6

I would like to collect as much data as possible about my daily road rides so recently I am considering pedal-based power meters such as Faveor Assioma or Garmin Vector 3.

However, I don't want to wear those clipless shoes; I prefer to use my normal shoes and I am willing to lose some accuracy for that.

Is there any way I could use a pedal-based power meter with my normal shoes?

******** Update: 2 years later! ********

After reading the comments and answers here and thinking more about it, I realized fixating on power pedals wasn't necessary! so I got a Stages crank power meter for a reasonable price and started collecting power data about my rides without having to change pedals which was ideal for my case.

I am happy with this choice. I am not a professional rider nor I am using this information to enhance or adjust my training. I just want to keep track of the power I am exerting on each ride and attach it to my Garmin/Strava rides. For example, sometimes I feel extra tired so I check my performance compared with other rides. I found out that feeling tired most likely means I was putting less power (not more!) and it usually means I didn't eat well or get enough sleep etc. Another thing I found was when it becomes windy I feel I have to exert more power but checking my stats later I didn't find that I was putting more power so it looks like the wind is making it difficult for me to handle the ride and slowing me it but doesn't mean I am putting more power.

3
  • I have to point out that cyclists can benefit a lot from clipless pedals. You will find that after a bit of an adjustment period, they are easier to use than it might seem. Also, you can consider mountain bike pedals and shoes, which are much more walkable, with a crank-based power-meter. At some point, MTB power pedals will become available and reasonably priced. As I write this, I believe SRM has released a very expensive MTB pedal. Last, power only really makes sense if you're using it to train seriously. Many people would find it odd to be using street shoes with a power meter.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 7 '19 at 2:10
  • On the point of "willing to lose some accuracy"—there is a surprisingly big difference between riding at (for example) 100% FTP and 105% FTP. Power meters are tools for optimizing your training, but if you're not using the tool correctly, you won't get much out of it, and you might even wind up setting incorrect targets that actually set you back. Also: there's another SPD power-meter pedal, the IQ Square.
    – Adam Rice
    Dec 30 '20 at 17:39
  • Clarify please - are you aiming to train with this data, or are you after the data for the sake of data ?
    – Criggie
    Dec 30 '20 at 23:38
6

All road clipless pedal designed for shoes with cleats cannot be ridden with normal walking shoes - they don't have a flat platform for a shoe's sole to rest on.

Power meter pedals are probably all clipless. You might find some MTB pedals that have both a SPD cleat systems and flat platforms.

The easiest route is to get a left crank arm meter which woudl allow you to use whatever pedals you like.

6
  • You could use an adapter: amazon.com/VP-ARC6-Compatible-Clipless-Platform-Adaptors/dp/…
    – Paul H
    Sep 6 '19 at 16:30
  • 1
    I wouldn't say that road pedals literally cannot be used with normal shoes. They can, it's just not a secure grip at all because of the small platform. I also wonder if there's any engineering reason that the pedals' power measuring function won't work with street shoes, or if it won't work accurately. As far as I know, those pedals measure the torque that we put into the spindle. They may not require the clip-in mechanism to be engaged to provide a reading. I'm not an engineer, though.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 6 '19 at 17:16
  • @WeiwenNg power meter pedal don’t measure torque on the pedal spindle, they measure force in the pedal platform. I’m not sure if the designs, but strain gauges would have to be used to measure force between shoe and spindle, or bending force on the spindle. Sep 6 '19 at 17:28
  • 1
    @ArgentiApparatus I'm still trying to confirm, but I believe that at least some of them measure at the spindle. For example, the drawings in this vid by Keith Wakeham, who I believe is an engineer who used to work for 4iiii, imply this. Trying to confirm elsewhere, though, as his content is a bit dense. youtube.com/watch?v=-OoLXnl_NKY
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 6 '19 at 17:34
  • 1
    @ArgentiApparatus there are pedal power meters that measure via the spindle; that's how the Garmin, PowerTap, Favero, and SRM pedals work. I'm concerned that they are designed and calibrated to expect the applied forces to be at a certain distance from the spindle, and an adapter plate to convert "Look" to flat platforms would change that distance. If the OP insists on wearing "normal" shoes I'm not sure that a power-measuring pedal is the best choice.
    – R. Chung
    Sep 7 '19 at 12:23
3

On another forum (see responses by Anna Ronkainen), it was pointed out that if your shoes touch the power meter pods, that may cause erroneous power readings. Basically, you are introducing a side load to the strain gauge assembly in the pods. I am not an engineer, but my (extremely limited) understanding is that the strain gauge assembly is designed to isolate and measure the torque in one direction only, whereas when you pedal, you may be loading the pedals in two dimensions (vertically and horizontally, with respect to the pedals). If you put a side load on the strain gauge assembly by bumping it with a sneaker, I am not sure if that will introduce an error, but Ronkainen seemed to think it might.

My initial thought, based in comments on Argenti’s answer, was that the strain gauge basically measures how much you are bending the spindle. With sneakers, you are still bending the spindle, only you are losing a lot of power because of the poor shoe-pedal interface.

In principle, one could Google for a Look to flat pedal adapter (all current road power meter pedals are Look-based, although some use aftermarket cleats that are very similar but not 100% identical to Look cleats). Do note Rchung’s comment on Argenti’s answer in that case. I would still not recommend using street shoes on clipless power meter pedals, even if I am correct that the power meter would still measure correctly, because you are buying a very expensive item and using it in a pretty compromised use case; you’d be better off spending the money elsewhere.

As an aside, when the question was originally posed, we did not have a global pandemic going on. Right now, on Zwift, there are a number of less experienced riders asking how they can get exercise bikes or trainers to work with Zwift. Virtual cycling environments require either a measurement of your actual power, or they need a trainer with a known resistance curve (I.e. for a given wheel speed, what power is required to turn the trainer). Hence, this question might arise more frequently.

1

There have been power meters built into rear hubs, cranks, bottom brackets, chain tension readers, and even air-based meters, so you can get a power reading while riding for real, without having to use power-based pedals.

I have an old cycle computer headunit that estimates power based on speed and rate-of-change of elevation using a barometric sensor (ie doesn't account for wind) and that gives an instantaneous figure in 20 watt increments.

You could use Strava and their "estimated power" graph, though IMO its wildly inaccurate in detail though fair in the broad average.

The Power Pod is the main air-based one and is reviewed at https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/03/powerpod-depth-review.html Do note you'll need a proper cycling headunit to capture the data, your phone won't do.

Another tool is a fancy trainer that has a power meter built in. Downside is these are hard to ride down the road for real.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.