Stages Cycling adds new power meter metrics, shows off high-speed data streaming

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Today at Interbike I got a sneak peek at Stages Cycling’s latest firmware update plans coming down the line to Stages Power meter owners.

First up is the addition of the ANT+ Torque Effectiveness and Power Smoothness metrics.  These metrics were added by ANT+ about a year ago to support new power meters, such as the Rotor PM and Garmin Vector PM’s.  In the last month, Garmin has added the metrics to the Edge 510 and Edge 810 head units (O-Synce has also added them as well to the Navi2Coach).  As a result, Stages took the opportunity to go ahead and implement it within their power meter – becoming the second power meter on the market today to support it (Rotor was first, and Vector hasn’t released those metrics yet).

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As part of that same firmware update, the units will also receive a new battery status level indicator for those folks using the unit via Bluetooth Smart (Stages is the only product on the market today broadcasting both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart).  While ANT+ has always had the battery status being sent, the Bluetooth Smart side didn’t.  Now you’ll get a warning at roughly 10 hours remaining to change out your CR2032 coin cell battery for a new one.

Both of the updates above should hit in the next few weeks, and are free updates.  Users will simply open the Stages app on their Bluetooth Smart compatible iOS device, and then the firmware will update within a minute or two.  In the event you don’t have an iOS device handy, I suggest buying a friend a beer to update your crank arm.

Next on the docket they were were giving private demonstrations of a new high-speed data analysis mode that they’re aiming to make available by the end of the calendar year.

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This high-speed data mode transmits torque/force information at 64-times per second to their iPhone app:

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The user would enable this mode using the Stages app (you can see the button in the lower right corner):

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The mode is primarily aimed at folks like track cyclists and some mountain bikers that may want highly detailed information about a short time period (such as a start or sprint).  The user can press the lap button to trigger new data sets as well:

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Once completed the data can be e-mailed as CSV files.  Note that from a battery hit standpoint, it burns through battery roughly twice as fast – but then you’re still talking 100 hours at that point.

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The data is pretty straightforward, as you might expect given just a stream of torque information at a high data rate.  Here’s a snippet of a CSV file:

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To demonstrate what this looks like on the app itself, here’s a super-quick video I shot with the crank being given a massage.  Yes, for 99% of people out there it’s probably a really boring video. But for the 1% uber-geek, you’ll find it pretty fascinating:

As noted, the current plan is to have this out/available by the end of the year on the iOS platform.  It’ll be free of charge.  I asked about ANT+, as there’s been some winds swirling there about doing high-speed data support for some time (it’s a head-unit limitation, not a PM limitation).  They said they’d be thrilled to support it via ANT+ if someone like Garmin added high-speed data support to their devices.

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Next, Stages did announce three new crank-arms this week.  They are the Shimano Ultegra 6800, plus two additional FSA models covering both the MegaExo and BB30 bottom bracket standards.  The Ultegra will be available in November, with the FSA ones coming around January.

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Lastly, there’s been a few questions on international availability.  As many of you know, Stages started distributing to retailers within the UK last month.  Going forward they plan to have Australia distribution ready in time for the holiday purchasing period (by mid-November at latest).

In talking with them the key tipping point for a given market is to ensure that they can provide the same level of customer service that they do in the US, outside the US.  Specifically the ability to overnight-ship (next-day shipping) any crank-arm should there be a problem with a customer unit.  In watching comments on my Stages review, this continues to be an area that Stages does incredibly well for folks.

Additionally, while they’re still operating on a 2-4 week delay for many crank options, they are planning to triple production capacity in the next 2-3 months, ultimately allowing them to expand into the remainder of Europe next year.

With that, thanks for reading!

Welcome to Interbike week! This week during Interbike 2013 I’ll be tweeting from the exhibition show floor quite a bit, as well as posting frequently. Here’s a quick and handy link to all Interbike-related posts.

35 Comments

  1. Steve Knapp

    i thought the new metrics were to some extent Left/Right based, any idea how that will work with a left-only meter?

    Reply
  2. Gunnar

    Hummmmm. Torque effectiveness and pedal smoothness for the stages....And Stages beat Vector to the punch. Nice. Guess this means I finally have to upgrade from the 800 to the 810 to get these metrics....It will be interesting to see how a single crank arm manages to do this?

    Reply
  3. RomanTheCube

    Best part of this review...

    "Going forward they plan to have Australia distribution ready in time for the holiday purchasing period (by mid-November at latest)."

    about time! :)

    Reply
  4. morey000

    this is almost as good as the release of iOS 7!

    Reply
  5. Michael

    Are there any plans to release the power smoothness and torque effectiveness metrics for the Garmin Edge 500 or 800?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, there are no plans from Garmin there unfortunately. They'll just be keeping it on the Edge 510/810.

      Reply
  6. Josh

    No word on an Android app?

    Reply
    • Jeff Irvin replied

      Would love to know about the Android app too?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They're working on Android, but the challenge is that today that story is a mess industry-wide. Right now they'd have to basically fight fires house to house for each individual model, outside the handful of units (3) that now support the new profiles on the latest build. I suspect by early next year you'll see the store much better across the industry on Android fitness related support.

      Reply
  7. Richard Kaufmann

    Sheesh, I *love* the way my Stages just improves over time. Great product, great support, and an upgrade stream...

    Reply
  8. Malcolm

    Regarding the Hollowgram stages, does anyone know if the forged Si arm will fit onto an older SiSL spindle? Stages said they cut production of the SiSL arms due to a cosmetic issue during the bonding process.

    Reply
  9. Henrik

    thx for article. Will the BB30 fit my bike that has a FSA FPB30?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd hate to give ya the wrong info there (bottom brackets are mysterious to me). But, I know the Stages customer service folks tend to respond pretty quickly to questions like that. Sorry!

      Reply
  10. Marky

    Awesome, FSA support imminent! Now do i wait and buy the FSA or upgrade to 6700 and buy the Shimano?

    Reply
  11. Im in Australia and got both the sram and Dura Ace on my bikes. I rate it as the best power meter on the market for most people in that its cheap, light, consistently accurate and is cutting edge. Ive got a 3rd one on the way for my XC bike. 3 power meters on 3 bikes for LESS than the price of one heavy, PITA srm crankset.

    Reply
  12. JonnyLumpkinseed

    @Malcom, not sure if you're still wondering but I am running a Stages Hollowgram SI forged arm on an SISL crankset with no problem. So you should be good to go.

    Reply
  13. Jason duckworth

    Has any one had one of the known uk issues with these where the battery cover pops off during use? And the battery life is very poor?

    Reply
  14. Tom Galbraith

    Jason, new battery covers have just landed in Oz. I had two of three tabs break off the cover but the retailer quickly sent me the improved version last week. I think battery life may be related to moisture getting in.

    Reply
  15. Sebastian

    Does anyone have excel sheet or some app that would visualize .csv file from stages? It should be fairly easy to design something like that? Do stages plan to do it?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Most folks upload to 3rd party sites like Training Peaks, Strava, Sport Tracks, Garmin Connect, and many others. Those sites all shower power in graphs.

      That said, if you have a .TCX or .FIT file and want to get it to .CSV, the fastest and most accurate method I use is Golden Cheetah. It's a free cycling program that exports back out as a .CSV file. In fact, it's how I normalize all the data for power reviews...including this one.

      Reply
    • Sebastian replied

      Thanks Rainmaker, I currently use WKO+ and GC for power analysis, my question was about CSV high speed power file you can capture with stages iPhone app, it has only 2 values in it and "possibly" allows to analyze sprint efforts.

      That file only has values as follows, and measures them 60 times per second.

      Timestamp kgf Nm
      32:24.0
      92905 -10.1 -17
      92937 -10.4 -17.6
      92969 -9.8 -16.5
      93001 -8.5 -14.3

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, you're right. I completely missed that this was the high-speed Stages post versus the regular Stages review when I responded.

      Yeah, it's just Excel today. If that's all your getting though, that's a bit odd - you should be a ton of values (measured up to 60 times per second).

      Reply
  16. Chris Gibbons

    Once I have worked out why my Stages isn't providing Toque info I will work on a spreadsheet or R code to analyse the .csv data from Stages. I'm not sure that this data is readable by the 3rd party sites mentioned above - or is it?

    Chris

    Reply
  17. Sebastian

    @Chris Gibbons at this point there is no tool that would visually show high speed data from .csv some visualization in R would be cool.
    I managed to draw few charts in excel using that data but it is nowhere close what I would like it to be.

    Reply
  18. Sebastian

    I get only 3 values: Timestamp, kgf and Nm, but there is a lot of them, 60 times per second generates 60 rows of kgf and NM per second, One revolution of pedals generates 60 values. What values are you getting?

    It would be great if someone can come up with visual data interpretation same as in "pioneer power meter software" but I have no programming skills :)
    I did plot some excel charts but they do not give me what I need , I need to plot at list 10 of them for 10 pedal strokes to see when I'm applying what force, it is hard to look at 10 charts in one screen. I pinged Stages about the tool, but they didn't respond.

    Reply
    • Stephane replied

      I already analysed data from csv file and it is wonderful !
      But capture, email, excel, ... is a very long work.

      So, I started to develop a ios app to show graphic representation.
      With 60 values per second, precision will be 5 degree !

      But, for now, my biggest problem is to read high speed data.

      "WFBikePowerCTFData Class Reference" from Wahoo Fitness API is probably the right place, but I need to ask power meter to send data...

      Maybe someone else have a clue ?

      Thanks for help

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd hit up the Wahoo Fitness API/Dev e-mail address, as they'll get you cooking pretty quickly. That definitely sounds like cool stuff though, would love to see the end resultant.

      Reply
    • Stephane replied

      Thanks Ray, I asked Wahoo and I had an answer in same minute !!!

      But the final way to retreive high speed data have to come from Stages.

      Do you have contact at Stages ?

      Reply
    • sebo2000 replied

      If you will even need testers please let me know, I also have Vectors and PowerTap, This is appI was looking for from very beginning since I got stages.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      If you contact Stages through their support address I suspect they'll be able to help you out a bit there since it'd be a unique app that promotes their product doing cool stuff.

      Reply
    • Stephane replied

      My app is now functional.

      Ray, could you give my email to sebo2000.

      I will need couple of beta tester !

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Done.

      Reply
    • Richard replied

      I know it's been a few months since this was posted, but I felt it worth pointing out to Stephane and Sebastian that at 60 values per second, 5 degrees of precision is not at all implied in the data. In fact, the Stages unit outputs at 64hz approximately regardless of whether you are pedalling or not. This is because it is providing a continuous reading of the torque and force in the crank arm, and at no point does it measure the position of the crank. So if you pedal slowly, you'll get several hundred readings per crank rotation, and if you pedal faster you'll get fewer.

      I suspect with the accelerometers inside the unit Stages can probably calculate the crank angle but they certainly aren't putting it on the feed at present if they can.

      If you take a look at a "Kautz pedal force data" graph (search google images to find it), which I understand was produced as part of a study, you'll see that max force tends to correspond to a crank angle of around 100 degrees, so some assumptions could be made about the data, but it isn't the same as being given the crank angle.

      If you just chart the the kgf against the time index you can get a useful picture of what's going on. Having looked at my own data after a quick test, the most interesting thing I found was that there is a reasonably significant negative load on the upward stroke i.e. I and presumably most other riders do not entirely release weight from the pedal on the upward stroke, and therefore my left leg is acting against my right leg slightly (and vice-versa on the other side 180 degrees out of phase). This I never knew but having seen it and thought about what I do when I pedal it seems pretty obvious that it happens.

      Reply
    • Stephane replied

      You are absolutely right Richard, number of reading per crank rotation is in function of cadence.
      But we have enough reading to show beautiful realtime graph like "Kautz pedal force data".

      The basic application that I did, show in realtime the impact of "not entirely release weight from the pedal on the upward stroke" and give you a quality index (in percent).

      And with with some drill, like "one leg pedalling" you can improve the way you push and pull with realtime result display.

      Give-it a try, search "Bike Stroke Analysis" on App Store

      Reply
  19. Chris Gibbons

    I am not getting any Torque data (Nm) for some reason though kgf and timestamp are coming through OK. The cranks won't zero calibrate either, which may be related. The cranks are very new to me and I haven't really looked into it beyond the vague possibility of creating a R visualisation for the .csv data.

    I'm a track sprinter so I'm interested in things like max power and torque for standing starts and the 1 second capture is not sufficient from Garmin to get a good idea of initial pedal force. I'm OK a R; certainly no expert, but happy to share what I come up with.

    Reply

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