17 Years of Innovation and Still Evolving

17 Years of Innovation and Still Evolving

No doubt about it, the power meter market has changed immensely since we came on the scene in 1998. In those days we were one of two companies offering cyclists a way to measure power.

Now power meters show up on the bike in multiple places including the hub, crank, pedal and even the handlebar - for wind resistance calculations. You may know some of these power meters by name: SRM, Stages, Quarq, Garmin Vector - just to name a few. Some are more expensive, others are attractively priced. Some power meters only measure from one side of the bike or leg, while others can measure both sides of your unique pedal stroke

However, one constant remains – power is the most accurate and reliable way to measure cycling intensity.

Our Beginnings

Our history begins in 1998 when the first PowerTap hub was invented by MIT engineers looking for a less expensive, portable power meter. German-made, SRM, was the only cycling power meter on the market during this time. The MIT PowerTap team believed the rear hub was the best location on the bike to measure power for a low cost alternative to SRM’s crank power meter. After several prototypes, the first wired hubs and computers were released to the market and were sold under the name “Tune PowerTap”.

Tune PowerTap Powermeter

Our parent company, Saris Cycling Group, was fascinated with power training and saw promise in the PowerTap technology, so in 2001 PowerTap was added to the family. Since then we redesigned the hub-based power meter and improved both the durability and robustness of the units. During this same time, a University of Boulder - Colorado PhD candidate named Allen Lim, co-founder of Skratch Labs, began working on his doctoral thesis on exercise data analysis systems using the PowerTap hub. Under the lab of William Byrnes he undertook a new movement within the cycling world - power measurement. He conducted scientific research on how PowerTap hub’s validity, accuracy and reliability could help an athlete achieve better training and aerodynamics. What he found put PowerTap on the map with the gold standard accuracy that still holds-up today: +/- 1.5% power accuracy.

After Allen completed his PhD in physiology, Saris Cycling Group found him to be a great educator, motivator and PowerTap ambassador. At the end of 2004, Allen was offered the role of Director of Education at Saris Cycling Group to help provide training, education and how to train with power with the PowerTap system. Allen continues works closely with Saris Cycling Group and PowerTap to this day.

Tested. Trusted. True.

Following Allen’s findings, many other cycling power meter companies compare their power meter to the PowerTap in third party validated testing. Just take a look at the research:

And we didn’t stop there. We listened to PowerTap users and saw that the next phase of PowerTap hub needed to be wireless. After a couple more revisions to the PowerTap hub, the first wireless PowerTap hub made its way to market at the end of 2005. This was the world’s first wireless cycling power meter and was a major innovation in power meter technology. Along with ANT+, PowerTap helped pioneer ANT+ technology in the use of power meters and eventually began establishing the power protocols for Bluetooth as well.

PowerTap Wireless Hub Powermeter

Around this time we also built a mountain bike specific PowerTap hub for the dirt-loving crowd, and guess who one of the first customers to ride the new mountain bike PowerTap hub was? The 43rd U.S. President, George W. Bush. Talk about a presidential entrance.

PowerTap Mountain Bike Cycling Power Meter

Then in 2009, our genius PowerTap engineers laid down the first drawings of the PowerTap G3 on a café napkin three years before the product went to market. After years of grueling testing we released our PowerTap G3 hub in 2012. The G3 weighs in at 325 grams, adding only 160 grams of extra weight to your bike, features user serviceable electronics and internals with increased durability.

Every PowerTap hub is assembled and calibrated to our rigorous standards right here at our Madison, WI headquarters. We believe in giving power users the best product, education, and the best service. We strive to be the power experts and our team is listening to all of your needs for you to be successful.

In addition to the G3 hub, 2012 saw the launch of the Joule GPS and the PowerCal, the world’s first heart strap monitor, which could calculate power from the change in your heart rate. Following to our “Tested. Trusted. True” motto, the PowerCal was created after thousands of ride hours and analyzed power data files. The PowerCal has a complicated algorithm programmed into it, but we promise you it is an awesome power meter for those first stepping foot into the world of power.

PowerTap Collage of PowerCal Joule Computer and Powermer

What’s Next?

In 2013 we decided that the PowerTap brand should stand alone in the market so in June CycleOps Power was split into two separate brands: CycleOps and PowerTap. Complete with a new website, new logos and an identity of black and orange - we truly brought the PowerTap brand to life.

2014 became the year of the PowerTap GS. Thanks to our partnership with with DT Swiss and their renowned reputation for high quality cycling products. The GS hub showed off DT Swiss internals including their star-ratcheting system, bearings and hub shell design. This bomb proof shell housed our tried and true electronics and strain gauges.

Through the years we have remained dedicated to our tested, trusted, true motto. All PowerTap products are meticulously engineered and designed to deliver industry-leading accuracy and proven, road-tested reliability. Our dedicated team continues to refine and develop the best products on the market. We do this because we know power.

So what can you expect from us in 2015? You’ll just have to wait and see.




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