For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Get a look at the power meters and computers featured in the 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. More from the Buyer’s Guide.
Quarq Sram Red
The draw: Cheapest full- function crank power meter
Training with power doesn’t get much easier. Mount the crank and perform a quick zero-reset before each ride and it’s ready. This model is only officially compatible with Red’s Yaw-based shifters and derailleurs from 2012 or 2013, but we have seen non-Red users who are riding the crank. An easy-to-change external battery and ANT+ compatibility means that all of Quarq’s power meters work with most computer heads from Garmin, Cycleops and others. For those at the cutting edge of aero bike fit, Quarq offers crankarms as short as 162.5mm.
Garmin Edge 510
The draw: The new standard for head units
The newest computer from Garmin starts with every important head unit feature, and adds a few special touches that could make all other computers obsolete. GPS, speed, data download, ANT+ compatibility (to display data from other sensors such as power) are the core features. The incredibly intuitive touchscreen interface, mapping and brilliant display are great additions and, for the worried spouse or race spectator, the 510 allows others to track your progress in real time using Garmin Connect software.
Bontrager Node 2.1
The draw: Simple and easy data display
One of the least expensive computers that displays power as well as temperature, grade and elevation all in one package, the Node 2.1 does a lot for not a lot of money. The unit was easy to set up and immediately connected to power meters as well as the included heart-rate strap. The Node 2.1 offers a ton of sensor compatibility, but no GPS function or the ability to download ride data. This limitation makes the Node a really good entry into basic power reading as it lacks the kind of analysis capability that other units provide.
CycleOps PowerTap PowerCal + Speed Sensor
The draw: Heart rate upgraded
CycleOps, a longtime player in power meters, offers the least expensive option to capture and display a measure of effort vaguely related to power. PowerCal is a program contained in a heart rate strap that, unlike direct force power meters, uses changes in heart rate to estimate power output. It is easily paired with any ANT+ power meter head unit and no calibration is required. PowerCal’s data are most useful when reviewing and analyzing general trends in longer duration efforts, as it lacks the accuracy of a direct force power meter or ability to provide quick readings.
SRM Rotor 3D+
The draw: The original power meter system
SRM has earned a reputation for reliability and quality, and is considered by many to be the gold standard in power meters. The SRM system is crank-based and, from Shimano and Campagnolo cranks to FSA, the company offers more crank options than any other power meter manufacturer—allowing most any rider to match his or her power meter, chainrings and crank to the rest of their group. The unit includes SRM’s PowerControl 7 ANT+ head unit and software that was designed to work with SRM power meters as a system. The SRM will also work with any ANT+ computer head and is available as a power meter (no head) for $750 less.
Follow Triathlete on Twitter @Triathletemag for inspiration, new workout ideas, gear reviews from our editors and more.