Verve Cycling, the designer and manufacturer of the InfoCrank power meter, has renewed its commitment to the Great Britain Cycling Team with a new four-year deal with British Cycling.
In 2015, Verve Cycling became the official power crank supplier to the Great Britain Cycling Team, and the deal announced today (12 November) will continue to see riders across all disciplines from the Junior Academy to the Olympic and Paralympic Podium Programmes provided with truly accurate power measurement capabilities using one common and world-leading technology platform.
With an accuracy unmatched by any other power meter, the InfoCrank is a game-changer for racing and amateur cyclists alike. The cranks themselves are available in all popular lengths and both compact and standard bolt circle diameter (BCD). The cranks also feature real-time output for the right and the left leg (independently measured) to any ANT+ compatible head units. For those looking to gain true elite-level volumes of data, the cranks can also be supplied with a bespoke data logger.
The partnership will also give British Cycling’s 160,000-strong membership the opportunity to access exclusive offers on the InfoCrank and all accessories.
Stephen Park, Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director, said:
“Data is a crucial piece in the jigsaw when it comes to the overall performance of our riders, and Verve Cycling are the leaders in this area.
“We have enjoyed a fruitful relationship since 2015 and look forward to continue to innovate for the next four years, into the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Cycle. We are also very pleased that British Cycling members will benefit directly from our partnership with InfoCrank to support their own endeavours to perform to the best of their ability.”
Bryan Taylor, Verve Cycling CEO, said:
“It’s been exciting to see our partnership with British Cycling develop over the years, with a shared ambition for true and precise power measurement that delivers in the most extreme of riding conditions. For the world-leading experts at British Cycling to select the InfoCrank as their power meter of choice for another Olympic and Paralympic cycle is testament to the product and what we’ve achieved together so far.
“We continue to have high aspirations for the next four years and look forward to seeing how we can push power measurement even further alongside some of the most incredible riders in the world.”
Verve Cycling, producers of the world’s most accurate power meter the InfoCrank, is proud to announce an official partnership with the highly accomplished Swiss triathlete Ruedi Wild. Those who know triathlon will know Ruedi, he has consistently remained at the sharp end of the sport for 20 years and is a long-term member of the Swiss National Team.
Since winning the European U23 title in 2005, Ruedi has been multiple Swiss champion, Olympian (2012) and reigning runner-up on the triathlon long-distance world champs (2018). He also placed third at Ironman 70.3 world champs (2016) and has 15+ wins at Ironman and Challenge Races under his belt. One of sport’s true fighters and ambassadors, Ruedi will continue to use the InfoCrank as he races through the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
The power meter provides Ruedi with live power measurements while riding, as well as accurate data that can be used post-ride to see the impact of training and as a tool to ensure his form peaks for key events.
Bryan Taylor, Verve Cycling President, said: “Ruedi has long been a member of the InfoCrank family and I’m incredibly proud to formally announce our partnership. Triathlon is one of the most challenging sports out there, technically, physically and mentally, and to know that Ruedi has placed his faith in the InfoCrank to help keep him and his performances at the highest level is a high accolade. I’m constantly blown away by the talent we have riding the InfoCrank and Ruedi is no exception.”
Ruedi joins fellow triathlete, Anne Haug, as an InfoCrank ambassador, along with a rapidly growing select group of elite athletes and teams that use the InfoCrank as their power meter of choice.
Ruedi Wild, Elite Triathlete, said: “For many years I have relied on the Infocrank in training and racing. Simple to install and maintain, the highly-accurate power meter allows me to control my efforts during training while staying in the right zone in long distance racing which is key for energy management. I can also analyse my performance in detail and receive feedback to inform potential improvement, such as the different power outputs of the two legs which then will affect my strength training.”
Borne out of a requirement for accurate and consistent data, the InfoCrank power meter provides precise results and is also used by the UCI and the GB Cycling Team, who have dominated track-cycling for the past 15 years.
The InfoCrank records true left and right power balance, pedal smoothness, torque effectiveness and cadence. It measures each leg independently and accurately throughout the pedal stroke, regardless of crank velocity. Unlike other power meters, the InfoCrank has no drift, it is not temperature sensitive and there is no need for constant calibration.
The InfoCrank truly is the only cycling power meter that delivers accurate and repeatable data and lives up to the hype of true measurement.
A simple way to look at accuracy is from the bottom up. Most people can intuitively grasp the idea that if the original measurement is not accurate then everything that follows from that is going to have a widening degree of error. Measuring forces, and then translating those forces into a wattage number that so many coaches and athletes find useful, is a case in point.
The InfoCrank is a torque transducer. It measures crank torque 256 times every second throughout the exercise whether the crank is turning or not. The targeted aim of the InfoCrank is to achieve 0.5% error maximum at any revolution, so we can work backwards to find out how accurately we need to measure the torque.
Below is a visualisation of four pedal strokes. There’s one wave for each leg, both with measurements of torque at 256 times per second. For a normal pedal stroke, a cyclist pedals at something between 60rpm and 90rpm. Good cyclists pedal faster with the top track riders often between 150rpm and even over 200rpm.
As you can see, there is a huge range of possibilities that need measurement. In this case, the top torque on a pedal stroke was 86.5541nm and only 0.8secs later the lowest point was recorded on that pedal stroke of -13.0476nm. The measurement has to be within the maximum error margin that entire time and also trace the shape – hence the high speed reading.
If we accept that the electronics themselves will allow some error to creep in, we want to be able to measure torque more accurately than the maximum error allowed, so let’s assume that we aim to be accurate to 0.25 watts.
Firstly, what would most people think that means? For the average cyclist, they would think that if I said the InfoCrank measured to 0.5% accuracy it would mean that if their bike computer showed 200w, then they know that their actual wattage is between 199.5watts and 200.5watts. So to be sure of achieving that, we need to measure the base measurement – crank torque throughout the entire curve of each pedal stroke at a certain maximum level of error.
Since the higher the speed of crank rotation actually increases the wattage error for the simple reason that watts = torque X speed of crank rotation, we need to read accurately at the highest crank rotations and let the low ones look after themselves. Once again, the maths tells us simply that to be accurate in wattage (allowing for error in the electronics beyond the actual measurement) we need to read each torque signal at least at 0.016nm if we assume that the maximum rotation is 150rpm.
A key part of the measurement system is the Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC). The best in the world currently is a 20-bit converter with an ‘accuracy’ of +-5ppm. It is deemed suitable for:
High speed data acquisition
Portable or compact instrumentation
Industrial process control
Low power battery-operated instrumentation
This is the type of product that is needed after precise placing and bonding of strain gauges to read the signals with the accuracy needed to ensure that the wattage errors can remain below 0.5%. Now to put this into perspective. If you wish to buy one of these for each crank, as long as you buy more than 100 at a time, they will only cost about $41 USD each.
Considering that one of the leading selling power meters sells to the bike manufacturers for about $75, you can guess that they are not using top components. By the way, a quick check of the ADC marketplace shows some 8-bit ADC with accuracy at +-2% – sound familiar? You’ll see this claim repeatedly made about power meters that use cheaper components and retail for around $300.
Of course, most people think that it is all in the strain gauges, but that is another story. Not much use using top quality strain gauges if you cannot read with high definition. Which leads us onto the final question, what is your power meter worth? If you want to install more than a gimmick to your expensive road bike (which you have no doubt spent months researching), then spend a fraction of that time understanding the truth of power-measurement and do yourself and the road bike justice.
Training on a bike can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it, but there is wisdom in keeping it simple as such an approach can pay greater rewards. You should aim to structure your training using the 80/20 rule, incorporating three different types of training.
Here are the three types of training to be aware of:
Endurance training – you need this for any cycling event in the real world or in e-sports. Without a strong endurance engine, you cannot get to the end of the event or tour. This is all about fitness and staying the course.
High Intensity Training – you need this to change from a slow person who can just ride a bike into one that has the power to get up hills, sprint into finishes and stay with the other riders. This is about pushing yourself into moments and bursts of exertion that ordinarily you might avoid.
Strength Training – this goes beyond the high intensity work and is designed to make your muscles stronger, not just faster.
You should aim to follow the 80/20 rule when structuring your training. Endurance training should be at least 80% of your training measured by time and in fact it delivers more than 80% of the results. In other words, just by riding at a talking pace you will get fitter and stronger over time.
If you decide to ride faster for that 80%, it does not necessarily mean that you will get faster or even much fitter. To understand why is a complex issue, but suffice to say training must be strategic and have a purpose. Goals must be set and worked towards – pushing yourself 80% of the time in an unstructured way risks physical burnout, mental depletion and self-limiting progress.
In cycling, there is a term sometimes called FTP or Functional Threshold Power, which is a power measurement. Your FTP is the maximum sustainable power at which you can ride for an hour and it is useful to have an idea what it is when you start. Your InfoCrank can help you to monitor this and here’s how to figure out what it is.
Your FTP can be used to determine the pace at which you ride when endurance training, however for now, we will refer to your Aerobic Threshold (AT). This is the level at which you can still breathe steadily even if laboured and ride for the hour.
About 70 to 80% effort of that Aerobic Threshold is another important level. This is the pace at which you could theoretically ride ‘all day’. More technically, it is the pace at which your body replaces what you are using more or less at the same rate as you use it. This is Endurance Pace. We often call it ‘Talking Pace’, because it is as fast as you can ride and still talk in proper sentences.
Another level below your endurance pace is what we call Recovery Pace. This is the pace at which the body actually replenishes while you are riding. The Recovery Pace is great because it drives fresh blood into the muscles, without creating any further damage, and as the name implies actually speeds up your recovery. It is simply one of the best ways to recover from a grueling session. It’s important to have days like this every so often as recovery is enhanced and muscular soreness reduced.
So now we have a box that looks like this for your Endurance Training. In any given week of training, 80% of the time should be below Aerobic Threshold with nearly all of it at an effort that is between Recovery Pace and Endurance Pace.
2. High Intensity Training (HIT)
Now we come to HIT, which should be around 20% of your time training. If the endurance training builds the house, the HIT is the roof. The best way to understand HIT is to use the analogy of a rechargeable battery when it is in use and connected to the charger.
We are just like that – the system is being used and then regenerating. The shorter the maximal effort in a training session, the more the anaerobic portion of your system is being used (anaerobic exercise is short, fast, high-intensity exercise that doesn’t require the body to utilize oxygen as its energy source).
So, a five second High Intensity maximal effort can put out a lot of energy, but in a 10-minute maximal effort, the rate at which the output is delivered (the battery discharge in our analogy) needs to be slower. Interestingly, discharging regularly actually makes your endurance capacity grow and also makes you more efficient at the High Intensity activity. So, you get a double bang for your buck. You get faster and can also ride faster longer.
The rule with HIT is that it is ‘all out’. But remember that this is ‘all out’ across the entire set of all intervals, if you truly go all out over the first couple of intervals you may not complete the set.
Judging these efforts takes a little practice, but it’s no more difficult than going to the gym and figuring out how much you can bench press for 5 sets of 10 repetitions – the practice is identical. And as with the bench press in the gym, you are aiming to get through each set in perfect form but exhaust all your energy in doing so.
Remember that this is how you train for 20% of your time including the recovery between efforts. For those at the top of their game, such as Olympic champion cyclists, spending as low as 4-5% of their time in the actual HIT is sufficient.
20% of your time at maximum
Always ‘all out’
Never on back to back days
Done as intervals
So now we’ve used 100% of the training time and seem to have forgotten the third section. The reason for this bad mathematical construct is that the actual time taken for strength is really very short, but still very important. Cycling is a non-load bearing exercise to a large extent. Humans are active creatures and naturally designed to take load, so we need to do some load bearing exercises.
This is why astronauts work-out in space, because the low levels of gravity cause muscle mass to atrophy (reduce) as everything is effectively lighter. In our case, we don’t need to use weights because on earth, body weight is sufficient. One of the best weights is the human body.
There are many different strength exercises you could do and isometric exercises in particular are easy to fit into your training (exercises where the muscles are tensioned but not contracting).
A favourite of ours is an isometric exercise done when your bike is fixed on a trainer:
Lock the bike down safely so the cranks can’t move.
Position your cranks at around 30 degrees and then apply all the pressure you can till you lose form.
Stop, perform the same exercise on the other leg, then rest and repeat.
Build up both time and pressure.
You can measure the instantaneous torque with your InfoCrank (via the VINC app available from the Google Play store) and then strive for new records every week. It’s likely you can probably only hold the max torque for 15 seconds, so doing a couple of sets is not a real time issue – but the payback is huge.
So, in summary, what have we got?
Most of your training should be at talking pace – often called endurance pace – which is about 70 to 80% of your threshold.
And then 15 to 20% of your training needs to be High Intensity. It can be part of the Endurance Ride or separate – your choice. This might be 10 x 1 minute, it might be 3 x 5 minutes.
And then starting once a week, do some strength work. Increase it in time and pressure. You could carry weights for the glute exercises or do more of them or both. For the isometrics, you also increase the time and the torque. Both of these can get fun and competitive – because you can be beating records every week.
And then you will start to reap the rewards of getting your training spot on.
Pair your training routine with an InfoCrank power meter and it will support you to ensure you are riding at exactly the right level. Find out more here.
Katie Toft – five-time para-cycling world champion in the C1 class – is an elite cyclist riding for Storey Racing and the Great Britain Cycling Team. Katie took some time out of training to share what it’s like racing internationally with cerebral palsy and what she’s learnt about herself from the experience.
As someone who has raced nationally and internationally for the last few years, cycling has without a doubt changed my life. The people I’ve met and got to know have taught me a lot, often about my Cerebral Palsy (CP).
Cycling started as physio when I was around 10 years old. First came the challenge of riding a bike – not easy when just five years earlier I couldn’t sit on a chair for shaking so much due to my CP. I wanted to learn to ride a two wheeler; that’s what my peers were doing and I had to be the same.
So I learnt to ride; me along with my parents, aunt and uncle, as well as grandparents – very much a family affair. We decided it would be best to learn on grass so that if I fell off, which I did a lot, it wouldn’t be quite as hard as tarmac. Roll on a few years and I am now racing amongst the best para-cyclists in the world. There are still tough challenges to riding a bike though!
I found out pretty quickly that my hand strength wasn’t great. I literally couldn’t hold the brakes any tighter on my road bike and ended up riding up a grass banking and into a wall on my first ever road ride (sorry Brian and Hayley). I pranged the front wheel and had some pretty nasty cuts and bruises. The wheel got changed (obviously) and I tried again and again on flatter routes until after a few rides I started to feel a little bit steadier.
I learnt to ride in cleats – this was great! Like many people I found it a bit odd, as you can’t put your feet on the ground quickly, but now I couldn’t imagine not using them. The advantage is that I don’t need to think about where my feet are, as I struggle with foot stability. The disadvantage is that if I need to put my foot down quickly, it’s not going to happen! Like the time the traffic lights changed on a club ride, I ended up on the floor…
Thankfully, these issues happened a long time ago now and there’s been no more rides where lying down on a road has occurred. Phew! There are, however, still challenges to overcome on a bike.
One issue I’ve experienced is eating and drinking. I can’t ride one handed, so I either have to stop (which I did in my first race) or think of a solution. My first race wasn’t great. It took place at Birkenhead park, I started okay but when I needed a drink, I quickly found that riding one-handed wasn’t going to happen. So I had to stop.
For a while, my parents thought I’d got lost; fortunately I’d found a lovely pair of marshals, so I was having a drink and catching my breath. The marshals helped me to set off and I was on my way again (until the next time I needed a drink… ).
Now, things are very different. I have a bottle system that was made by my dad, which is basically a long straw. The maximum distance for a UCI race for a C1 is 65KM, so having a drink is crucial – particularly in a hot climate like Maniago in Italy where I won two of my world titles.
When we’re training for a race, one of the key skills that British Cycling advises all racers to practice is cornering. Doing it at speed often means you’re leaning on one side; it’s important to have your feet in the right place so your inside pedal doesn’t hit the floor (yes, I’ve learnt the hard way). I really have to think about this and prepare, I do a tick list in my head to make sure I don’t go flying.
As a kid, we used to say I had wobbly legs – I still do but I’ve learnt to think ahead. I use the same roads repeatedly for training, this way I know literally every pot hole and more importantly the surfaces at every junction. By doing this, I know where it is safe to put my foot when unclipping to stop.
If I ride on a new route, my training buddy usually tells me if there is a junction coming up. Mainly because even after years of riding in cleats, I’m still wobbly sometimes so a little more thought has to go into stopping to make sure I’m safe. For me, even though I have CP quadriplegic (all four limbs), the right-side of my body is weaker and less coordinated than the left; this difference also affects how I balance at junction as well.
Due to the imbalance between my left and right side, there is an imbalance of power. Therefore, we use the InfoCrank power meter to keep an eye on the percentage difference; this enables us to keep an eye on fatigue levels, making sure I can get the very best out of my training. CP affects heart rate as it takes extra effort to move around in general, this is because it’s harder to control movement. Therefore, sometimes it’s more appropriate to ride on the turbo as I then don’t need to balance, which puts less stress on my heart and causes less fatigue.
Like all cyclists I have a lot to think about. With the lack of strength and coordination, learning to ride a bike certainly wasn’t easy, taking some tough love from family and friends to make it happen. Racing continues to give me interesting challenges. All in all though, cycling has given me freedom and I can’t imagine my life without it.
Indoor cycling now incorporates a fully-fledged competitive domain and has somewhat inevitably followed the well-trodden human path of play becoming game becoming sport. The fundamental nature of sport is debated, but it is in part the process of formalising play just enough to preserve both a sense of fairness and the necessary unpredictability of outcome. This process benefits participants and spectators alike, since if the outcome of sport is either predictable or grounded upon inequity then it ceases to be fun, which is the fundamental nature of play.
But to borrow some legal terminology, has this transformation from indoor cycling to virtual racing occurred mutatis mutandis? That is, has all necessary formalisation been considered and included on the road between play and sport?
Whilst high-profile virtual racing events take place in a singular location including both participants and spectators, by its very nature virtual racing usually occurs in a global network of self-funded pain-caves, interconnected by online platforms such as Zwift. This fortunate convergence of technology has enabled a new order to emerge out of the chaos, and in some ways has revolutionised what we think of as cycle-sport. But many participants and spectators are already sensing unease regarding the question of in-race power validation, which threatens to undermine the sport’s credibility.
As in any new market, there is a proliferation of brands vying for market share by creating the best products they can and which they think the participant needs to enjoy his or her pastime. Also as in any new market, there is much that is different between these products and therefore much room for an unintentional reduction in fairness or too much unpredictability to creep back in and erode trust in those at the top of the leaderboard.
When Pain Cave A represents 280W on-screen for an actual rider effort of 300W, and Pain Cave B represents 300W on-screen for an actual rider effort of 280W, we can see how Rider A becomes very quickly disadvantaged.
It is easy at this point to resort to scientific claims about this and that, but in the spirit of collaboration we can attempt to conceptualise the above challenge in terms we can all agree on. Watts is the unit of power and is the result of measuring objective quantities such as metres and kilograms and then accurately mapping these measurements against time in seconds – legs having both extension (size) and mass and moving in circles at certain speeds are fundamentally analysable within these terms.
There is therefore an objective and correct fact-of-the-matter about how much power a cyclist produces and we can in some sense call this The Truth. Whereas the cyclist experiences The Truth as effort, it is the sports scientist who represents, or more accurately Re-Presents The Truth to themselves mathematically and conceptually.
But if we can say that we’re all interested in The Truth, what then of the variation in numbers displayed by differing power meters? This is sometimes characterised as a difference in degree of accuracy. Yet Accuracy, unless carefully characterised, is not really something that admits of degrees – to say something is 2% accurate is actually in some sense conceptually incoherent. This is because the Accuracy of any stated value relies on the underlying measurements generating those values having two aspects, the measurements must be both:
True – The measured quantity is as close as possible to that quantity’s actual value, and;
Precise – The degree to which two or more repeated measurements show the same results each time.
It is possible for measurements to be True and not Precise, just as my stopped clock may tell the right time twice a day. It might happen to be six o’clock when I check but this is simply coincidence. Equally, it is possible for measurements to be Precise and not True, just as my clock always being set 15 minutes behind, unless I am aware of this I will always be late for my meetings.
Where the Infocrank excels is that its measurements are both True and Precise. To extend the analogy, it is in effect an operational clock that is set at the correct time. When I look at the clock I can know that what I am seeing is an accurate Re-Presentation of The Truth, that is the actual time.
For Accuracy to admit of degrees the way in which the measurements are being taken must in principle be able to converge to True, assuming sufficient sensitivity of the measuring device. Measuring some kind of causally associated yet distant change within the cycling drivetrain (such as deflection in the spider or the tension in the chain) and processing the measurements to generate the power numbers cannot be said to be Accurate, simply because it is not possible in theory for such a measurement to converge to True.
Only when measurements are taken directly, that is of the literal force applied by the cyclist on the pedal down-stroke measured as crank-arm deflection, can the measurement in theory converge to True, and therefore stand a chance of being Accurate. Everything else is some measurement or other run through an algorithm, and this is what you actually see on your graphs, but InfoCranks do not need to conceal the lack of True with an attempt to secure Precise. This is why we can talk in terms of percentage of error from The Truth.
For another view consider the words of Sports scientist and coach, James Spragg, in Cycling Weekly recently: “Before virtual racing came along, power meters needed to be relatively accurate to themselves, to use as a training gauge. As a training tool they work fine. But when you start comparing the values from a Stages crank to an SRM then you start to get issues. Because they were never designed to do that…. Between two SRMs you could have an eight per cent swing. Between two Stages power meters you could have a 12 per cent swing,” he says, referring to data from the 2017 study. This expresses the challenge faced by virtual racing in an alternative way.
Spragg makes a similar point to Verve, but as we have seen already Accuracy has two components, True and Precise. We can therefore see the common misconstruction mentioned earlier expressed in Spragg’s words “power meters needed to be relatively accurate to themselves”, which means on the most charitable reading Precise and which we now understand is only one of the aspects necessary for Accuracy to even be possible. This is why many claims about 2% Accuracy are nonsensical, because they are not being made in relation to The Truth. Most would now concede that “Accurate to themselves” is synonymous with ‘uniformly and consistently wrong’.
What is needed then is a benchmark, and in virtual racing the benchmark has to be accurate power numbers, or the objective and correct fact-of-the-matter, or simply the Truth. Top eSports team Canyon ZCC chose Infocrank precisely because Verve are in the business of truth, and we are playing our part in preserving the sense of fairness and unpredictability of this new discipline, but we understand that more is needed.
This isn’t a difficult problem to solve, in fact it already has been, but what is required first is helping others to understand what Accuracy really is, not what they are told it is. At Verve we firmly believe that the truth is always out there and rarely any more than one step away if you know where to look. So, back to the original question, has indoor cycling’s transformation to virtual racing occurred mutatis mutandis? Quite simply, no, but it is happening more quickly with the help of Infocrank.
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