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Stages Power announces carbon crank options, talks a bit about dual leg power

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Today at Eurobike, Stages announced their first foray into offering carbon crank arm options with their power meters pre-installed.  You’ll remember that up until today they’ve only offered aluminum cranks.  Today’s announcement includes five new carbon models, while also rolling out entirely new pod designs to their existing lineup of power meters produced from here forward (officially called the ‘2016 product line’)

Finally, I chatted with them a bit about left/right power and what that means to Stages and their product plans, especially given some of the sightings of dual Stages units out in the wild (primarily on Team Sky).

Stages Carbon Offerings:

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Stages has announced five different sets of carbon crank options.  Three of these options are using specific 3rd party crank arms (three on Campagnolo, one on FSA), and the 4th option is a ‘house’ option that’s fully Stages branded.  This option and the FSA unit being the cheapest of the carbon offerings they have on tap.

In order to simplify things, here’s the quick and dirty table of the new carbon products:

FSA SL-K Light BB30*: 170mm-175mm, 799€, Winter 2016
Stages Power Meter for BB30: 170mm-175mm options, 799€, Winter/Spring 2016
Campagnolo Super Record: 170mm-175mm, 1,199€, Winter/Spring2016
Campagnolo Record: 170mm-175mm, 999€, Winter/Spring2016
Campagnolo Chorus: 170mm-175mm, 899€, Winter/Spring2016
*(Retrofitting FSA 386EVO, SRAM BB30 road and mountain, BB spindle is 99€)

Here at Eurobike, Stages is officially only announcing the pricing in Euros, so for US pricing we’ll have to wait two weeks till Interbike.  Yes, I know, it’s annoying when companies do that and forgot the interwebs is global.  Though they said you can roughly do the comparative math and figure out the US pricing, which should be slightly different than the Euro pricing due to lack of VAT import and the exchange rate.  And just to be clear on the above – all prices include an average VAT of 19% in the list price noted.

Speaking of which, there were some minor downwards adjustments of Euro prices on different models of existing Stages alloy power meters, based on a variety of factors including the exchange rate.  This was from an all-time Stages price high that was reached in January when they had to increase prices slightly for the European market.

Now there’s been a lot of talk about fatigue in carbon cranks and how that might impact power measurement/calibration over time with carbon arms.  In discussing this with Stages, they’ve spent immeasurable hours both in real-world outside testing of units for more than a year and a half, as well as automated fatigue testing inside their headquarters (you may remember some of my photos of that from a few years back).  They found that fatigue over time on carbon actually wasn’t so much an issue when it comes to power meter accuracy.  Instead, they said it as actually how each model reacted uniquely to different temperature shifts, more so than on aluminum.  Thus, they’ve had to extensively analyze, model and validate temperature shifts for every carbon model they plan to announce.

Here’s a quick gallery of all of the different carbon models/units they’re offering this year:

Note that like their existing aluminum crank lineup – you cannot just send in your own cranks.  All must be purchased from Stages new.  However, they’ll be working to do a better job of having more stock on hand than they did in past years upon launch – so wait times should be lower.  They noted that they’ve largely been operating on a next-day shipping option for almost everything since January.

New Pod Design:

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In addition to the new carbon options, the company is also pushing out a new pod design across the board.  The pod is the piece that’s pre-installed on any crank arm you purchase from Stages.  It’s where the strain gauges go along with the communications chipset (ANT+/BLE), and the battery.

It’s the battery that has of course been cause for pain for some Stages owners over the last few years.  Not so much the battery itself really, but the battery casing.  That’s been the cause of water ingest and then untimely death of the unit.  While Stages has been superb in replacing units for anyone impacted – it’s definitely been a challenge for some, especially in wetter environments.

The new pod design is primarily aimed at eliminating that problem, with a new o-ring design as well as a better lid that’s got thicker/wider tabs to minimize breakage. But the pod is also thinner (went on a diet).  This will reduce the height profile by 28%, which in turn increases compatibility on a handful of bikes/frames where units might have rubbed by perhaps a fraction of a millimeter for a few rides before wearing off the paint.  Additionally, it reduced the frontal area by 17%.

The door will be rolled out on all power meters shipping from Stages from here forward.  It’s also been in use by Team Sky for much of this season, including the Tour de France this year.

Dual Sensor Products?

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There has long been discussion on whether Stages would offer a left/right power meter (thus one pod on each crank arm).  They’ve in turn long noted that the value proposition there is minimal for them (and you), since the costs go up considerably when looking at the drive side (the right side), compared to the left side.  Everything from stockage of parts to clearances around the chain are infinitely more complex (as companies like 4iiii, Rotor, Pioneer, and others have seen).  As a result, Stages has pretty much just said ‘not interested at this time’.

However, earlier this year a dual-Stages system was spotted on Team Sky, which ramped up loads of speculation that they were planning an imminent product release.  Stages confirmed to me that such a system has indeed been in use by Team Sky, though said it was factually incorrect that Chris Froome had been or is currently using it.

Rather instead, it’s primarily been used by two riders that were both coming back from injuries that impacted single-leg power significantly.  This gave both Sky and Stages valuable data. For Team Sky, they could more accurately assess these rider’s comebacks.  While for Stages they could flesh out how a dual product might look down the road.

But despite those units being out there – Stages said there’s nothing on the near-term radar to ship those units beyond Team Sky.  During multiple conversations with them over the past two days they noted that if they were to enter the left/right power meter market, they’d really only do so if they felt they “could bring something significant and differentiating” to the left/right game.  They went on to say that they didn’t see a lot of value in many of the separated left/right analysis metrics as seen today (a viewpoint I agree with and discussed in detail in a Vector-focused rant in my recent review of the PowerTap P1 pedals).

They said if they got to the point where they felt they could offer something totally unique (meaning, primarily on the software/data collection/analysis side), then they’d enter the market.  But until then, they’re relatively content with the left-only business they’ve built up.  In other words, there’s no left/right power meter coming anytime soon from them.

With that, thanks for reading!  If you’re looking to burn a bit of time, here’s all my Eurobike 2015 posts!

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41 Comments

  1. Russell Treib

    On Bikerumor the prices seemed to stay the same for existing products, to me that will be their problem moving forward as their value proposition argument will deminish

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      I think they will keep their prices the same until they have to drop them. Currently the new “cheap” PMs just aren’t shipping yet so there is no immediate need to drop the price. Once the new products ship (and have verified accuracy) then there will be some movement.

      Additionally, I would assume they are in a position to lower prices given how long their PM has been out and how many they have sold. They have probably “repaid” a lot of the development cost and it is likely they have figured out how to make them cheaper. Cost of goods are not tremendously high but I would guess they have an advantage there as well compared to the new PMs coming out.

    • Neil

      And while we’re talking about cheap-but-not-yet-shipping PMs, have you had chance to speak with the Limits people yet?

    • J

      Yea. Looking forward to hearing an update on LIMITS.

  2. EB

    Before you get millions of posts about a typo please mend this; “They said if they got to the point where they felt they could offer something totally unit”

    The word ‘unit’ doesn’t make sense to me. I think ‘unique’ makes more sense.

  3. I thought the left only was OK but got my first PM the P1 for using on multiple bikes. I find variation of only 43\57% to 50/50% but that variation is present a LOT during the ride. Most importantly when you are trying to nail pace (eg IM bike) I find IT to much. I think it has to do with wind. I tend to lean some into the wind and the side I am ledning into increases power relative to the other side. I tested this on the trainer too. I have not seen leaning to the side discussed before. Thoughts?

  4. Michael

    Thanks for the report. Looking forward to your further postings!

    I’m not sure how sustainable their left only business will be in the future. Especially at this price point. I guess it’s a dilemma for them: if they go dual they’ll have to charge twice the price with their technique.

    Now with Powertap’s C1 at the horizon I wonder how this will eat into their market share. Power2Max just dropped prices, too (at least for some Type S models in Europe).

    I own two Stages. I give credit to them that they brought PMs to the masses. However, I’ve just gotten a pair of P1’s and I find the L/R balance issue far more complex than I had initially thought. If Stages was cheaper I wouldn’t mind but at the current price point left only is too far a limitation for me. My balance is not consistent. Depending on the situation up to 15-20%. I have two healthy legs.

    Stages can say that Sky is happy with left only. I actually believe them. But can we draw any conclusions from pros? I assume the bulk market is aveage joes like me. Our pedalling techniques are probably not as good. Or at least, we don’t know. At this is the main problem with left only. You do not know if it works for you or not unless you have validated it against total wattage. And once again, at the current price point of Stages I do not find it acceptable.

  5. MATT

    my worry with stages is if watteam is a success why would anyone have a reason to buy stages? half the price for dual sided and arguably as quick to swap between bikes

  6. Inayki

    I’ve been posponing my powermeter purchase because I was expecting that Stage launch the dual sensor to the market during this Eurobike. Considering the situation, I’ve decided to go for another brand, especially now that prices P2Max has dropped and appering new opportunities on the market (wattage)

  7. _t

    “The door will be rolled out on all power meters shipping from Stages from here forward. ” – Does this apply also to the aluminium cranks or do they have the stock with old pods to be sold out first ?

  8. Steve

    Stages are 3 years behind the competition. Most people want a power meter that does both legs, easy to fit and cheap. Stages isn’t any of these. Its past its sell by date before its even been released.

    • arron hampton

      no. most riders want a more affordable option. i see lots of bike racers opting for Stages due to price. you just need the unit to be consistent. if off, it doesnt matter as long as it is consistently off. it is a trainer tool for the rider, not a watt measuring contest.

    • M.Gar

      Your L/R balance has to be consistent. How do you know that it is consistent? Because Stages/Team Sky tell you?

      Having moved from Stages to P1 myself I’ve become very critical of that “consistent” argument. I’m not consistent. So how would you know that you’re consistent?

    • Eric Schiller

      Power2max did a big price drop today. Their type-s meters are now well below the prices Stages have listed for these new carbon meters.

    • Andy C S

      What if the balance isn’t consistent? What will you do with that piece of information? If you try to tweak it on the bike, you lose power. Now you’re worse off than you were before you had that piece of irrelevant information for otherwise healthy individuals.

      I’m ok with single-sided power if it’s consistent and reliable. L/R balance wouldn’t be a field I’d want on my Fenix 3/Edge 810 even if I had a power meter unless I was coming back from injury and wanted to assess my recovery – and then I’d shut it off again.

  9. Of course the primary asset of 2 legged power isn’t balance but rather accuracy and precision. But it’s easy to overestimate how much accuracy and precision are valued since people generally have no standard against which to compare. If the numbers are off under certain circumstances then of nobody knows they are off then it’s like the tree falling in the forest.

  10. Ray, there are no photos of the DS arm for the stages crankset. Any idea who is manufacturing the cranks? They look a bit like the RaceFace Next SL system with a removable spindle. I assume different spindle lengths will be available? It would be great to have for mtbs and fatbikes. The Q factor needs and different 1x and 2x preferences on these bikes make the cranks system important. Direct mount chai rings are a real advancement and With measurement at the crankarm instead of the spider they are in a unique position to address these offerings!

    BTW my wife and I have spent the week I Paris after riding in the Alps for a week. We’ve followed your local dining and playing recommendations and had a great time. Your Notre Dame neighborhood was a favorite!

    Merci

  11. James Kenningham

    I wish someone from Stages would come on here and explain exactly what is causing the rapid battery drainage problem even in second generation units.

    I bought DA9000 Stages in April 2014 for my fair weather bike, which has been faultless apart from needing a new battery cover almost every time it needs a new battery.

    Based on this experience I then bought an Ultegra 6800 unit for my wet / winter bike in February 2015. In November this year, while wiping the bike down after a ride, I noticed that the battery compartment had partially popped open. When I removed the door, sure enough two of the three tabs had spontaneously snapped off, and water had got in. The service from Stages UK distributor (Saddleback) & Merlin was excellent, and I had a new second generation unit within a week. I had high hopes for this in view of the new design. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case, and this unit consumed 4 batteries in 8 days with only a couple of hours of riding!

    Previously this has been attributed to poorly fitting battery doors / water penetration, but that was supposedly fixed with the redesigned casing of the second generation units. Furthermore, this unit had never seen a drop of moisture.

    The batteries were from 3 different reputable brands, & batteries from the same sources have been happily powering other devices including my other Stages first generation unit, so it’s obviously not the batteries at fault.

    I wondered if the faulty unit was not “going to sleep” when not in use and hence consuming more power. So I would sneak up on it when the bike wasn’t in use, with the Stages app running on my iPhone to see if it was broadcasting when it should be asleep, but that certainly wasn’t the case.

    I can only conclude that there is some fundamental flaw in the electronics, which Stages clearly still don’t have a handle on, as my replacement second generation unit was afflicted with exactly the same fault some first generation users described years ago. This is such a shame. For me it was almost the ideal power meter, as I wanted to stick with my Shimano crank / chainrings / SPD-SL pedals and Mavic Exalith wheels. Plus, having the device as part of a component with no moving parts (the left hand crank) made me feel it should be more robust than some of the alternatives.

    Merlin kindly gave me a full refund when I returned the second generation unit. I’m now thinking about switching over to Powertap P1 pedals, but the less stable nature of the xpedo pedal / cleat interface makes me want to stick with SPD-SL.

    If I thought Stages had any kind of handle on what the problem is I might be inclined to give them a third chance!

  12. Clark S

    Hi Ray! Are there plans to review the Stages carbon crank(s) any time soon? Thanks! Keep up the awesome work!

    • I don’t plan to at the moment, though if they come out with a dual system, I likely would.

    • Clark S

      Thanks for the reply! Makes sense. Trying to decide between the stages bb30 carbon or power2max to fit my current Force22 drivetrain. Because it’s so new, there isn’t much info about peoples experience riding with the stages carbon. Although, I’m sure it wouldn’t be much different from their alloy products since I assume much time went into development.

      I’m probably nit-picking the details between those two options too much though… And then there is quarq – but I don’t want to have to pay for a whole new crankset.

      Anyway, thanks again for all your work! I send greetings from Seattle.

    • Sir Roger

      Hey Ray.. You noted that Stages were coming out with a Campagnolo compatible version.. Do you have any inside knowledge of when that might happen..

  13. Rick

    I initially was posting under the Garmin 520 section but feel now its more appropriate to post here, under Stages PM. I purchased the new carbon Stages crank for Red 22 BB30 but was having power drop out problems with my Garmin Edge 500. I was using the SRAM Garmin mount (in front of bar) like I always used pre-power meter. My buddy got the Edge 520 with his Stages PM and it worked fine, so I decided to try it. My Edge 520 that I got was also having drop out problems, in fact much worse than the 500, so I decided to do some rides with the 500 and 520 both paired to the Stages. Turns out which ever head unit was in the “out front” mount (in front of bar) would drop out frequently and which ever was in the stem mount holder never dropped out. So is the handle bar blocking the Signal? Is the Stages signal a weaker ANT signal than other power meters that rarely, if ever drop out? It seems that its a Stages problem as opposed to Garmin but Stages refuses to admit that, putting the blame on Garmin. Yes, I could just use the stem mount and not have many, if any drop outs. But why wouldn’t this be something that should be addressed by Stages if so many users of Stages have this problem? Thoughts Ray, or anyone? Pretty frustrating!

    • Ian

      Hi Rick,
      Just wondering if you ever managed to resolve your stages drop outs for your out front garmin mount?

      I’m in a similar situation in that I’ve an Edges 500 and on indoor rides it seems fine (same mount between extensions out front), but on outdoor rides with water bottle BTA it seems to drop signal a bit.
      Had read the 520 may be more reliable due to better signal but reading your comment now has me doubting if the 520 is worth even trying.

      Like you, I don’t want to mount elsewhere, nor do I want to switch from a BTA bottle.
      Someone mentioned the 810 also so perhaps that’s a solution I may research also.

      Can you confirm if your 520 still has drop outs or what you did to resolve?

  14. _t

    Rick – I’ve the new cdale stages, 920XT in the left wrist and Edge 810 in the Garmin mount in the front of the bar. In my case I see dropping power data transmit for the 920XT but Edge 810 captures everything ok. With the old version of the same power crank there were now problems in the exactly same set-up. I’ve done now hard reset for the 920XT to see if that has any impact on the situation – don’t expect it will. Next I’ll try with the 920XT wrapped around the bottle cage to see if that solves the issue…

    • Rick

      Hey _t, Yes issue was resolved. It was a bit of a pain to get a warranty replacement for the stages shipped out but they finally did. My new crank arm is same model as last one that was dropping out (BB30 carbon) and I’m using the same mount with the same Garmin 520 with no drop outs at all. Had to have been a bad Stages sensor that originally caused all the drop outs, although Stages said when they received the “bad” one it tested fine, which I find hard to believe. I’m SURE the problem was not the Garmin 500. Good luck.

    • Ian

      Hi Rick,

      Are you certain your issues are resolved on outdoor rides?
      Strangely I have the following:
      Edge 500 in mount out front and no issues on many a turbo session.
      Used a 910xt also and dropped a load (despite being mounted beside my saddle!

      Problem is on outdoor rides the edge 500 drops signal also now.
      Thought perhaps due to BTA bottle so did a turbo with BTA bottle present – nope not that.
      I have the ANT sensors all switched off and power meter name typed in so it’s not searching etc.
      Strange one. Seems like perhaps the road bumps upset the signal hence why I’m still considering upgrading to a 520 to see if better signal reception/strength due to upgraded internals I’m sure.

      Can’t quite find anyone with exact same issue so I may have to be the guinea pig on this one it seems.
      Will post up if I go through with purchase and test it.

    • Rick

      Hey Ian – I no longer have power drop outs at all. Faulty Stages PM was replaced. It was not the Garmin 520….I am very happy with that unit. You did not mention what PM you are using? Stages? Did you try a different head unit with your PM? If not borrow one (or two) and see what happens. That was the first thing I did. If still getting drop outs with different head units it is most likely the PM.

  15. Chris

    Wondering, has anyone heard any news about the Campagnolo compatible arms?

  16. Ian Farrell

    Just an update for anyone looking in to this.

    I’m now around 8 months with a stages power meter.
    Works fine for indoor rides on trainer.
    Experiences drop outs on out-door rides both on screen and in data gathering.
    Can be bypassed by setting recording to be smart and turning off the zeros results in Ap only counting the watts above zero.
    As a result on a flat course with no free wheeling my np will be 35w lower than ap so quite a lot of drop outs. Rolling course with freewheeling and hills would result in bigger discrepancy.

    Tried 3 different computers 500, 520 and 910.
    Problem is stages doesn’t send strong enough signal to bypass bta bottle mount or cope with bumps etc it seems.

    I had a quarq on previous bike with zero issues.
    Also not sure on accuracy of stages.

    So results in a quarq now ordered as want reliability and the riKen is now competitively priced.

    Stages will switch to road bike and may record better then as no bta bottle issues possibly. Will see.

    End result I would not recommend stages for triathlon bikes.
    Signal drop outs just too often and annoying on outdoor rides and races.
    Quarq and power tap pedals are now as cheap so go that route.

    • Sir Roger

      Hey Ray any update on Stages for Campagnolo. I read about it here a while ago but they never seem to have arrived..

    • If I remember correctly the unit has been tabled indefinitely.

    • Sir Roger

      Thought that might be the case. That leaves us campy folk with shelling out the extra for a Power2Max..

      I would go pedals but I am addicted to speedplay.. I even wrote to BePro and asked if they had plans to bring out a SP version.. no reply…

    • Tim

      What was the reason the Campagnolo version is shelved? The SRAM Carbon PM’s are now available. Is the reason for shelving that they discover that the carbon moulding on Campag cranks is not as consistent as campag told them and campy won’t let Stages Cycling produce the left crank arm themselves?

    • Sir Roger

      I believe it’s because the Campy carbon cranks are hollow.

    • Luís Pisco

      “The Stages Campagnolo power meters will be ready for shipment on March 21st, 2017.”
      “Stages Cycling is very excited to announce the launch of the Stages Power meter for Campagnolo that is now available. Featured with a custom developed strain gage it is now possible to precisely measure your power through the structure of a Campagnolo-designed hollow carbon crank arm.”

      source: link to us3.campaign-archive2.com

    • Sir Roger

      Hey DC are you going to test the Campy Stages or do we assume the same quality with the Shimano ones..

    • Undecided.

      I’m going to soon be testing the Stages Dash, so perhaps it’ll be tied into that. Perhaps not…TBD.