The Garmin Vector bike pedals give you a power rating for your ride which you can use to partner with Strava and obtain very detailed data about your cycling and training.
When I purchased the Garmin Vector 1 I was under the impression that a future software update would allow you to monitor your full pedal stroke. This update never came, until I heard of the Vector 2. The Vector 1 shows plenty of data and like most data files out there it really has no point unless you use that data. I find myself focusing on average three second power while riding. Live power is too up-and-down, for example if you're pulling out from the lights, overtaking another cyclist, or if you stop. But having a constant three second average on show gives you enough time to flatten out your efforts.
When you cycle the same routes and the same hills you can really get to know what your max effort is and how much more you have in the tank. Of course, your body will really tell you if you have anything left to put down, but sometimes it is nice to know for real; “you can do this”.
For the first year of riding with the Vector 1, I didn't even bother with heart rate data, but I was introduced to Strava fitness and freshness that relies on power and also heart rate data to show you how strong you really are. I'm not sure how accurate or reliable the data from Strava but it uses your power to produce fitness and freshness. According to my personal graphs, my fitness is much better in the summer which does marry up with my bike riding and training.
Strava Fitness and Freshness. You will require a premium account, power meters, and heart rate data to access this.
Best Efforts Power Curve
Watts per kilo
Another great thing that you can get from is Strava with your power data is your FTP and also your power to weight calculations. In theory, you don't need Strava for this data but Strava pulls all the data out for you in a nice graph that you can really visualise and start to understand.
So the consideration to buy a power meter is certainly a big purchase and there are now more options on the market than ever before. Coming in at £999.99 and costing more than the price of an average road bike, it was something I had to weigh up between either getting a new set of wheels, or an awesome power meter. My reading, research, and tips and tricks from friends told me to get a power meter. It will make you a stronger rider whereas carbon wheels will just allow you small benefits but not actually improve your ‘engine’.
Riding for several years with a power meter on its own won't make you faster, but it will build your power if you use the data to start to push yourself harder and harder. Can I justify a spend of £1000 plus to get what I currently know? Is that extra bit of data from Garmin worth over £1000? If you use the data properly, then this piece of kit can really improve your performance, and if you are a seasoned athlete or cyclist, then this can be invaluable.