Team Sky switch to Stages Cycling power meters for 2014

Team Sky will swap from SRM to Stages Cycling power meters for the upcoming season

by David Arthur   January 15, 2014  

Stages Cycling has just announced it'll be the official supplier of power meters to Team Sky for the 2014 season.

Power measuring is pretty much universal in the professional peloton, with just about every rider expected to train and, increasingly, race with a power meter these days. For a long time German company SRM has been the dominant choice. Team Sky have used SRM for the past couple of years, but this season they’re switching to Stages.

Team Sky is famously meticulous about bike and kit preparation, and its training methods. Power measuring is core to its training and racing, with some accusing the team last year of ‘riding by the numbers’ during races. It’s clear that the power meter is one of the most important bits of kit the team possess.

“As a team, we see the power meter as a very useful tool,” said Tim Kerrison, Team Sky’s Head of Performance Support. “The results that we get, both from training and racing, help us to quantify how our riders are performing, which then allows us to make informed coaching decisions.”

Stages Cycling is a relatively new player in the increasingly competitive power measuring game. The first thing to mention is that Stages is one of the most affordable power meters currently available, costing from £599 to £799. That's of little relevance to Team Sky, but the fact that it adds just 20g to a Dura-Ace crank will appeal to Chris Froome and Co. The adoption by Sky is a huge coup for the young Colorado company. 

“We are so pleased to announce that Team Sky will race with Stages Power this season; this sponsorship, and what it means for Stages Power, is very exciting for our company,” said Pat Warner, Stages Cycling’s Senior Vice President. “We are humbled and honoured to be collecting data for one of the best teams in the sport. It’s a huge responsibility and we both have great confidence that Stages Power can help Team Sky be successful this season.”

Mat reviewed the Stages power meter for road.cc and called it a “lightweight and easy-to-fit power meter that gives results comparable to much more expensive systems.” You can read the full review here. We also included it in road.cc’s 25 top cycling products of 2013-14

There is a lot more choice in the power meter market this year, and we expect to see less of the dominance in the pro peloton that SRM has enjoyed over the years. We should see the Garmin-Sharp team using the new Garmin Vector pedal-based power meter, which finally launched last year after much delay. Showing interest too in the power meter market is Pioneer, a huge player in the electronics industry, and with the expertise to produce a good product. The Pioneer power meter was being raced by Team Belkin last year. We’ve yet to get a closer look at it.

Team Sky will need some sort of head unit to collect the data the Stages power meter spews out, and the company doesn't produce its own head unit, like SRM does for its cranks. With Stages using the ANT+ and Bluetooth protocols, it can easily be partnered with a suitable computer, like a Garmin Edge. Team Sky hasn't announced what they'll be using, but a bit of hunting around on its Facebook page does show what appears to be Garmin Edge 510 in this photo,  and there are what look like empty Bar Fly out-front mounts on some of the other bikes, at its training camp in Majorca.

An update on the Garmin story, it does look like Team Sky will be using Garmin this season. We've been sent a link to the Facebook page of Paint My Bike, an Australian paint shop, who on 26 December 2013 posted a photo of 130 Garmin Ege 500 and 810 computers being spray painted, replacing the Garmin logo with a Stages logo. 

It might be a while before all of Team Sky are on Stages. We spotted this photo on its Facebook page showing the team currently preparing for the Tour Down Under, and they’re clearly all riding SRM power meters. That said, the new agreement has only just been announced so we imagine Stages are rushing product out to Australia right now in time for the race start on Sunday.

For more on Stages go to the www.stagescycling.com. The UK distributor is www.saddleback.co.uk.

26 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Very surprised. Isn't a limitation to this approach that you can only measure power from one leg?

posted by 700c [556 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:11

21 Likes

Interesting that there's no mention of which head unit/data logger they'll be pairing these with. Am guessing it'll be a Garmin.

andyspaceman's picture

posted by andyspaceman [224 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:32

28 Likes

Yes it's true it only measures power from the left crank and doubles it to give an overall reading. Not great if a rider has an imbalance and has one leg stronger than the other. But I expect they have other methods of detecting & training this i.e. on a wattbike or similar.

posted by ad_snow [5 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:37

32 Likes

and then multiply x 2

A few advantages that occur to me:

SRM have problems with accuracy with 0 rings (which Froome and some other Sky riders use)

Stages power meters are ultra light, and given that the Pinarello is one of the heaviest frames in the pro peloton...

Bluetooth...

posted by Sim1 [57 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:40

28 Likes

Interesting - Sky are known for choosing the best-of-breed kit, even when that involves paying for it. Odd then that they would go with the new kid on the block that, IIRC, doesn't differentiate between power generated by each leg.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3208 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:42

27 Likes

The pricing for these is ridonkulous. You want me to pay an extra £100 to have an Ultegra crank arm instead of 105?! I would rather have mismatching crank arms than pay an extra £100 for the "upgrade". Come on Stages, be a bit more reasonable.

posted by ad_snow [5 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:51

27 Likes

andyspaceman wrote:
Interesting that there's no mention of which head unit/data logger they'll be pairing these with. Am guessing it'll be a Garmin.

The pic tweeted by someone was visiting Sky at their training camp on Monday - which is what kicked off all the speculation before the press release - did make it look like Garmins they were using (looked like it from a distance anyway)

posted by Sim1 [57 posts]
15th January 2014 - 12:52

24 Likes

If they want light and money aint an issue (obvs), why not go for a two-legs system --> Garmin Vector?

Hells500 Grey Stripe

bici1977's picture

posted by bici1977 [32 posts]
15th January 2014 - 13:06

27 Likes

ad_snow wrote:
The pricing for these is ridonkulous. You want me to pay an extra £100 to have an Ultegra crank arm instead of 105?! I would rather have mismatching crank arms than pay an extra £100 for the "upgrade". Come on Stages, be a bit more reasonable.

As far as power meters are concerned, they're more than reasonable. The upgrade in price probably has something to do with the internal working they have to do on the crank arm. Either way, From a business perspective it stands to reason that if a customer will pay for Ultegra over 105, they'll pay more for an Ultegra based product.

posted by ajmarshal1 [298 posts]
15th January 2014 - 13:16

29 Likes

I think this clearly shows how good the Stages device is, this must also be linked to an announcement soon on the head unit, I would be surprised if its a Garmin unit as I would of thought Garmin would of wanted them to use the pedals, but who knows, in the world of sponsorship anything goes I guess.

I was thinking about getting a Stages, if its good enough for Sky it must be good for me LOL, who says marketing and sponsorship doesn't work Laughing

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
15th January 2014 - 13:20

39 Likes

There hasn't been any announcement on the head unit Sky will be using, but it does look like a Garmin Edge 510 and Bar Fly out-front mounts are being used in Majorca at the moment https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152268341224873&set=pb.1941044...

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1565 posts]
15th January 2014 - 13:30

20 Likes

I think this is brilliant that sky have chosen to work with stages. What an amazing opportunity for a young company.
I would like to vent how ever about the emphasis thats put on accuracy between different power meters. Accuracy only becomes an issue when your comparing the read outs of different power meters side by side (lets not forget in all of this a race is won by crossing the line first, not always the rider with the highest maximum output) A power meter is a guide, once you have used one type of power meter for long enough and have established your power zones with that specific piece of equipment you can then use this data to train to and become more efficient as a rider.

take this as an example -

2 riders with 2 different output units in a 40 km TT. One output is Watts and the other is Jelly beans

if Jellybean riders maximum sustained effort over 40kms is 40 jellybeans avg. (which he knows from training) he's not going to go out and try to push 70 jelly beans because he will blow up, for less of a better term

the other uses an SRM power meter, but the same principles of training apply.

makes sense when you think about it in watts but the core principle is the same

The point i am trying to make is the output you see on your Garmin screen is just a data set. if you can identify your zones using that piece of equipment you can still use it to train effectively to give you the edge on race day regardless how it stacks up against other products. if you want accuracy you will have to put every rider on the exact same bike with the exact same power meter.

to conclude. Power meter or no power meter,a race is won by more than how many watts you can push, use a power meter as a tool for training and monitoring, after all thats what the pros do, and we all secretly strive to be like them.

posted by beej.a [40 posts]
15th January 2014 - 13:49

40 Likes

bici1977 wrote:
If they want light and money aint an issue (obvs), why not go for a two-legs system --> Garmin Vector?

There is zero training benefit to separate L/R measurement. SRM doesn't do this either. It's a total marketing gimmick.

posted by giobox [286 posts]
15th January 2014 - 14:16

27 Likes

Pretty awesome that Stages was able to pull this off. It will be a huge boost to the reputation of their product and the article is right if there is one frame in the peloton that can deal with some weight savings is a Dogma

posted by jarredscycling [451 posts]
15th January 2014 - 15:24

23 Likes

at least the social media team of sky states that they are going to use garmin head units...see the comments

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152268586259873&set=a.22589070...

posted by vektor [1 posts]
15th January 2014 - 15:45

27 Likes

I believe SRM still need to go back to base for calibration or some sort of internal bobbin fettling. With the number of bikes Sky has Stages can be on every bike with no need to return to base.

If you're logging a serious chunk of training on Mt Tidy and every once in a while you have to ping your power meter back to uk/Germany, you might get a little frustrated.

posted by kitkat [206 posts]
15th January 2014 - 15:57

31 Likes

giobox wrote:
bici1977 wrote:
If they want light and money aint an issue (obvs), why not go for a two-legs system --> Garmin Vector?

There is zero training benefit to separate L/R measurement.

There is, apparently, a reported benefit for single leg recovery analysis following injury, and also (in conjunction with high sample rates) spin-scan analysis - which can be used for investigating things like torque smoothness as well as gross balance. This also does not deal with the perceived problems with the assumption and extrapolation used by single leg power meters, which is another issue, e.g. balance drift during exercise.

giobox wrote:
SRM doesn't do this either.

According to their Director of Sales and Marketing towards the end of last year they "will be implementing left/right balance metrics, including Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness".

giobox wrote:
It's a total marketing gimmick.

Not really, although what seems to be without too much controversy is that no-one is actually sure what a "good" balance should be or whether it makes much difference (injury aside). Leg balance can change also change during a session (I can attest to this without a power-meter, having a mostly-snapped quad in my left leg) - which could make single leg power meters interesting to watch over the course of, e.g. a stage in a Grand Tour.

That said, I rather like the look of the Stages stuff (especially their temperature compensation) and wish them all the best.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [426 posts]
15th January 2014 - 16:54

24 Likes

From SRM Themselves: "SRM representatives believe there’s no value today in measuring power elsewhere, nor in providing left/right measurement. They did concede recovery from injury was a potential use case for left/right power measurement, but don’t see any plans to add it." - http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/08/srm-pc8-preview.html

There is currently no training benefit from separate L/R. This may change in future, but at present it just isn't there yet. Injury recovery benefits do not for me fall under normal training tasks.

posted by giobox [286 posts]
15th January 2014 - 17:16

24 Likes

giobox wrote:
From SRM Themselves: "SRM representatives believe there’s no value today in measuring power elsewhere, nor in providing left/right measurement. They did concede recovery from injury was a potential use case for left/right power measurement, but don’t see any plans to add it." - http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/08/srm-pc8-preview.html

So that's agreeing with the statement I made about injury - and further on in the same DC article, also from SRM

Quote:
“The comment from Sebastian Raebiger about SRM seeing no value in left/right pedal, primarily comes from the small amount of peer reviewed research being done on training prescription (based on single leg workouts to improve ‘balance’ or performance). SRM has been working on a torque analysis system for the last 10 years, and have begun to see its successful application for bike fitting and positioning. Adding this feature to the PC8 will allow us to take that application outdoors. “

giobox wrote:
There is currently no training benefit from separate L/R. This may change in future, but at present it just isn't there yet. Injury recovery benefits do not for me fall under normal training tasks.

I disagree about injury recovery benefits not falling under normal training tasks, at least during the course of the recovery. As for the lack of other benefit, I already said that it was unclear where balance analysis fits in (the primary datum you get from L/R) but spin-scan analysis most certainly can benefit training, e.g. reducing mashing which can bring higher load shifts to bear on the body. As far as i'm aware, that type of analysis is already used with the Watt bikes to reduce pedalling inefficiency by BC.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [426 posts]
15th January 2014 - 17:42

22 Likes

posted by rabeynon [29 posts]
15th January 2014 - 18:10

20 Likes

Ha I just spotted the Wiggo garmin picture too...
I'm heading out to Mallorca on Friday to join them for the weekend. Will be interesting to see if any reasons are mentioned.
I'm taking my Garmin Vectors, would be interesting to do a comparison!

posted by charlierevell [34 posts]
15th January 2014 - 18:33

22 Likes

I'm sure they know what they're doing, but ...

Measuring the left leg and doubling it only works if your L-R balance is constant for all conditions, power outputs, and over time. I have a stack of files from the two Haute Routes this year which, for me at least, show this drifts from 53-47 to 48-52 during the course of a single ride (actually, single climb - the Port de Bales). This despite the same PM showing me as more-or-less perfectly balanced 50/50 during turbo sessions on the same bike.

So at a true combined power output of say 300W, a Stages PM would have been telling me anything between 318 and 288 - and that's before adding on the standard 2% accuracy figure they quote, giving you a potential range of 282 - 324. And I'd be none the wiser as to whether it was reading high or low.

That's a lot of money for something that's basically telling you that you're "pedalling reasonably hard" - and for riding TTs to the numbers I'd suggest it's borderline useless.

Thought: 130 head units implies 130 power meters. At SRM prices that's, what, £200k? Sky have deep pockets but that's still a significant amount of cash, especially if a new entrant to the market offers you the kit for free in return for their logo in shot as your star climber slogs up the Tourmalet

posted by simonkenyon [21 posts]
15th January 2014 - 19:22

18 Likes

Any imbalances in power you're seeing could be caused by two things:
1) The percentage error applies to all PMs, anything measuring L & R independently is subject to double the error. Many quote 2% error so a set of Garmin Vectors could erroneously show a 4% difference where none exists. Or it could show a perfect match when you're imbalanced. There's just no way of knowing.
2) If your system doesn't compensate for temperature and you go up a big climb, guess what, more error, and there's no guarantee that a L & R system will drift in the same direction.

For those of us without an injury or other pre-existing condition that noticeably affects leg power on one side, you'll be fine with any single sided PM whether it's Quark, SRM, Stages, Powertap (obviously not a crank but doesn't split power either). I just love how people who couldn't justify or understand why they needed a PM 5 minutes ago when they were all top dollar now refuse to buy anything unless it has features they neither need not understand. For us mortals outside the pro peloton PMs can tell us useful things but you have to remember it's not 100% guaranteed accuracy. You need to use HR as well to fully understand what's going on and if you're wondering whether you're really bang on 300W or a bit more or a bit less, your HR will give you a guide.

posted by 5th [28 posts]
16th January 2014 - 0:56

20 Likes

5th wrote:
For those of us without an injury or other pre-existing condition that noticeably affects leg power on one side, you'll be fine with any single sided PM whether it's Quark, SRM, Stages, Powertap (obviously not a crank but doesn't split power either). I just love how people who couldn't justify or understand why they needed a PM 5 minutes ago when they were all top dollar now refuse to buy anything unless it has features they neither need not understand.

Exactly. It's amazing how Garmin seem to have convinced people that separate L/R is actually useful. Also, people forget that comparing power meter data from different models is completely meaningless, you have no way of knowing if any of them are putting out accurate numbers.

The only thing that a power meter needs to do to be useful as a training tool is be consistent. The actual number of watts isn't really what matters, so long as the meter returns the same number for the same effort.

posted by giobox [286 posts]
16th January 2014 - 13:36

24 Likes

giobox wrote:
5th wrote:
For those of us without an injury or other pre-existing condition that noticeably affects leg power on one side, you'll be fine with any single sided PM whether it's Quark, SRM, Stages, Powertap (obviously not a crank but doesn't split power either).

Powertap is not single sided - it measures both sides downstream from the crank. You could, with a bit of software fiddling and knowledge of where a cadence sensor is, actually do a rough split should you wish - probably need a higher sample rate than normally used on ANT+ units to be anything useful...

giobox wrote:
5th wrote:
I just love how people who couldn't justify or understand why they needed a PM 5 minutes ago when they were all top dollar now refuse to buy anything unless it has features they neither need not understand.

Exactly. It's amazing how Garmin seem to have convinced people that separate L/R is actually useful.

L/R data together with higher sample rates can be useful - but i'd be hard pressed to imagine that usefulness stretching outside of certain training types in the professional arena. For the average Joe on the street I really can't see the point though.

giobox wrote:
Also, people forget that comparing power meter data from different models is completely meaningless, you have no way of knowing if any of them are putting out accurate numbers.

The only thing that a power meter needs to do to be useful as a training tool is be consistent. The actual number of watts isn't really what matters, so long as the meter returns the same number for the same effort.

Agree completely - and one of the reasons that the current state of affairs drives me mad. To get a 'good enough' direct force PM using a decent strain gauge bridge setup on a single crank arm should not start at 500 quid odd, even with temperature compensation (which you partly get for free with a full bridge setup).. I reckon a lot of people would be happy with the sort of accuracy you get with an average set of bathroom scales as long as they were reasonably consistent, and for most things you probably bin the temp comp - especially if you could re-calibrate easily. Economy of scale is one thing, and I understand the need to pay back the R&D but it stills seems to high priced to me, or maybe too highly spec'd for much of the potential market. My tuppence worth anyway Smile

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [426 posts]
16th January 2014 - 15:54

16 Likes

Stages are going to need to build a LOT more of these. They're never in stock as it is and the Sky kitted sportive riders will be queing up for them in their droves to see if they can hit treble figure wattage on the £60 to enter Butthampton coastal clungefunnel.

posted by ajmarshal1 [298 posts]
16th January 2014 - 16:17

17 Likes