What is Power-to-Weight Ratio (and Why Does it Matter)?


A group of cyclists sit outside a local coffee shop enjoying a post-ride cafecito while chatting about their favorite topic: data. One rider reports an FTP of 160, while another has an FTP of 240. Looking at these numbers alone, you might assume that the rider with the higher FTP is the stronger cyclist. But there’s an important detail missing: weight.

It turns out that the cyclist with a FTP of 160 only weighs 120 lbs. She has a power-to-weight ratio of 2.94 watts/kg. In contrast, the rider with a FTP of 240 weighs 180 lbs. His power-to-weight ratio is also 2.94 watts/kg. All things considered, these two riders are very similar.

“When we look at power-to-weight, we’re effectively normalizing the data. This means we can make fair comparisons between riders of all different shapes and sizes,” says sport scientist Dan Plews, Ph.D, coach of newly-crowned Ironman World Champion Chelsea Sodaro.

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