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

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Stages Cycling was the first to offer a direct-measurement power meter for less than US$1,000 but based on your votes, the hope is that it'll soon have lots of competition

Stages Cycling was the first to offer a direct-measurement power meter for less than US$1,000 but based on your votes, the hope is that it'll soon have lots of competition
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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3D printing opens up a vast world of possibilities in terms of manufacturing and prototyping. This one-piece carbon fiber shell and rail assembly from Fabric, for example, couldn't have been easily made by any other method

3D printing opens up a vast world of possibilities in terms of manufacturing and prototyping. This one-piece carbon fiber shell and rail assembly from Fabric, for example, couldn't have been easily made by any other method
(Image credit: Immediate Media)
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The direct-mount standard has breathed new life into road rim brakes

The direct-mount standard has breathed new life into road rim brakes
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
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Garmin-Sharp riders use SRM power meters on all their bikes. Some, like this one, still have the logos covered up. Some do not

Garmin-Sharp riders use SRM power meters on all their bikes. Some, like this one, still have the logos covered up. Some do not
(Image credit: BikeRadar)
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Most of the prototype TT-specific AceCo K-Edge Garmin mount is made via 3D printing but the production piece will use a mix of machined aluminum and injection molded plastic.

Most of the prototype TT-specific AceCo K-Edge Garmin mount is made via 3D printing but the production piece will use a mix of machined aluminum and injection molded plastic.
(Image credit: Jonny Irick)
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Canyon Bicycles unleashed a showstopper of a concept bike at this year's Eurobike show. The Projekt MRSC Connected incorporates 15mm of front and rear suspension, smart magnetorheological dampers, disc brakes, and thru-axles in a chassis that supposedly closely mimics - or in some cases, improves upon - the performance of a traditional aero road racer. Although it's still in the proof-of-concept phase, this mock-up is a visually enticing image of what might be in a few years

Canyon Bicycles unleashed a showstopper of a concept bike at this year's Eurobike show. The Projekt MRSC Connected incorporates 15mm of front and rear suspension, smart magnetorheological dampers, disc brakes, and thru-axles in a chassis that supposedly closely mimics - or in some cases, improves upon - the performance of a traditional aero road racer. Although it's still in the proof-of-concept phase, this mock-up is a visually enticing image of what might be in a few years
(Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)

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 brakes9.09
4BioShift automatic shifting8.53
5Advanced aluminium frames6.94
6Schwalbe ProCore tubeless tire system5.49
7Automatically adjusting safety lights4.48
8Focus RAT quick-release thru-axle system3.65
9Canyon MRSC magnetic suspension system3.33
10Full-suspension fat bikes2.80