So what's the deal with the Polar CS600?



Austin Flyer

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May 5, 2007
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Has it been out long enough to get some thorough side by side comparisons with other power meters? The price is attractive, but if I imagine when it comes to power measurement, accuracy is important if you're going to measure improvements in small mile stones.
 

jcjordan

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Austin Flyer said:
Has it been out long enough to get some thorough side by side comparisons with other power meters? The price is attractive, but if I imagine when it comes to power measurement, accuracy is important if you're going to measure improvements in small mile stones.
Ride magazine is doing a comprison at the moment. As soon I have read the articl i will let you know the details
 

Thom_y

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Aug 16, 2006
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Part 1 of the review (including SRM, ergomo pro, PT SL 2.4, Polar, ibike) appeared in issue #35 of Ride cycling review mag and the results are supposed to be in the current issue #36 (now out) with Stuey on the cover. For those interested part 1 can be downloaded from ibike website:

Part 1 Ride review

I am real anxious to get part 2, but no magazine dealers here in Eastern Canada sell the Aussie magazine. Doesn't seem you can buy an electronic version on the ride website.
 

Austin Flyer

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Thom_y said:
Part 1 of the review (including SRM, ergomo pro, PT SL 2.4, Polar, ibike) appeared in issue #35 of Ride cycling review mag and the results are supposed to be in the current issue #36 (now out) with Stuey on the cover. For those interested part 1 can be downloaded from ibike website:

Part 1 Ride review

I am real anxious to get part 2, but no magazine dealers here in Eastern Canada sell the Aussie magazine. Doesn't seem you can buy an electronic version on the ride website.
That article was outstanding. I would be anxious to have part 2 & 3
 

RHR38

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Austin Flyer said:
That article was outstanding. I would be anxious to have part 2 & 3
IMHO there was nothing new about it (as it was just overview what's coming). I hope they test these systems only rainy days, rebuild them 5-10 times. PM is still quite expensive investment, a key element in training. Hopes are high when you get yourself one. Kinda 'ooh aahh' white glove testing gives nothing new.
 

MY02_STi

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May 26, 2004
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Had a quick look through the 'testing' part of the article - no real surprises, SRM and PowerTap a close tie for first place :D , Ergomo a somewhat distant second :eek: and Polar and iBike had problems on the indoor test rig (no real surprise there either).

Tests were conducted during a Group ride, b) TT *efforts* c) hill climb and d) 2 criteriums.

All well and good, and again it was SRM vs PowerTap :D but IMHO a fairly *useless* test protocol in that it didn't log any time on a trainer :mad:

Basically, lots of words, some pretty graphs and nothing new to report - in reality, anyone that posts here has a better idea as to the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the various PMs :D
 

doulos

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Apr 22, 2007
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Had a quick look through the 'testing' part of the article - no real surprises, SRM and PowerTap a close tie for first place :D , Ergomo a somewhat distant second :eek: and Polar and iBike had problems on the indoor test rig (no real surprise there either)
How did Polar and iBike do on the road? I've got a Cycleops trainer with power for the indoors. Thanks Tim
 

jcjordan

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doulos said:
How did Polar and iBike do on the road? I've got a Cycleops trainer with power for the indoors. Thanks Tim
The SRM was give the baseline value as it was the unit in which they were able to calibrate for accuracy.

Test 1 - Bunch ride

Average power over the ride:
Power tap - Same as SRM
iBike - over estimate by 7%. Ergomo - Polar - had some transmission problems and a average over the ride was not possible.
Ergomo- over estimate by 11%


All units responded well in measuring uphill efforts with all unit showing similar readings. The iBike was found to be inaccurate during drafting and downhill and not particularly reliable in this type of application. The Polar was a little slow in keeping up with measuring surges, which resulted in showing more time in lower powerbands. Ergomo tended to show more time in the higher bands.


Test 2 - Four Time Trial Efforts

These efforts were measures of trying to maintain a prescribed target power and cadence for periods between 3:30-4:30min

On average
Powertap - consistently similar to SRM\
Ergomo - consistently 14-16% over estimated
Polar - consistently 23-31% underestimated.
iBike - varied from +3% to -7%

it was thought that as the Polar and Ergomo were consistent in their measurement that this would still provide a basis of comparison for training purposes.


Test 3 - Black Mt Repeats (2.4km w/ave 8.9%)

Two riders on separate days put each unit to the test with two climbs each

Powertap - similar to SRM
Ergomo - Rider 1 - over estimate 17%; Rider 2 - over estimate 12%
iBike - Rider 1 - under estimate 11%; Rider 2 - over estimate 5%
Polar - Rider 1 - under estimate 6%; Rider 2 - under estimate 15%


Test 4 - Crit Racing - Race 1 20min +2; Race 2 15min +2
iBike and Polar had some technical issues for various reasons in relation to fitting units, etc.

Polar again showed that it was a bit slow to pick up the quick surges, etc and showed a lower overall average power value as a result.

Powertap was similar to SRM, but did miss a couple of high value spikes.

Ergomo had a similar result in relation to missing a couple of high value spikes, but also showed a high value for average overall power.

iBike again showed that it is high susceptible to having inaccuracies caused by drafting.

The next bit is my opinion on the data
As much as I would love to have a SRM unit, the cost is prohibitive for your average rider.

The powertap unit has the limitation to being restricted to a single wheel, in addition to the cost.

The iBike unit would not be able to provide any group or race data, which I consider a limitation.

The Ergomo unit is quite expensive when you consider the cost of the unit and the fact that it will require physical modification of the bike to install. In addition restricts the type of cranks that you can use.

Polar, while not perfect, is still the best option. Its consistent in its measurements, works in a variety of environments and is relatively cheap. I know a number of people who use the old style of power unit for the S series of monitors and have had little trouble once set up correctly.

Hopefully my new CS600 with power arrives soon, bike shop was told today by the distributor that I will most likely have to wait till June :(
 

lodd

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May 8, 2007
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Austin Flyer said:
Has it been out long enough to get some thorough side by side comparisons with other power meters? The price is attractive, but if I imagine when it comes to power measurement, accuracy is important if you're going to measure improvements in small mile stones.
Does anyone know how does the Polar Power Sensor does in wet conditions?

Thanks
Luis
 

parawolf

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lodd said:
Does anyone know how does the Polar Power Sensor does in wet conditions?

Thanks
Luis


Mine works fine. Did 114km the other week spending about 3 hours in consistant downpour. Worked fine the entire ride and hasn't missed a beat since. This is the S725X + Power Output Kit.
 

Thom_y

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Aug 16, 2006
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jcjordan said:
TPolar, while not perfect, is still the best option.

I am in the same boat, I wanted to believe the Polar CS600 would be an acceptable alternative, but reading your synopsis of the Ride magazine review, I am really put off the Polar. Sure accuracy is not that important, as long as the device is consistently reproducible for your own training. Yet, this device seemed real inaccurate and varied from rider 1 to rider 2. Plus, the Polar is not that cheap (around 700 USD) and for me, I really would like to use it on a trainer ... which is not possible it seems. Therefore, I'm starting to think more about a Powertap SL 2.4 at this point. Especially, where it sounds like the newer hubs may have addressed the problem with data drops.
 

Tom Anhalt

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Dec 9, 2003
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jcjordan said:
Test 2 - Four Time Trial Efforts

These efforts were measures of trying to maintain a prescribed target power and cadence for periods between 3:30-4:30min

On average
Powertap - consistently similar to SRM\
Ergomo - consistently 14-16% over estimated
Polar - consistently 23-31% underestimated.
iBike - varied from +3% to -7%

it was thought that as the Polar and Ergomo were consistent in their measurement that this would still provide a basis of comparison for training purposes.

Interesting...was this test done on a trainer, perhaps?

Also, was there any detail on the setup of the Polar, i.e. what was entered for chain weight (was it actually measured), chainstay length, etc.? It would be great to see a bit more detail into the setups/calibrations of the systems.
 

Ergoman

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Feb 21, 2007
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I think one problem with all these magazine tests is that they really don't have or take the time to properly setup, calibrate and learn to use the units they test. After about 5000 miles with an Ergomo, I'm pretty confident that the maximum error if ever get is less than 5 to 10 watts and then only if I don't take the time to do an offset when I should. It took me a few weeks of learning to get the most from the Ergomo. I would guess that the Polar unit would be the same. It's possible to just pop it in and get erroneous results, but it's also possible to spend the time to learn how it works, do a little fine tuning, and then get good results. Of course, I may be wrong.
 

Jore V

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Sep 29, 2006
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Tom Anhalt said:
Interesting...was this test done on a trainer, perhaps?

Also, was there any detail on the setup of the Polar, i.e. what was entered for chain weight (was it actually measured), chainstay length, etc.? It would be great to see a bit more detail into the setups/calibrations of the systems.
Same question’s I have in mind. Just don’t believe those numbers...
 

MiSzA

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Jul 24, 2005
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The Ergomo unit is quite expensive when you consider the cost of the unit and the fact that it will require physical modification of the bike to install. In addition restricts the type of cranks that you can use.

Strange - Ergomo needs as much "work" when installing as any other unit - well - maybe short of facing the BB shell in comparison to other similar products.

Physical modification? Of what kind?

Restricts the type of cranks? How come? You have ISO, ISIS and spline - what you can not use are the integrated cranks (like FSA) and new Campa - as well integraded with the BB unit - again - same applies when installing SRM...
 

matt1

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Oct 3, 2004
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Ergoman said:
I think one problem with all these magazine tests is that they really don't have or take the time to properly setup, calibrate and learn to use the units they test. After about 5000 miles with an Ergomo, I'm pretty confident that the maximum error if ever get is less than 5 to 10 watts and then only if I don't take the time to do an offset when I should. It took me a few weeks of learning to get the most from the Ergomo. I would guess that the Polar unit would be the same. It's possible to just pop it in and get erroneous results, but it's also possible to spend the time to learn how it works, do a little fine tuning, and then get good results. Of course, I may be wrong.
My understanding of the test was it was done by a person either involved or formally involved with the Australian Institute of Sport cycling program. The first article in the rpevious issue went through the set up process for all the power meters. They did go to great lengths to set up all the un its correctly. So the figures must have some validity.
 

jcjordan

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Apr 5, 2004
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MiSzA said:
Strange - Ergomo needs as much "work" when installing as any other unit - well - maybe short of facing the BB shell in comparison to other similar products.

Physical modification? Of what kind?

Restricts the type of cranks? How come? You have ISO, ISIS and spline - what you can not use are the integrated cranks (like FSA) and new Campa - as well integraded with the BB unit - again - same applies when installing SRM...
you cant use any of the new Shimano 10speed cranks
 

jcjordan

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Thom_y said:
I am in the same boat, I wanted to believe the Polar CS600 would be an acceptable alternative, but reading your synopsis of the Ride magazine review, I am really put off the Polar. Sure accuracy is not that important, as long as the device is consistently reproducible for your own training. Yet, this device seemed real inaccurate and varied from rider 1 to rider 2. .
The two riders were of completely different strengths and capabilitys so there is going to be different to each other, so I am not sure why this is a problem

Thom_y said:
Plus, the Polar is not that cheap (around 700 USD) and for me, I really would like to use it on a trainer ... which is not possible it seems. Therefore, I'm starting to think more about a Powertap SL 2.4 at this point. Especially, where it sounds like the newer hubs may have addressed the problem with data drops.
with the older version of the power meter there is no problem with using it on a trainer so I am sure there would be no problem with the new unit
 

Thom_y

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Aug 16, 2006
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jcjordan said:
The two riders were of completely different strengths and capabilitys so there is going to be different to each other, so I am not sure why this is a problem

Sure, but for one rider the device underestimated by 6% and 15% for the other, while in another this it underestimated 23-31%. This seems too inaccurate ... although I believe set up is an important issue given everything I have read. Tom's remark regarding measuring chain weight, plus attention to height of the sensor are all relevant to the quality of the data. Nonetheless, out of the box the SRM and PT tracked consistently (sometimes you do get what you pay for I guess).

jcjordan said:
with the older version of the power meter there is no problem with using it on a trainer so I am sure there would be no problem with the new unit

My understanding from the Polar clan, including the inventor, this was a big limitation of the system ... it did not reliably work on trainer ... this does not appear to have been fixed on the second generation according to this review and other info floating on the net. Personally, I think Polar missed the boat on a few fronts: 1) adequate memory to allow 1 second sampling for more than 2.5 hours; 2) fixing the trainer issue; and it would appear ease of setup is still an issue given this current review.

I know Alan Cote was hoping to test the new Polar system and I would still love to see his findings (especially on a trainer) to make my final judgement ... yet, even if his findings are better you have to be able to reproduce his setup on your own bike. Personally, I guess in the end I have to decide is it worth an extra 800 USD (over the Polar) to get more accurate and consistent data and have the ability to use the system on my trainer. Given that it may cost around the same (or more) to get a trainer/ergometer to track inside training, the PT SL 2.4 is starting to sound like the way to go for me (if I want to get into power-based training. The ergomo is not a consideration for me, as I don't want to give up my FSA K-force integrated compact cranks/BB, plus this review doesn't look that good for the ergomo ... again set up may have been an issue ??

Lastly, I can't speak for Ride magazine, but these things always have to be taken with a grain of salt, as I don't know if any of the companies are bigger advertisers in their magazine (e.g. SRM or Powertap). That's why rigorous independent review by people out in the cycling community are much more valued in the end.