CycleOps gets it right with the Joule 2.0.
CycleOps has been in the powermeter market from the start. From their initial hub offering they have made their hub system lighter, wireless and ANT+ compatible. The Joule 2.0 marks the first major overhaul of the head unit that reads all the data, and it is a big step forward. The Joule 2.0 shows all of the information you could possibly want to view while riding, and more is available after downloading. The new joystick navigation makes it easier to scroll through the various screens, making it simple to use. This really is an entirely new product rather than just a simple overhaul. The new unit is markedly larger than the older one, but it still fits nicely on the stem. I mounted this on a stem as short as 90mm and it still fit, albeit snugly. The mounting bracket is designed solely for the stem and uses the usual zip tie system. The larger screen is needed in order to view the information the Joule provides. If it were any smaller people would complain that they couldn’t read the numbers. The Joule 2.0 now uses a re-chargeable battery that simply plugs into your computer via a U.S.B. connection. This serves to charge the unit and as the downloading mechanism.
There are four main screens, Dashboard, Report, Activities and Menu. Dashboard, Reports and Intervals are used while ridingÂ and Menu is used to set up the unit. Most of the time you will be using the Dashboard. This screen displays all of your current metrics and is fully customizable. The top portion of the unit shows six different fields like power, time, distance, cadence, heart rate and elevation gain. The lower 2 fields are used to show other aspects of the metric you have highlighted above. For instance, if you have power as one of the top fields you simply use the joystick to highlight that field, then your average and maximum power will be displayed on the lower two fields. Essentially this gives you eight different metrics to view. With the flick of the joystick you can easily see your average power, time, distance or intensity factor. A major upgrade over the previous unit was the abiltiy to view your rolling Training Stress Score, T.S.S. and Intensity Factor, I.F. These are two key metrics if you track your training using Training Peaks or other software. Previously you had to wait until you downloaded your information to view T.S.S. and I.F. so this is a big improvement in my book.
Reports Mode will show you how selected metrics on your current ride stack up to historical averages, which you can set for 2, 4, or 8 weeks and 6 or 12 months. The Activities screen will show you any intervals you’ve performed during that ride. The menu screen is used in setting up the Joule to read different powermeters, heart rate monitors, and to configure the display among other functions. In my use I simply used the Dashboard mode to view what I was currently doing. While easy to view, I think that riding along looking at past reports or intervals is not necessary and can wait until I am safely at home. Granted, it is still a neat feature.
With so many fields to view, navigating them is a key component. Two simple buttons, Mode and Interval are on either side of the joystick. The Mode button scrolls between the screens and the Interval is for intervals of course. The joystick is used to select fields or metrics and not only moves left, right, up and down, but you can also press down on it to select. While it takes some getting used to, and I wouldn’t use it a lot while riding in a group, I quickly got the hang of using it without having to stare at it.
All of these improvements are great, but how does it work on the road? Very well in my opinion. I used the Dashboard screen almost exclusively while riding. I liked that I could easily view so many different items without having to fidget with several different buttons. The screen is set up in an easy to read fashion, and breaking up the screen into 6 fields on top with 2 below was a great move.Â In addition, the screens are customizable on the go. So if you suddenly decide you want to see how many feet you’ve climbed you highlight the metric to replace and press down on the joystick to change what is displayed. Again, not something I would do while riding in a group, but when solo it’s not such a big deal. Using the Interval button is super easy. Just press once to start and press it again to stop. If you want to view just the information for the current interval you simply press and hold the Interval button. It really couldn’t be any easier. I was leery of the joystick at first, but it provides positive feedback, feels solid when you handle it and makes the Joule much easier to use.
The only drawback to the Joule 2.0 comes in the training software. While their PowerAgent 7.0 software is solid, it’s not as complete as others, notably TrainingPeaks. This is not a surprise since TrainingPeaks focuses solely on software and does nothing in hardgoods. Workout files are easily loaded onto TrainingPeaks so in the end it’s not a big issue. The PowerAgent software is free and does allow you to view key elements of your workout.
Other advantages to the Joule 2.0 are that it will read any powermeter using ANT+ technology, not just CycleOps’ PowerTap hub unit. Anyone with an older, non-ANT+ PowerTap can purchase an ANT+ updater for $100. This means that you don’t have to try to sell your older model and buy the new one, a nice move on CycleOps’ part.
At $449.99 without the ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor strap and $499.99 with it the Joule 2.0 is not the cheapest computer on the market, but it is the most complete. If you want to get the most out of your powermeter and use it to it’s full potential the Joule 2.0 is for you.