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PowerPod

PowerPod: the Box of Magic, a Tale of Affordable Power Meters

As a non-pro cyclist who is performance-driven but also has to pay the bills of an expensive London life, I could only dream of training to power. Whilst the idea sounded appealing and I knew the benefit of it, I never considered investing in a power meter due to the hefty price tag they come at. A couple of months ago a colleague told me about PowerPod and I thought that could be a good option for me. Not only did it look affordable, it also sounded like a smart little tool which in its simplicity can measure power, as well as several environmental factors that influence your performance. After a chat with Velocomp’s Phillip Lucas, who was kind enough to introduce me to PowerPod, I decided I would give it a go.
Let’s have a look at what PowerPod is and does.


What PowerPod is and How it Works

PowerPod is a small black box that attaches to your handlebar using the same mount as a GoPro. It weights next to nothing (around 62 grams including mounting hardware, 30 grams on its own). PowerPod is a powermeter which connects to your bike computer via ANT+ and measures your power output in the most simple of ways (genius!). Via a wind port, PowerPod takes into account resistance forces working against you, such as wind, elevation, acceleration (and braking), and friction (drafting). All these factors, PowerPod combines with your speed and cadence sensors data to give you wattage.

It is also quite interesting that PowerPod connects to a proprietary piece of software called Isaac, which has the potential to improve riding performance quite significantly. I was fascinated to see how rich the information is, information that so far I had only seen in bike fits worth £250. And there it was, performance data for me readily available at every ride, for free. Read more below about Isaac.


Installation

I have to say that the simplicity of a PowerPod was almost daunting for me; I am good at software but not so much at hardware so the lack of screen and the one-button interface scared me quite a bit. Fortunately, the simplicity worked well in my favour. Installation was easy and here is how it went. I attached the PowerPod with the handlebar mount on the left side of my handlebar, my Garmin 810 on the right. The wind port must be at the front, the box parallel to the ground and make sure there are no cables interfering with the wind port as it must be able to pick up resistance. That’s the whole point.

I was pretty chuffed at the black and red colour scheme, matches my De Rosa. I was a happy bunny indeed, all I need to do was calibrating. First step for calibration, is making sure your bike computer can read speed and cadence data. I use a Garmin 810, which came with a speed sensor and a cadence sensor. Give the sensors a spin to awaken them. After that, ensure the PowerPod is connected to your bike computer. In my Garmin, all I had to do was access the profiles and tell the Garmin to connect to the power sensor. Which it easily found. For the calibration ride, you must ride the same route for 5 minutes out, and then ride it back for the same distance. For those of you in London, if of interest, I rode Richmond Park’s Priory Lane to Roehampton Gate and back; it was a good choice because traffic is not too bad (make sure you choose when you go wisely though), and most importantly it’s protected from strong winds. As you do your calibration ride, you will see your watts building up from 0 to 100 (50 when you’re mid-ride), and once you get to 100 the wattage data will normalise and starting reading as actual power. Easy!


The Software: Isaac

Isaac will help you analyse your ride by telling you how many watts you’re saving by drafting, how many you’re wasting my breaking, how wobbly you’re being with the handlebar, and the likes. There is also the option to buy a pedal stroke analysis extension, which can be good for people how have an uneven pedal stroke and are striving to become smoother.


The Experience

Just last week I did a training camp in Mallorca, and it was my first time properly testing the pod and riding my bike next to people with other power meters. I was really happy to see the accuracy of it against other more expensive power meters. Being a novice at training with power, my biggest surprise came when drafting. Increasable to see how much energy was saved by sucking another rider’s wheel. Both on the flats and on the climbs. I feel that I benefitted a lot from having PowerPod, my training was more specific and I was much more aware of my limits power-wise. I would highly recommend investing in it, if you plan to take your training to another level.

Where To Get It

You can buy directly from the Velocomp website by clicking here from $299, or in the UK Probikekit and Vanillabikes sell it for £269.00.