PowerTap Joule 2.0 Review
CycleOps, the maker of PowerTap, have been at the forefront of powermeter technology from the start. Beginning with a wired version, then moving to wireless, the new the Joule 2.0, with ANT+ technology, is a major step up. The new computer displays more information, is easy to navigate and tracks more metrics than it’s predecessor.
The older units displayed the basics like speed, power, heart rate in a three separate lines. The Joule 2.0 uses what CycleOps calls the Dashboard, and has six sections that display different metrics. There are a total of 12 metrics to choose from including watts, watts/kg, vertical ascent, workload, ride time and others. At the bottom is a joystick that is used to scroll through each section. As you highlight a section there are two fields at the bottom that will display two other metrics pertaining to the original metric. For instance, if you have ride time in a top section highlighted, the bottom fields will display miles ridden and calories burned. If you press directly down on the joystick the display at in the top field will move to calories burned, then time and miles are displayed on the bottom. This means that if you want to view average power, current speed and calories burned all at once, you can. The ability to view so many different items was astounding. I found that I always had power, time and heart rate, then would customize the other screens based on what I wanted to view that day. On climbing days I selected gradient and feet climbed while on sprinting days I used intensity factor and trainig stress score.
The screen is large enough so that the numbers are easy to read and it is backlit to help with visibility in sunny conditions. There were times were I had to tilt the computer to get a better view, but overall it is as clear as one can expect. The joystick functions fluidly and is easy to use. In my use I found that I didn’t have to look at the joystick to navigate the screens and could keep my eyes on the road rather than the computer. The best part is that you can quickly and easily view whatever metric you want to. When I wanted to see how many calories I burned or see the gradient of the road I was riding all it took was a few flick of the joystick.
There are two buttons on either side of the Joule 2.0, Mode and Interval. The Mode button scrolls through other screens like Reports, Activities and Menu. Of these, Reports is the most impressive.
In Reports Mode you can scroll through eight screens like time spent in power zones, peak power, climbing, power details and an overall view of your power. Here you view what you are currently doing against what you did two weeks ago. All of this can be done while riding, you don’t have to wait until the end of the ride. What this allows you to do is to make sure that what you set out to accomplish during the ride is getting done. Say for instance your goal is to spend over 30% of your time at a certain power zone. Just hit Mode, scroll to the power detail screen and you know instantly if you are on target. This takes a bit more precision to do and while I felt comfortable navigating to this screen when riding solo, I wouldn’t do so riding in a group. I found this operation to be a key in keeping my rides productive.
The Interval button is pretty self-explanatory. Press it once and you start an interval. Hold the Interval button down for five seconds and all of the metrics displayed are relevant to the current interval. You can even view the interval in the Activities screen so get a quick overview of all the intervals you’ve performed.
With all this information to display it is a given that the Joule 2.0 is larger than the previous version, but not obtrusively so. CycleOps also revamped the attachment method and it now is set up to be positioned on the stem exclusively. It also uses ANT+ technology to receive information. This means that any heart rate strap or even a different powermeter that also uses ANT+ can be used. This makes it easy to use with other powermeters or watch brands.
My only disappointment is in the training software that comes with it. PowerAgent 7.0 isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as some of the other products out there, specifically TrainingPeaks. The upside is that the information can be uploaded to TrainingPeaks, so in the end it’s not a deal killer.
The Joule 2.0 from CycleOps is a major step forward. It takes the powermeter to next level by allowing a rider to view more information while out on the roads. In addition, the layout and navigation make it easy to use and sheer amount of information available make it the best out there. If you have powermeter already, or are looking to pick one up, make sure you check out the Joule 2.0