Disclaimer: I was provided the product in order to write this review on the PowerPod. The review is my own feelings toward the product and is an honest depiction of my experience.
I have been hearing about the advantages of training with power since I started riding 6 years ago, but the cost of the units were usually more than the bike I was riding cost, and the perceived gain was too minimal to warrant the extra expense, so I have been training using other methods. The thought of improving has been there however, so when I was approached by DeepCreek to test and review the PowerPod Power Meter I jumped at the chance. Still being new to the power game, I knew that the learning curve would be there, but I was excited to try it.
Upon receiving the unit I charged it via the USB connection to a wall outlet and it didn’t take more than 20:00, assuming it came with some charge in it already. I pared it easily with all of my ANT+ items (speed, cadence) and to my Garmin Edge 1000 and 920XT. All worked seamlessly. The issue came when I tried to mount it to my bike. Apparently they sent me the connection unit for the aero bars on a time trial bike and I use a road bike (Litespeed C1) mostly. Oops. What to do?
The units connection for the bike are GoPro connections, so I shot an email to the guys at DeepCreek and told them the issue, then proceeded to dig out a few of my older GoPro connectors to see if I could make one work. It did. So while I waited on a response about the connector I was able to get out and test it on a short ride.
Side Note: The owner called me directly within a day to confirm the issue and I had a road bike connector two days later. Kudo’s for support!
As I have said, I have never ridden with power so I had no idea if it was accurate or now, but I had a plan. The unit came on quickly and went through a fast calibration (less than 10 seconds) and the power started reading out. I played around with cadence, mashing, light spinning, to see how it effected the readouts and they all seemed to correspond. The result? I was much worse than even I thought I was, but having never trained with power I didn’t know if it was accurate or not. The PowerPod uses an air port to measure the incoming air stream. The Pod then compares it against your speed from the ANT+ speed sensor and is able to determine power output. It also contains an incline sensor, accelerometer, and barometer. Pretty cool little tool.
After I got home I decided to compare to the power I could generate on Zwift, which uses online algorithms to estimate power, while the PowerPod measures, about 800 times per second, the opposing forces caused by hills, wind, acceleration, and friction. By using these opposing forces, and then matched to the forces applied by your legs, it determine the your power. The result? Almost exactly the same amount of average and normalized power over the same course. I’ll count that as accurate.
What did I like about the unit?
Ease of installation
The fact that you don’t have to swap-out your wheels, crank, pedals, or bottom bracket to use it. Pair it, attach it, then ride!
What have I not liked about the unit?
While the PowerPod doesn’t need any software configuration by itself to work you can actually do a bit of configuration with their Isaac application (downloaded from iBike). I have had no luck using this software at all. The software installs but plugging the unit into my laptop has not resulted in the unit being seen and allowing for the configuration steps. Not a big deal to me, but since their claim is that you can use the unit even without a headset attached (download afterwards), this does not allow for it. I have a call in for this issue but have not received an answer on it. When I do I will update this blog.
The unit sells for $299, which is a far cry from crank and peddle based power units, so makes it somewhat affordable for the cash strapped athlete, such as myself. I have enjoyed the unit and seeing the results.