Currently, Stages Cycling has 28 different power meter options with 160 individual SKUs to match every crank size of every model they carry. Yet, none of those are a dual sided power meter. And while Stages is still investigating the benefits of a dual sided power meter for consumer use (there are no plans for one at the moment), they did just partner with USA Cycling to create exactly that – a dual sided power meter for a left hand drive carbon track crank for their Project 2016.
This isn’t your ordinary power meter though. Due to the Vision Metron’s design, a spider based power meter isn’t possible, and the team didn’t want to use pedal or hub based meters. And even though most consumer head units are only capable of sampling data at 1x per second, Team USA has an ace up their sleeve. Thanks to a partnership with IBM, they are able to use data at a much higher rate which is important since they need higher resolution for the 4.5 minute event.
That’s where the prototype Stages dual power meter comes in. Capable of transmitting data at 64hz, the system provides the data they need – only they need a super computer to process it…
According to Stages, there was actually a super computer used to make this project possible. Specifically, IBM’s Watson was used to create a cloud based app that could be loaded onto tablets that the coach could use in the infield of the track. The data is then transmitted in real time to the coach – data that used to take two days to compile. Hopefully all of this information will take Team USA straight to the podium in Rio.
USA Cycling may need this kind of data, but Stages says not so fast for dual sided units for consumers. According to Stages, they’re still trying to “understand what a dual sided meter really means for consumers.” They will give more accurate overall power values, which provides benefit if an athlete has a known imbalance from an injury and needs to recover. But they also point out that a 50/50 power balance isn’t always best and contrary to some thoughts, they don’t often see major imbalances among most cyclists. Throw in the fact that dual side meters are more complicated and more expensive, and Stages doesn’t see enough benefit to justify them yet.
Already shown at Sea Otter, we had a chance to throw Stages’ newest carbon crank arm power meters on the scale. The first company to offer carbon crank based power meters, the arms are all made by FSA and are designed to retrofit BB30 (two spindle lengths for Red22 and Force/Rival) and GXP 24mm spindles in two different widths with a RaceFace Cinch arm on the way.
Finally, power meters are only any good if you know what to do with them, so Stages recently announced their partnership with Today’s Plan. Stages already offers their 8 Weeks to Win training program when you buy one of their power meters, but they hope that this partnership with Today’s Plan will take things even further. The two companies are working together to create software to make it as easy as possible to train with power. The goal is to have a database of cycling workouts and to have an algorithm based training plan that will evolve with the rider as their training progresses. A closed Beta test release will start in August, with a full launch expected in January.