with a power meter only in the left pedal (the transmitted power is doubled). This Assioma UNO is priced at US$402. Once you have the UNO and later on decide to upgrade to the DUO you can purchase the Upgrade Kit for US$389.
Why did I get a pedal-based power meter? I’ve got four bikes – road, time trial, stationary, and ebike – that I like to have power on when I ride each of them. A pedal-based power meter would make that an easy swap. I also occasionally ride someone else’s bike when traveling so all I would have to carry are two pedals, which I’d do anyway.
But why the Assioma pedals as there are other such products on the market? A good friend for many years – Paraic McGlynn, who owns the Cyclologic bike shop in Scottsdale, Ariz. and consults with pro teams – suggested I give the Assioma a try as he was quite impressed by them. At first I was reluctant as they looked as if the pedal platform would increase the knee’s Q angle (a knock-kneed look from head-on when clipped in) putting stress on the knee joint under high force. The platforms looked wide, I thought. So I measured the distance from the crank arm to the middle of the pedal platform on what were then my current pedals and I did the same with the Assioma pedals. The measurement was exactly the same – to the millimeter.
I decided to give the Assioma pedals a try for two weeks to see how they’d do. Favero Electronics, the Italian manufacturer, agreed to let me do that. I was really impressed. I found them easy and quick to swap between bikes – nothing more than a pedal wrench needed. Just the same as any other pedals I’ve ever had. Unlike the power meter I had been using previously, charging is a piece of cake. To swap out batteries in my spider-based model the bottom bracket had to be opened, battery replaced, and then the bottom bracket put back together again. I’m not such a great mechanic so that could take me 20 to 30 minutes. A good mechanic could do it in five minutes or less. With the Assioma pedals all I have to do is clip a USB-plugged, magnetic cable onto each pedal and they concurrently charge. It takes only a few seconds instead of minutes. The company says a single charge lasts for 50 hours. For me that’s a lot of riding. So far I’ve only charged them once and that was when I set them up the first time. The charge can be checked using their app on your smartphone allowing you to always know precisely the pedals’ battery levels.
There are other high-tech reasons to consider the Assioma power meter, I found. Athletes with power meters are always at least a bit concerned about riding in the rain or even on wet streets. A little water inside a power meter could ruin a very expensive piece of equipment. All of the electronics for the Assioma, including the battery, are stored in waterproof resin-sealed compartments. No need to worry about rain – other than keeping yourself dry.
I’ve been using oval chainrings since 2006 and found them beneficial in climbing and time trialing. But they can mess up your power data accuracy due to the changing velocity of the crankarm throughout a single pedal revolution. A round ring has a relatively constant velocity. Favero addressed this matter by installing gyroscopes in their pedals which allows the Assioma to measure velocity in small segments of the crankarm revolution rather than in a single, complete stroke as other power meters do. All of this means they are highly accurate.
I’ve been lucky over the couple of decades I’ve been using power meters: I’ve never had a problem with any of them that required a return to the manufacturer. But some of my athletes-clients over the past 20 years have. It’s more than a nuisance as it means the rider will likely be without a power meter for days if not weeks. With the Assioma, if you have a technical problem, you open a ticket on their website and the Technical Support people run a remote diagnosis of the pedal sensors. The bike – with pedals – is still parked in your garage. They tell me that in most cases the matter can be resolved without returning the pedal to the factory. I think that’s a great feature and was certainly a selling point for me.
The bottom line is that I’m very happy with the Assioma pedals. They’re simple to transfer between bikes, light, clip in and out as effortlessly as any pedals I’ve ever had, easily charged, and relatively inexpensive. And the technology is top of the line. With both Bluetooth and ANT+ they are also compatible with my bike computer and my smartphone. I really think they have mastered the difficult proposition of the power meter pedal. I’m very impressed and would highly recommend them to any rider looking to purchase a power meter. (For more info and to purchase go to the Favero website.)