Power meters have long been the territory of professional cyclists, aspiring racers, avid riders, and weekend warriors with more money than sense. Now, several companies are seeking to bring this technology to the world of DH racing. In a sport where races are generally less than 5 minutes long, and there is only one speed – flat out, does this new tech necessarily make sense?
Apparently someone thinks it does. Both SRAM and SRM and working closely with two of the biggest names in DH racing on this tech.
Read on to learn more…
There are several reasons why professional and would-be racers might find this piece of technology advantageous. For example, Danny Hart uses a custom SRAM powered Quarq Power Meter on his DH bike, and Danny Hart is the current world DH champion. Aaron Gwin is the most winning American in recent DH world cup history, and the only competitor to have ever clinched 5 world cup wins in a season, and he also uses a similar device. Coincidence?
According to Alan Milway, Danny Hart’s fitness coach, the power meter helps them understand “his performance, effort, bike set-up, and fitness,” Last season they had a GPS unit hidden on the bike to collect various data from his race runs (is that UCI legal?). The custom BlackBox Quarq Power Meter Danny is currently running was the end result of a discussion that began at Interbike last year. As a result, the engineers at Quarq developed a one-off design, based off a standard CinQo, which could be mated to a XO DH crank arm.
While the custom SRAM DH power meter may never find its way into the hands of consumers (although a non-DH specific, mtn bike version is available), if you’re personally interested in the technology, then SRM offers a crank based Power Meter that is compatible with SRAM XO, XO DH and Shimano Saint and XT cranks arms. Their system also features an integrated timer, which attaches to the handlebar, which enables riders to record lap times without releasing their grips. SRM claims the data obtained using their system allows athletes and coaches to overlay data for multiple runs, making it possible to determine how much speed can be held through different sections, and where time is being lost.
UPDATE: Quarq’s marketing director just chimed in with this:
“The first comment on your article highlights some of the advantages of using a DH power meter. It extends beyond the start to the pedaling strength necessary during and at the bottom of a course. In the Coggan/Allen book, Training and Racing with a Power Meter, they talk about Olympic-bound BMX racers: the best can replicate their power leaving the start gate in each subsequent berm (turn) on the track. And a power meter gives you a lot of objective data to assess fatigue and change your training to be able to do this. There’s also other factors – changing the way you jump to get more “micro-rest” – which you can measure by looking at your maximum watts when you begin pedaling again. There’s a nice summary in the Training and Racing with a Power Meter journal here.”