What's Cool In Road Cycling

SRM: The Long Test

We’re back with the final touches of an intriguing review on the much vaunted power measuring system so many pros love – the SRM. We’ve been testing the system all summer, but started enjoying it’s benefits right away…

In our first article on SRM, we detailed how it works, how it looks, what people have to say about it. In short, the SRM system is a crank-based power measuring system – when you pedal, energy is produced, and the SRM cranks measure and record this data, display it on your handlebars and make it downloadable for more detailed analysis.

There is no truer measurement of your power, not speed, not heart rate, not anything watts are the objective measurement, the number that doesn’t lie, the number that is never affected by outside sources.

SRM Does The Tour 2004
SRM was in the news during the 2004 Tour de France as pros Matthias Kessler, Jens Voigt, Gerrit Glomser, and Gilberto Simoni all participated in putting the newest SRM technologies to use. They had a small GPS unit placed in a saddlebag and the information could be transferred directly to the internet, and the whole world could follow along with all of their very live data – heart rate, watts, speed, cadence. A pretty cool idea, and real testament to SRM’s commitment to showing you the goods, when riders agree to do something like that during the Tour, it could only be for a worthy product. And thus PEZ was more than honored to do our part in testing the SRM.

With these thoughts in mind I began my test with a mixture of awe and excitement. I had always wanted to get my hands on an SRM. In the same breath, I wanted to avoid be awed by the system and make sure to keep things objective, so I started with the mindset that I wanted to find something wrong with the system. I figured that it wasn’t possible that something could be so perfect as to justify the retail price of 2500 euros.

At first I found myself staring at the little computer for hours on end. I became obsessed with the numbers on my screen – ! These were the growing pains. A three to four week period, but then it all clicked.

To The Test
I soon realized that the numbers on my computer screen at home were much more important. Seeing the numbers on the screen while you ride, yeah, that’s important, but coming home after training/racing and putting the information on the computer – THAT’S when things get interesting.

For me the numbers were just what I needed, they were like a missing puzzle
piece for me and I was able to focus my training a hundred fold. Through some
simple testing and comparisons of numbers (Power Profiling) I was able to
find out that my wattage outputs between 5 and 30 minutes were excellent,
whereas between 5 seconds and 1 minute were worse than poor. I have always known that short efforts – accelerations out of corners, sprinting, bridging gaps – were a huge weakness for me, but what was once an approximate idea became exact, no more wondering if I was improving, it was plain to see with the SRM.

So it was from that point that I focused my training to center almost entirely on short, intense intervals, and sure enough over the course of two months drastic improvement was the result. My 60-second wattage went from a decidedly poor, cat 5/untrained fat smoker level of 400 watts to over 650 watts. 5 second wattage? Just a little improvement from about 1000 to nearly 1300 – still not where I want to be, but a whole helluva lot better than before.

Every little step forward is noticeable. One week I did 1000, the next 1050.
Not a huge difference, but one that someone training seriously and
continuously can savour and use to go further. Instead of just “going hard”
for a 5 seconds, 30 seconds, or a minute, I was able to dial in and set
goals to exactly where I wanted to go. Heart rate plays little to no role in
intervals of this shortness (largely because everyone reacts differently to short intense bursts), and thus the only real way to get a good idea of what is happening is through watts.

There is no guesswork, no wondering, no approximations. 700 watts is 700
watts, you can either do it, or you can’t, and the longer you can push out a
high level of a certain amount of watts, the faster you’ll be. The simplicity of the
numbers begins to appeal almost immediately, what was once guesswork,
hoping, or wondering, is simple. It’s not a question of feelings, it’s a question of the numbers that you can output.

SRM Or Bust
There are many systems available now, but why SRM? Is it worth 2500 EUROS?
With a slight hesitation and some thought, yes. The day that I realized that
I would be willing to save up my pennies, nickels, and dimes, I knew
something had indeed happened. SRM provides what appears to be the best
system, it is not bulky, it weighs little extra than a normal set of cranks,
wheels are interchangeable, as it is a crank/hub based system. It is sturdy,
it will last, it is precise, it is supported with some of the best people
around. Is there anymore that one could ask for?

Negatives? Ah yes, of course there are, but certainly nothing that would keep me from buying.

One – Price. Retailing at nearly double the price of all other power meters, price tag shock can be a problem, but SRM’s standard of quality and performance is justifiably that much higher.

Two – Data Software. The SRM comes with their own data analysis software, which is not bad, but I prefer something much more robust like Cycling Peaks Software – my vote for today’s industry standard.

If you’re serious about improvement and getting faster, training more intelligently, and monitoring progress, this is it. In combination with a
coach, an SRM becomes that wonder tool, that magical Excalibur – a ton of
hard, but SMART work leads to big time gains in performance, as well as a
better understanding of yourself as a cyclist.

Basically, if you have the money, consider investing in an SRM. it will last many many years, and when divided over say 10 years, 2500 isn’t that much anymore.

A new set of wheels? A bike? Dura-Ace 10-speed? Instead of that new bike or
sexy new Cosmic Carbons, consider an SRM. It will change the way you train
and the way you think about cycling – surely those are words describing
something revolutionary.

If there is higher praise to be used, tell me, and I shall use it.
Let’s just say that I am dreading sending back my SRM, I don’t know what it
will be like to train without it. I’ve been exposed to a completely
different realm of training, and it’s something that I have embraced, and
look forward to having a chance to train with in the future, but first I
need to find a job.

Get More Info:
At the SRM Website: www.SRM.de

Got a question on the SRM unit? Send ‘em to [email protected]


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