Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights

For the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve been testing the Stages power meter on and off, letting a few friends try it out between my own testing.

It’s a seemingly simple device, just stuck on the inside of your non-drive crank arm to measure left leg power by way of the crank’s deformation. Each model is calibrated to the specific crank arm it’s being attached to, and it’s all done in their own Colorado facility. While several lower priced options have been announced that allow for user installation, Stages’ says they’re not terribly concerned about things that aren’t even shipping yet. And they say they’re now among the largest cycling power meter brands by unit volume, especially when you include their indoor stationary cycles. That, along with pro team endorsements and usage, should say something about their quality.

My own experiences have spanned a couple years worth of firmware development that’s seen some marked upgrades and improvements, all with very few issues. For any piece of electronics on a bike to last that long without failure or problem is very good, and I’d recommend it highly with just a couple caveats…

Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights

The system comes with a new crank arm of your choosing, so long as it’s alloy and it’s from Shimano (all upper end, road and MTB), SRAM (Rival, X9), Cannondale (Hollowgram SI) or FSA (various). There are also BMX options using Shimano DXR MX71 cranks. Included in the box are the user manual and one battery preinstalled (not the two extras shown here), which is good for about 200 hours of use. Prices range from $699 to $899 depending on crank arm model.

All installation is done on factory fresh cranksets in house, so you can’t retrofit it to your existing cranks. Their process is what they say sets them apart, and it takes them two days to make and install one on each crank. The surface of the crank is laser treated and cleaned to prep the surface. Then the gauge platform is installed, it’s left to bond, then the electronics are soldered on, tested and sealed. Then, finally, they’re calibrated twice, once for force and once for temperature compensation. So, domestic labor is a big part of the cost, but they warranty it for one year with an optional two-year no questions asked warranty.

Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights

Our test unit was adhered to a Dura-Ace 9000 crank arm and only added 11g with battery installed. Among power meter options, this is about the lightest option.

Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights

The device transmits in both BLE (Bluetooth Smart/4.0/Low Energy) and ANT+ simultaneously. So, you can have it linked to your smartphone or the new Polar M450 cycling computers along with any ANT+ computer.

Firmware updates are periodic but important. Fortunately, they’re easily done through their smartphone app, which sends the update to the unit wirelessly over Bluetooth. Just make sure your cycling computer is off when performing a firmware update…I found that having the power meter connected to a computer interrupted the update process. The app will also show power output if you just want that simple bit of data while on the trainer.

As shown above, it clears traditional frames without any problems. Where I ran into fitment issues was on the Scott Solace, which uses a direct mount brake under the bottom bracket:

Stages Power long term power meter review with actual weights and brake clearance closeup photos

The power meter unit hit the Tektro brake caliper, preventing full crank arm rotation. So, if you have a bike with these types of brakes, maybe best to borrow a friend’s Stages crank and test it out.

During early use, I had the bike on the back of our van for cross country, multi-month road trips with the family. During that time, the vibration and bumps of the road kept the power meter “awake”, which crushed the battery. Word is, that was a common complaint which was finally remedied with the latest firmware update about a month ago (as of this post). Technically, the device still wakes with 1G of force (about what a normal, easy pedal rotation would cause) and will stay awake for 5 minutes. I have not traveled extensively with the bike since that time to see how that would improve

I have had a couple issues with dropped connections recently, particularly when coasting for 20-30 seconds or stopping to check a text or voicemail, but in most instances it would reconnect pretty quickly. After talking with the folks at Stages, it turns out several running hardware improvements have been made since my unit arrived. The main one has to do with improved battery contact patches, better O-ring seal around the battery, and new materials on the battery door, all of which maintains power flow so the unit will stay in contact with the computer. So, these could be minor issues that wouldn’t affect new units.

Another tip to improve connection stability is to manually type in the power meter’s ANT+ ID rather than let it search for it automatically. This forces the computer to only look for that power meter, which prevents it from going into a random search mode. Lastly, keep your cycling computer’s firmware up to date, too.

The latest Stages update also brought the firmware into full compliance with the latest ratified BLE Bluetooth standard. This update should make it fully compatible with all BLE cycling computers, like those new Polar units. That, and every other update, is free and will work with any Stages power meter ever sold, so with each update you’re essentially getting the same functionality as any brand new unit.

I’ve used the Stages on several road bikes and my cyclocross bike, paired to cycling computers from Garmin, Sigma, CycleOps and Magellan. Generally, each of the computers has found the device and paired easily, though there are occasional dropped connections. Not enough to be a nuisance, but when the battery gets low it can make it difficult to keep it awake and paired.

Regardless, it’s been ridden and transported through hot and cold, wet and dry for a long time and has held up just fine. There’s a lot to like about it, too: Simplicity, comparatively inexpensive, and easily portable to any other bike with the same BB or crankset. That last feature has made it easy to move between my Shimano equipped bikes and let friends borrow it. If you’re looking for a well made power meter that’s backed up with solid customer support and won’t break the bank, it might be time to power up a Stages.

StagesCycling.com

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elvis
elvis
7 years ago

It’s perfect if you’re ok with it not really measuring your power but simply doubling that of your left leg. Check out Training and Racing with a Power Meter on the book of faces or the Wattage google group if you’re really curious.

I know most have some sort of post-purchase rationalization so they won’t accept that doubling power is a deeply flawed concept. If you’re one of those, I’m happy that you’re happy 🙂

Bill
Bill
7 years ago

I have a good friend, cat 2, about 210lbs, whom I do most of his mechanical work for. He’s a SRAM user so he’s got the Rival arm version of this. It mates fine with both rival and force cranks, works as expected.

Except, he’s on his fourth one. The other three have all had the pod come off during training rides. He got the “protection program” thing from them, so it’s been replaced – and quickly I might add – all three times, but at some point, I’d be frustrated. Still, it’s his, and he seems happy with it so..

My other buddy, went through 3 of them, and ultimately returned the third to stages because it just wasn’t accurate enough for him. Consistently read too low compared to his Quarq on his primary and his powertap on his travel bike. There’s solid reasoning in saying as long as it’s consistent it doesn’t matter, but if you’re bouncing between devices and bikes, and the quarq/powertap/computrainer numbers are all +- 5%, I can see his point.

I am a long time powertap user(and recently quarq), and got super excited when this came out. The power meter price wars though, have made it less and less important, and will continue to do so. We’ll have to see how it compares to the new chainring and pedal options from cycleops, and garmin.

Fred
Fred
7 years ago

Here’s my take, if it’s good enough for Team Sky, then it’s good enough for me. Don’t care about who is paying who to ride what. If a pro team with a ligament shot to win an overall title at just about any race they enter use it, I think it’ll work for me.

BEERTECH
BEERTECH
7 years ago

I’ve had two of them for two years now and have only had one issue with the battery door breaking. However, I’m pretty sure that was due more to user error.

Mine have been nothing but reliable and consistent since I’ve had them.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago

cat 2 195# here. also on my 4th… but have never missed a ride because stages has always next-day shipped me a new meter… they are great at customer service!!!! I have validated it with a PT wheel within 4 watts after a 20 min test

Adam
Adam
7 years ago

cat 3, not 2…

Sevo
Sevo
7 years ago

Fred-ask Team Sky for a power file from any of the riders from a given race sometime.

Durianrider
Durianrider
7 years ago

Ive 5 units on 5 different bikes. The firmware updates and new door + electrics work great. Ive ridden in all conditions and one ride was so much rain my unit stopped working. I took the battery out for 24 hours and then updated firmware and no probs.

Best power meter on the market.

@Sevo GC riders don’t hand out power files anymore cos otherwise it makes it clear what is going on. If you are holding 6.5w/kg for 30min after 5 hours or racing in the heat it is pretty clear you are on the juice haha.

Jugi
Jugi
7 years ago

I have pretty much same experiences as BEERTECH. I’ve had the Rival version for about 15 months and the Ultegra 6800 for about four months. Only mechanical problem has been one broken battery compartment door, which was replaced by two new ones at no cost. A couple of times I’ve found some moisture in the battery compartment and I suspect one battery was run flat because of that. Apart from those issues, both units have worked very well for hundreds of hours combined.

I’m not even remotely concerned about whether my left leg’s doubled power is even close to my actual power output, as long as the readings are consistent. Stages seems to deliver exactly that with high reliability.

eric
eric
7 years ago

my experience same as Jugi and Beertech. one broken battery cover which stages took care very very quickly. other wise flawless.

don’t take my word for it… read the reviews from tech guru DC RAINMAKER. no one on this board has the testing time in this guy does and he recommends the stages.

craigsj
craigsj
7 years ago

“I know most have some sort of post-purchase rationalization so they won’t accept that doubling power is a deeply flawed concept.”

If by “deeply flawed” you mean inconsequentially flawed, then yes, but go ahead and criticize what you don’t understand.

Ben
Ben
7 years ago

I don’t see what asking Sky for a power file has to do with anything. Few pros want to share their files regardless. But anyway I have seen some power files from Sky. So what?

My stages has been great and the service has been great too. I would buy again.

HoganOnEpo
HoganOnEpo
7 years ago

Durianrider-think sevo is referring to the fact that sky doesn’t turn on the stages. most shops have a 30-40 percent return rate under average consumers who don’t ride much. pro tour riders destroy stuff and likely the stages isn’t holding up more than a few days under these guys

sascetti
sascetti
7 years ago

I agree craigsj. I tested my Quarq vs. this before selling the Quarq (It was very old and it was just time). I found them to be within reason of one another. In all honestly consistency is key in a power meter. Who gives a flying flip if my number isn’t as high as yours? What matters is how you utilize the meter for your own personal training and let those results speak for themselves.

Brad
Brad
7 years ago

I sold mine. It just didn’t have the same TSS and IF scores that my other power meters were recording. Power readings and averages seemed close enough but my biggest problem was the measurements TSS and IF measurements. The stages readings were lower by more then 10%. I talked to stages and they basically told me not to look at those numbers. Look at other numbers to do your comparisons, she said. They would not do anything else and were actually pretty short with me on the subject. However I did lose a battery cover and they quickly shipped it out to me.
I think if a Stages PM is your only power meter, then you’ll be fine. But if your using other meters. The data is not consistent across platforms, at least from my experience.
Anybody else have this problem?

PROEDGEBIKER.COM
7 years ago

Mine has worked awesome for nearly 2 years, only issue I had was the battery door. The first time it broke they overnighted me a brand new arm and included a shipping label to return the old. The batt door broke again but this time they sent me 2 batt doors but also assured me that it shouldn’t break again because they had redesigned it.
So BEERTECH, it wasn’t user error, it was a flaw in the original design of the tiny door tabs.
I’ve changed battery twice since using the new batt doors and they are holding on strong.

Floyd
Floyd
7 years ago

Love my stages!!! I have had mine about 9 months now and only issue was the defective battery door everyone else mentioned. Emailed stages customer service and within a couple days they sent me two new ones and rubber gaskets at no charge. They have the customer service thing down pat. I’m a big guy and out in a lot of miles on my Trek and have been known to wear components out faster than most but the stages has had no issues.

Art
Art
7 years ago

I’ve had one for over two years. While the initial unit did fail within 6 months and fall off Stages took care of it right away and I haven’t had an issue since. At the time they said their early units used an adhesive that was too strong and thus brittle. When they replaced it they upgraded something in the second one and it works pretty darn flawlessly for me. I had a powertap previously and I like how light this is in comparison.

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

Solid product with exceptional customer service. Former PowerTap user who switched initially to get power measurement on my mountain bike. Now on my cross and road bikes as well. Similar battery door issues on first generation product but issues were immediately addressed by their customer service with new covers and eventually a new unit entirely, all via a simple email exchange and overnight delivery.

Debates about left/right leg measurement miss the point. Simplicity, measurement consistency, light weight, easy switching between bikes, great customer support and reasonable cost are what make this Stages a breakthrough product.

AC
AC
7 years ago

I have two of these, and have yet to see 200 hours, or even 100 hours for a battery. The first powere meter was replaced on warranty, it’s replacement has been trouble free except for battery life. 200 hours is a gross exaggeration IME.

My experience with customer service has been very good,except for their denial of the battery drain issue being an issue. They fail at the step 1 of customer service though, making products that don’t require contacting customer service.

Jam
Jam
7 years ago

Stages battery covers and general waterproofness is crap. I am on my second crank arm and about 10th battery door cover. This still doesn’t stop the battery running dead at the slightest whiff of rain. This becomes incredibly frustrating after a while. I have 5 mates who have all had exactly the same experience. If you are thinking of buying one my simple advice is this: don’t.

Large D
Large D
7 years ago

“5 units on 5 different bikes”

Wow, are you PRO? Or just delusional?

John
John
7 years ago

I’ve had one for a year now, and have since started selling them. They do require different brakes when mounting on Solace and Madones.

Thousands of miles, lots of rain. Only issue mine’s had, was connection issue with Garmin 910 when wrist mounted, and the 1st gen battery doors which they replaced. I’ve had one Powertap SL and two G3s die in that same time frame. Both Saris and Stages have provided excellent customer service in resolving my issues. Numbers with my PTs and Stages seem to line up.

PROEDGEBIKER.COM
6 years ago

Well my friends, I spoke too soon… My stages quit working yesterday so i figured it was the battery running out. (not even close to 200hrs of riding i must add) so when i got home i removed the battery cap and guess what? yup, one of the tabs from the batt cap broke again.
Anyhow, I replaced the Batt and went to do the zero offset and it was reading 4900 rather than its usual 900. Contacted STAGES SUPPORT and they told me to send it in for repair.

MJ
MJ
6 years ago

I run Stages, have loved power, but recently became concerned about power drift, as it’s been reading lower power output recently compared to few months back. So I tested it. Picked a Turbo session I did on my Kurt Kinetic back in May, and repeated it with exactly the same speed. Same speed (both 34.0kph), same Stages, same bike, same Kurt Kinetic, same duration, same everything. My HR was even the same, indicating similar effort. And on a Kurt Kinetic, same speed should equal same power, but the power output for my July session averaged 21W less than in May. Only difference I can think of is temperature, the May session was at an avg temp of 15degC, Jul session at avg of 9degC. Now I’m sure it’s reading lower recently, it’s not a loss of form. And for me, consistency / precision is the most important attribute of a power meter. Has anyone else noticed this with their Stages? I’m wondering whether I need to look at an alternative.

Tyson White
Tyson White
6 years ago

Can anyone comment on how the Stages compares with the Garmin Vector?

Dave Painter
Dave Painter
6 years ago

Hello MJ. I have experienced the same issue with power drift. Stages (great customer service) replaced my Stages but am experiencing the same issue. Today put in 4 hour ride and compared AVW with similar ride back in early May. Approx. the same AVS but my AVS for today’s ride (08/24) gave me a 21W less reading. Temp were warmer today by about 10 degrees but the should not cause the W variance. Continuing to get work on getting this resolved but getting tired of looking down at my Garmin computer and seeing “0” readings through ride. Will pursue this for a bit yet with Stages support but will eventually give up and get my money back. Hope this helps….RIDE SAFE!

Craig Kennedy
Craig Kennedy
6 years ago

purchased an Stages X9 Rival crank arm for my xc bike. it worked well for a few months then stopped working, not from physical or water damage, just a connectivity issue. Have sent it 3x times back to Stages, each time it comes back and works for one ride but when the ride is over (or stopped to refuel) Garmin unit wouldn’t recognize the unit. Stages customer service seems to be lacking now as they’re no longer next-day shipping replacement units to customers. I’ve been essentially without a power meter unit on my XC bike now for 3 months because of this. Heard from my coach that many other Stages customers are experiencing non-read failures. Never had any issue with my 2 Power Tap units. My advice – save your money, do not buy Stages, its got a serious flaw and will fail to work consistently.

Bazza
Bazza
6 years ago

As per Craig, just in the process of returning mine. Battery low indicated after a few hours, replaced battery, worked, then didn’t, replaced battery again, worked for a minute, then never again. Poor start, but I’ll give it one more shot.

PA
PA
6 years ago

Hi,

You mention in the article that you ran into fitment issues on the Scott Solace, but you didn’t really develop that part. Were you able to make it work or is the Stages crank simply not compatible with the Solace or any bottom bracket brake for that matter?

Thanks in advance.

Alec Hull
Alec Hull
6 years ago

I have 2 stages power meters and both have died in the last week. They are less than 1 year old. They started out with battery connection issues and dropping out during the rides. I would have to stop mid ride and jiggle the flimsy battery door back on.
Stages has agreed to repair them, but what a joke. They are not reliable power meters

Blair
Blair
6 years ago

On my second Stages unit as first had 2 issues with battery door and moisture…..current one is the new version and am nervous on the battery life and upcoming change of battery. Did a race over the weekend and experienced first loss of data. Heaps of missing bits on the ride which had a serious impact on avg w etc. Sounds like similar to what Dave Painter has experienced. On my Garmin, I had — display on both power and cadence. The file stored then averages the data, not the zero but the data dropping from the real power down to 0 and then back up again. All the know is I sat on a 9% climb for 15 minutes when the fault was occuring and it gave me an average power of 198 watts, when the majority of the data shows 350-370 watts (if you exclude the missing bits and recovery of the data).
Hoping this is a one off occurance…..

Ken
Ken
6 years ago

Is the stages Power Meter Protection Plan (2 years) for an extra $200 really necessary ?
Has anyone had trouble with their stages power meter within the 2 year ?
https://store.stagescycling.com/power-meter-protection-pmp-plan-p13.aspx?Thread=True

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

Have had unit less than one year, no problem with broken battery door, but have found dead battery with moisture incursion several times. Also a number if drop outs/failures which seem to be result of poor battery contact with the three tabs inside. Today wasn’t working again and found tab broken. Has been frustrating as I am always nervous it will let me down. Contacting customer service, will update…

Aidan
Aidan
6 years ago

Is there a fix for the moisture getting into battery department? I’ve used mine in the rain with no problem but the next day the battery will be flat, Ive tried new doors and seals and wrapping in electrical tape, bike is stored in garage where it can get cold and damp. went on a wet ride 2 days ago and removed crank from bike and battery is still full, also wrapped in electrical tape

Angela Abbot
6 years ago

I Have a second generation DuraAce crank after my first one had a cracked housing. Since I received my new version 2 crank I have complete battery drain every day! Each time I ride even for 1 hr come home put the bike to bed, the next morning it will not connect to the garmin unit or the Stages APP until I replace the battery. Anyone else apart from my partner who got a new crank in Jan 2016 when I did that has experienced the same?

Maybe a bad batch!?!? Stages dont seem to think there is anything wrong! I dont think its acceptable at all to replace a battery everyday.. Apart from the fact the housing is prone to breaking…

I am fed up with an expensive piece of rubbish

Rob Owen
Rob Owen
6 years ago

Any UK users having problems? Mine gave up on Ironman Wales which was deeply frustrating as this was what I bought it for and it was only 6 months old at the time. It was replaced by the retailer without issue. However, since then I have been riding my Winter bike and the TT bike has been in a dry garage. Got it out today as it was Sunny and it’s failing again! I’m pretty sure I can legally force the retailer to refund. Should I?

Sebastian Salazar
Sebastian Salazar
6 years ago

I had mine for over 2 years… honestly i had too many issues and I do not recommend it.
Cons
-Constant drops in readings that could last for few seconds to minutes….
-4 Battery caps already broken, clearly a design issue
-Inconsistent readings while using KurtKinetic Trainner same speed same ride… 0s or 1000 Watts….

**
I have done all the things Stages recommended:
-Use Blue tooth
-Put garmin closer (when using Garmin)
-use it with ANT+ stick when indoors plugged to PC or even IPAD
-Setting Garming readings according to Stages recomendations.
-Eliminationg other possible interference (other ANT+ devices)

Pros
Kind customer service.
Compact
Cheaper than other options (still a lot of money)

I will be returning my unit, honestly i am very disappointing and perhaps i would like rather my money back than the unit repaired. After 2 years of constant modifications i am very bored.

Martin Fuss
Martin Fuss
6 years ago

I have one on my XC race mountain bike and one on my cyclocross bike. Both have been working flawless for 3 seasons in the PNW. That is about as hard a test for any device as I can fathom. Yes, I broke a couple of battery doors and had a battery go dead in a race, but overall – highly recommended.

Eugen Mocanu
Eugen Mocanu
5 years ago

I`m using it for 3 season at hard mtb training/races . I had a lot of issues with water going in of course , broken one battery door , constant loosing connection but now i got it figured out after a while … sort off : the battery sometimes looses contact because the contact pins bent in time so i put a small piece of metal from a pen spring between the contacts and the battery (now i never loose connection). And for water i just put duct tape and all is ok (and if there was very heavy mud/rain i take battery out after the ryde to be sure all is ok).

Eddie Adams
Eddie Adams
5 years ago

Mine works fine as long as my Garmin 800 is mounted to the stem. If I use the outfront mount which puts the Garmin between the clamp on aero bars it loses connection frequently which alters my average power and shows a zero power and cadence far to frequently and for to long. For this reason alone, I could not recommend it. On another note, water getting into the battery compartment is an issue. Even when washing and spraying with a very light spray I have to cover the compartment or it will get water in.