In our 2013 – What We Want post, one of the items on our 2013 wish list was the affordable power meter. Today a power meter can cost you as much as a set of wheels (or a frame), but as with most things, the future brings better technology for less money. And while we only briefly mentioned it in our 2013 article, we’ve been paying attention to Stages Cycling’s upcoming offering—Stages Power.
Stages Power is a new take on the power meter concept. For example, instead of having the meter in the hub like the PowerTap or the crank spider like Quarq, Stages has chosen to mount theirs to the left crank arm—measuring the deflection of the arm throughout the pedal stroke. What’s more, they were also able to build their system for an entry level MSRP of only $699 (less than half the price of the recently introduced Quarq Riken 10R).
Using the left crank arm gives the Stages Power system some unique attributes. First, it’s extremely easy to install (since all one has to do is install a non-drive side crank arm) and thus fairly portable (assuming you are using matching cranks on your bike, simply remove the left crank from one bike and place it on the other). Second, because it’s on the crank and not the hub, you no longer have to worry about having power units on both your race wheels.
Unfortunately this does lead to a number of downsides. First is that the unit is only reading your left leg’s power and doubles it to determine total power. There is no left\right distinction (like found on the Quarq). In addition, you are limited to aluminum cranks (carbon does NOT work). Based on some early reviews there are also some kinks in the stability of the measured accuracy throughout the ride (although average power tends to be consistent with other options on the market).
Regardless of these initial limitations and reports we at AeroGeeks are EXTREMELY excited for this product. This looks to be the start of the sub $1,000 power meters. And when one company goes below that price point, we can be sure others will soon follow.
If you are looking for some more in-depth coverage of the Stages Power meter a number of our peers wrote some great articles that take a deep dive into the specifics of what Stages has to offer.