Reviews

Stages | Testing and analysis of connecting rod power meter

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Stages is not a power meter that has just arrived on the market. On the contrary, it has been with us for a little over 3 years, but among the different offers of potentiometers it continues to be one of the main references.

When measuring power directly there are several points where it is possible to do the measurement. Stages does it on the left crank. Actually Stages is a "pod" that is added to a standard crank like the one you already have on your bike, but this installation can not be done at home but must be done at the factory. Instead of sending your crank to do the installation, you buy a crank (with the power meter already installed) that you will replace with the one you have right now installed on the bike. It is therefore important to check compatibility with your current crankset, both in model and length of it.

Until recently Stages was only available for aluminium models, but recently carbon fibre crankpins have also been added to your catalogueso there is a lot of variety to choose from.

In my case the crank I received for the test is a 175mm Ultegra 6800. But as I say, the type of crank you use is indifferent, because what the Stages pod does is measure the deformation that occurs in it when you apply force while pedaling. So between a Dura-Ace crank and an Ultegra crank the only difference is the crank itself, since the power measurement is done with the same device. Therefore, the price difference between models is not in the quality of the potentiometer, but the price of the crank that accompanies it.

The test unit has been handed over by Stages (from their European headquarters in Germany), but he is already back with them. You know that there is no consideration from the brands when they perform the tests, what I perceive in my trainings is what I tell you and there is no pressure of any kind to get a positive result.

Once everything is clear, let's go with the Stages test. What's the good and less good about this power meter?

Stages Power

Stages, although it comes in crank format, is nothing more than a "pod" attached to it. It is exactly the same as the one you are going to replace with a slight difference: that extra piece attached to the back of the piece. It is what measures both the torsion that occurs when applying force to the pedal, but also the pedaling cadence, the second variable needed to know the power.

Therefore, when you order your Stages you must indicate the type of crank you use and its size, since what you have to do is replace the one you currently mount (the one on the left side, which does not have the plates) with the new one you receive. So it is very important that you confirm up to two and three times the size of the crank.

And when you receive the shipment, this is what will appear on your door: a not very big recycled cardboard box. The logo of the Sky cycling team stands out, with whom Stages has signed a collaboration agreement to equip their Pinarello bikes with this power meter (although on many occasions they have been seen using dual models, which are either on trial or have been a specific requirement of the team).

Stages - power meter

If you open the box you will find exactly what you were looking for. A connecting rod. It comes presented with the inside facing up, so that when you open the box the first thing you see is your new power meter.

Stages - power meter

If you turn it over you will see that it is an absolutely normal crank. In my case it is a 175mm Ultegra 6800 crank. The only difference between it and the one mounted on the bike is the sticker with the brand logo.

Stages - power meter

But as I say, the magic is behind it. This connecting rod corresponds to version 2 of the design, in which the format of the battery cover has been changed. The first units suffered from sealing and battery connection problems, something that has now been solved in this new, corrected design.

The power meter is certified to IPX7, which means that it is occasionally immersed in water up to 1 meter, so you should not have any problems, even in the toughest cyclo-cross races. However, when you wash your bike with pressurized water, do not direct the hose directly to the crank area, as the IPX7 certification is not capable of withstanding this type of washing.

 

Stages - power meter

In the box, underneath the crank, you will find an instruction manual in several languages, among which is of course Spanish. Next to this, a small booklet with an 8-week training plan for you to start using your new power meter for training. And by the way, with the purchase of Stages you will have access to a premium subscription to TrainingPeaks during those eight weeks.

Stages - power meter

Next to these papers you will find a set of stickers, in case you want to put them on your bike in a well visible place, so you can show off your new purchase.

Stages - power meter

Finally, a card where you will find the serial number and the ANT+ ID.

Stages - power meter

The information on the card is the same as on the sticker on the back of the crank, but it's obviously easier to look at it there than to stick your head under the crankset. Normally you won't need the information shown there, particularly the ANT+ ID, but you may not be able to match the power meter to your device in the usual way through the search, and you may have to enter that ID.

Installation

No tools are provided with Stages for the installation, you have to take yours out and it does not include the beer you can drink while doing the installation.

In this particular case with a Shimano crank you will need an Allen key to remove the pedals from the old crank, the plastic tool to remove the central plug that holds it to the axle and finally another Allen key for the screws that tighten it to the axle. In my case I chose my rusty multi-tool.

Stages - Installation

Let's get to work. First you have to remove the pedal from the crank. You can do it later... but I wish you luck to be able to release it without having the crank attached. In the case of the image the pedal is a bePRO with power meter, but the procedure is exactly the same for any other pedal.

Stages - Installation

The next thing you will want to do is to loosen the screws that fix the crank to the axle (the one that comes from the opposite crank with the chainrings). There are two screws that you will have to loosen in a more or less balanced way, that is, remove a little of one and a little of the other.

Stages - Installation

With the screws loosened, it's time to remove the plastic cap that holds the connecting rod to the shaft. The tool is very simple, made of plastic and can be turned simply by hand.

Stages - Installation

Everything is already loose, so now it's your turn to remove the crank. It will normally require several nylon hammer strokes (the nylon one!, a normal hammer will leave marks on the crank). Once the crank is removed this is what you will see.

Stages - Installation

It's a good time to stop, drink that beer we had prepared and compare both cranks so you can appreciate the differences.

Stages - Installation

Once you've finished your beer it's time to get back on the road. Simply repeat the procedure in reverse, but first you'll want to make sure that you don't have any compatibility problems, i.e. that the crank doesn't rub against the rear end of your bike, in particular the part that is different from your old crank. Make sure that the "hump" on the Stages crank doesn't hit or rub against the frame.

Stages - Installation

Replace the plastic cap and secure the crank. Be careful not to overtighten the cap, which will not only make the pedalling much harder but may also damage the bearings. Try turning the pedals and finding the point where they turn comfortably and the crank is firm.

Stages - Installation

When tightening the screws, the procedure is the same as that for loosening them, but do it evenly, turning one and then the other to distribute the torque.

Stages - Installation

Finally, you'll simply have to put the pedal back in your new crank. And pedal.

Stages - Installation

Calibration, updating and connectivity

One of the main advantages of the Stages is its dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart connectivity, allowing you to use it with both watches or computers that connect via ANT+ (mainly Garmin) and other devices that only use Bluetooth (Polar or Suunto, for example).

Stages - Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity

This is a really important detail, because the truth is that the options of potentiometers for Bluetooth devices are really limited. If you have a device that works exclusively through Bluetooth, Stages is precisely one of the units you should think about (besides being one of the most economical options).

The fact of having Bluetooth Smart connectivity is not only a detail to take into account when it comes to know which unit you will use the power meter with, you will also be able to connect it with your mobile phone. Therefore, you can use applications (like Strava) and collect the power data of your workouts. But another main utility is that you will be able to connect it with the Stages application that will allow you to update the firmware when there are new features. To do so, you will only have to open the application, look for the power meter (after activating it by turning the crank), and in case there is an update available it will download and start the update process.

Stages - Update

Therefore, after the initial installation, the first thing you want to do is check if there are any updates available that you can install and start from the beginning by updating to the latest version.

Also, when you are going to start rolling, it is recommended that you perform a calibration. More than a calibration, it is a resetting of all the parameters, it is the way to indicate to the power meter that at that moment there is no power and that there is no pressure on the pedals.

This is important because there can be environmental factors that affect the power measurement, such as temperature or humidity, so this is a procedure that you can also do (and which is also recommended) at any time if you start to see power data that does not match the feeling of effort you are having. Although Stages has a temperature sensor to automatically calibrate itself while you are training (for example, when climbing a mountain pass it is common for the temperature to drop), sometimes this happens quickly without giving the potentiometer time to adjust. At that point you can stop and proceed with the calibration procedure, which takes only a few seconds.

I usually perform the calibration before starting to ride. I take the bike out to the street, finish preparing while all the devices I have on hand find a GPS signal and when I am ready to start training is when I perform the calibration. Therefore I have already given some time for the sensor to acclimatize to the change in temperature between indoors and outdoors. If the change is significant (for example going from +25ºC indoors to 0ºC outdoors), it may be advisable to start riding and perform the calibration 10 or 15 minutes later.

To perform this reset to zero or calibration, you must start it from your cycling unit or clock. You do not have to do anything on the power meter other than turn the pedals so that it turns on and therefore connects to your unit.

You must place the crank vertically, with the pedal at the bottom (which would be 6 o'clock) and without applying any pressure on the crank. Then simply select the calibration option in the power meter options (each device has a procedure) and wait for the procedure to finish, it only takes a few seconds.

Stages - Calibration

After that, you're ready to start pedaling and power training.

Battery and replacement

The battery it uses is standard CR2032, which you can buy in any supermarket. Replacing the battery is very simple, and you can even carry a spare battery with you in the tools of the bike so that if you run out of battery in the middle of a workout, you can change it directly.

As you can see in this image, you don't need any other tool than a fingernail (or a flat screwdriver if your fingernail is fragile, but be careful not to break the tabs). You simply have to turn the lid in the direction it indicates to make the opening.

Stages - Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity

When you've changed the battery, remember to put the lid back on (by turning it in the opposite direction), otherwise you can lose it halfway through. And trust me... you don't want that to happen.

Measurement of a leg and multiplication

The main feature of the Stages power meter is that it does not measure total power, but measures the power of the left leg and multiplies it by two.

Buscador de chollos

Power Meter Stages

Within the direct measurement power meters (that is to say, that measure the applied power and do not estimate it) we can find three options. Firstly, the one offered by Stages, which is to measure the power of one leg and multiply it by two. As in this case, the potentiometer registers the power applied to the left crank and, independently of what is in the right crank (that you are missing one leg or that you are carrying an elephant moving that pedal), this power is multiplied by two to obtain the total value.

The next option we can see in the market is to measure the total power; but without differentiating between left and right power. It is a step further because it provides us with real total power. But we will not be able to have details like power distribution (knowing if we have a dominant leg).

Finally, the third option is to have a power meter on each side and to obtain, now, the independent sum of each one of them. It is the most faithful way of being able to have the power values of each one of our legs knowing the distribution of it. That is to say, to know if you apply the power in a balanced way or there is a leg that has more strength than another one.

Stages is, as I say, in the first category. The power meter records the data of the left leg and multiplies it by two.

Stages Power meter

The question you'll be asking yourself is whether this matters. Well, yes and no.

Personally, I would have no problem training exclusively with Stages, but all training must be adjusted to my particular measurement. I know that my power distribution is usually 45-55. Therefore I have a dominant leg (the right one) and that results in the total final power values being always lower in the case of Stages.

This could present a problem if I base my workouts on an FTP calculated by measuring both legs (total power) and then use the Stages values as a reference. Therefore I would be training 10% above what I should.

But if I use Stages to calculate the FTP then there is no problem, since I am already doing that threshold calculation by introducing that error in the total power measurement.

Of course, you should also keep in mind that if you only pedal with one leg, you won't be able to do a power-based workout either.

Signal emission quality

In the measurement of only the left leg and consequent doubling of power, I don't find any excessive problems, however, where I have found more problems is in the power of the signal emission.

In fact, it's low, much lower than any other sensor I have mounted on my bike, and I've checked with Stages several times to see if it could be a problem with the unit.

After reviewing all the files with data collected, it is true that at no time have I had signal reception cuts, as long as the device I used to record the Stages data was on the left side of the handlebar. If I placed it on the right at some point I could perceive some cuts in the transmission. And likewise, if the device was in the back pocket of the jersey (I used a mobile phone as a support to check later if there were such reception problems), I could hear perfectly when the application warned of signal loss.

This is because the body (composed mainly of water, which, as you know, prevents digital transmissions such as Bluetooth or ANT+) blocked reception, losing the connection every time you pedaled standing up. This happened independently of using ANT+ or Bluetooth connectivity, not that one antenna has a worse design than the other. It's just that both are quite improvable.

In these pictures you can clearly see those signal problems. First with Bluetooth connectivity and with the Stages application. By placing the phone next to the crank, you can see that the transmission power is full.

Stages - Signal transmission

In this picture there may be about one meter between the crank and the phone, with nothing blocking the signal.

Stages - Signal transmission

With the Wahoo app you can also see the incidence of the distance on the other sensors installed on the bike. By placing the phone next to the crank (in this case the phone has ANT+ technology) you can see how the four sensors have a very high signal (PowerTap hub, bePRO pedals, Stages crank and Wahoo speed/cadence sensor).

Stages - Signal transmission

And if I'm not too far away again, Stages' signal is practically lost, which is not the case with any of the other three sensors, from which I'm still receiving a fairly strong signal.

Stages - Signal transmission

But I repeat, despite all these problems that I relate at the time of truth the data I have recorded with the main unit used for that power meter (Polar, Garmin or Suunto watches or cycling computers), have never shown cuts in the transmission, provided that it was located on the left side of the bike, either on the handlebars or on my left wrist. There have been cuts if the device was located elsewhere, such as in the pocket of the jersey.

This is something that worries me and that's how I communicated it to Stages. Reviewing forums I can confirm that it's not only a failure of my unit, but it's a common thing in Stages' design. It has nothing to do with the battery status or with a specific failure of the unit, just the antenna design or the emission power is not as good as it should be.

Therefore, if you want to avoid signal reception problems, make sure you place your device on the left side of the bike, although this can be somewhat more complicated with long distance triathlon handlebars.

Measurement accuracy

You have already seen that Stages has two important particularities: that the power measurement is made on the left leg and is multiplied by two; and that it does not have too high an emission power. But what is most important is that the power data it provides is accurate. It is no use for us if the potentiometer is capable of measuring separate power on both legs and emits at maximum power, if what it is measuring is not correct.

For these tests I compared the data of the Stages with other power meters, in particular with the bePRO Favero pedals and the PowerTap G3It would be absurd to test Stages separately, as there must be more devices to confirm that the data we obtain is correct and to be able to validate the reading correctly. In fact, it is ideal that the measurement is carried out with more than two meters, because if two devices coincide in power measurement everything is perfect and beautiful, and it does not present any problem of comparison. But what would happen if they differ? How to know which one is failing? This is where it becomes important to have at least three sources of data. And that is why testing power meters is not at all easy.

Once you know the procedure for testing, let's get into the cold numbers.

Initial settlement

I will start the analysis with the first test after the initial installation of the three power meters. The data is not yet valid, as especially in the case of bePRO the meter is still settling. The graph is smoothed to 30 seconds to try to make the data comparison easier. Remember that by clicking on the image you can open the graphs in a larger size.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

I don't want to stop to do any analysis yet, but this way you can see how the initial settlement is made after the first start and how the different meters evolve over time. You can take the upper graph as a reference.

Benahavis Ascent

You will see that there are still differences between the different records. But in this second test everything appears more aligned. Especially at the beginning of the training.

But as I say, I don't want to start drawing any conclusions just yet.

You can see that in the power peaks Stages always show a little less power, because of the already mentioned my particular power distribution. However you can see that the three power meters are recording very similar values and the trends are the same.

But in the second part of the training you can see several moments when Stages is totally "out of the loop". The reason is none other than the temporary loss of signal. In that training I was recording Stages' data with a Suunto Ambit3 and a mobile phone in the back pocket of the jersey.

I couldn't use the Suunto data because of the way GoldenCheetah interprets it (which is what I use to pass it to CSV), so I only had to use the data from the phone, but with the transmission cuts. Nevertheless, it serves perfectly for you to appreciate those communication cuts.

In the central part of the training you can also see strange things from the three power meters, right? None of the three show a matching graph.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

At that time I was making a descent in an urban area with pedestrian crossings, speed bumps, etc. How do these elements influence those strange power registers? Well, they can be explained by the way of taking cadence data. As I am making a descent in a quite steep slope I hardly have to pedal, so the cadence is low.

The potentiometer registers power from pressure and angular velocity (cadence), so no matter how much I press on the crank, if there is no pedaling there is no power registration. I can now stand with all my weight on the left side or I can jump, if there is no cadence registration the power is zero watts.

But there are differences in the way each power meter records the cadence. For example Stages does it from 30rpm, while with bePRO from 20rpm I already have cadence data. And likewise, PowerTap G3 estimates the cadence (as there is no way the hub can have real pedaling cadence). So in those moments of slow pedaling there can be quite a difference in what each unit records.

However, this is not something you need to worry about, as it is not usual to have a similar situation, and of course when you are going down and pedalling slowly you are not going to be interested in the power data obtained either.

Short interval session

The following is a very good workout in which you can draw conclusions about the measurement on one leg and what it entails. Before going into the workout itself, I have to say that I was tired after a trail competition two days earlier. My legs were quite heavy because of so much climbing and descending.

I'll start by showing you the 30-second smoothed graph, but due to the variation in training there may be too many peaks to see things in good detail, but you can already see that in general the Stages graph is quite low, more than what it usually is and what you have seen in the images above.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

So in order to make it easier to see the data, I'm going to smooth out the graph to 60 seconds.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

It is still too variable, but useful to see details, but by smoothing it out to 5 minutes it will allow us to see very clear details (not very useful as an activity analysis, but perfectly valid to see differences between the different power meters).

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

The first thing you notice is that of the three graphs, two are very well aligned. Both the PowerTap and the bePRO pedals graphs coincide for most of the training. The Stages graph stands out, which is well below the other two.

Why does this happen? As I said before, I arrived at this training with a lot of accumulated fatigue. With a trail with +2,400m of positive leg movement, it was clear that they were not working as they should. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that one of the test power meters was able to measure both legs separately, it is possible to see the reason for this difference.

My power distribution is never 50-50. There are people who do have a perfect distribution, just as there are many of us who have one leg slightly more dominant than the other. In my case, my right leg is usually more dominant and my power distribution is usually between 45-55 and 48-52, quite balanced but not perfect. We could argue for hours and hours about whether trying to achieve perfect balance offers better performance in competition, but I think it would be a discussion without a clear conclusion.

But to the point, that day and as a result of accumulated fatigue, the power distribution was completely unbalanced, as you can see in the final summary of the bePRO data activity.

Comparison of Power Meters - Power Distribution

A distribution of 43-57, even more dominant the right leg in this day of fatigue. So if I have applied an important difference of power from one leg to the other, and on top of that we multiply it by two, the final result is the one we see in the graph, that the total difference is very big. Seeing the graph the measurement of Stages is the same all the time, so it is clear that the capacity to measure is correct. But we have the problem that as the power is unbalanced the total power comparison is less than the real one. It is the toll to pay to have an economic power meter that only measures us in one leg.

Ascent to Istan

Let's go with a different workout. First, the unsoftened graph.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

As you can see, it's hardly possible to appreciate anything, right? That's why I prepare smoothed graphics, because it's the only way to be able to appreciate the details in a more comfortable way. But it's not out of place that you can see what the "raw" graphics look like.

Here we can find two differentiated parts: a first moment that includes an ascent and after a period of rest at the top of the pass, descending by the same path as the ascent.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

The first part looks good. Yes, there are differences in the higher peaks, but remember that we are reviewing a smoothed graph, so in those punctual peaks the lower power that Stages shows is because of my power distribution. What we must ensure is that the trend is correct and the three graphs are equal or parallel with little difference in watts, as it happens.

It is after the stop when we start to see deviations from the three potentiometers. And you can easily see that these deviations increase as time goes by. The problem is that there are not two graphs that match and a third one that we can say is the wrong one. The graphs are parallel, but they are separated in their measurement. So, which one of the three is making the right measurement? Well, there is no way to know.

Why this difference, which increases as the training progresses? The reason, probably, is because of the temperature and the speed of adjustment of each unit to the changes in it. Now you see why I recommend making a calibration in the middle of a training session depending on the conditions, right?

Testing for temperature changes

So with that premise in the next training it was a matter of seeing how these changes affect each unit. For the next example I want you to look, in addition to the power graph itself, at the temperature graph of the Edge 520. You can see how as I go up the port the temperature drops, coming back up when I go down. The central rise in temperature is because I was standing and the bike was in the sun, so the Edge was overheating. As soon as I go back up the temperature starts to drop back to the correct level.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

As you can see, the temperature variation is important. Up to 10 degrees difference that the three power meters must try to correct, because the elasticity of the materials where the gauges are placed varies with the temperature. Therefore, each manufacturer includes a specific algorithm depending on the characteristics of the material where the gauge is placed. So in the case of Stages it is important that the information provided by Shimano is accurate.

As for the training itself, in the initial part of the climb I'm doing two minute intervals at higher intensity with one minute of rest. In that initial period the graphs are pretty even. With the differences we've been seeing so far but even: bePRO and PowerTap pretty much aligned and Stages with a tendency to be slightly lower in terms of power due to my dominant right leg.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

The trends are similar, and as the training progresses, the Stages graph becomes more equal to the other two. After stopping and waiting for the temperature change, you start to see bigger differences. At this point I could (should) have done a manual calibration, but the idea is precisely to test the ability of each of them to make the adjustment automatically to these temperature variations. If I had done so, we would lose these valuable details. Besides, I am sure that the vast majority only do the initial calibration (if any).

In this graph I look quite closely at the PowerTap log, as it has a constant calibration feature. Every time you stop pedaling it performs a self-calibration to zero, so it is much quicker to adapt to changes than the other two meters. While Stages and bePRO need a few minutes to be able to adjust the power according to temperature changes, PowerTap and its constant calibration allows for greater accuracy in the data when there are these variations.

Below is an image of that same training, in its first and less smoothly climbed fragment, at 30 seconds, in order to be able to analyze it in more detail.

Stages - Power Analysis

Except for specific moments when there is some difference (which can be caused by smoothing), all the intervals have a very similar recording. There are some points where the Stages peaks differ a little from what is shown by the other two meters, but I attribute it to my power distribution. You may also have to look at the fact that the power meters record 8 data per second, while the recording units only record at a rate of 1 per second. Therefore you have to discard the remaining 7 data. In something as variable as power with such short peaks, that recording rate can make a significant difference.

Both in this second graph and in the first one with more smoothness the three power meters offer very similar information. And of course, while doing the different series, on screen I was seeing very similar data, watt up or watt down.

As for the second part of the training, what's going on? Because if you notice there is a very strange behavior in the Stages graph. Why? I honestly don't know. I have been checking the raw data and I have clear that the problem is that the unit that has been recording the Stages data (a mobile phone with the Wahoo app) has recorded power when there was no pedaling at that moment. The cadence data of both bePRO and Powertap is 0, and the heart rate is dropping. There is also no variation in the height, so obviously I am standing up at that moment. However, in the Stages data there is both cadence and power recording.

And as you have seen, it is totally impossible to achieve such precision when pedalling, the graphics are much more variable.

Stages - Raw data

Why is Stages registering power if I'm standing still? I can't give you the answer. It's not a disconnection problem, because the phone was fixed to the stem without any object getting in the way of the connection with the power meter. A failure of the application used? A hang up of the power meter? Any option is feasible, but be that as it may, I didn't manage to repeat it in any other output.

Cadence register

As I say, Stages also measures the cadence, so you can have this additional data without having to have any other sensor on the bike. Actually, all power meters must do this, as it is a fundamental part of their operation.

This is because the power is the result of multiplying the torque (the force applied to the pedal) by the angular speed, and this angular speed is the speed at which you turn the pedals and takes into account the length of the lever (which is why you have to enter the length of the crank into your cycling computer). So the power meter knows exactly what your cadence is without you having to use a cadence sensor independently (in fact, if you have both connected to your device, it only uses the information from one of them: the potentiometer).

Reviewing cadence graphs the results are correct between the three units at all times. In the graph you can see PowerTap and bePRO peaks, which for some design issue when both devices stop pedaling send peaks that are not real. But in the pedaling periods you can check perfectly how the three graphs are totally aligned.

Power Meter Comparison - Bepro, Powertap, Stages

These peaks only appear on the graphs, as during the training we will see the correct cadence at all times. More importantly, the data that will appear on the screen of your device is always the correct one.

My opinion

The power meter market is experiencing a major boom and Stages is undoubtedly one of the best known. Reasons to enjoy this reputation are not lacking. To begin with, the collaboration (or sponsorship) with the Sky team is a major asset, both for brand visibility and marketing purposes and for validation of the device. If it's good enough for Chris Froome, why shouldn't it be good enough for you?

Its ease of installation is another important asset, and it can even be moved from one bike to another in a matter of minutes (as long as you use the same type of crankset). Anyone with basic knowledge of bike mechanics is able to install it, and the fact that it does not require any specific torque or prior calibration means that it is within anyone's reach.

Finally, I do not want to forget to point out the double compatibility that it has, being able to send data through Bluetooth and ANT+, something that is obviously the way forward in the industry but that Stages adopted a few years ago.

IMG_20160526_210859

But... there's always a but, isn't there? Stages wasn't going to be less and he also has some important "buts". These are things that, before spending so much money on a power meter on which you will base your training and competitions from now on, you should take into account.

  • Measure only one leg, the left one, and multiply the power by two. I don't take it as a failure, because obviously that's the first thing you know about Stages. In my case there are differences in the total power, both in the final average power and during training (although to a lesser extent). The reason is that my power distribution is simply not fully balanced.
    But let's not forget, this is my situation; maybe in your case it can be the opposite and develop the power in a totally balanced way, then the Stages data will be exactly the same that you can get with other power meters that measure in a combined way or separately.
  • There are no advanced metrics, as there may be in the case of Garmin Vector 2 or PowerTap P1 (although they are still to come), but neither does it offer simpler metrics such as balance, effectiveness or sensitivity.
  • Signal problems. This is something to take into account, because depending on how you want to install your computer, the signal reception can be affected. It is a matter of antenna design and transmission power, and from what I have been able to consult it seems to be quite common. During the test I have had problems one day, with measurements when there shouldn't be any. Can it be a signal reception problem? It could be, but the cause can also be any other. But it is something that doesn't happen with other power meters.
  • The price was competitive at the time. Today it is not so competitive anymore. At the time Stages became the most economical direct power measurement solution on the market. But this is no longer the case. The test unit (for Ultegra 6800) has an official price of 719. Powertap has wheels with the Powertap G3 from less than 700 Euro, or Powertap C1 which measures total power for 749 Euro (although you have to add cranks, if you don't have compatible ones). But without going any further, bePRO, another member of the test, also costs 749 Euro and measures power separately (and has another even cheaper left pedal option).

Personally I would have no problem training regularly with Stages, but first I would have to adapt my FTP and reduce it by the difference due to the power distribution. Downloading your FTP does not present any problem (beyond losing charisma points when you compare it with the rest of your group) because I am simply adjusting it to the power meter reading. But I repeat, this would be in my particular case.

However, if I had to buy a new power meter today, Stages would probably not be the option I would choose, and I would opt for Powertap C1 if I had compatible cranks or directly for the bePRO pedals.

Did you like the test?

I hope that this review will be to your liking. There are many hours needed to do each of them. If you like the work I do remember that your support is essential.

Don't forget to share the test in your social networks and with friends, so that they can also be informed. And don't hesitate to comment and subscribe to the comments, many times you will find answers to questions that have not been dealt with in the text of the test. You can use the test comments as a forum and share not only your doubts, but also your opinions of the watch with the rest of the readers.

In the case of Stages you will not be able to buy it on Amazon, but remember that if you want to collaborate with the page because you find the content I publish interesting you can make your purchases through the link below. Thank you!

Stages | Testing and analysis of Connecting rod power meter 1

RATING

Operation - 8
Connectivity - 5
Design, finish and comfort - 9.5
Battery life - 9.5
Price - 7

7.8

TOTAL

User Rating: 3.98 ( 3 votes)

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11 Comments

  1. In fact, everything you say about the stem is true and it's a big problem, I wish I had read the article before! Besides being forced to put Garmin on the left side of the handlebar, the problem is accentuated on a large bike with a size 58 frame as is my case. With the crank set at 6 to perform the calibration I have no signal, I have to bring Garmin to the crank.

  2. Regarding the loss of signal; in my case, I have the problem of having micro cuts from 3 to 10 seconds. I understand that it is due to the loss of signal. Is there any other way to solve it?

    Thank you.
    Greetings.

    1. I haven't tried the two-sided potentiometer, but the references I have are that the low signal power problems have been solved.

  3. Muy acertado el análisis. El rango de medición que estable Stages como bueno tiene un rango del 12% (840/940) que la aplicación nos ofrece cada vez que calibramos la potencia. Acercarnos o alejarnos de éste valor en la calibración nos permite valorar los datos que nos ofrece y contrastarlos con el valor de calibración, realizando cálculos más ajustados a los datos obtenidos en los entrenamientos. Considero un doce por ciento de rango es elevado para establecer umbrales de entrenamientos

  4. Very good analysis.
    Estaba buscando algo similar pero para el potenciometro 4iiii, muy parecido a este.
    ¿No tenes pensado testearlo?
    Thank you very much.

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