Reason #3: Single sided power meters have made it more affordable

“Single sided power meters are just an estimate”

Single sided power meters have made power meters far more affordable and accessible but there’s still, amongst certain riders and coaches, a snobbery that they’re not up to the job – this simply isn’t true.

Limits Power meters

How do they work?

Single sided power meters simply take a reading from one crank/pedal, typically the non-drive side, and then double the value to get a total wattage value.

What about imbalances?

We all have imbalances and asymmetries and very few riders will have a consistently 50/50 left/right pedal stroke balance. Typically most riders will be in the ball-park of having a 2-4% discrepancy between their legs. This isn’t a problem  when it comes to power measurement though as most riders’ imbalances are consistent which means your data is too.    

So, is single sided accurate?

For the vast majority of riders (see final point), yes. The main point of using a power meter is that you have an accurate, objective and personalised means to pace your rides.

A single-sided power meter ticks these boxes. Having a power meter isn’t about comparing your FTP with your mates and so, as long as your data is consistent for you, that’s what matters. 

What about pedalling data?

Many dual sided meters offer pedal stroke analysis metrics and, although this information can be interesting, unless you’re in rehab from an injury, there’s not a huge amount of value to it for most riders. The issue of whether you can improve your pedal stroke by using live pedalling data is a real hot potato in coaching circles (excuse the pun) and arguably time spent trying to “perfect your peanut” would be better given over to more traditional training methods. 

Should anyone go dual sided?

If budget isn’t an issue then, by all means, go dual sided. If you know you have an imbalance due to an injury that will change significantly as you rehab then, for tracking this, a dual sided meter could be useful. However, if you’re “power curious” and are wanting to try a power meter to improve your pacing and training, then there’s no issue or caveats to going single-sided. 

In the next piece, how your power meter can improve your ride fuelling.