Game Changer: StageONE Power Meter

Stages Cycling
Prior to Interbike I ran a query for all the Colorado based companies that would be exhibiting. There was one called “Stages Cycling” based in Boulder that I’d never heard of. Web searches yielded zilch, so I decided to contact them directly. I got a quick response and invite to their booth at the show, but no further information about what they actually did. Not wanting to waste my time, I emailed them and said “Is your product something triathletes will care about?” The answer was, “Most certainly. Please come see us.”

Stages Cycling was right. Their new StageONE power meter was easily one of the most intriguing products I found at the show. Their stated goal was to create a “power meter solution to be simpler, lighter, and less expensive than any other power meter in the market.” Lofty goals considering there has been talk of a new power meter at every Interbike for the last few years. Did they reach their goals? You decide…

Simple
The StageONE is ANT + and Bluetooth compatible. What practical application does this serve? For starters it means you can use it with most Garmin models as well as your iPhone or Bluetooth equipped Droid. The Bluetooth also provides for simple firmware updates.

The battery in the StageONE is similar to one you’d use in a standard bike computer and will last about 200 hours. When the batter dies, you simply pop off the lid and put a new one in.

Installation of the entire systems requires you to remove your left crank arm and put a new one that is equipped with the StageONE sensor. Unfortunately, you cannot retro-actively fit your current crank arm with a StageONE, nor can you currently use StageONE with a carbon crank.

Lighter
The StageONE measures power from the left crank arm via a custom strain gauge (patent pending) which weighs a nominal 20 grams. That’s it. A full power measuring system for an additional 20 grams (assuming you already have an ANT+ compatible computer).

Cost
The price is right. With most power meter costs starting in the $1,600 range, StageONE’s $699 entry to the market is something I could justify. The price of the power meter depends on the crank you ride, thus if Dura Ace model is $950. Compare this with SRM’s Dura Ace set up, you save $2,195.00. Not bad.

How It Works
All power meters have to program their devices to calculate and filter data from efficiency loss, chain torque, and even vectors in the spider of the crank. StageONE’s custom strain gauge eliminates those factors due to it’s placement on the crank arm. Instead, the algorithm they use “derives total power using an algorithm that effectively doubles a rider’s left-measure power.” That is why the system can get away with only using one sensor on the non-drive terrain side.

So the real question is, does this new technology work? Stages Cycling claims their system is accurate to +/-2%, which is not too shabby. The down side of this set up is that you can’t analyze pedal stroke or power balance in your stroke. Stage’s points out that this information is not what 90% of triathletes and cyclist use anyways.

The Rest
In true Colorado fashion, the StageONE will be assembled and shipped from it's Boulder location. Matt Pacocha, head of Marketing, said that Stages Cycling is committed to looking for local sources for every aspect of their work. Due to the nature of the circuit boards, that would be challenging, but as much as possible the company will use the resources in and around the state.

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