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Int J Sports Med. 2005 Dec;26(10):868-73.

Validity and reliability of the PowerTap mobile cycling powermeter when compared with the SRM Device.

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Laboratoire de Mécanique Appliquée (U.M.R. C.N.R.S. 6604), Université de Franche Comté, Besançon, France.


The SRM power measuring crank system is nowadays a popular device for cycling power output (PO) measurements in the field and in laboratories. The PowerTap (CycleOps, Madison, USA) is a more recent and less well-known device that allows mobile PO measurements of cycling via the rear wheel hub. The aim of this study is to test the validity and reliability of the PowerTap by comparing it with the most accurate (i.e. the scientific model) of the SRM system. The validity of the PowerTap is tested during i) sub-maximal incremental intensities (ranging from 100 to 420 W) on a treadmill with different pedalling cadences (45 to 120 rpm) and cycling positions (standing and seated) on different grades, ii) a continuous sub-maximal intensity lasting 30 min, iii) a maximal intensity (8-s sprint), and iiii) real road cycling. The reliability is assessed by repeating ten times the sub-maximal incremental and continuous tests. The results show a good validity of the PowerTap during sub-maximal intensities between 100 and 450 W (mean PO difference -1.2 +/- 1.3 %) when it is compared to the scientific SRM model, but less validity for the maximal PO during sprint exercise, where the validity appears to depend on the gear ratio. The reliability of the PowerTap during the sub-maximal intensities is similar to the scientific SRM model (the coefficient of variation is respectively 0.9 to 2.9 % and 0.7 to 2.1 % for PowerTap and SRM). The PowerTap must be considered as a suitable device for PO measurements during sub-maximal real road cycling and in sub-maximal laboratory tests.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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