Monday, May 20, 2013

Power! or, I've lost my mind

Power tap wheel

Yep. That's exactly what it looks like. And it's mine. You may be asking yourself "Why does a non-racer who is getting old need a power meter?" Or simply "WTF, Curtis?" And honestly, you're right to ask.

As with most tales ending in really weird decisions, this one has a long history of nonsensical thinking.

It started last year when I decided to try using The Time Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael to train for double centuries. I used a heart rate, but clearly all the cool kids were using expensive power meters.

When my friends started buying new expensive bikes that was just the prompt I needed to start the rationalization machine. (I'm looking at you, Dan, Steve and Ron Ng.) Wheels cost so much less than a new bike I could save money!  And, I have a really big birthday coming up this year. If I don't buy myself something wonderful, how could I expect anyone else to? So I started researching on, and started this thread. Much to my amazement several great deals appeared. Deals that made me not want to wait until October but to act now. So I did.

I bought used G3 powertap wheels from a truly kind man on the opposite coast. Objects are fun to own, but I think what drives us is the stories that go with them. Would the Mona Lisa be so captivating without the tales that come with it? My seller provided details so carefully documented that they must actually make the wheels lighter and faster. Here's a short excerpt of his information.

The front wheel is a 20-hole Ligero front hub. It weights 65 grams and features Phil Wood Abec 10 bearings. It is laced to a Kinlin 27mm rim with CX-Ray Spokes. The front wheel weighs about 610 grams. 
The PowerTap started as an SL 2.4 wireless hub. It was the top-of-the-line PowerTap at the time and weighed about 420 grams. It was upgraded it to ANT+ after the PowerTap computer was broken. (They used to come with a proprietary yellow computer.) Then last year, it started giving bad numbers, so was sent to CycleOps, and they replaced the inside with the new G3 system. Basically, it was a completely new PowerTap other than the outside shell. 
The rear also is laced to a Kinlin 27mm rim 
Kinlin rims are affordable, lightweight and reliable rims. They are very popular among custom wheelbuilders. You can get them from White Mountain Wheels, Psimet, Zen Cyclery, or
The wheelset was built by Troy Watson, whose company was Ligero wheels. Troy had been a wheelbuilder at American Classic and Litespeed as well as the wheelbuilder for the Garmin Slipstream team many years ago. He designed his own hubs and had them manufactured by Wheels Manufacturing. The design he came up with is basically what Alchemy is using now.
Pretty impressive, no?

I put some white-wall Michelin Pro Race tires on that I'd been saving. I like the white look,but who knows how long it will actually stay white.

Now my job is to figure out how best to use it. In addition to  The Time Crunched Cyclist I also purchased Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter and The Power Meter Handbook: A User's Guide for Cyclists and Triathletes by Friel. Both are aimed more at real athletes and tri-geeks, and are filled with incomprehensible charts and graphs. I'm enjoying being overwhelmed by data and hope I can make use of it all, or even part of it. The books recommend just riding with the power meter for a week and then getting serious. I have summer vacation starting next week, so I'll try setting up a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test then.

If you have suggestions for Mac based software, please let me know.

Roubaix with Powertap


  1. Midland11:52 AM

    Right on Curtis. I love Phil Wood products and the power meter sounds cool.The white tires are clean looking.

  2. Nice find Curtis. For the Mac, Golden Cheetah is the way to go. You can download it free from To be honest, Strava Premium isn't doing a bad job at keeping up either.

  3. Cool. I didn't plan on buying a new bike. I blame it all on Ramon.

  4. I second Richard's comments.


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