In recent years, the power meter market has exploded. There are a vast range of options, from the super high-end, to more budget-friendly single-sided crank options like the Stages G3L Power Meter. You have a lot of choices in this current market, in terms of both how much you want to spend and where you want the data collected. The Stages is a strain gauge added to a left side crankset. It sends data via Bluetooth or ANT+ to your phone and/or device.
Two advantages of the Stages are ease of installation and the ability to transfer it between bikes. With most other power meters on the market, ease of installing isn’t generally the case. However, we fitted the Stages on the bike in under 10 minutes; and that was whilst sipping a long black. There aren’t many tools required:
8mm hex key*
5mm hex key
Shimano Star key
Torque wrench w/5mm hex key socket
Small pliers or flathead screwdriver
*The 8mm hex key is for my pedals
(If you don’t have this stash, head down to your local bike store)
Take your old left crank arm off, slide the Stages on, and tighten everything up. It’s really that simple! Then drop in your battery, carefully close the door, and re-fit your pedals.
Grab your smartphone — but don’t open Instagram! Instead, download the Stages Cycling App. Pairing with Bluetooth was fairly straightforward. I paired it with my Wahoo BOLT and, after a quick search on the device, gave it a zero offset and found the power and cadence. There’s an array of power data field options, but I opted for 3s power, normalised power, kilo-joules and cadence to keep things simple.
Earlier this week I was Invited for a mixed-terrain ride; having fitted the Stages, I was super-interested in the different power numbers I’d put out over road, gravel and track. Firstly, out the door, the feeling is no different to riding without it. It’s just a standard left side crank with a tumour on it. You won’t notice any difference.
On the ride, the power displayed easily and didn’t drop out during the three-hour ride. The data was reliably consistent, but I’ll need longer to test it on multiple rides. I was blown away by how the power increased as my tyres danced over loose gravel sections. It was evident I was putting out more watts, and now I can see why I felt jaded towards the end of the ride. I also liked having Normalized Power® displayed for the ride. (Normalized Power® (NP) is a power averaging method, measured in watts, used to compensate for changes in ride conditions for a more accurate depiction of power expenditure. Conventional power measurement is based off of a steady resistance.) Having this displayed on my Wahoo BOLT was great, and made me ride more consistently, as I’ve been used to other power meters that don’t display the NP.
Of course, the durability and accuracy of the Stages across more weeks will be key. NZ Cycling Journal will bring you a more in-depth review online and in print during the coming months. The data we've collected over the past few rides, however, makes me think this is a good unit. Given also the price and ease of use, at this stage (get it … Stages …) I'd recommend it.
Words & Images: Liam Friary & Cameron Mackenzie
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