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Stages Power Meter Review

Product Reviews - Bikeman's Product Testing

 

When given the chance to try out the new Stages Power Meter through Team Bikeman, I jumped at the opportunity. I have been eyeing this power meter since it's introduction at Interbike last year. One of the best features being the fact that it is a strain gauge, crank based power meter that retails for under $1000. Considering other crank based power meters are close to the price of a nicely equipped carbon bike, this power meter means that the unwashed masses can now have a decent power set up on their road bike…AND cross bike AND mountain bike.

The great thing (and not so great thing ) about the Stages Power Meter is that it is easy to remove your left hand crank arm and say move it between your road and cross bikes. I spend many days a week commuting on my Kona Jake the Snake and then on weekends switch to my Kona King Zing and now I can have power on both bikes with about a 5 minute switch-a-roo of the crank arms. Now let me clarify some of the compromises; the fact there is a strain gauge on only one crank arm: You will not have Left/Right pedal analysis AND if your left leg is under or over powered compared to your right leg this will mean you may not have a 100% accurate measurement of your power output. To me this is OK. I do happen to know that my left leg is about 8% under-powered compared to my right leg so I can take this into account when analyzing my power data. What matters to me is consistent data and this the Stages provides.

I've been able to compare the Stages Power Meter to my CyclOps PowerCal as well as look at past data on known routes where I've used my Powertap hub. The PowerCal is good for averages and is a fine unit if you want a average power of your ride. What I like about the Stages Power meter is that you KNOW you are getting strain gauge power analysis with every pedal stroke (well, OK...every other pedal stroke). And when compared to the Powertap hub, with the Stages you can run any wheel set you want. Great for cross races where you will most likely have multiple wheelsets to choose from.

I'm not going to dive too far into the number crunching on the Stages Power meter since there are many great reviews on the interwebs that do this much better than I can. (See DCRainmaker's review). One thing I want to point out is that many of these reviewers are basing their criticism on a comparison with crank based power meters that cost many thousands of dollars more then the Stages Power meter. Sure, if given the “money is no object” scenario I might choose a Quark or SRM unit, but for most of us proletariat riders the Stages is a great option to get some power analysis.

When I ordered the Stages Power meter, Big Al said to choose silver or grey. Well, in the depths of winter in my bike stable my Ultegra crank arms looked grey...I guess they are silver! So keep that in mind when choosing correct crank arm:

 

 

Here's the next photo showing my nice dirty Kona Jake the Snake where I just removed the crank arm (Yes, my bike is dirty….and also shows that the Stages can withstand just about any weather you can throw at it):

 

 

 

Installation is simple. Takes about 5 minutes and just requires you to remove your pedal and old crank arm and make sure you get the right torque on the bolts when attaching to the BB:

 

 

 

And here it is mounted on my Kona King Zing (Notice how clean THAT bike is…):

 

 

Overall I think the Stages Power Meter is great value. Some will moan about the fact that it only gathers data from one crank arm and averages the two legs, but hey, this power meter is a great price and easily swaps between bikes. Finally crank based power to the masses!

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