It’s been a long time coming. For Stages, the development path of Stages LR has been over three years till it started shipping last month, with most of it in the public eye in the most watched bike on earth: Chris Froome’s. Of course, Stages got its start prior to Team Sky with their left only power meter (now rebranded Stages L), but it wasn’t till their sponsorship of Team Sky that the company and its products took off.
After all – if Chris Froome can win the Tour de France on a Stages Left-only unit, then it’s probably good enough for you too, right?
Well, perhaps not exactly, as Team Sky and others soon figured out. At Team Sky’s request, Stages was tasked with creating a dual version, so they could more accurately track riders progress. As they learned, aspects like fatigue and left/right leg differences really do impact overall accuracy. So the next few seasons we saw Team Sky quietly riding various prototype dual-leg models. It’s the resultant of these models that eventually became Stages LR that was announced last summer at Eurobike. (Side note: I detail the backstory on that here in this section.)
And as of last month, the company has started shipping this model to consumers. The big question though: Is it accurate? And more importantly for many – does it address some of the connectivity issues that seems to trouble existing Stages users. For those questions, I worked through two different Stages LR cranksets over the course of two months gathering boatloads of data.
Thus, let’s dig into it.
(Oh, and as always, I’ll be sending back both loaner cranksets to Stages shortly. Especially because I’m pretty sure the airlines would be even more displeased than on my way down here with how many cranksets I’d have in my luggage coming back from Australia next month otherwise.)
In my case, the Stages LR was delivered as a single boxed product. However, you can actually buy it as an upgrade to an existing Stages Left-only unit (thus making the pair). Meaning, you’re buying the right side. The box wouldn’t likely differ very much, since the majority of the space in the box is for the drive side crankset.
Inside the box, you’ll find the drive-side crankset, as well as the left-side (non-drive side) crank arm. You’ll also find a small plug to twist into the non-left crank arm to make things look pretty. Then there’s some paper junk.
Here’s a closer look at the backside of both crank arms:
And then the non-drive side:
And finally, the little package of paper stuffs including ANT+ ID cards and a user guide that you can use to start a (very) small campfire to roast marshmallows on after you’re done reading them.
Oh, and there’s even a spare ‘o-ring’ in the package too.
What you see above is basically par for the course on cranksets, since it’s largely taking an existing Shimano Ultegra crankset and rebranding the box, plopping on the Stages power meter pieces, and then calling it macaroni. Just like Quarq, Power2Max and others do for cranksets.
Installation & Configuration:
As with most power meters, the installation will vary not so much on what you’re installing, but rather – the situation you’re coming from. By that, I mean that in the case of Stages LR, if you already have a Shimano crankset on your bike, then the swap to Stages LR could very well take you less than 5 minutes all-in. Quick and simple.
Whereas if you’re coming from a different crankset featuring a different bottom bracket standard, then you’re likely in for a longer journey. In my case, I was half-way in between. When I initially installed the Stages LR on my bike I was swapping out from my usual Quarq D-Zero. That had a very slightly different (smaller) bottom bracket standard than what the Shimano was using. So I had to swing around the corner to the bike shop to pick up a different bottom bracket, and then swap all that out.
At this point, I was already deep into leveraging the various tools of my bike toolbox – most notably the PressFit installation goods. I wouldn’t recommend buying such bottom bracket installation tools unless you plan to use them frequently (whereas I would recommend plenty of more general tools).
Once the bottom bracket swappage was done (unnecessary if you already have Shimano gear on your bike), then it’s as simple as sliding the drive side through the bottom bracket:
After that, there’s merely two bolts to tighten on the left crank arm, attaching it to the drive side.
Oh, and somewhere along the way you need to remove the small slips of plastic tape that separates the battery contacts from the coin cell batteries. On the left-crank arm, that’s easily done with your fingers.
Whereas on the right crank arm you’ll just need a small screwdriver to open up the battery compartment.
Next, anytime I do work on any bike crankset, I find it a good habit to toss the bike on a trainer and pedal for about a minute – starting easy at first and then building up intensity. Finishing with 2-4 sprints, something like 4-8 seconds each, pedaling reasonably hard.
I do this for two reasons:
A) If I’ve hosed something up on the crankset installation that causes a catastrophically viral-video worthy break, I don’t plant my face onto the pavement. Instead, the badness is contained to my bike secured atop a trainer.
B) The sprints help to settle the crankset, and tighten things up – which is good for power meters. Most power meters require a very short settling period, of which the above procedure will take care of.
At this point, you’ll do a zero-offset and you’re good to go. Don’t worry, I’ll cover that zero-offset in the next section.
General Use Overview:
The Stages LR in many ways acts and feels like an existing Stages product, except now on both sides. However, we’ll start with some of the basics and go from there. The first tidbit worth noting is that the unit has a status LED on the inside of the crank arm, allowing you to quickly validate that it’s alive:
This new status LED is also now found on all new Stages left-only units shipping as of about 1-2 weeks ago. They somewhat quietly clearanced inventory of existing units for this new generation.
Next to that status light is, of course, the battery compartment as noted earlier. This compartment, on each side, houses a single CR2032 coin cell battery. Stages says that the system should get about 200 hours of battery life per coin cell battery. You can of course just buy these in bulk super cheaply online, which is what I do (20 for $8).
One minor tip to point out (since I just learned this lesson yesterday), is that if you’re travelling with your bike, ensure your bike tool actually has a mini-screwdriver on it. Mine just had a standard one, and the AirBNB house I’m in didn’t have a mini-screwdriver. I ended up using a butter knife to get it open, but maybe something to add to your bike bag just in case you need to swap batteries mid-trip. Many other power meters have shifted to using screws as well, though some of those use hex screws instead – which usually match your bike tool. No biggie, just purely a pro tip I figured I’d share.
With everything all installed, we’ll need to get it paired up to your bike computer. Stages was in fact the very first company years ago to do dual/concurrent ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart transmitting power meters, and that continues today as well with the Stages LR. This means it transmits power over both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, within the respective power meter standards.
As such you can pair it to basically any device or app that supports power meters. Be it Garmin, Wahoo, or even Stage’s own Dash head unit. Same goes for apps like Zwift, Strava, TrainerRoad and more.
Now, I’ll talk at length about connectivity and drops in the next section, so for now let’s just get it paired. In my case, I’ve mostly been using a Garmin Edge 1030 to collect data from it. And in doing so, largely over ANT+, since most folks in the industry would recommend that since you’ll get more advanced data right now over ANT+ versus BLE.
As with most head units, you can change the name from the ANT+ ID to something else. In the case of Stages and newer Garmin devices that support Bluetooth Smart pairing, if you want to pair to the ANT+ variant, it’s the one listed without the name ‘Stages’ in it, within the list. Here’s a handy guide:
ANT+ side: ‘43016’
Bluetooth Smart side: ‘Stages 43016’
So in the case of the above photo, you’re seeing just the BLE channel (because I took the photo after I had paired the ANT+ channel already).
Most power meter companies follow that spec of putting the brand name in the Bluetooth Smart pairing ID, followed then by the ANT+ ID number (within the Bluetooth Smart ID). Finally, in the case of Stages, there’s no need to set a crank arm length, and thus your head unit shouldn’t ask you for one. That feature is mostly just used on pedal based power meters.
With that all set, you should do a zero offset. On Stages units, you need to ensure your crank arms are pointing straight up and down (vertical).
Then just tap calibrate, which triggers a zero offset:
The result in a calibration value that you can keep an eye on. I recommend doing this prior to each ride, mainly so that if something is amiss, you’ll spot it quickly. An example of something being amiss is that the unit either fails to calibrate, or the calibration value shifts massively. Typically you’ll see it within only a handful of digits, primarily based on temperature.
With all this completed, you’re ready to ride. Like most power meters, Stages LR transmits the following values to head units:
ANT+ Power (total)
ANT+ Power Balance (left/right)
ANT+ Pedal Smoothness
ANT+ Torque Effectiveness
Bluetooth Smart Power
Bluetooth Smart Power Balance
Bluetooth Smart Cadence
To see this a bit, here’s a file on Garmin Connect recorded on an Edge 1030 that shows data from a Stages LR ride via ANT+. Within it you can see the various metrics from above recorded in the file:
Note that if you record via Bluetooth Smart, you won’t get the pedal smoothness or torque effectiveness data, even if recording on a head unit that supports it.
Also worth noting is that if you use Stage’s own Stages Dash, you’ll get additional details recorded to the activity file around aspects like battery life, zero offsets, and firmware updates. I’ve long thought that might actually be one of the coolest features of the Stages Dash. I talk about that more in my Stages Dash review. The below is a sample screenshot from Stages, since I didn’t think to capture this data earlier.
In addition to all the standard pairing, Stages also supports connectivity via their smartphone app. This app is mostly used for updating firmware, but it also has other purposes:
For example, you can double-check torque values on it, as well as validate zero offsets:
One of those other purposes is Stage’s high-speed data rate capture, which allows you to record Stages data at up to 64 times per second, in effectively a high-speed data capture scenario. This was rolled out long ago on the Stages left-only cranks, however, it’s not yet enabled on Stages LR. Stages says it’s on their to-do list, but just simply fell lower down the priority totem pole. Since it’ mostly only used for track start type scenarios, it’s not really something I’d consider a high-priority item either.
With all that set, let’s dive into data accuracy.
Power Meter Accuracy Results:
I’ve long said that if your power meter isn’t accurate, then there’s no point in spending money on one. Strava can give you estimated power that’s ‘close enough’ for free, so if you’re gonna spend money on something it shouldn’t be a random number generator. Yet there are certain scenarios/products where a power meter may be less accurate than others, or perhaps it’s got known edge cases that don’t work. Neither product type is bad – but you just need to know what those use/edge cases are and whether it fits your budget or requirements.
As always, I set out to find that out. In power meters today one of the biggest challenges is outdoor conditions. Generally speaking, indoor conditions are pretty easy to handle, but I still start there nonetheless. It allows me to dig into areas like low and high cadence, as well as just how clean numbers are at steady-state power outputs. Whereas outdoors allows me to look into water ingest concerns, temperature and humidity variations, and the all-important road surface aspects (e.g. vibrations). For reference, Stages LR has a claimed accuracy rate of +/- 1.5%. It also does not require any magnets for cadence, while also automatically correcting for any temperature drift. Both of these are pretty common though on most power meters these days.
In my testing, I generally use between 2-4 other power meters on the bike at once. I find this is the best way to validate power meters in real-world conditions. In the case of most of these tests with the Stages LR I was using these other power meters concurrently:
Elite Direto Trainer
Garmin Vector 3
JetBlack WhisperDrive Smart Trainer
PowerTap G3 hub based power meter (three different units)
Wahoo KICKR 2017/V3 Trainer
All of which was tested over the course of about two months, on two different Stages LR cranksets. I’ve ignored the previous test rides I did last August on a pre-production unit.
In general, my use of other products is most often tied to other things I’m testing. Also, when it comes to data collection, I use a blend of the NPE WASP data collection devices, and a fleet of Garmin head units (mostly Edge 520/820/1000/1030 units). For the vast majority of tests on the Stages LR I used an Edge 1030 and FR935, along with a bit of the Edge 520 as alluded to elsewhere in the connectivity section. But I also recorded on apps as well, including Zwift.
Note all of the data can be found in the links next to each review. Also, at the end is a short table with the data used in this review. I’ll likely add in other data not in this review as well.
I’m going to start this review with the most recent data set – a ride from just 75 minutes ago. Why? Because it’s the ride with the freshest firmware (just yesterday’s) that appears to resolve a bunch of little quirks I’ve seen/reported over the last two months. In effect, it’s the first time that all the stars have aligned. Which isn’t to say previous rides have produced inaccurate power, or that Stages was even at fault. Rather, various rides had various connectivity things or other power meters go crap on me – but I’ll get into that later. As a general rule, I like to have no less than 3 power meters in a test, so when I ‘only’ have two, it bugs me a bit.
In any case, this ride was a straightforward outside ride with three units – Stages LR, Vector 3, and a PowerTap G3 hub. The road conditions were mostly smooth pavement, though some sections of less clean pavement. Plus speed bumps. Here’s the overview (and here’s the files in the Analyzer if you want to look at them online):
I captured data across a slew of head units, but notably captured Stages LR data on three different units – an Edge 1030, Edge 520, and FR935. I did this concurrently across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, for reasons I’ll get into later on in this review.
As you can see from the overview, the units tracked virtually identically across the entire ride. We can dig into one of the points from a stoplight where I go from 0 power up to 400w pretty quickly. Note this is smoothed at 5-seconds, merely to make it easier to see.
Not that all power meters within +/-1 second of each other show the uptick in power. As is always the case, it’s rather difficult to get multiple head units to precisely align due to transmission and recording rates, as you see here.
The one thing you do notice though is that on the BLE connection to the FR935, you see those two little blips.
Those are technically drops. It’s just that when smoothed you don’t see them. But what’s weird is that they aren’t full drops – rather, they drop by 50w or so (versus normally a drop is considered 0w). Not entirely sure what to think there. But from my standpoint that technically falls under connectivity issues rather than accuracy (though, the net results impacts accuracy). But I’ll cover that separately in the next section in this review.
Here’s a mild sprint up to about 600w or so, and you can see that all of the units follow each other perfectly here (a slight variance on the BLE peak power):
Equally important, there’s no droppage issues from an accuracy standpoint after I conclude the sprint, which can sometimes be a sticky point for power meters.
If we look at cadence for this ride, that too looks identical across all the data sources. There are some little blips on the Vector 3 cadence while I’m semi-stopped. It’s almost as if it picked up the slight crank movements I did when moving forward on the bike a bit at the 33:25 marker (I was on the side of the road texting The Girl that I had hit my turnaround point, I moved halfway through that again to get further away from the road).
Next, let’s look at a ride I did immediately after the above outdoor ride – a trainer ride. Why on earth would I jump on the trainer after an outdoor ride? To poke at cadence and power values across a broad range. Specifically, I wanted to see what happened when I went really low on cadence (20RPM), and really high on cadence (160+ RPM). Plus of course everything in between. Here’s that quick 8-minute step-test:
To walk you through what I did, it’s pretty straightforward:
A) I started at about 80-90RPM, and then went up in 10RPM increments to 130RPM, holding ~30 seconds each
B) Then I significantly increased the RPM to about 170RPM, briefly.
As you can see – the units tracked very nicely all the way up to about 160RPM, at which point it appears I lost the Stages unit briefly.
Most power meters have some sort of top-out point, usually in the 160-190RPM range. Stages lists 220RPM as their top cadence. In my case, it’s also plausible that since I only spent a few seconds at that high level of cadence, it could just be recording nuances causing the drops.
Continuing with the test, I then did:
C) Dropped back down to 70RPM, and continued slowing my RPM’s down gradually
D) Eventually, I got down to 20RPM (that’s three seconds per revolution!)
E) For fun, I threw down 180RPM (and Stages tracks just fine this time)
The cutoff point here appears to be 20RPM. Below that and the cadence drops out, above that and it’s just fine.
This too is specified on Stages site:
These limits are perfectly acceptable/reasonable/logical in my mind. Also, note that power values stayed constant with the Garmin Vector 3 throughout. I was also atop a trainer that transmits power, but the power firmware is beta there and wasn’t quite as stable as I wanted – so I removed that from the graphs to minimize confusion.
As you can see, throughout the sprints things aligned quite nicely against the Garmin Vector 3 – virtually identical save one drop at about the 2-minute marker (but this was prior to the firmware update to address that).
But let’s head back outside, it’s more interesting there as always.
Part of my challenge recently is that previous to the firmware of two days ago, Stages was experiencing drops depending on how you connected to it. Meaning, if I connected via ANT+ on certain head units, it’d drop the connection (but not other head units). Using BLE in theory made it better, but in reality I found it made everything worse (both ANT+ & BLE). So I ended up with some rides whereby the data when transmitting was perfectly accurate – but would be blemished by the occasional dropout.
That aside, this ride has virtually no dropouts. There’s some settling of power meters in the first portion of the ride after being installed on the bike, so here’s a look at the middle portion:
You can dig into the full file above, but it’s basically the same for the remainder of the ride, the three power meters are almost indistinguishable, despite boatloads of ups and downs on power (this was a river loop where there’s a lot of changes in power).
The workaround to the dropout issues (again, prior to yesterday’s firmware) was basically using the Edge 1030 – for which dropouts didn’t occur as long as I didn’t also connect Bluetooth Smart devices concurrently. And for rides where I did that, the tracks looked beautiful. They matched Garmin Vector 3 and a PowerTap G3 hub quite well. Such as this snippet from a couple hour ride:
There’s some slight offsets between the units, which makes sense as, in theory, the PowerTap G3 should be the lowest and the Garmin Vector 3 the highest. In this case, about +/- 3.7% from the Stages centerline, which would account for drivetrain efficiencies as well as any accuracy differences.
And then this hour or so long lunch ride here where again, all three units aligned very nicely. Here’s a closer look at an 800w+ sprint:
And then there’s this sub-hour long ride (which lacks a functional G3 hub as it had to be replaced), but you can at least see how it compares against Vector 3 on a mean-max graph. What you notice is very slight differences/offsets when you get to the sub-10 second power, which is pretty common on these graphs.
Prior to these rides, there were other firmware issues whereby the right side of the unit would output slightly lower power values (1-3%) than it should have. So while the left side matched perfectly to Vector 3’s left side, the right side dragged down the picture. On these rides (if using an Edge 1030), I didn’t experience any drops. This issue was fixed back on Jan 26th. Given it’s been fixed, I’m not going to re-analyze those rides, since we already know the story there.
Now, I’m going to talk about droppage in a second – but on the accuracy front I’ve been seeing good things since late January – so I think we’re definitely good there for both power and cadence. The multitude of data sets above shows that pretty easily as well.
Update – January 2020: It’s worthwhile reading GPLama’s thoughts on Shimano R8000 & R9000-series based cranksets (for which the Stages LR is based upon). There’s some worthwhile issues there that are very real. What’s more challenging is determining how universal they impact every crankset (which, is part of the problem). On some cranksets off the manufacturing line, the impact can be zero to negligible. While on other cranksets it can be substantial, especially coupled with how different people pedal from a force standpoint. In the data from this review, you’ll see that things are largely quite good – without much issue. And in fact, I went on to buy another Stages LR for my own usage longer term. And the vast majority of that data from the last two years mirrors that of this review. Yet, at the same time – there are also rare days where things don’t match and I see the right-side low. That’s non-awesome. Yet, at the same time, I’ve also had non-awesome days on Favero Assioma pedals too. Sometimes you just can’t win. As of January 2020, I’m currently using a non-Shimano based Quarq DZero unit as my main baseline power meter.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
Does it drop?
Back a year or so ago, there were media reports that Chris Froome had made an interesting off-hand comment when responding to a reporters question on why he used the older Edge 810 versus anything newer (the team was otherwise outfitted with Edge 820’s last season, at Team Sky’s – not a sponsors – expense). He noted that he had found that the ‘newer Garmin’s had data drops’. At the time I found this a peculiar comment because it just wasn’t something people were seeing in ‘real life’ on road bikes. But now in looking back at things, I get it: The real wording should have been “I was seeing drops with Stages LR”. But of course, he couldn’t say that – Stages was a sponsor. Garmin wasn’t.
When I first started this testing process in December – I quickly saw those same drops as well…also on newer Garmin devices. Specifically in my case the Edge 520 and FR935. Both highly popular devices. And neither are devices that have ever dropped on any other power meter for me (I use 2-3 Edge 520’s per ride, connected to 2-3 different power meters per ride); nor are drops even remotely common for either unit on other power meters. So in effect…if it quakes like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
I went back to Stages on this and they did some more digging. In fact, the topic of Stages and drops is as old as power meter time itself. What I was surprised about was that this was somehow still a thing. Still, I let them dig.
In doing so they showed they could reproduce Edge 520 drops like I saw relatively easy, and that it was stable on the Edge 1030 (which I saw too). But to me that’s not really an acceptable admittance. Again, regardless of whether Garmin is at fault – nobody else has this problem (sidestepping the mess that is the Fenix 5/5S connectivity debacle, which I don’t use). On this old dataset, I highlighted each of the drops in this 41-minute ride (15 total drops on the Edge 520).
So they continued to dig a bit – and the outcome of that was a change in firmware that tweaked the way the communications stack delivered power to both ANT+ & BLE signals. Specifically, two changes occurred. In Stage’s own words, they were (geek detail ahead):
“The firmware change was directly related to the timing of when the radio was transmitting and receiving both ANT and BLE messages. The easiest way I can explain it being the non-programmer that I am, is that at times we were trying to use the radio at the same time to get ANT and BLE messages out and in (with BLE) via the radio. The change was really just a refinement of the timing and length of when each message was sent and when and how long the radio was on listening for a BLE return message. As I described previously, there was always messages going out but not all of the 4hz for both BLE an ANT were getting out, so it worked but was not perfect. This issue was greatly amplified when there were other interferences such as multiple head units, wifi, trainers etc. Now that we have made this change all the messages are properly being sent at 4hz. This makes it much more likely that the head unit will receive and record at least on message a second and with a Dash that we receive all 4hz.” [DCR Note: 4hz means 4 times a second]
“The other change was to deal with how some BLE head units deal with coasting, on most ANT devices they recognize if you coast and drive your power to zero. For some reason on some BLE devices were holding onto your last power number when you coasted. So we made the power meter smart and it will drive your power to zero if you coast.”
Note that the Stages LR already was broadcasting at a higher rate than existing Stages left-only units (ignoring the new left-only units they just started shipping a week or two ago, which I’ll post about separately shortly). That update for the LR units was issued as firmware 1.1.8 and was released two days ago and incorporates the changes noted in the above two paragraphs.
So where does this leave things?
Well, I think we’re (finally) good. Basically, two specific firmware updates got me into a good state:
Jan 26th: Fixed low-right side issue in interim beta update (thus, power is accurate after this on all my rides)
Feb 13th: Fixed dropouts for Bluetooth Smart, and ANT+ on certain devices (for me anyway – minus one little blip)
Now you may be saying – how do you know the dropout issues are fixed? Well previously with the dropouts they manifested themselves pretty darn quickly. Perhaps every 5-8 minutes on ANT+, and almost instantly/wonky on Bluetooth Smart (I have some crazy ugly charts from that). I could repro those situations on every ride if I wanted to since December.
Now on both of today’s rides, it’s almost perfectly clean. Stages said they found two specific issues, which they said was related to power handling on the communications stack. The proof appears to be in the pudding – no full drops (just one brief jitter that may or may not be Stages’ fault).
I will note though that the broadcasting power on Stages’ units (including the LR) continues to be substantially lower than other ANT+ sensors. For example, take a look at the RSSI values on Vector 3 (ID 324103) and Stages LR (ID 34770) side by side. A higher value is better (meaning, –21 is better than –35), the closer to zero the better. On the left is what happens if I place the test WASP device on my out-front mount, and then to the right is what happens when I place it on my stem. Even when placed directly atop the bottom bracket (in between the crank arms), Stages is still significantly lower than Garmin Vector 3.
While in my tests the signal strength now seems strong enough for my head units, where this matters is if your specific bike/body configuration puts it on the edge of reception, then having that bit extra means the difference between good and bad. That’s historically where Stages got itself into trouble, primarily on triathlon/TT bikes, mostly for people with wrist-worn watches, due to body/bike interference. Since I don’t have a triathlon/TT bike on this trip – I can’t test that at this time.
Of course, I’d love to hear anyone’s results on that in the comments (just be sure to be on 1.1.8 first!).
Power Meter Recommendations:
With so many power meters on the market, your choices have expanded greatly in the last few years. So great in fact that I’ve written up an entire post dedicated to power meter selection: The Annual Power Meters Guide.
I refresh that annual guide each fall, and in this case that was November – which is inclusive of all the power meter players on the market.
The above-noted guide covers every model of power meter on the market (and upcoming) and gives you recommendations for whether a given unit is appropriate for you. There is no ‘best’ power meter. There’s simply the most appropriate power meter for your situation. If you have only one type of bike I’d recommend one power meter versus another. Or if you have different needs for swapping bikes I’d recommend one unit versus another. Or if you have a specific budget or crankset compatibility, it’d influence the answers.
I’ll be publishing a pricing update in March, covering where pricing stands for the year, though I don’t expect too many shifts between now and then. Nor do I expect much in the way of additional new entrants not already known/released.
After a two month journey on Stages LR, I’m finally at the point where I’m happy with the results it’s giving me across all fronts – both accuracy as well as connectivity. Of course, for many consumers, those are kinda considered baseline starting points (or, I hope they are anyway). The next question is pricing.
In that realm, Stages sits at $999 for the Ultegra edition I tested (inclusive of the full crankset). That’s identical to Pioneer’s offering at $999 as well, and the same as Garmin and PowerTap with their pedals at $999 (and Dura-Ace at $1,299 also matches Pioneer). All of which give you distinct left/right power. There are nuances to each implementation though from a tech standpoint. Pioneer has high speed and detail data metrics, but only on their platform (and lacks Bluetooth Smart connectivity). Garmin gives you less detailed metrics than Pioneer, but on a more widely adopted file standard (for example, WKO4 can see the data). Stages gives you a full crankset, so if you don’t want to deal with changing pedal types or just prefer crankset power meters – then that’s a pro for them. Like I said in the previous section – there’s no right answer here, just solutions for your specific requirements.
The end of which is that I’d have no problem riding a Stages LR unit on my road bike at this point with the latest firmware. I can’t speak to a triathlon/TT setup at this moment, but hopefully others can chime in. Historically I never had issues with my Stages left-only units and connectivity on my tri bike, but as noted, connectivity issues when seen seemed highly dependent on your specific bike and body.
In any case – thanks for reading – and if you’ve got specific questions feel free to drop them down in the comments below – happy to try and track them down.
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Wanna save some cash and support the site? These companies help support the site! With Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with either the coupon code DCRAINMAKER for first time users saving 15% on applicable products.
You can also pick-up tons of gear at REI via these links, which is a long-time supporter as well:
With TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40 for tech and non-tech purchases!
Alternatively, for everything else on the planet, simply buy your goods from Amazon via the link below and I get a tiny bit back as an Amazon Associate. No cost to you, easy as pie!
You can use the above link for any Amazon country and it (should) automatically redirect to your local Amazon site.
Want to compare the features of each product, down to the nitty-gritty? No problem, the product comparison data is constantly updated with new products and new features added to old products!
Wanna create comparison chart graphs just like I do for GPS, heart rate, power meters and more? No problem, here's the platform I use - you can too!
Think my written reviews are deep? You should check out my videos. I take things to a whole new level of interactive depth!
Smart Trainers Buyers Guide: Looking at a smart trainer this winter? I cover all the units to buy (and avoid) for indoor training. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
You probably stumbled upon here looking for a review of a sports gadget. If you’re trying to decide which unit to buy – check out my in-depth reviews section. Some reviews are over 60 pages long when printed out, with hundreds of photos! I aim to leave no stone unturned.
I travel a fair bit, both for work and for fun. Here’s a bunch of random trip reports and daily trip-logs that I’ve put together and posted. I’ve sorted it all by world geography, in an attempt to make it easy to figure out where I’ve been.
The most common question I receive outside of the “what’s the best GPS watch for me” variant, are photography-esq based. So in efforts to combat the amount of emails I need to sort through on a daily basis, I’ve complied this “My Photography Gear” post for your curious minds! It’s a nice break from the day to day sports-tech talk, and I hope you get something out of it!
Many readers stumble into my website in search of information on the latest and greatest sports tech products. But at the end of the day, you might just be wondering “What does Ray use when not testing new products?”. So here is the most up to date list of products I like and fit the bill for me and my training needs best! DC Rainmaker 2023 swim, bike, run, and general gear list. But wait, are you a female and feel like these things might not apply to you? If that’s the case (but certainly not saying my choices aren’t good for women), and you just want to see a different gear junkies “picks”, check out The Girl’s Gear Guide too.