Saddle Slang is sponsored by Rehook. Check out our tools, bike care and apparel


Noun, Measurement

Watts is a unit of measure for power output during cycling.

Example usage: My watts per kilogram ratio is quite high for a beginner.

Most used in: Time Trial and racing cycling.

Most used by: Competitive cyclists and those looking to improve their performance.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Power, Cadence, Kilojoules, Heart Rate,


What are Watts and How Do They Impact Time Trial Cycling?

When talking about cycling, the term “watts” is often thrown around. To put it simply, watts are a unit of power that measure the amount of energy being used to move a cyclist forward. Watts are important in the context of time trial cycling because they can give an indication of how fast a cyclist can go.

The concept of watts is based on the idea of work divided by time. Specifically, the number of watts a cyclist generates is equal to the amount of force they can apply to the pedals multiplied by the distance they can cover in one minute. In time trial cycling, the more watts a cyclist can generate, the faster they will be able to complete the course.

An average cyclist might generate 100-150 watts. Professional cyclists, on the other hand, can generate upwards of 400-500 watts. In fact, during the 2017 Tour de France, Chris Froome produced an impressive 7.04 watts/kg – one of the highest ratios ever recorded.

Understanding watts is important to time trial cycling because it gives cyclists an indication of how fast they can go. Knowing how many watts a cyclist can generate can also help them to maximize their performance by allowing them to set realistic goals and track their progress.


The Origin of the Term 'Watts' in Time Trial Cycling

The term 'Watts' is used to measure the power output of athletes in Time Trial cycling. It was first coined in the 1960s by Dr. Peter R. Cavanagh, a British sports scientist, to measure the power output of rowers. It was then adapted to cycling in the 1970s, and is now used as the standard unit of measurement for power output in Time Trial cycling.

The term 'Watts' is derived from the name of a Scottish engineer, James Watt (1736–1819). He developed a unit of power, the Watt, to measure the power of steam engines. Cavanagh adapted this unit of power to measure the power output of athletes in Time Trial cycling.

The use of the unit of power, the Watt, to measure the power output of athletes in Time Trial cycling is now widespread and has become the accepted standard. It is used to measure the power output of athletes during a race, and to compare the power output of athletes from different countries and different eras.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Saddle Slang

Find definitions for all of the technical terms, slang, and acronyms used in cycling. From the different types of bikes and their components, to training techniques, racing terminology and put downs, this dictionary has it all.

Talk the Talk
1 of 3