New Product: Stages Cycling Power Meter

Gear Power Meters

Does It Work
The short answer is, yes, it certainly appears to. During our time with Stages, they showed off all manner of charts and graphs illustrating that their simplified system, measuring just one leg, then extrapolating that data to account for total rider output was just as accurate as the popular hub and spider-based models.

We also ventured out on several test rides, including an all-out effort up Boulder’s iconic Flagstaff climb. The goal here was to obtain a max 20-minute average, which could then be used to set up training zones with our new TrainingPeaks or Strava accounts. Based on personal prior experience (I’ve ridden the climb dozens of times) and current fitness level, my 279-watt average seemed about right.

But obviously that is by no means a true scientific test. Stages acknowledged this and encouraged all the media in attendance to do their own side-by-side testing.

Stages also claimed that they have done extensive in-house comparison analysis, with several staffers spending more than a year with three separate power meters running on their bike at the same time. When all three devices were calibrated properly (something many users forget to do), they claimed the variance was well within an acceptable range. But things like drastic temperature change and not doing a zero reset before rides delivered greater discrepancies.

“Side by side testing is not as easy as it might sound,” said Warner, noting that even using one power meter with two Garmin head units can deliver varied information. “It can be a very frustrating process.”

Who Is Stages
The company is new, but the people behind it are primarily industry veterans, with the core group having worked together for nearly 20 years, dating back to their time with Schwinn in the mid-1990s. “We are leveraging what we’ve learned along the way,” explained VP Doug Crawford. “This not our first product, nor our first leap into product development.”

“Within this group, we have 225 patents,” added Warner, who was one of the riders who used the triple-power meter set-up during the company’s testing and development phase.

For whatever it’s worth, they all ride a ton, too. Company staffers’ list of bike racing achievements include Ironman Kona finishes, Colorado state road and cyclocross championship wins, and national track racing titles. The daily group rides were spirited to say the least.

Why Would You Want One
Seven hundred dollars is no small drop in the bucket, but for anyone who’s lusted after a power meter, but been chased away by the price, this might change the equation. Beyond that, the benefits of training with power are well documented. Unlike heart rate, which can be effected by everything from how hot it is, to how many beers you had the night before, power is quantifiable raw data that shows the rate at which you can do work.

Remember the famous watts/kg conversations that surrounded Lance Armstrong and what it took to win the Tour de France. Well, this is how you figure that out. I cranked out a whopping 3.5 w/kg during my aforementioned Flagstaff time trial effort. Rory Sutherland, who won the Flagstaff stage at last summer’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, knocked the 2.8-mile climb off by pumping out 6.8 w/kg.

There’s also talk at Stages that this power meter could open the door to interesting applications in the mountain biking world. The company has signed sponsorship agreements with the SCOTT-3Rox and Yeti mountain bike teams, and Yeti’s top brass, Chris Conroy, has expressed interest in how the device might be used to “test the effectiveness of new suspension designs and set-ups.”

One final note. I’ve done my best to address as many potential questions as possible with this new product summation. But if you have any further questions, post them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to get you an answer. And of course, in the coming months we’ll do further testing on our Stages Cycling power meter and let you know how it goes.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • Sebastian Zdyb says:

    I’m very happy to see more power meter developers on the market. Did anyone rode the system with another power meter like powertap or quarq and can post results?
    At that price this looks like a winner and great product. Do you need to zero out before each ride?

  • Jon Mags says:

    When do we expect to have side by side comparisons with powertap, SRM and Quarq? I’d like to see how this stacks up… $700 is way cheap for a PM compared to the options available now!

  • james conley says:

    how would this be most useful, as a comparison to others’ level
    of output, as a comp. to previous outputs to monitor improvements,
    as a means of monitoring outputs during a given ride to guard against
    overexertion/fatigue? I guess what I’m saying/asking, is that the
    article mentions how read-outs on Stages Cycling powermeter are
    arrived at, but not how they are best used. Its out of my range anyway, for
    the time being, so no worries!

  • James says:

    Gosh, how did Eddy Merckx get so good without a power meter?

    • geekonabike says:

      Good point. You know the UCI can ban radios, How would team Sky get through the neutral zone w/out there power meters?

  • JP says:

    Why was the iBike Newton not mentioned in the comparison? It’s very reliable and consistent and can be used on any bike with any crank and any set of wheels. You can move it from bike to bike, with only an additional mount that cost $39. Again no wheel changes, no switching of cranks or crank arms and it cost less than or equal to the new Stages PM. Also the iBike has a firmware upgrade that will pick up A.N.T. devices that can be used with SRM,Quarq and PowerTap and now Stages if so desired. The iBike also has comparisons with all the PM’s mentioned above except for the new Stages PM. I’m just saying.

  • Will says:

    I purchased stages power crank just on the non drive side on June 7, 2014. For Shimano 105. It has worked great. Had a problem when battery had to be changed due to not making contact. Excellent support from stages mailed me different cover. The power meter has improved power 20 sec by 58%, 1 min by 52%, 5 min by 37%, 20 min by 20% and 60 min by 17% in just 3 months, even though I have trained by power on computrainer for 4 years. It was easy to install and get working with cyclecomputer and strava app on iphone.

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