Velocomp, makers of the iBike power meter, get set to release a paired downed version that is a bit more affordable for the masses at $299 retail. Unlike direct force power meters, the PowerPod opposing force power meter simply attaches to your handlebars–no need to change your crank, wheel, pedals, or bottom bracket.
Rather than measuring the direct forces occurring in the cranks (or at the rear hub) the PowerPod uses a sophisticated set of sensors to determine the forces opposing you and your bike at any one moment and then computes the power required by you to overcome these forces using onboard analytics.
The PowerPod power meter measures, up to 800 times per second, the opposing forces caused by hills, wind, acceleration, and friction. These opposing forces, matched identically by the forces applied by both of your legs, determines your power output. In other words: P(total) = P(rolling resistance) + P(wind) + P(gravity) + P(acceleration). The calculation also takes into account known variables such as your weight, type of bike, the course, and weather.
So just how accurate is the PowerPod? DC Rainmaker took it out on a couple of rides along with three other direct force power meters and overall, it faired pretty well. The only place it seemed to lag was over rough terrain, which can put any accelerometer based device to the test. So maybe the PowerPod is not ideal for gravel or mountain biking, but for road riding and triathlons you will get a pretty good overall assessment of your power output.
You can think of the opposing force power meter as more accurate than Strava’s power calculations, as Strava has no way to calculate the wind speed or air density during your ride. Instead, they simply assume no wind and an outside temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. If only.
The PowerPod works with any ANT+ bike computer and you can move it from bike to bike. At $299, it offers a pretty affordable way to start training with and better understanding how power output affects your ride. To jump in on early bird pricing ($269 is the lowest available currently), head over to Kickstarter to preorder your opposing force power meter today.