The new CycleOps PowerTap G3 alloy wheelset is a great choice if you've decided you want to train with power. The new G3 hub is lighter than the previous version and builds into a stiffer wheel and the complete wheelset is a competent and solid training option.
Monitoring your power output is the training technique of the moment. Powertap, the hub based power meter from CycleOps, is one of the most accessible entries into the world of training with power. The G3 Alloy Training Wheelset on test here comprises their top Powertap model laced to a Velocity rim and front wheel.
There aren't many options for measuring power. CycleOps offer the only hub-based option, while SRM and Quarq measure at the cranks. Having started training with power in November with the entry level PowerTap Elite (now replaced with the Pro), I was interested to see what CycleOp's product refresh had to offer.
One big change is the costs. Prices have been brought down slightly to around £760 for the basic 'Pro' wheelset and just under a grand for the G3 wheelset tested here. The hubs can be bought separately for £600 and £850 respectively, or on other rims. It is still a substantial amount of money but for power measurement it is modest; current competitors cost upwards of £1400.
The second change is with the hubs themselves. The former Elite model has had little change other than the new Pro name, black paint job and a 20g weight reduction thanks to to a slightly better machining that also improves the wireless transmission.
The new G3 here replaces the SL+ with a complete redesign. Clearly more slender than before, the weight of 325g is almost competitive with a standard rear hub. The new design hasn't just shed weight either; the flanges have been made wider. I found this made the wheel laterally stiffer than my Elite+, which did tend to feel a bit spongy and would hit the blocks under load.
The wheels build up to total 880g/1140g front/rear by my scales. Not race wheel lightness but for a set of training wheels, it ain't half bad.
The hubs are laced onto V-shaped Velocity rims with 32 DT Swiss Competition spokes, tightened with trusty brass nipples. Very sensible choices for durable training wheels.
The rims have the new, wider, 23mm bed. The idea behind a wider bead spacing is a reduction in rolling resistance, better handling and resistance to pinch flats. It sounds like a negligible change but I could certainly feel it; it felt like using wider profile off-road wheels. However, I'm not sure I liked it. The ride quality was better but I found the handling to be a bit vague. I was using a 23mm race tyre and perhaps a 25mm would be better. I even managed to pinch flat, though, to be fair, I hit a large clump of rocks a motocross bike would have struggled with! On a training wheel though, I think it's a sound choice.
There's a bit more to go wrong with a wheel than with a crank-based power meter so it's reassuring to know to know you can get your investment serviced. CycleOps distributor Paligap have a comprehensive service centre in Yate. Re-lacing a worn or damaged rim is just like a normal wheel, although Paligap can provide this service through Velocity importer and specialist wheel builders, Strada.
Before the G3, you'd have to send the whole wheel back to Paligap if the electronics needed any work - expensive in postage. With the G3 though, the electronics have been moved to the outer cap where the batteries go, so you can just pop that in a jiffy bag. Talking of the battery, I had to change it during the three week test. However, these were a test unit, so they had already logged a lot more usage time than that. My experience is that you can expect around 250 hours; CyclOps quote 300-400 hours. Swapping the battery is as easy as removing a plastic cap and slotting a coin cell in; a five-minute job.
Like all wheels, they will need new bearings now and then. They can be replaced by a well versed bike shop, but Paligap recommend returning the wheel to them in order to avoid any damage to the delicate power meter itself and also to calibrate afterwards.
On to the main event, the power measurement. None of the wheelsets come with a computer, so you get to choose between the CycleOps Joule or an ANT+ head unit like a Garmin. The G3 is fully ANT+ compatible, and won't work with CycleOps' old yellow CPU, which seems to be phased out. I used an Edge 500.
Pairing with an ANT+ device is simple: spin the wheel to turn it on, whilst the device is searching for a pair. It doesn't take more than a few seconds and only needs to be done once. From then on, as you push your bike out the door and the hub turns on, the device will pick it up, like a heart rate chest strap. You'll want to calibrate every few rides by turning the hub on then calibrating on your device with the pedals at 3 o'clock and no loading.
It does what it says on the tin really. Having used power-based training for a number of months I knew what to expect. You really need to read up on the subject or hire a coach to get the full benefit of the device but at the very least, it brings sensation to the otherwise meaningless power files that are banded around on Twitter these days. The first thing that struck me when I starting using one was how responsive they are; you get almost immediate feedback on what your legs are doing. I found the G3 to be slightly more responsive in five-second interval for example than my older Elite model but otherwise they both did the same job.
The whole package is an excellent choice if you've decided it's time to base your training on what your legs are really doing
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Make and model: CycleOps PowerTap G3 alloy wheelset
Size tested: 700c, Shimano
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It is a device for measuring the power output of your legs when riding. Aimed at those who want a more analytical approach to their training. Here it is from CycleOps' mouth:
'Choosing the right wheels for training can be a difficult decision, but our PowerTap G3 and Pro alloy wheels help make the decision easier. Durability and serviceability are the most important aspects of any good training wheel, and we've put together a wheelset that is perfect for all training conditions. We pair our PowerTap G3 or Pro hubs with our 32-spoke, V-shaped rims, DT Swiss Competition spokes, and brass nipples to offer you day in and day out reliability coupled with the precision of power measurement.
But these wheels don't stop there. With a width of 23mm, the wide rim platform offers lower rolling resistance, better handling and even resistance to pinch flats.
And all components of the CycleOps System are designed to work perfectly together, so take advantage of special savings when you pair the wheels to a Joule and companion PowerAgent software. Get the all the advantages of precision measurement, analysis, and the perfect training wheel...all in one. Go ahead and leave your worries behind and get out and enjoy your ride!'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A Wheelset Perfect for All Training Conditions
PowerTap G3 or Pro rear hub
CycleOps front hub
DT Swiss Competition spokes
(2020g by my scales for the G3, one of our scales are off, probably mine!)
A lot less bulky than previous iterations makes for a rather neat looking device.
As a power meter I couldn't fault it. Accuracy is a reported +/-1.5% and without strapping another meter to the bike, it is hard to verify, however, readings remained consistant throughout testing.
As a training wheelset it was solid and reliable.
My personal Powertap lasted around 6,000km with no problems at all (other than being stolen!). Obviously I couldn't put that much in over three weeks but the G3 showed no issues. Bearings have been a reported problem with the hubs but with a service center in Year near Bristol, you should be in good hands and as my previous one shows, I've yet to experience it.
A one year warrenty covers manufacturing defects. The wheels were built well and remained true throughout testing.
For a hub based powermeter it is impressive and not shabby compared to other training wheelsets. My scales did differ by around 200g to CycleOps' though, whether issue with the scales or large variation, I'm not sure.
The 23mm rim bed makes for a much less jarring ride - just what you want from a training wheelset.
I think the value offered by going for a full wheelset is impressive, considering you'd probably be shelling out >£300 for a set of training wheels like this it makes the cost of the powermeter slightly more bearable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a powermeter I can't fault it. As a set of training wheels I can't find much wrong either. I guess the only thing would be that when it comes to replacing the bearings, you've got to go through Paligap really rather than hopping down to your LBS like a normal set of training hoops. They say they have a quick turn around though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The new, more slender design and black paint job that make for a rather nice looking set of training wheels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm on the fence with 23mm in terms of handling. I've yet to try a wider tyre on them though and can see the benefits on a training wheelset.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Not only a great power meter but a good choice and solid pair of training wheels too.
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,