Stages are the newest players in the power meter market, and their innovative design has caught on, being used by Team Sky for the 2014 season. The main difference between Stages and other crank-based power meters is that it measures in the non-drive side crank arm only, rather than the spider.
Installation is as easy as replacing your left crank arm which, for our Shimano Ultegra model, was very easy indeed. The only thing to keep in mind is that the small Stages box on the inside of the crank has to comfortably clear your chainstay. After that, simply pair with your chosen head unit (we used a Garmin Edge 810), and calibrate in the usual way which ‘zeroes’ the unit. It really is that easy.
Obviously out riding you simply don’t notice it, because it’s essentially just a crank arm with a little 20g box attached. And during comparative testing we saw nothing to suggest that Stages’ claim of +/-2% accuracy is anything less than credible, and it compared very favourably to systems that cost more than twice the price.
So what’s the downside? Well, Stages only measures left side power and then doubles it. So if you did happen to have a huge discrepancy between your left and right leg (and we’re talking like 40% left/60% right here) then you would get a much lower number than you should. But that’s pretty unusual and anyway, when it comes to power consistency and not accuracy is king and you’ll still be able to monitor your progress, plan your training accordingly and see your numbers increase over time.
The other downside is that the system is only available for metal cranksets – hence no Campagnolo options at all and only Rival for SRAM – because Stages say that the deflection of carbon isn’t consistent enough to provide accurate numbers. On the other hand, you can mix and match, for example we tested the Ultegra crank arm with a Dura Ace 9000 crankset, so you can also save yourself a bit of cash if you’re not all that bothered about aesthetics!
Contact : www.saddleback.co.uk