Monday, February 18, 2008

29 Power to Weight Ratio


5 s 1 min 5 min 20 min
World Champion/World Record Holder 23.5 11.5 7.6 6.62

23.16 11.35 7.46 6.5

22.82 11.2 7.33 6.38

22.48 11.05 7.19 6.26
World Class 22.14 10.9 7.06 6.14

21.8 10.75 6.92 6.02

21.46 10.6 6.79 5.91

21.12 10.45 6.65 5.79
UCI Div. I/II Pro 20.78 10.3 6.52 5.67

20.44 10.15 6.38 5.55

20.1 10 6.25 5.43

19.76 9.85 6.11 5.31
UCI Div. III pro 19.42 9.7 5.97 5.19

19.08 9.55 5.84 5.07

18.74 9.4 5.7 4.95

18.4 9.25 5.57 4.84
Cat. 1 18.06 9.1 5.43 4.72

17.72 8.95 5.3 4.6

17.38 8.8 5.16 4.48

17.04 8.65 5.03 4.36
Cat. 2 16.7 8.5 4.89 4.24

16.36 8.35 4.75 4.12

16.02 8.2 4.62 4

15.68 8.05 4.48 3.88
Cat. 3 15.34 7.9 4.35 3.76

15 7.75 4.21 3.64

14.66 7.6 4.08 3.53

14.32 7.45 3.94 3.41
Cat. 4 13.98 7.3 3.81 3.29

13.64 7.15 3.67 3.17

13.3 7 3.53 3.05

12.96 6.85 3.4 2.93
Cat. 5 12.62 6.7 3.26 2.81

12.28 6.55 3.13 2.69

11.94 6.4 2.99 2.57

11.6 6.25 2.86 2.46
Untrained 11.26 6.1 2.72 2.34

10.92 5.95 2.59 2.22

10.58 5.8 2.45 2.1

10.24 5.65 2.32 1.98

9.9 5.5 2.18 1.86
Note: Values are displayed in watts/kg. The weight should be the weight of the body only. Bicycle, kit, water bottles, etc… are all excluded

This table is from a page in the book Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coogan, 2005. This is an absolute monumental work, if you will, in the field of competitive cycling and one of the best texts I have read on the subject of power meter data analyzing. I don't have a PT or an SRM but I adapt the solid principles in the book when training indoors on the Kurt Kinetic Trainer + Power PC system.

The reason I put this up here is for reference purposes and also after watching Fabian sweep the Tour of California prologue yesterday with some serious power.

Efficiency and VO2 max aside, Power to weight ratio (Power in watts divided by body weight in kilos) probably overwhelms all other factors in top level bicycle races. No matter what equipment you ride with, or who your coach is, if your human component cannot produce the numbers shown in the table above, you have no hope competing as you progress towards the top of the game. Better go do something else for a living. Seriously..

Long repeated bouts of training might do it get you there, but now I almost want to believe, even though I don't want to, that the genetic factors overwhelm any training efforts. This also reflects well on a post by AKI a.k.a 'Sprinter Della Casa' on the same topic, where he is somewhat on the same line with me.

Anyway, lets provide an example of top level performance :

CSC's Fabian Cancellara, world TT champ, won yesterday's Tour of California Prologue TT at an average speed of 35mph, with an even astonishing 3 minutes and 51 seconds, thats a 4 second lead over the second man in - Team High Road's Bradley Wiggins, who is also a 2 or 3 time Olympic medal holder back in 2004 in the short pursuit discipline.

Fabian is 80 kilograms and one can very well take his average Power to weight ratio to be 7.6 in the 5 min category (referenced from table above, and I still believe thats a little on the low end).

You do the math, Fabian was nearly producing 608 Watts and above for almost 4 minutes (again, that figure is possibly a little low for Fabian but you get the big picture?).

Thats the power an average novice rider can produce for 10-12 seconds at most, if he's in his best moods.

The book, Bicycling Science by Gordon Wilson, established a somewhat direct relationship between power to weight ratio (in watts per kg) with measured oxygen uptake (in ml/min/kg) in 5 trained cyclists flying the human powered aircraft Daedalus. A higher sustained power to weight ratio naturally elicits a higher breathing capacity.



  1. Only 600 Watts? :)

    Watching pro racers live in the mountains, it is just astonishing how fast they can go uphill (where power to weight matters even more).

    I try not to dwell on just how huge the gap is between me and them. But it's HUGE.

    Still, I'm working this spring on reducing the denominator (weight) to better my ratio.

  2. Will, my analysis is not dead accurate. Only an estimate... I would think he would be shelling something close to 700 watts or more, besides he's also not as aero as someone like say, Dave Z...

    We're also talking about a short 2 mile time trial here, pancake flat roads where you can just worship speed and lactate tolerance..

  3. Hi Ron,

    thx for reply. I was just kidding

    To me 600 is already a LOT :)


  4. 600+ watts for four minutes is pretty impressive. I weigh just under 80 kgs and I think I can produce 7W/kg for around, oh, nine seconds when I am on my trainer at home. Cancellara is a real powerhouse. If you watch the DVD of the 2006 Paris-Roubaix he does not appear to be digging very deep to win!

  5. Hey Ron, the virgin test ride on bamboo was today! It is GREAT! Tomorrow is a 4 hour day with some good hills where I will really wring it out, so I will probably have a quick post about it.

    As far as Cancellara, 1) he is my hero, and 2) power to weight is FAR less important than absolute power in most time trials and 90% of all races. Cancellara's power to weight ratio is high for sure, but probably not in the top 20 in the ToC--however, his absolute power for shorter durations and in a very aerodynamic position is, obviously, the highest in the world. Power increases directly with muscle mass, but wind resistance does not, so bigger riders are better at time trials and smaller riders are better at climbs with few outliers (Armstrong, Landis, Leipheimer, Evans, and a few others being the outliers, or the "GC" guys).

  6. Ron, how are you finding the Kurt Kinetic/Power Computer combination working? I seem to be getting distressingly low watt measurement, which, according to the chart, puts me in the Untrained category. Considering my best tt is 1:02 for 40 km, I would like to think it is a matter of adjustment rather than athletic failure. I hope. Maybe I should be concerned with absolute power, but that may not be much more reassuring!

  7. Will - Yeah, 600 is something to deal with.

    Sprocketboy - Lets face it, Paris-Roubaix is a lot of pain, seasoned Pro's probably can hide that very well.

    TT Specialist - I realize the importance of what you're saying. I think Fabian's best when it comes to short, flat courses where he can use his sheer power. That final TT of the TOC didn't go well for him, this is where Levi showed how to do it. I think its fair to say its important to have aerobic and anaerobic endurance?

    Sprocketboy - The power pc system is working alright for me. For a system this cheap you can't complain. I find that for the power I put, the mileage readings are a little low. Again, I have never had a real power meter to know what the difference is, but I used this website to calibrate my kinetic trainer to a real PT. I have a strong feeling once I get on the road, I'll definitely ride faster.

  8. Sprocet Boy - Sorry, I meant to say speed readings are low. Sometimes I get irritated with the numbers, but I can't be a slave to them. I put confidence in the fact that the riding curve on the trainer mimics outside riding, so the power I'm putting must be somewhere close if not too off.

  9. Anonymous12:17 PM

    Someone is copying your posts... not cool.

  10. Anonymous2:55 PM

    whooops.. wrong link.

  11. I have will always question the accuracy of the power to weight ratio table. When I (46 year old recently upgraded Cat 3, racing one year as of March) put my numbers in I grade out as a low Cat 1 5 sec, a med Cat 2 1 min, a low Div 111 pro for 5 min and finally a high Cat 1 20 min.

    So I guess I should quit the road and focus on something like 4k pursuit on the track?

  12. Jim
    You have an interesting power profile there, strong in 5 secs and really strong in 20 mins. I don't think your values should strictly remain in one row. Perhaps you're right, the figures are telling you what you're strengths and weaknesses are. A classic sprinter could perhaps have a downsloping curve going left to right.

    However, I don't think thats a cause for you to quit road racing altogether. That would be absurd.

    Note that when you test your power for times, don't do it altogether on one day. Those values may not be accurate.

  13. Book added to my list! This is a very interesting post. Will go back to today's ride's power data and do some analysing. No, I will probably not share my findings ... :-)

  14. Anonymous10:30 PM

    as a past road racer i can tell you that saving some for other stages can effect the final out come of your power numbers. maybe fabian was thinking of conservation instead of total conquest for that one TT.

    i used to post pretty high watts when younger. but higher on the longer tests.

  15. Anonymous3:44 PM

    Im 16 and dont train that often (only a 3 hour ride per week on the sunday at Aerorbic pace) as i am a triathlete so dont have much time for the bike.
    I did a power test for 20 mins and got 322W and i weigh 62kg leaving me a power to weight ratio of 5.19.
    Is this a good result?

  16. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Yes that is very good if you had the average of 322 for 20 mins

  17. Ron,

    I love your website. However, I noticed that the Power-to-Weight ratio chart you have needs to be updated. I have the Allen/Coggan book and there are some discepancies with those in your chart. Perhaps they updated them since you first posted the chart. But, in any event, the values in your chart seems to put people a few categories above what they are in the book. Just thought you'd like to know

  18. Pumping Cyclist : Yes, I believe they updated their book since I published those values here.

  19. Ron,
    Thank you for the explanation. I am trying to write a little article on power to weight ratio but in more mind, body, spirit terms. As a cyclist and yoga teacher I've noticed that my power increases through muscle relaxation, calmer breathing, positive thinking, gratitude, love, and visualizing the best outcome (like making it to the top of Mount Ventoux!). I've been trying to figure out a way to explain it in terms of power/weight ratio for fun but also for my logical mind - so power increases by adding these things that don't weigh anything - in fact maybe they make us lighter in some way. Anyway, interesting food for thought for yoga teachers too. Thanks again!

  20. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Great graph and lots of info. One thing I haven't been able to find is age related figures. i think the graph represents athletes at there peak age.
    What are the numbers as we age. Does anyone know where to find them??

  21. The yoga teacher has a point. For me deep breathing and meditation are key to focusing mental energy in pursuit of speed. Fast and efficient cadence is more important than sheer power numbers. One can achieve decent power numbers with both efficient and inefficient cadences. If cadence is inefficient they will never perform as well as one who is breathing deeply/smoothly, is mentally focused and has a smooth and balanced power delivery throughout their cadence.

  22. What's the maximum allowable power to weight ratio for novice riders in Australia?

  23. Im sixteen and im putting out 1300 watts on jr gears plus i weigh 140 pounds. Anyone know how many watts per body pound i put out?

  24. Anonymous11:36 PM

    Hi Ron
    I know this is an old post - not sure you still check it? My boy is 12. He's been racing for four-years. He weights 42kgs and recently did a ramp test where he started pushing out 100 watts on a WattBike then increased every minute till he was spent. He got to nine minutes and the tester said his Max Minute Power (the power he could hold for the last minute) was 319W at a HR of 203. Not sure what this means to the above post (if anything?) but 319/42 = 7.59. So is the above chart relevant to junior cyclists or only adults? My son does go pretty well - he's won five out of five junior tours this season and hasn't been beaten in a TT.

  25. Henry - That's pretty impressive! I'm sure his potential is going to be recognized by a development team in near future.

  26. Well I only got to 360 watts on a ramp test and am 72kg (possibly 65kg if I completely leaned out!) So Anonymous' son is doing way better for his size :D

  27. 5 min AP (almost to exhaustion) 335W over 56.69kg

    Just under Div 3 pro? Is this accurate?

  28. Anonymous1:46 AM

    To be fair power to weight ratio is only half the story. Sure it determines how well you will climb, but outright power is more important on the flat. To take an extreme example, Magnus B├Ąckstedt is a big guy, weighing 94 kg when race fit, but on the other hand he is reputed to have averaged over 1000 watts over some of the pave sections when he won the Paris-Roubaix. This is also where the difference between male and female racers is often most apparent, as even if they have comparable power to weight ratios, male riders tend to be much bigger, and so will put out a lot more absolute power, especially over the short periods crucial when attacking and so forth.

    1. men have on average higher power to weight ratios. Yes, power much more important on flats...but don't forget victories of little guys like Paolo Bettini - 130lbs and holds multiple gold medals and world titles.


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