2014 Cyclingnews Reader Poll: Inexpensive power meters the best tech innovation

Power to the people, say the people

Whereas heart rate monitors were once prohibitively expensive but are now ubiquitous, power meters are now (hopefully) following a similar path. Nearly half of the voters in this year's Cyclingnews Reader Poll want prices to come down – fast.

Few metrics in cycling are perhaps as indicative of a rider's fitness than power, and the power meter market is quickly becoming flush with models priced at less than US$1,000, such as the ones from Stages Cycling and Powertap. As costs continue to come down, more riders are able to make better use of their training time so that they can go faster with more focused efforts. The data gathered is also invaluable for coaches, who often work far away from the athletes they nurture.

While prices have come down dramatically in recent years, power meters still have a long way to go before they become as common as heart rate monitors – and in fairness, they're unlikely to ever achieve parity given the associated hardware's difference in complexity. Here's to hoping the gap keeps narrowing, though, and with more companies entering the fray, this is a trend we're happy to see continuing to trend downward.

Coming in second in this year's poll is 3D printing – a high-tech method whereby parts are fabricated layer by layer on a machine that isn't all that different from a standard desktop inkjet printer (at least in concept). To date, just a few bike companies make use of the emerging technology but the implications are far reaching. True, components could get less expensive but the real draw is the ability to manufacture pieces that wouldn't otherwise be possible with conventional methods. One-off prototypes can now be made much more economically (and faster) than before, which certainly could accelerate development time.

Disc brakes are a hot topic at the moment but direct-mount calipers look to extend the lifespan of traditional rim brakes, too. Whereas conventional road brake calipers usually mount to a single hole, direct-mount setups use a pair of studs that pull the arms closer to the frame and/or fork. This reduces the chance of flex, which serves to effectively increase power and control while also improving lever feel. Good hydraulic disc brake systems still work better, mind you, but the advent of direct-mount rim brakes – and the proliferation of high-quality designs – means that rim brakes are far from dead.

Results - Tech Innovation of the Year

1Inexpensive power meters41.62% 
23D printing14.07 
3Direct-mount road brakes  9.09 
4BioShift automatic shifting  8.53 
5Advanced aluminium frames  6.94 
6Schwalbe ProCore tubeless tire system  5.49 
7Automatically adjusting safety lights  4.48 
8Focus RAT quick-release thru-axle system  3.65 
9Canyon MRSC magnetic suspension system  3.33 
10Full-suspension fat bikes  2.80 

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