i thought i would post up a review on the Stages Track Power meter, since its a very new product, and while there have been some reviews of the road model, i haven’t seen any for the track version yet.
A little about your reviewer:
I'm a kilo/Sprinter guy- typical big boy weightlifting type. recently my weekly training has been a day on the Ergo, a day at the indoor track (VSC) and a day at the outdoor track (encino), in addition to weights and roller workouts.
I have had a power tap wheel on my road bike for a few years, and did track style training on that bike regularly at one point a couple years back. For the last year i have had a wired SRM power meter on my Ergo- point being that i have 2 reference points to compare the stages data to, but at the end of the day- I live and die by the stopwatch! Any training effort over 250m is self-timed with a stopwatch, and any effort 250m or less is timed by others- that said, i am not that analytical. i don't pour over my data files. I race for times, not watts. So i watch the basics. 5 second power, 10 second power, 30 second and 60 second. i use a Garmin 500 to collect the data- once again- im not overly concerned with the rate at which it reads, i know others are.. I view my files on Strava- also not the most involved training software, but it allows me to see what i want to see. ie: How do today’s efforts compare to my best efforts over the last 6 weeks, and how does the last 6 weeks compare to the entire year. trending up- i hope! My view is, i got pretty fast without much power data, so now that i am adding it in i'm not really changing things much, I can just see more. i find that i use it mostly for tracking progress after workouts and tuning ergo efforts to track efforts- making sure watts and cadences are the same (or higher) for a given time interval, i want my garage training to be as relevant as possible. I do zero on bike pacing with power- my garmin is mounted under my saddle and not visible. I run my efforts how i always have- under 250m are full gas always, and over 250m are paced by time..
The track version of the Stages is only available in Dura Ace. Thats great if you are on DA- i was not. So that was an added expense, but i viewed that as an upgrade, so its not that bad. I bought the DA crank around the same time i ordered the Stages arm. Stages website says “shipping in 4 weeks”. At 4 weeks i called, and was told my crank was built, but waiting on a battery door. i received it at about 51/2 weeks.
The piece itself is beautiful. The crank is barely modified, only a small black piece on the inside of the non-drive side arm. It installs in a minute and that's it- you are in business- power data on the Garmin- everything looks good. (yes, you end up with an arm you are not using)
The Stages has a cadence meter inside- so there is very little to attach to the bike. I added a Bontrager Ant+ Speed sensor, since it was one of the few front wheel and non-cadence sensors available..
one small issue- stages plays down the need to calibrate. I'm not sure if it is less necessary for the road version? the manual says “be sure to calibrate after installation”... so i did and then did a few training days without ever calibrating it again.. my numbers across the board were low compared to my ergo numbers. consistent, but low. I realized that i probably needed to calibrate it more often and started to do that- before every session, and when i change my gear after warm-up, and again when i put my sprint bars back on. I suspect i am now calibrating too often but results have been good.
One interesting feature of the Stages is that it speaks Bluetooth and Ant+ so you can feed rides straight to your iPhone (strava or wahoo) and you can use the Stages App to check for firmware updates and (this is awesome!) calibrate the power meter. I actually got an iPhone after i got the Stages, and it makes calibrating a simple 10 second thing… Calibrating with the Garmin is somewhat clumsy. You have to click through a few screens to get to the calibration and garmin did not always find the Stages right away and had trouble calibrating. Sometimes the Stages would time out before the Garmin had calibrated, requiring you to “wake up” the stages and try again.. now that i have an iPhone- there are zero issues..
As far as operations go- it works like every other power meter I've used. My data from all 3 of my different sources line up very well. no issues as best i can tell. I ended up using the Stages for a solid 5 weeks (that starts after i started calibrating it) on my build up to my last event of the year.
I know that the fact that Stages only collects data from one crank arm was a big point for a lot of people. I've read the arguments and forum post- i had a lot of time to think about it during the 6 weeks it took to arrive. I just don't see any issue from it. I dont see anything weird on the track i don't see anything weird on the rollers.. numbers line up between the SRM and the Stages.. for me its a non-issue.
so like DC Rainmaker says “Would I buy it again?”- well, i did! after about 3 weeks with the track version i decided to switch from the power tap on the road bike to the Stages. This time it only took 3 weeks total for my Sram Rival non-drive crank arm to arrive.. its installed- but im on a 2 week break.. so no rides yet!
I hope this was interesting to some of you- thanks for reading