Best Buy: Power Meter or Heart Rate Monitor?

You bought a new bike and now you're ready to set the cycling world ablaze. You've bought all the necessary bike clothing, shoes, helmet and other biking accessories.

The next question is, what other accessories can you buy that will enable you to gauge your fitness level and how you are progressing in developing speed and endurance?

Quick Tip

Heart Rate Monitors can be a more cost effective option for cyclists, while power meters provide more accurate data.

Two of the most widely-used options are a heart rate monitor and a power meter. Which one should you buy? Some will agree that a power meter would be the best way to start out. Others will feel that a heart rate monitor should be the first choice.

There are a lot of articles out there and posts through different blogs that explain the differences between the two. There are very in-depth studies performed by researchers who explain the details of both. There are some differences of opinions as to which one to use, but here is an overview of both.

Heart Rate Monitor

One option for a beginner cyclist is to start out with a heart rate monitor first. Most HRM training programs are broken down into different training zones.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of heart rate training.


  • Helps a beginner cyclist get a feel for his own body's adaptation to different levels of intensity
  • Helps you not overexert yourself. One example would be in a time trial where you may want to save some energy for the end
  • Training in different heart rate zones will help you avoid overtraining
  • Personal programs can be designed. An example would be determining race efforts and recovery periods.
  • Cost efficient


  • Heart rate is affected by external and internal factors—stress, being tired, outside weather conditions, diet
  • Day-to-day adjustments. Depending on how you are feeling on a particular day, constant changes in your target zones may be required
  • It takes time for your heart rate to respond to an increase in exertion
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