top of page

Getting the most of your MTB power meter data

I am often asked what the most important aspects of performance data are for MTB racing and training.

My answer is always, “all of it.”

Back in the day we only had heart rate. Now we have heart rate plus power meters. And I’m sure one day we will have more.

We are in a good place now though, even with just a power meter and a heart rate monitor synced with GPS. Fortunately, this is becoming standard now as everyone realizes now how much we’ve been guessing!

It’s easy for us to get lots of data these days!

It is my opinion that race performance analysis is easy.

Usually the athlete and the coach know a lot about the trail, what the athlete is able to do when going hard based on the racecourse profile, how fit the athlete is at the time of the race, what the athlete can/should do lap-by-lap, etc.

Similarly, analysing an easy road ride is easy. For the most part – on a flat or rolling road – it is pretty easy to stay within a power and heart rate zone. It’s super straightforward—power and heart rate should be what you expect.

On the other hand, analysing an ‘easy’ MTB ride is a little more difficult. If done properly, an easy ride is done very often within a training. This means that there is a greater chance of highly varied ‘easy’ training files to sift through. The trails might be different, the feeling of the rider may be different, and durations may affect measurements, etc. This also means that there is a pretty big difference between our average or overall measurements of power output and heart rate.

While ‘easy’ is subjective, we usually have pre-set training zones to make sure that a rider knows what to do in a ride, and so that coach can check over this to see if anything in training needs changing.

It’s possible to browse through completed training very quickly without looking at every spec of data every time, but below are some examples of when it’s worth digging a little bit deeper on a training ride.

It’s easy to stay in your training zone in Rotorua thanks to all the gravel road and the great views!


At first glance, the two rides below look pretty similar.

Given all the coasting on trails, the average power looks pretty good, and normalized power looks pretty good, too (at least in the right zone). Average heart rate even looks good. TSS scores were also not that different.