Stages Cycling power meters available in UK

Crank-based power measuring system gets nationwide distribution

by Mat Brett   August 23, 2013  

StagesPower_CrankPile1_LowRes

Stages Cycling crank-based power meters will be widely available in the UK soon thanks to a new distribution agreement.

We don’t usually give you news stories related to distributors because, well, you don’t really care, do you? But this is interesting because the Stages power meter will become widely available in the UK for the first time thanks to the new agreement with Saddleback, who also look after brands like Felt, Enve, Bont and Castelli.

Stages Cycling design, develop and manufacture crank arm power measurement systems from Boulder, Colorado. The power meter uses strain gauges in the left (non-driveside) crank arm. You buy the single crank arm with the power meter already in place.

Stages reckon that their system is accurate to within +/-2% and that it adds just 20g of additional weight - even the weight weenies have to admit that that isn't worth worrying about. As well as power, you get an internal sensor-based cadence measurement too (as you do with Garmin’s new Vector pedal system, for example).

It communicates wirelessly to bike computers via both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart protocols. Set up is quick, as is swapping the system between bikes.

One of the criticisms levelled at the Stages design is that it takes measurements on just one side and doubles the result to give your power reading. In other words, it assumes that you put in an equal amount of power with each leg. Stages reckon that over 90 percent of riders need a power number to train at rather than the ability to analyse pedal stroke or left/right balance.

On the plus side, the Stages power meters are relatively inexpensive… by power meter standards, that is. They're not giving them away! Whereas the Garmin Vector pedals are priced at £1,349, the Shimano 105 and SRAM Rival GXP versions of the Stages system are £599, the Ultegra model is £699, and the Dura-Ace one is £799.

The power meter market is certainly hotting up now and that has to be good news for the consumer. It's Eurobike next week so we'll stalk the halls looking for more power-related products.

For more on Stages Cycling go to www.stagescycling.com/stagespower.

16 user comments

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Buy them from the USA its cheaper

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 17:28

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At £699 for the ultegra it's pretty close to crankset based powermeters from www.power2max.de, though it would have a weight advantage.

posted by Jakal79 [55 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 18:36

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This looks really interesting: just replacing your left crank arm is a great compromise for weight and cost. And the dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart functionality is future proof and unique(?) at this stage. Could be the answer to my power meter dreams - Quarq too pricey and would need me to dump my expensive cranks, Powertap only one wheel, not portable to my cyclocross bike, with the Garmin you have to stick to a single pedal format and I'm still experimenting on that score. Of course with the Stages you're committed to your initial choice of groupset manufacturer and BB format.

A shame they don't (yet) do SRAM Force or Red ('cos of them being carbon?) as it'll be a bit annoying to have Red on one side and Rival on the other: I like being matchy-matchy which is perhaps a bit sad but I'm too old to change that.

They've obviously put the R&D time in here and have to recoup that but on component cost this must be a massive markup: I can't see the electronics and strain gauges being that much more expensive than a £40 cadence/speed sensor. At some stage won't someone be able to offer a cheap stick-on unit with the software dealing with the different permutations of cranks? Or do they have to machine the crank arm to embed the strain gauges?

A good review / comparison here:

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/06/stages-review-update.html

posted by Pauldmorgan [173 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 20:09

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so what happens if your lovely USA bought power meter fails?

Saddleback sure as hell won't warranty it!

posted by mathewshotbolt [100 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 20:43

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I've had a DA version to test for a few months now - it works a treat with Cyclemeter, Wahoo Fitness and Strava. It gives cadence and power meter data which is reliable and very close to the other sensors I compared. The Strava website is particularly good with power data, but the app isn't great. Cyclemeter and Wahoo Fitness are better apps, and the data can still be sent or uploaded to the website.

The Stages is not available for any carbon cranks - the strain gauge just doesn't work with them.

posted by Westy [10 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 20:49

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But beware buying direct from the USA - I got charged £110 import duty and VAT on a Stages sent to me free of charge to test!

In the very unlikely event of a failure (the device is solid state, no moving parts) I think you'll get a very rapid replacement by Stages themselves. Its one of the things that has delayed the UK release - they wanted many months of trouble free use in the USA and a trusted distribution and support facility. Its something they've very much thought about.

posted by Westy [10 posts]
23rd August 2013 - 20:54

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Can't wait to see good power meters drop to $500 and truly become mass market

posted by jarredscycling [445 posts]
24th August 2013 - 3:15

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for the unitiated here, what is the advantage of power meters over heart rate monitors ? if your heart rate is up at or close to max what difference does power data make ? I know the pro's all use them but for your average joe, power monitors seem to be pretty expensive for limited additional information benefit

posted by arfa [484 posts]
24th August 2013 - 7:50

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Heart rate can vary day to day depending on physical condition, ambient temperature, altitude etc and varies from person to person. Power is constant and absolute so you can tell if you're having a bad day or if it just feels like you are, and you can compare your results to other riders.

Wether any of that is important to you is for you to weigh up.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
24th August 2013 - 8:54

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Nick T wrote:
Heart rate can vary day to day depending on physical condition, ambient temperature, altitude etc and varies from person to person. Power is constant and absolute so you can tell if you're having a bad day or if it just feels like you are, and you can compare your results to other riders.

Wether any of that is important to you is for you to weigh up.

Well, to be fair, power numbers themselces are very individual too - you can broadly compare power-to-weight (which is easy to calculate) for climbs and power to drag (difficult to calculate) for flat riding, but neither really tells you the whole story. The main point, as Nick says, is that power is an absolute, not a physiological measurement - so you can compare how hard you are working (heart rate) with how much you are producing. That might or might not be useful!

posted by step-hent [674 posts]
24th August 2013 - 9:18

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fair enough. at current prices I think I'll stick with my garmin and HRM !

posted by arfa [484 posts]
24th August 2013 - 9:40

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And the Pros are Pros, so they can justify the need/want to have a power meter. For average riders like us a HRM will do! in fact I don't think I even need that! but if you can afford all these Gizmos then why not. Powere meters are also not 100% accurate either

arfa wrote:
for the unitiated here, what is the advantage of power meters over heart rate monitors ? if your heart rate is up at or close to max what difference does power data make ? I know the pro's all use them but for your average joe, power monitors seem to be pretty expensive for limited additional information benefit

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
24th August 2013 - 10:18

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You don't have to be a pro to justify a power meter, if you take your racing seriously and want to achieve something on an amateur level then the information gathered from one could be seriously beneficial.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
24th August 2013 - 12:29

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I don't think you need to be too deep about power meters, some people will use them wisely for race training, others won't, and many will just use them to monitor and compare their rides - just as for hr monitors. At the very least they add a little more interest and a little more incentive to your rides, especially for the kind of rider that already records gps track, elevation, speed, cadence, and heart rate. But if you train on rollers they can be extremely useful, and as one coach has often said to me, for indoor training especially - the more the data the less the boredom Smile

posted by Westy [10 posts]
24th August 2013 - 14:40

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I think if you drop a grand or more on a power meter, you'll probably want to be getting pretty deep into it Wink

This is a good step though, 600 sheets is bringing PM's toward the price point where you might click on the BUY button when buzzing off of some High5 and a double espresso, until then you'd have to be a bit soft to buy one for idle comparisons of your club's bun runs.

posted by Nick T [804 posts]
24th August 2013 - 17:11

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Yeh, fair comment, they are a pretty pricey toy just yet, but that won't stop a lot of sportive-types buying them - just look at the money spent on bikes already. And thats no criticism, for those who can afford it why not buy the best, it helps bring down the price, and the more units sold the better for us all.

posted by Westy [10 posts]
24th August 2013 - 18:01

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