This article explains why power meters are so expensive by breaking down their costs.
I contacted multiple power meter brands and asked them the same question. It’s no surprise that I didn’t get any specific answers. Companies are sensitive to publishing their cost structure.
Anyway, I summarized the areas a power meter brand has to invest in to make their products succeed.
Are you ready to learn more about power meters prices?
Let’s dive in.
NOTE: I work with two different terms, costs and price, in this article. By costs, I mean production costs, including customer support or marketing. By price, I mean the final selling price (includes margin, distribution costs, etc.).
How Much Do Power Meters Cost?
Before I dive deeper into the power meter costs breakdown, let me summarize three basic price ranges of power meters and what you can expect.
|Price Range||Power Meter|
|$200‑500||Low-end (mostly handlebar and single-sided power meters)|
|$500‑1000||Mid-range power meters (mostly pedal, single and dual-sided power meters)|
|$1000+||High-end (power meters with advanced features from premium brands, premium materials, chainrings are usually included)|
Low-end power meters are usually handlebar or single-sided crank arm power meters.
You may also find crankset or spider power meters from less known brands at this price point, but they are rare.
Mid-range power meters belong to the most popular category. This price range includes all power meter types (i.e., crankset, spider, pedal power meters, and more).
These power meters provide one of the best price-value ratios because some models include features of premium power meters.
High-end power meters usually offer advanced features like L/R leg balance, power smoothness, etc.
Depending on their type, they include chainrings in packing, are made of more premium materials, and are manufactured by established power meter brands.
Due to their high price, they are used mainly by pro road and track cyclists, triathletes, or passionate amateurs.
The following table shows the average prices of the given power meter type. The data are based on the prices of 72 power meters.
|Power Meter Type||Average Price||Number of Power Meters|
Prices were taken from the manufacturers' official websites in early 2022.
Why Are Power Meters so Expensive?
Power meter costs can be divided into multiple categories. These include mainly research & development, material, manufacturing and testing, marketing and sponsorships, IT, and customer support. Once you realize what activities surround the power meters business, their prices make more sense and seem reasonable.
Let’s now take a look at the individual areas in more detail.
Research & Development
Research & development is one of the most significant items in costs. Did you know that developing a new power meter can take years?
In addition to paying smart people, it is also necessary to consider equipment such as microscopes, test stations, specialized software, etc.
Some power meters are more material-demanding than others. For example, a crank arm power meter only consists of a plastic box and electronics.
On the other hand, crankset power meters also often include chainrings. These can be made of premium materials like carbon. So, naturally, their material costs are much higher.
However, the tiny components and electronics like strain gauges form a fraction of the price of a power meter. You can learn more details in my how power meters work article.
Manufacturing and Testing
Once the final design of the power meter is approved, it is necessary to start producing it in bulk.
But the work doesn’t stop there. One of the most important features of power meters is their accuracy, consistency, and reliability.
That’s why power meters are extensively tested and go through strict quality control processes so that you can rely on the data they provide.
Marketing and Sponsorships
Nowadays, it’s not easy to penetrate the market with a new product due to market saturation. Therefore, even established brands invest heavily in marketing activities to keep their market position.
Some brands (4iiii, power2max, and others) also sponsor professional cycling teams to get more exposure. All these costs reflect in the final price of the power meter you buy.
IT & Software Development
For a long time, power meters are not just about the hardware. Almost all power meters on the market come with dedicated apps.
These apps allow you to find out more information about your power meter, such as the battery status, type, and serial number, or you can use them to perform zero-offset.
But, somebody has to develop them, which brings additional costs into the final product.
Even before the power meters are finally out there on our bikes, it is expected that potential customers will have plenty of pre-sale questions regarding compatibility and the product.
Customer support costs are one of the areas many people forget: the larger the power meter brand, the more demands on customer support.
Power Meter Costs FAQ
Power meters prices don’t include only the material, R&D, and manufacturing. You also shouldn’t forget the marketing and sponsorship activities, development of software, or customer support.
Of course, there are also margins for manufacturers or distributors. So all these things stack up.
Power meters are also not sold in millions of units per year as cars. This means the competition is not as high, and economies of scale are not as significant.
I hope you find this article helpful. Please, contact me if you have some insights into power meter costs.
Browse More Power Meters-Related Content
Why Use Power Meter?
How Do Power Meters Work?
How to Choose a Power Meter?
Power Meter Accuracy vs. Consistency
Calibration vs. Zero-offset
Why Are Power Meters so Expensive?