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How to Train with a Power Meter – Which Type Is Best

By Jiri Kaloc

Before you can start training with a power meter, you have to choose which type you want to install on your bike. Power meters can be built into a crank arm, crank spider, hub, or pedals. Each of these placements has advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at which one is best for you.

What kind of riding you do will help you narrow your options. For example, if you only need power data on a road bike, you will have plenty of power meters to choose from. But if you want to use the same power meter across multiple bikes and for multiple disciplines, you will be left with fewer choices.

Crank-based power meters


  • You can fit them on different types of bikes
  • You can use any pedals you like
  • You can swap wheels


  • It’s the most difficult type to transfer from bike to bike

The first cycling power meter was located in the crank spider and it’s still the most accurate, consistent, and durable option. If you have multiple bikes and don’t want to deal with the hassle of transferring, you can try the crank arm option. You can use a single-arm power meter where the power value gets doubled to compensate for the other arm. You lose some accuracy but it makes this the most affordable option.

Pedal-based power meters


  • Easy to move from bike to bike, you can even use them on a rental bike or hotel exercise bike
  • You can swap wheels
  • You can analyse your left/right stroke balance with a dual setup


  • The pedal is a vulnerable component, especially for MTB
  • High-end models tend to be more expensive than crank-based options

The convenience and transferability of pedal-based power meters is excellent. There are both single and dual side measurement to choose from. Just don’t smash them into rocks too much.


Hub-based power meters


  • Easiest to install and move from bike to bike; you just swap the wheel, no tools required
  • Perfect when your bikes have a variety of crank-bolt patterns and you want to use different chainring sizes on different bikes
  • You can use any pedals you like


  • Not practical if you use multiple different wheels for training, racing, or weather conditions

These are sometimes called wheel-based power meters and they are a great option when you have several different bikes but use the same wheels. They also offer exceptional durability. Hubs with cartridge bearings are pretty much bullet-proof when it comes to wear. You’ll only have to change batteries.

Smart trainers

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning smart trainers. They offer the easiest and most entertaining way to measure your cycling power output indoors. With the introduction of platforms like Zwift, Rouvy, or BKool, indoor trainers with their electrically braked ergometers exploded in popularity. You can buy a Wattbike or a smart trainer from Wahoo and get detailed analytics about your pedalling and power.

Now that you understand which type of power meter will suit your needs best, it’s time to learn how to use these tools in your training. Watch out for more about power zones and training load in the next article of this series.

Next up in How to Train with a Power Meter series