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Stages Bike (SB20) In-Depth Review


The Stages Bike becomes what I’d argue is the ‘final’ competitor to land in the indoor smart bike space for probably some time. Last summer we saw Wahoo, Tacx, and Stages all launch their first smart bike offerings at Eurobike, albeit on varied timelines. That’s in addition to Wattbike already having theirs in the market at the time and just launching their updated V2 variant last week.

The Stages Bike is in many ways like those others, but also in many ways not. Each company has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Stages core strength is they’ve built more bikes than any other company in this segment. Sure, you might know them as a power meter company, but the rest of the world knows them as an indoor bike company, both with their own lineup of bikes, but also for numerous high profile brands too.

The Stages Bike’s origins are clearly from their commercial gym lineup – but it also pulls from the company’s power meter heritage too. Each Stages SB20 bike has a dual-sided power meter built into the crank arms. Unlike all the other bikes on the market, Stages is actually measuring power, not just doing the math on it. Though practically speaking, all the other bikes have been pretty darn accurate – so that hasn’t really been a true issue.

In any case, the main difference between the new Stages Bike (SB20) and all of Stage’s other bikes is that this one is a smart controllable bike that works with apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and The Sufferfest. So when the terrain goes up, the bike, in turn, mimics that.

With that, I’ve had one now in the DCR Cave for almost two months and have been putting it through its paces with workouts 3-5 times a week. I’ve pedaled a lot on this bike. So much so that I even made a full review video on it. You can just tap play below:

Otherwise, you can continue on to piles of text.

Note that Stages sent over this media loaner unit to try out. Once I’m done with it, I’ll figure out how to get it back down the Dutch staircase and back into the semi-truck that dropped it off – so it can find its home back at Stages. Or maybe I’ll just stick it on a passing canal boat and hope for the best. Either way, if you found this review useful you can hit up the links at the bottom.

With that – let’s get digging into it!

Unboxing & Setup:


For each company’s smart bike that I’ve unboxed, I’ve seen slightly different tacks taken with their box design. For example, with the Tacx NEO Bike Smart, it was all about a super-optimized and small box. For the Wattbike Atom, it was the idea that you could take the lid off the box and the bike was basically ready to go. With Stages? It was clearly: “This bike box is ready for war – we’re gonna pack this thing to fall out the back of an airplane and still survive!”

Which, might not be a bad plan. Until stairs are involved.

The stated shipping weight of the Stages bike and box is a hefty 160 pounds (72.5kg). In a non-COVID19 world, Stages had planned so-called ‘white-glove’ delivery, just like a Peloton bike. These days that’s not currently allowed, so they drop it at your door and you’ve gotta man or woman-up and make it work. Just like I did:

However, if going upstairs/downstairs you’re best to de-box it on the main level, as that’ll dramatically reduce the weight by having individual components to move. Obviously, in my case I didn’t do that and made my life more challenging. It’s how I generally roll.

Flip open the side of the box, and everything is somehow magically packed inside:


Five minutes later of unboxing, it’ll look like this:


And here’s a closer up gallery of those parts:

Roughly speaking this boils down to the following:

A) Bike frame
B) Bike feet/stabilizers
C) Handlebars
D) Front tablet holder
E) Nine million pieces of packaging
F) Power cord
G) A bunch of hex wrenches

No part of the installation is difficult, nor even hard to do solo. If you managed to get the box/parts where you wanted to by yourself, then that’s the hardest part. Most of it is simply time-consuming removing enough packaging to supply an Amazon warehouse for a few days. Better safe than sorry?

First up is getting the feet on the bike to get the bike all stabilized before attaching everything else:

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Next, you’ll slide the main front post/assembly onto the bike.


This includes threading the wiring down the tube, but that’s mostly already done for you. You just attach it at the end.


Then you’ve got the choice of attaching the tablet holder or not. In my case I added it, but you can skip it (especially if you plan to add triathlon/TT bars later). Or, if you’ve already got a big screen or something.


Even though I have a big screen, I’ve found it perfect for TrainerRoad workouts. I use the big screen to watch what I’m gonna watch, while using the tablet holder to hold my iPad with TrainerRoad.

Next, we’ll need to install pedals on there. The bear-claw style cranks means you can choose from four crank arm lengths: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm.


You can choose whether or not to use a washer with your pedals depending on the pedal. In this case I went with a pedal with them to get just enough clearance for the pods. If using a hex wrench through the back of the pedal, it’s a bit tight – but you can make it work:

Next, you’ll need to remove the small battery tag off the battery compartment:


The Stages Bike technically has three power meters on it: One per crank arm, and then a secondary reference one at the flywheel. The ones on each crank arm are basically like those from a Stages power meter that you’d install on your bike. Except in this case they control the entire casting/specs of the crank, so it’s even more accurate. But otherwise you can pair to that power meter just like a normal power meter. Kinda neat.

And finally, don’t forget to plug it in:


You will need to remember to adjust in the Stages app afterwards the crank length to get correct power, don’t worry, it’ll walk you through that.

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And with that, we’ve got the bike ready to set up. Do double-check and ensure you’ve got the latest firmware, but we’ll talk about the app in a minute anyway.

The Basics:


For this section, I’ll cover some of the basics of the hardware, before we get into setup of rider fit as well as things like gearing and shifting, plus app connectivity. All of which are detailed in separate sections. There’s a tiny bit of overlap from this section to others, but I think this is laying the foundation for later geekery.

Like all these bikes, it’ll require power to fully take advantage of all its features – namely resistance control and broadcasting of data. Though interestingly, the Stages Bike can actually still broadcast your power with just its little battery-powered crank arms, even when not plugged in. It’s a nifty party trick.

Here’s a closer look at the power brick specs:


Now as I just alluded to, that doesn’t actually power the entire bike. It powers the ‘smart bike’ side of it, but the actual power broadcasting for the non-bike part comes from the crank arms. So those are the battery caps we removed the packing tape from back in the unboxing. Realistically that’ll last you at least a year – unless you’re putting in crazy hours on it weekly. It’s one CR2032 per crank arm.

However, the plug does power other aspects. For example, it’s what allows the bike to be smart controllable, increasing or decreasing resistance. Also, it’s what powers the shifting, as well as the two 2AMP USB ports at the front of the bike:


I like these ports. Like the Tacx Bike, they’re in a good spot and have reliably powered all my things without issue. No problems keeping my iPad fully charged while also using it for Zwift or YouTube.


Speaking of which, let’s take a look at this entire front console setup. As you remember from before, I selected to install the included tablet holder. You don’t have to, but it’s super well built and I’ve found good uses for it. With TrainerRoad, I run it on an iPad there, and then use my big screen TV for watching movies or whatever. And then with Zwift, I actually started using it with the same iPad turned vertically to run the companion app. Thus leaving my phone to run the Stages shifting app:


The tablet holder is spring-loaded and easily fit my iPad both vertically or horizontally. Additionally, it has an inset piece to also hold just a smaller phone:


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The phone meanwhile has its own little throne, below the tablet holder (and still there if you don’t install the tablet holder). This has a rubberized non-slip surface that keeps it in place, and a gap in the bottom so a charging cable can go to your phone.

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You can also stash a remote control there too, but honestly, without any edges you’ll eventually just bonk it off. For those, I ended up using either a trainer desk (like the Wahoo KICKR Desk or this generic one I’ve actually been using lately), or also just the spare water bottle holder for most rides. The bike has two of them:


Notably absent at this point is any sort of display to see your shifting.  We’ll get into that later – but it’s a bummer.

Next, there’s auxiliary ports on the stem of the bike. These are used for connecting additional shifters you can place wherever you want. For example, you could actually wire up some time trial bars if you wanted to, to make a TT/triathlon bike. Unlike Wahoo/Tacx/others, Stages is already shipping these (and in fact, a set is on the way to me in the next few days – I’ll update the review once installed. There’s three ports on each side, two of which are open on each side.


Stages says the ports can also be used for any other magical idea down the road too, just like the Aux ports we saw on the KICKR Bike. I can only assume it’ll be for a nacho cheese dispenser.

I’ll dive deeply into shifting later, but essentially on each side of the handlebars there’s buttons on the interior that can be customized. There’s also one brake per side. While these don’t function in apps today, they will stop the bike’s flywheel just like on a real bike:

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Speaking of that flywheel, it’s a beast. The biggest beast in fact – coming in at a whopping 50 pounds (22.7kg) The KICKR bike flywheel is a mere 5.9KG and the WattBike Atom’s is 9.3kg. The Tacx NEO Bike however can ‘simulate’ 125KG, but that’s sorta a different situation.


However, despite being beastly, it doesn’t make much noise. In fact, I’d argue it’s the quietest smart bike out there. The closest would be the Tacx NEO Bike Smart, which is I think very slightly louder. But we’re talking basically the sound of a microwave. The Wahoo Bike is louder than both, and the Wattbike Atom V1 louder than all those.

*You can listen to the audio within the video at the top of the page at the 13:00 marker*

Now, that said, I did start running into odd sounds about two weeks ago with the Stages Bike, whereby it started creating a slight thunking sound from somewhere inside the flywheel. Stages believes the flywheel bearings might be bad, and has offered to swap out the flywheel. GPLAMA thinks I should just replace it with a big wheel of Gouda cheese from the cheese shop around the corner. However, I checked into that, and that’d actually cost a sizable portion of the Stages Bike cost. Not a cheap option.

In any case, the sound actually went away this past week. So…ok. Either way, Stages customer service is pretty well known as being super responsive, so I’m not super worried about it at this point.


In terms of road-like feel of that flywheel, it’s pretty good. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s a massive difference to the Wahoo KICKR Bike or Tacx NEO Bike. All of them feel pretty good. And in the case of both of those units, they can forward-drive the flywheel while descending in apps like Zwift. The Stages Bike doesn’t have that, and it’s something I kinda have come to enjoy.

Now, to wrap up this section I’ve got a quick little summary of things I do and don’t like about the bike from a basics standpoint. I hesitate to call this a pros and cons list, though that’s more or less what it is. I’m sticking it here in the middle of the review so people that just skip to the end without reading will miss it (and thus hopefully read the whole review to make an informed decision – nuance matters). I’ll ignore any accuracy likes/dislikes in this section and keep it more on practical things, also ignoring spec-specific things too. Basically, this is more of a practical list of likes/dislikes:

Things I really like:

– The tablet mount is nailed, it might look a bit clunky, but it’s the most stable one out there and easiest to actually use
– Double water bottle cage holder
– Dedicated rubberized spot for placing your phone, with two USB ports below
– No wires sticking out, tons of expansion ports already usable today
– Usability between riders and super quick and clean (not clunky like some bikes)
– No rubbing anywhere, easily fits me and my awesome calves
– The Dream Drive concept is cool for configurable shifting jumps

Things I really dislike:

– I’m not a fan of the Stages Bike shifter hardware, it’s hard to overstate how good the KICKR Bike shifters are in comparison
– Lack of small screen for gear indicator display is a pretty tough pill to swallow
– ERG mode stability is pretty rough (this is slated to be addressed in firmware)
– It’s not exactly the most sleek bike looks-wise, looks more like a gym bike than a home bike
– While minor, I wish the unit didn’t require batteries. I get that realistically you’ll have to change it only once a year, but still.

You’ll see the same list formatting on all my indoor bike reviews. With that, onto the details of rider setup, and then shifting

Bike & Rider Fit Setup:


Ok, with everything all built, we’ll get the bike fit to you from a sizing standpoint.  Later on in the post, I talk about multi-user considerations and swapping positions. Given Stages experience in selling more indoor bikes for the gym market than probably anyone else, they’ve pretty much nailed the customization aspects of the bike from a sizing standpoint.

With the SB20, you can adjust the bike in these five ways (plus more if you include loosening the handlebars and changing the orientation there):

1) Saddle height (up/down)
2) Saddle position (forward/back/tilt)
3) Handlebar height (up/down)
4) Handlebar position (forward/back)
5) Seat tilt

In the case of the Stages Bike, you can also adjust crank length too of course, within the four parameters noted earlier. Unlike the KICKR Bike, there’s no need to adjust a step/stand-over height, since it’s designed without a top-tube (so as to maximize sizing for shorter riders).

Here’s a quick gallery of all of those measurement bits.  Like Wahoo and Tacx, Stages also only puts ruler measurements on the right side of the bike (plus the top for the saddle fore/aft). Though in Stages case those measurements are laser-etched into the frame, versus just stickers on the other bikes.

To adjust a given component you’ll either use a rotating knob (saddle/seatpost/front post), or a lever (front handlebars fore/aft). All of them work great, and are infinitely adjustable, compared to the KICKR bike which in some cases locks into certain grooves. Or in the case of the Tacx Bike where the handles stick out at odd angles.

DSC_6638 DSC_6639 DSC_6640

However, what Stages lacks compared to Wahoo is a sizing/fit guide. Unlike Wahoo’s app which will duplicate our road bike setup using your phones camera, or tell you exactly what sizes to put the bike at based on your inseam/height/etc – Stages mostly just says ‘Shrug – you figure it out’ (just as Tacx does).

Technically, Stages does have a small portion of their web user guide that talks in general about how to take measurements from your outdoor bike and convert them to your indoor bike:


One of the issues I saw on the Wahoo Bike, and to a lesser extent the Tacx bike, was what I dubbed the ‘thigh gap’ problem. Which was that the seat stay of those bikes were abnormally large, and thus would actually rub against certain people’s thighs (mine, and others).

However, I’m happy to say that the Stages Bike mirrors that of the Wattbike Atom and there’s no thigh-gap issue. This is because of the lack of top-tube frame design. So it’s not even an issue.  To be clear, look at the three other bikes and the top-tube:


And then look at the measurements for those:

DSC_8435 DSC_8436 DSC_8437

Now the 40.40mm measurement (basically at your ankles) for the Stages Bike – but again, it’s at your ankles, so it’s a non-issue:


Next, there’s the crank length. The Stages bike supports 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm crank arm sizing, via the bear-paw design. You simply put your pedals into whatever crank arm hole you want, and magically it’s the right crank arm length:


Finally, what about triathletes or time-trialist? The Stages Bike doesn’t include any aerobars or specific aerobar kits. But it uses a standard 31.8mm handlebar, which means most aerobar clip-ons will work just fine. However, in order for most aerobars to work you’ll need to remove the tablet holder. Not a big deal, since they include a front cover plate. It’s plausible with shorty aerobars you can make them fit, but I don’t have a pair handy.

Beyond the aerobar attachment, all other TT/triathlon-type aspects would really fall more under the rest of the FIT section above. Given the flexibility here, I imagine most folks will have no issues finding their right fit here. And, Stages also already offers remote shifters that you can integrate into your aerobars – something that nobody else offers. So that’s a huge deal for triathletes. A set of those is on the way to me as we speak

Finally – what about multi-user scenarios in terms of the software settings?

Stages says that the best option there is to use their Stages Link app, installed on each person’s own smartphone, and then to connect to the bike to set the gearing customizations that you want before starting your session (actually, you can technically set them mid-way through the session too). As soon as the other person’s app connects to the bike it’ll update the settings with those from that person’s app.

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I’d love to see apps like Zwift, FulGaz, etc, be able to send your gearing customizations straight to the bike from your account profile. That way it’s just there for whoever jumps on the bike. Still, it’s a general problem that hasn’t really been solved for the industry yet, but with Zwift looking to build their own bike – it’s something that’ll need to get solved sooner or later.

Overall though, the Stages Bike is super flexible in terms of getting everything fit to your specific needs. I had no problems with my fit setup on it.

Shifting, Braking, and Steering:


When it comes to shifting on the Stages Bike, I’d put it in the ‘mostly good, but still a work in progress’ category. Meaning that it’s more flexible than the Wattbike Atom, but not anywhere near as nailed as the Wahoo KICKR Bike. Some of that will be tweaked via software, but some pieces are shortcomings in the actual shifters themselves. On the flip-side, the KICKR bike cost like $700 more.

But first, let’s step back just a little bit. The purpose of adjustability to shifting in an indoor bike may not seem obvious at first. But this bike is replacing your outdoor bike, and on that bike you’ve got a specific gearing setup you’re used to. Be it the shifters type (such as Di2), or having a different gearing combination (like a compact crankset). If you’re going to do an app or route with lots of climbing, you’ll want to replicate that compact crankset (or, change into such a crankset).

With the Stages Bike, you’re going to configure this shifting using the Stages Link app. It’s effectively your digital bike shop for what you want your stages virtual drivetrain to look like. I say ‘virtual’, because, well…it’s virtual. But also because it’s effectively infinitely customizable. Nothing physical changes on your bike. It’s just simulating different gearing.

So once you’ve got it all paired up you’ll connect to the bike. The first time you do so you’ll get the option to create your virtual bike. You can create numerous virtual bikes. So this is just your first one. Give it a name to begin, and then choose the type of gearing and buttons:

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When it comes to gearing you’ve essentially got three core options:

Dream: With Dream Drive you can customize the number of total gearing steps, and then how many steps you want the left shifter to ‘increment’ each time you press it. The right shifter will always increment one shift up or down. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it in a second.
Road: With the road bike config, you’ve got a standard 1x and 2x configurations.
MTB: While I saw this option initially, I actually can’t get back to it specifically after the fact, I think it’s just rolled under the generic ‘Custom’ setting.

Once you’ve done that, then for the road and MTB button options you can customize the exact front chainring and rear cassette gearing. If you dive into the Road settings you’ll see options for 1x and 2x (meaning one chainring or two chainrings), and then options for 11 or 12 speed:

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In general, I think Dream Drive is probably where the goods are. With Dream Drive, you’re effectively on a 1X type system. You’ve got a single virtual front chainring, and then up to 50 rear cogs. The key though is that your front gear shifter becomes a super-shifter. So instead of shifting just up/down once (as the rear shifter does), this can shift a customizable number of times. For example, tap the front gear shifter and it shifts by default 3 steps. But you can make that 5 steps or even 10 steps. Here, take look at the default at left (3 steps) – and then a tweaked version at right (5 steps):

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It’s a pretty cool concept, though, like most of these bikes – does take a little bit to get used to. And, I’d argue – really re-enforces the need for a gear shifting display. Which, is why you can connect using the Stages Link app to act as that secondary display:


This way you can see in real-time what you’re currently in, as well as easily switch gear mid-ride. Now note that as of today, the Stages Bike only accepts one concurrent Bluetooth Smart connection. When it first shipped, it was dual Bluetooth Smart (plus unlimited ANT+), but then they rolled back to a single Bluetooth Smart (and still unlimited ANT+) connections to sort out some issues. However, as of yesterday I tried a new beta firmware update that brings back the dual Bluetooth Smart bits. That allowed me to use my iPhone to connect to the Stages Bike while also using Apple TV to connect to it for Zwift:


However, we should probably talk about the shifters themselves. Which, are basically just small buttons. On the inside of each handlebar where our thumbs go there are three buttons. Two of which are used by default on each side. The left side will increase/decrease your front chainring (virtually), or, increase/decrease big skips with Dream Drive.


While the right side will increment the rear cassette (again, virtually). This will go up/down a single increment/gear shift.


But all this is customizable within the app. So you can scroll down in the app and change these buttons, as well as the remote shifters that connect to them.


You can assign them to do whatever you want shift-wise:

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In addition, down below on the lower portion of the handlebars there’s two more shifter buttons on each side, sorta wedged under the tape. These are also customizable as you see fit up above.


Also, as noted earlier there’s further yet aux ports for those remote shifter cables. They’ve shipped over to me, so once I have them in-hand I’ll go ahead and update this post to show how they work. There’s three per side, and you can see that one port on each side is already utilized.


And yes, those are customizable too:

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You’ll also notice there’s brakes on each side of the handlebar. These brakes don’t stop the in-game avatar in Zwift (or any other app), but will stop the flywheel when held. In fact, if you hold those brakes while trying to pedal, it’ll actually cause your Zwift dude or dudette to go faster. That’s because it spikes your power (since it requires more effort to pedal with the brakes on, just like outside).


Perhaps some day we’ll get braking in Zwift. Until then, they aren’t super useful.

It’s worth noting that none of the indoor bikes today (including Stages) support the ANT+ Shifting Profile at this time. While not a big deal, it’d be cool if that data was transmitted and then recorded by apps or bike computers, just like it is on a real bike. This really shouldn’t be that hard and I’ve yet to think (or hear of) any technical blocker here. After all, most head unit companies already support it today.

And what about steering? Well, physically it’s there – but there’s nothing hooked up yet software-wise. Like other bikes on the market, the Stages Bike has extra buttons, one per side below your normal shifters. These were ostensibly put there for when Zwift wanted to enable steering/veering. To date, that hasn’t happened.


Finally you may have noticed that the Stages Bike actually has splayed out bars by default. This means that the handlebars taper outwards, akin to gravel bike bars.


Just a minor thing I figured I’d mention somewhere.

App Compatibility:


The Stage Bike (SB2) follows all of the industry norms as you’d expect from most trainers/smart bikes these days.  As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Rouvy, FulGaz, Kinomap, and many more all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like.  If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end user.

The Stages Bike transmits data on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart as well, allowing interactive resistance control across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  By applying resistance control, apps can simulate climbs as well as set specific wattage targets.

To be specific, the Stages Bike supports the following protocol transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control): This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units. Read tons about it here. Stages also includes cadence and speed data here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence data as well as left/right power balance data measure independently including also torque efficiency and pedal smoothness. This does not include speed data.
Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control): This allows apps to control the Stages Bike over Bluetooth Smart (with cadence/power/speed data)
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter with cadence

Between all these standards you can basically connect to anything and everything you’d ever want to. Be it a bike computer or watch, or an app – it’ll be supported. This is actually notable because the Wahoo KICKR Bike & Tacx Bike don’t actually do proper Bluetooth Smart FTMS. Practically speaking, it doesn’t matter a ton since most apps support their proprietary variants. What is notable though is that the Wahoo KICKR Bike *still* doesn’t support broadcasting out power via ANT+ or Bluetooth independently. That’s notable for Garmin & Polar users that want to connect to their bikes to record training load on their watches or bike computers. Whereas the Stages Bike does support that just fine (and how I recorded all of my data here).

The Stages Bike also bakes in the cadence data (like everyone else). This is handy if you’re connecting to Zwift on an Apple TV, due to Apple TV’s two concurrent Bluetooth Smart sensor limitation (plus the Apple TV remote).  While you can use the Zwift mobile companion app for additional sensors, I find that can be sometimes a bit flaky.


It’s these same standards that also allow you to connect via head units too. For example the Stages Dash L50/M50, Hammerhead Karoo, Wahoo units, as well as Garmin Edge series support ANT+ FE-C for trainer control, so you can re-ride outdoor rides straight from your bike head unit to your trainer. For example, for my accuracy testing section, I recorded the data on a Garmin Edge 830 & 1030 Plus, as well as the trainer apps.  From there I’m able to save the file and upload it to whatever platform I like.

In addition to baseline power and cadence, the Stages Bike also includes both left/right balance as well, which you can see on head units as well as in recorded data files.


Not only that, but it also transmits torque effectiveness and pedal smoothness…which, you’ll probably never use.


For me, in my testing, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally). In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode (non-workout mode, aka SIM mode), whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode. I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section.

Here’s an example of Zwift paired on an Apple TV, you can see it shows the sensors as a controllable trainer, a regular power meter, and a cadence sensor:


I had no issues riding the Stages Bike in Zwift on numerous occasions – everything worked as expected, including gradient responsiveness. More on accuracy in the next section:


And here paired up in TrainerRoad using Bluetooth Smart on an iPad:

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When it comes to calibration of the Stages Bike, that’s actually calibrating the two crank arm power meter sensors (just like real Stages crank arm power meters…cause they are). To do that you’ll connect to the bike via the app and then go to calibrate the bike, which asks you to place the crank arms vertically (you can use the brakes if you need to stop the crank arms from rotating).

In fact, you’ll actually see the two individual Stages power meters listed here, complete with their own firmware (which means that yes…you have to update the firmware on three different components – something I think Stages should try and sort out in the background when you update the main bike firmware).

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Note that you can’t calibrate the bike from within apps. For example, within TrainerRoad when you go into the settings, there is no option to trigger a calibration for the Bluetooth Smart FTMS connection of the bike. That’s fine – it’s something you won’t likely have to do often in my experience (Stages already does temp compensation in their units – and that’s cross-checked with the secondary flywheel power meter sensor).

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I haven’t seen any difference in calibrating versus not calibrating on a weekly basis. To give a solid spoiler on accuracy, it’s been spot-on no matter whether I calibrate the bike or not. But wait – don’t skip the next section, there’s some important tidbits on ERG mode!

Power Accuracy Analysis:


As usual, I put the bike up against a number of power meters to see how well it handled everything from resistance control accuracy, to speed of change, to any other weird quirks along the way. In the case of indoor bikes it’s a bit more tricky to have 2-3 other power meters, since you typically can’t swap out the crankset or rear hubs. So you have to rely upon other power meter pedals.

No problem, I’ve got plenty of those. I’ve had the bike set up with two main configs over the past month:

Config 1: With Favero Assioma Duo pedals
Config 2:  With Garmin Vector 3 pedals

Within this timeframe I’ve also seen multiple firmware versions, with most of the data below from either the most recent or version prior to it. Today’s ride was also made with a beta firmware version, though there’s no changes in that related to accuracy (it’s related to re-instating dual Bluetooth Smart connections).

We’re going to start this parade with today’s ride actually, a Zwift ride. This ride is on my favorite trainer and smart bike testing course: Titan’s Grove. This route on Zwift starts off on the flats, which is good for sprint testing and high-flywheel testing, then it loops up into the hills and mountains for some solid rollers. These rollers are tricky for many trainers/bikes with their constantly shifting intensities.

In any case, here’s how it compared against the Favero Assioma pedals:


As you can see, it’s pretty darn close. The maroon color is the pedals, with the blue as Stages bike. In general, I see slightly more variability with respect to swings of power from the Stages Bike than the Favero Assioma pedals. I’m not sure if that’s simply because Favero smooths slightly more (something I’ve shown in other reviews). In the case of a SIM mode ride in Zwift, it’s largely a non-event (more on ERG mode in a moment).


Even looking at sprints – for example this almost 1,000w sprint, both units peak within 1w – which is pretty darn crazy alignment at this point. Keep in mind the measurement of the Stages Bike is at the crank arms, not somewhere in the drivetrain like most of the other bikes. Said differently – that’s crazy impressive closeness as there’s virtually no power transfer loss between the pedal and crank arm.


In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a result so close between two units at such a high power level. Usually by the time you clear 700w or so you’ll see more divergence in the max peak-power simply due to timing and recording rates. So part of this is dumb luck, but part of this is just being damn close (physically and in accuracy).

To illustrate the dumb luck aspect, here’s another half-hearted sprint a short bit later. In this case the timing and responsiveness isn’t quite perfectly aligned. The Stages Bike sees it first, and then the Assioma about a second or so later:


There’s virtually no practical difference in those though from a riding standpoint.

Next, we’ll shift to another Zwift ride – this one from last week on the current production firmware. This ride was supposed to be a group ride, but apparently I mostly missed the group lead-out. So, I was in some groups and sometimes by myself – just chugging along. Here’s that data:


Now on the above chart, for fun, I left two different recordings of the Stages Bike. One via the Stages Bluetooth Smart FTMS connection, and one via the Stages power crank-arm connection via ANT+. Point being they mirror each other. But that’s not always the case with trainers/bikes, hence why I sometimes poke at it. For the purposes of simplicity, let’s remove the duplicate one:


Well, that’s pretty crispy. I mean, how much crispier do you want?

I mean, sure, you see slight divergences of a couple of watts here and there. That’s pretty much expected with any power meter comparison. This is really really really good.


There are however in this workout a few moments where one of the two units floats a bit. I don’t though have any way of knowing whether this was the Favero Assioma pedals floating down, or the Stages Bike floating up. There’s literally no way to know.


One could look at the left/right balance and take a guess. For example, on that same section above, if I look at the comparative left/right balance split, the Stages Bike on the left-side appears to rise up slightly. Is that an incorrect reading from Stages, or an incorrect lack of reading from Favero? I simply don’t know. And there’s no other way to install any other power meters on the bike at the same time to find out.


Whoever’s fault it was, it’s gone a couple of minutes later:


Oh, and just to mention cadence accuracy somewhere, I think this graph explains it all. They all look just like this:


Next, let’s change from some SIM mode workouts to some ERG mode workouts. This is where we see a significant change in how the Stages Bike works. And unfortunately, my least favorite part of it. There’s really two parts to this. The first piece is how stable the bike is, and how responsive the bike is. In other words, if TrainerRoad tells it to set the wattage to 300w (after being at 150w), how long does it take to get to 300w? And then, how well does it hold 300?

Well, in my case I’ve been doing a lot of TrainerRoad workouts the last month, and unequivocally the answer is: It’s not a smooth operator.

It’ll change resistance pretty quickly – basically the same as others. That’s fine. But what’s not fine is just how wobbly it is at a given level. Here’s an example of a workout I was super smooth on, and yet look at how wobbly the power output is:


The output will typically be +/- 20-25w from my set-point. So if I’ve got a target power of 313w, it’ll range anywhere between ~285w and 335w. Sometimes upwards of 350w+. It’s all over the place. Here’s another workout example:


Now, the total average power for that set is indeed 300w. But it’s less than ideal to be so variable, because my workout called for 300w which is a specific zone. Not spikes to 330w. Now in talking to Stages, they say part of the trouble is the gigantic Gouda cheese flywheel they have up there, which is sorta like wrestling a bull. But part of it is also software smoothing. While I typically argue against software smoothing, I think in this rare case they need to apply a little bit more so that it’s at least usable to figure out what power levels I hit.

So that first piece covers responsiveness and stability – but what about accuracy in ERG mode?

Let’s look at last Thursday’s 90-minute TrainerRoad session first:


Ok, so at a high level with a 5-second smoothing applied (ya kinda have to with the Stages Bike), it looks pretty similar. Let’s dig into an interval:


Again, we have to separate target power stability, from actual power accuracy. From an accuracy standpoint, the Stages Bike and Favero pedals are incredibly close at almost all times – usually a couple of watts apart. Every once in a while one of them floats away slightly (upwards of 5-10w on 300w), but then corrects itself. I’ve got no way to know which is the incorrect unit in those situations.

There are two dropouts on the Stages connection, and two dropouts on the Favero connection (to the Edge units). I double-checked the Stages duplicate recording I had on TrainerRoad, and there were no dropouts there. So, looks to be just a random transient connection issue to that specific bike computer.


Oh, and cadence too – for fun:


In any event, from a power accuracy standpoint, that 90-minute workout looks solidly similar.

Let’s take a look at another TrainerRoad workout. This one is a much more chillax easy week workout, where the power slowly goes up and slowly goes down. But it shows super-well the problem I have with ERG mode currently You can’t even tell/see the stated power chunks (where the blue section changes) if you look at the yellow pieces. It’s not easy to see that at a glance.


Here’s the power accuracy data:


This is one of the ones where the power between the two actually was further apart at first glance. It’s darn-near impossible to tell based on the above chart, which just looks like a giant fuzzy mess of colors.

But, if I graph the mean-max chart, then you see it more clearly:


However, mind you that where those two dots are is *ONLY A 3-watt difference* – technically in-spec.

So this is an example where the averages work out, even despite the wobble. But of course, averaging is the lowest common denominator in this situation.

So ultimately, this gets us to the wrap-up here. Having done countless other sessions like this over my time period with it, everything can basically be boiled down to:

A) Power accuracy appears to be identical to the well regarded Favero Assioma power meter pedals – spot on there
B) ERG more stability in terms of maintaining the target power, needs a lot of work

At present, the ERG mode target power stability/smoothness is even more volatile than the Tacx Bike was when it launched last year (and I gave them a hard time too). It’s roughly in the same ballpark as the instability of the Wahoo KICKR Bike at launch in terms of stability.

Stages said that they’re working on the stability/smoothing aspects already (which should just be a software fix), and so hopefully we’ll see that simmer down a bit going forward.

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.)

Indoor Smart Bike Comparisons:

While I’ve previously done an Indoor Smart Bike Shootout with the Wahoo Bike, Tacx Bike, and Wattbike Atom – that did not include the Stages bike, since the Stages Bike was about 8 months late to the party. Now that it’s here I’ll probably revisit that with the Wattbike Atom V2 (which hopefully I’ll have later this week or next). Until then, you can hit up that previous post here – and then simply cross-reference it with this post. Spoiler: Nothing has changed since I published that previous post. Seriously, nothing.

In any case, here’s a blow by blow spec comparison between them – complete with some new data fields I’ve added into the trainer database to account for indoor bikes. I won’t add the new Wattbike Atom V2 to the chart until I get it in-house – though functionally speaking the only aspect that changes there is internals around the drive system/flywheel.

Function/FeatureStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 23rd, 2023 @ 2:27 pm New Window
Price for trainer$2899$2,599$3,199$3,499
Trainer TypeIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor BikeIndoor Bike
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalUK/South Africa/Australia/Scandinavia/USAGlobalLimited Initially
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYesNoYes
Flywheel weight50lbs9.28KG/20.4lbsSimulated/Virtual 125KG13bs/5.9kgs
ResistanceStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)No (but kinda)NoYesYes
Maximum wattage capability3,000w2,000w2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline25%25%20% (and -15% downhill)
FeaturesStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerYes (actually measured independently)YesYesNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)Yes (with compatible apps)NoYES (WITH COMPATIBLE APPS)Yes (with compatible apps)
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoYesNo
MotionStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Whole-bike physical gradient simulationNoNoNoYes
Can rock/tilt side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
AccuracyStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Includes temperature compensationYesYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)Cross-references power meter dataNoN/AN/A
Supported accuracy level+/- 1.5%+/- 2%+/- 1%+/- 1%
Trainer ControlStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYesYesYes
Data BroadcastStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Transmits power via ANT+YEsYesYesYes (added Sept 30th, 2020)
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYEsYesYesYes
Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connectionsNo, just oneYes, 3 Concurrent
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYesYes
Indoor Bike FeaturesStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Shifting typeButtonsButtonsButton BasedNormal bike levers
Can customize shifting (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)Yes (not yet SRAM)NoIn future updateYes (Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo)
Can customize gearingYesMininimalYesYes (both cassette and chainrings)
Supported Crank Lengths165/170/172.5/175mm170mm170/172.5/175mm165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm
DisplayNoNoYesSmall display near top-tube
USB PortsTwo Ports (Fast Charging)No2 USB Ports (2AMP)1 USB port
PurchaseStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Competitive CyclistLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerStages Bike (SB20)Wattbike Atom V1Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike V1
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Oh, and before you ask why I haven’t included some products into the above – here’s the quick and dirty answers:

Peloton Bike: It’s not a ‘smart’ bike in the sense of the above, it doesn’t allow you to set a specific power level (it does tell you the current power level). But nonetheless, look for my review very shortly! It’s actually written in text, but I’m waiting on a calibration kit from Peloton to see if I can get things just a bit closer accuracy-wise.

SRM Bike: I just don’t see this as a competitor in this space. At $5,000, it’s mostly for various research purposes and is designed in that realm.

True Kinetix Bike: I’ve had this bike for a bit, then returned it while they sorted out technical issues. It’s currently only shipping mostly in the Netherlands, so that’s probably less appealing from a widespread standpoint.

VirtuPro: At present this bike isn’t compatible with any 3rd party apps, and in nearly a year since I last chatted with them, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence that’s changed.

Again, I’m more than happy to add products into the database. In general, my rule of thumb is I want hands-on time (or butts-on in this case), and I want some realistic level of clarity on delivery time frames.



The Stages Bike is a solid entrant into the smart bikes category. No, really, it’s physically very solid. It’s the tank of bikes compared to competitors. You’ll be pedaling this well into the next century. But, it’s also a good bike for working with apps today. It supports all the right protocols to work with every app or device on the market via ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart. And perhaps just as important, given its lineage with Stages existing indoor business – the physical aspects of the bike are unlikely to see as much physical teething pains as both Tacx and Wahoo saw in their bike launches during the early phases.

Almost all of the quirks or competitive shortfalls of the Stages Bike lie in software, mostly in the gear shifting realm. For example, it lacks SRAM shifting configuration, though Stages says that’ll come within the month. It also lacks some of the setup/fit software bits that Wahoo has nailed (though, I’d easily argue it has more physical flexibility in terms of actually getting the right fit for more riders). As for the lack of gear display, I can only hope that Zwift comes through and implements the gear shifting support that’s already available for the Wattbike Atom over Bluetooth Smart. Like with the Wattbike, it’d make a world of difference. Though at least with Stages you can still display it on your phone concurrently.

Ultimately, price is probably the largest factor for most when choosing a smart bike. One can’t pretend to operate in a vacuum when writing a review on that factor. But I think Stages gets pretty close to finding the right balance here for price versus competitive functionality. It’s $600 cheaper than a KICKR Bike, and to me that feels roughly about right in terms of trade-offs. I’d absolutely love to see Stages come out with a different/optional handlebar setup that feels like shifting a real bike from a levers standpoint. But, I’ve said that about all the smart bikes too. It’s a huge differentiator. Until then, their tablet/phone/power situation is easily the best out there. Super functional and stable. Love it.

If you’re looking at a Stages Bike, you won’t go wrong with hardware as it is today. Sure, the software needs to mature a tiny bit more to really sing (let’s be honest, so does everyone’s) – but I don’t think it’s a blocker for day to day usage with any apps or features. And, if there’s one bike out of all of them that I’d trust hardware-wise to be reliable, it’s this one.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Stages Bike (SB20) or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

And finally, here’s a handy list of smart bike accessories that most folks getting a smart bike for the first time might not have already:

There's no better bang for your buck in getting Zwift (or FulGaz/etc) on your big screen TV than Apple TV - it's the primary way I Zwift. Even if you don't have a 4K TV, the 4K version has more powerful graphics than the base, worth the extra $30.

Basic Trainer Mat

This is a super basic trainer mat, which is exactly what you'll see me use. All it does is stop sweat for getting places it shouldn't (it also helps with vibrations too).

I use Apple TV for Zwift the vast majority of the time, but also just for watching YouTube/Netflix/etc on the trainer. The Apple TV remote sucks though. This $8 case fixes that, it's a silicone strap that makes it easy to grab, but also has a strap to easily place on the edge of your handlebars. Boom! Note: Not compatible with 2021 Apple TV Edition.

Honeywell HT-900 Fan

I've got three of these $12 fans floating around the DCR Cave, and I frequently use them on rides. They work just fine. Sure, they're not as powerful as a Wahoo Headwind, but I could literally buy 20 of them for the same price.

Lasko High Velocity Pro-Performance Fan (U15617)

One of the most popular trainer fans out there, rivaling the Wahoo Headwind fan in strength but at a fraction of the price. It doesn't have smartphone/ANT+/Bluetooth integration, but it does have secondary outlets. I've been using it, and a similiar European version lately with great success (exact EU variant I use is automatically linked at left).

This desk is both a knock-off of the original KICKR Desk, but yet also better than it. First, it's got wheel locks (so the darn thing stays put), and second, it has two water bottle holders (also useful for putting other things like remotes). I've been using it as my main trainer desk for a long time now and love it. Cheaper is better apparently. Note: Branding varies by country, exact same desk.

This is by far the best value in trainer desks, at only $59, but with most of the features of the higher end features. It's got multi-tier tablet slots, water bottle holders, non-stick surface, adjustable height and more. I'm loving it!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Giovanni

    Hi Ray,really interesting as always (even as I don’t have a budget that could afford me one of those).
    On a side note, do you think you will ever test the new Technogym Skillbike? Or do you think that with that price tag around 4/5 k € it is completely out of the market? (my curiosity is due to the fact that they seem to do something like Peloton, but open also to other systems like Zwift, or importing routes from Strava and so on…, and with the fact that they should have some extensive experience on how to build indoor spin bikes, so the product should be good)

    • My challenge with the Technogym Skillbike is twofold:

      A) Price – it’s just crazy, and I don’t see any aspect of it that makes it worth that (4,850EUR)
      B) I don’t believe it actually follows standards. I’ve yet to see anything to indicate that it does ANT+ FE-C or Bluetooth Smart FTMS. Instead, they’ve done some one-off integrations with Zwift and such, but nothing sustainable. And they support HR straps via ANT+ (shrug)

      Happy to be wrong there, but it just seems dead out of the water.

    • John

      Having bought a Technogym MyRun treadmill I would not contemplate buying their bike, even if it was sensibly priced. The hardware seems solid but their software is abysmal and they seem to have no interest in updating it with even the most basic of features (like uploading directly to Strava). They take your money then lose interest.

    • Beatrice

      Hi, I just bought a Skillbike one week ago, and will give it back…
      In ZWIFT the crawler gears are not availabe, so for me as a woman no chance to do a hill climb….

  2. Neil Jones

    Hi Ray,

    You say “Like all these bikes, it’ll require power to fully take advantage of all its features – namely resistance control and broadcasting of data”. Does that mean that it’s still viable to use the SB without power (like you can for the Tacx bike, where as long as you keep pedalling, the only functionality you lose is the driven virtual flywheel to assist you on downhills), or are you left with basically a dumb gym bike with power meter cranks once you pull the plug with the Stages?

    • So it’ll broadcast power/cadence just fine without being plugged in because the power sensors are CR2032 powered on the crank arms (just like a normal on-bike Stages power meter). But there’s no ability to shift since that’s tied to the outlet power. In just trying it, that seemed to put me in an easier (useless) gear. Though, perhaps there’s some trick to leave it in a harder gear – similiar to what Elite & Kinetic have for some of their trainers.

    • Neil Jones

      ^Sorry, I didn’t word that very well (oh, for an edit button!), what I mean is because you say “like all these bikes” (i.e. including the Tacx which still pretty much works without power), does that also imply that the SB and others also have some degree of self-powered functionality, enough to still mean they’re usable?

    • Neil Jones

      ^^but you got what you meant an answered anyway :-)

  3. Zac


    Looks like from the screenshot you may have been on fairly early firmware when evaluating ERG mode. Have you been able to test more recent FW releases? Any improvement to ERG mode you’ve noticed?

    • I’m actually ahead of production firmware-wise. ;)

      I upgrade and downgrade to/from beta to get back and forth and validate certain features enabled or disabled on various builds, hence the variations on screenshots.

      In talking with Stages, they fully acknowledge the challenges I see with ERG mode today are the current state. They’re looking at options in a future firmware update to offer a more restrictive ERG mode type thing.

    • Zac

      Does the resistance seem to fluctuate within an interval or is it just the power as displayed that’s erratic? I assume you weren’t using TR’s Powermatch? What would it look like using the Assioma’s as the power source and enabling Powermatch?

    • Dan

      I have a sb20. You can not feel the variations in power.

    • Zac

      Good to know, thanks Dan

    • For me personally, it’s pretty easy to feel the variations in comparison to most other trainers in terms of ERG stability. One can see it on the charts, so when I’m on my 5th 10-plus minute interval and it’s wobbling at 35-50w over, it’s noticable.

      Now, Stages says it makes it feel more like the road. Which, in some ways is true, but that’s also not the point of ERG mode. It was never to feel like the variations of the road, it was to be super-specific in target power.

      Again, just my two cents.

    • Zac

      That’s disappointing Ray. I spend > 80% of my time in ERG mode, so this may be a deal breaker for me if Stages isn’t able to get it resolved quickly. As you said, 10-15% swings in power change the nature of the intervals and make ERG mode… something else. I wonder if you could “trick” the bike by pairing the Assioma’s and using Powermatch? Or maybe that would just make things worse. Has there been anything you’ve tried in the course of troubleshooting that’s seemed to make any improvement in the experience?

      My SB20 is currently sitting with the freight company waiting to be delivered this week, so obviously your review has me a bit nervous.

    • David Manley

      It’s more like the road feels like a serious cop out. They’ve actually lost a lot of credit there for trying that on

    • D.A.

      Hi Zac,

      How long was it at the freight company? I’m having issues with freight right now getting my order. Held locally at their warehouse over a week now. Ordered the bike near 3 weeks ago.

  4. Phil S

    Thanks Ray
    Will you be doing a quick ‘What’s changed’ style post on the Wattbike Atom v2? I would be interested to know if they’ve added that little resistance bump that gives you a feel for when you have changed gears.

    • A unit is set to arrive next week. In the meantime I’m literally on the ATOM X as we speak doing a 90 minute workout. That’s the same internals as the ATOM v2.

    • Kevin

      Thanks for the review. Looking forward to your thoughts on the Atom v2. That’ll probably help me make up my mind on whether I go for that or the Stages Bike.

      Tacx bike is a non-starter as it cannot be adjusted to fit my vertically-challenged wife. Although the KICKR Bike looks great, I cannot bring myself to spend this amount of money on a gen1 product. I just fear for the longevity it.

      As a side note, although it’s not in stock at the moment, I see Wiggle will apply the platinum discount of 12% to the Stages bike. That’s quite unusual (but welcomed!) for these products.

    • Keith Robertson

      Thanks, look forward to some words on the Atom V2, not so much on the Atom X I guess.

      They are hinting that with the X custom workouts will be possible. Wondering if the iPAd app will also get this feature soon?

    • Hmm, not sure on custom workouts – I tend to focus more on 3rd party app compatibility.

    • Tormod

      Looking forward to hear your comments about wattbike Atom v2.
      Still trustadvisor.uk is not very kind with any of the smart bikes, what is your take on it.

    • I generally don’t find much value in sites like that. They tend to only attract people that want to be upset about something. Those things they’re upset about might well be valid (often though, I find those people never even bother to contact support). But, let’s say they’re all valid.

      What they don’t tend to account for is the other 99% of people who had no issues. Because why would those people go out of their way to a random site to write a review about something they’re happy with? Unless that ‘Review your purchase’ is built into the platform, it doesn’t tend to work.

  5. Chris

    How ‘future’ proof do you think the current smart bikes are? Or are they a risky purchase at the current time?

    Mainly thinking about use with Zwift and when they release a bike do you think they’ll enable features (gear display, steering, changing workout resistance, etc) using a standard that other bikes could implement or do it using a proprietary protocol. Suppose they could even completely ignore ANT+ / Bluetooth completely and use Wi-Fi (or an ethernet cable).

    Guess I need to be happy with what I’d currently be getting if I were to purchase now and not expecting any future enhancements (although they’d be a bonus) but wondering if in two years’ time the current smart bikes will look like a wise purchase or a mistake?

    • It’s tricky. I think you kinda have to divide the future-proofing into different sections:

      A) Software: Most of them have tons of flexibility here. Wattbike seems to have the least (or, executed upon it the least). But the rest in terms of *potential* are all pretty even. I’d argue Tacx probably has more flexibility with their display and software. And Stages has more aux ports. But Wahoo clearly takes the cake today for best software, so they can move to the ‘next stage’ (whatever that may be) sooner.

      B) Accessory hardware: Clearly Stages has the most flexibility here, mostly because they’ve built a lot of this stuff today. Just after I hit the publish button, UPS arrived with the Smart Accessory Shifters for the bike. I’ll wire them up here and give them a whirl. Wahoo has ports, but nearly a year-on, and no cables yet. Tacx has never talked about ports. In terms of adding other accessories, Stages has a beast of a front mounting arm, they do screens for other bikes, and this mounting arm I’ve gotta imagine could easily have a screen added to it. Whether internal power/etc supports that – I’ve got no idea. I don’t see how a screen could be added to the KICKR Bike, too much weight. I suspect one could swap out the Tacx bike front-end somehow, but the devil is in the details there. Wattbike has a screen on their ATOM X, but that’s got a bit different front-end design.

      C) Handlebar upgrades: This is where I think Stages/Tacx/Wattbike should focus 100%. Like, stop doing anything else that’s not re-designing hardware to do what Wahoo does. I can’t keep saying this enough, and the more I use other bikes, the more I like Wahoo’s shifting. It’s just *SO EFFIN GOOD*, and the sooner these companies realize this (actually, they already know it), but the sooner they start focusing on it, the smaller that gap gets to Wahoo.

      Zwift and a Zwift Bike is an interesting thing. I have a short post I might drop today or tomorrow about that, and their recent survey asking questions in that realm – along with some other thoughts. I’m hesitant to say that venture wil end well. I *want* it to end well, but the reality is that Zwift is an exceedingly good community platform/app, and a really really good company in marketing everything about it, and getting people involved. Really, they are.

      But they’re actually not what I’d consider leaders in the foundational aspects of technology. We see that time and time again with integrations into the platform that are just half-baked at best. Again – the game of Zwift is great, but when it comes to the technology side, it’s not advanced at all. There’s nothing I can point to that I can say “Oh, they’re a technological leader there”. As such, I’d be even more hesitant on a smart bike/trainer from them. But, happy to be proven wrong over time.

  6. Neil Jones

    So, I’ve got a Tacx bike but it’s on its final chance – if the belt breaks again and Tacx/Garmin UK still insist in changing the whole bike (with a 6 week delay) rather than just sending out a replacement belt like they do in other parts of the world, then I’ll be pushing for a refund and moving to another brand.

    There’s exclusive features of the Tacx that I’d lose and miss (I do like the road surface simulation), but most of the other bikes offer their own unique features that the Tacx doesn’t have. However, I’m struggling to see what the USP of the Stages bike is – why would I buy this over the Tacx (notwithstanding customer service and aftercare might in itself be the USP here)?

    • It’s a bit trickier depending on pricing. If I’m looking at the UK/EU prices correctly, the Stages Bike is 2799GBP (Wiggle), and the Tacx Bike is 2299GBP (Sigma Sports). I don’t know if those are true list prices, so…yeah.

      In any case, at that price difference, that’s a super tough pitch for the Stages Bike. Not really sure why in that case one would buy the Stages Bike over the Tacx Bike. In the US, it’s the opposite. Stages is $2,899 and Tacx Bike is $3,199 – which, makes sense.

    • Neil Jones

      Fair point – I forgot about the increased price of Tacx stuff in the US. I guess a buying decision in one market won’t necessarily make sense in another.

    • Judy

      I am considering getting started on Zwift for indoor training. I do have a spare road bike I could set up on a trainer such as wahoo kicker or something similar. Besides price, how would I compare and contrast this versus Buying a stages SB20 and the experience I would have?

    • CowRob

      Interesting question.

      My case: I have a 2T, and the Tacx Smart Bike. Comparing the two is all in what you can put up with I guess.

      The 2T has the benefit of using my road bike, so shifting is same, noises are the same. Though the 2T rocks side to side, and that’s not an altogether great feeling to me. Plus the added issues of sweat management, and the bike/trainer interface. It’s obviously more complicated than riding outside on my road bike. Not to mention the idea of ‘bike fit’. The bike fitting on the trainer. The H2 wore down some of the brake hose connection on my road bike for example. AND the sweat does get into surprising areas I didn’t expect for some reason: like the chain. I didn’t realize it but I had a rusted chain with some sticky links as I ride with noise cancelling ear buds. The chain was a total loss, marinated in sweat for months. Wear and tear on the road bike is an issue for sure, but it’s your bike. Oh, and steering is possible, where it’s either not available (yet/ever) or really bizarre on a smart bike

      The Smart Bike is a ‘thing’. It’s all self-contained. The shifters are clunky, the whole thing is like riding a brick because there is no movement, no rocking, swaying, etc. It can be setup to the road bike measurements, but can still possibly feel odd for some reason (to me). It feels too tight where the 2T feels too sloppy. But I can just hop on and go, where the 2T could require the bike to be mounted, brake shim installed, skewer/axle checked, riding with a thong sweat protector, more fiddling with shifters for noise control, etc. One of my road bikes always seemed to require extra time to get on the trainer. Weird, but another one is just a breeze, and both are thru axle. So an integrated smart bike has benefits too.

      Pre-pandemic, the smart bike made sense because it was hop on and go. I loved the idea of just riding without having to go through the sometimes arduous process of installing and removing the bike. But in the end, they both provide a way to ride indoors. It’s all in what you can afford, and tolerate.

      One idea that some locals have done is put a cheaper bike on their smart trainer more permanently. One guy bought a second bike exactly like his main bike and uses that on the trainer rather than possibly compromise with a smart bike. *shrug*

      I probably over answered your question.

  7. Rob

    Real interesting area, and I expect a lot of innovation over next couple of years. I find it really strange that folks are implementing changers via little buttons rather than paddles. (Keep the buttons for programmable functions, but use the paddles for default.)

    Following all Tacx, Wahoo, Atom & Stages FB groups for these bikes there are many instances of failure / fault. I know full well that these groups don’t show the full picture & amplify the “bad stuff”… have you any feel for what the failure rates are on each make?

    Any smell of a bike coming from Elite that isn’t the fluoropista ?

    And finally … came across these the other day, I think through some random twitter link. Interesting ?

    link to magneticdays.com

    • Yeah, figuring out failure-rates from groups like that are indeed impossible and definitely over-amplified.

      In general, I get the impression that the Tacx failure-rate was pretty high initially. I mean, I don’t need to get that impression – I know that. After all, Garmin stop shipping them for months to work out production QA issues. Though, I think that was slightly less impacting to customers than not. Meaning, a lot of those products never made it to customers, but were held back. It sounds like things have largely stabilized.

      Wahoo certainly had some issues early on, but frankly, they shipped so few units for so long that it didn’t matter. I mean, crazy low unit volumes. Still low unit volumes, and still can’t order one in the EU.

      Wattbike is definitely a ‘low-maintence’ kinda product. The ‘just works’ factor there is crazy high. In part because it’s a very simple design where there’s not a lot of places things can go wrong.

      Far too early to know on Stages. There’s been a few hiccups here and there. Stages is pretty much on every forum from what I can tell tracking down anything that pops up. I suspect Stages has a massive upperhand here having produced gazillions of bikes before. Of course, where the gap for them is, is the software. That’s always kinda been the gap for Stages. They just need more software developers.

      Finally, as for that Twitter link. Umm…I have no idea what I’m looking at…but I can’t unsee it! I vote Lama gets to try out that one first. :)

    • chris benten

      Seems awful expensive for a magnetic trainer. And why battery powered? Does not look portable enough to be battery operated.

  8. JoJo

    Massive review, thanks Ray! Maybe I missed it in the text but how fast can you change the physical setup for multiple users? Especially is there an option to quick change saddles?

  9. Alan W

    Does anyone know if this Kickr bike has the ability, perhaps via a firmware update, to give left/right leg balance at some point in the future? I moved from the Atom which had this feature and, reading about the new Stages bike, it seems this bike also has this ability. It’s quite useful for monitoring and recovering from an injury, when used with Garmin 1030.

  10. Akiva Wasser

    Does the bike have an option for 170mm cracks. From your close up, it seems that there are only three options.
    Also, for curiosity’s sake, is there a way to take off the cracks and use them as a power meter on a regular bike?

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes, it has 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, 175mm options.
      (the 170mm option is visible in the 2nd detail pick showing the pedal and power meter arms)

  11. Changren Y.

    Since the Stages bike is only simulating gearing, does it run into issue with accurately holding the same power in ERG mode when you are in different “gears”, like a direct drive trainer, for example the Tacx Neo smart trainer?

  12. Heinrich Hurtz

    I really like the idea of a dedicated stationary bike rather the a bike-on-trainer, and I’d be sorely tempted to get one if/when it had built in motion, similar to what the Saris MP1 provides. I’m currently on a Saris Hammer trainer and have little to complain about.

  13. Skyewalkr

    Regarding optimal setup with something like a Garmin edge 830, is it better to set it up as a “smart trainer” for full full FE-C control via Ant+ or to pair the power/cadence separately? From your description, it would seem that FE-C is optimal as you get the full suite of data (including speed), but I’m wondering that if you set it up this way with full trainer control are you able to record your workout via the Garmin while also having a separate app control the workout (Zwift, TR, Fulgaz etc)?

    Basically I’m looking to run something like Zwift or TR, have ERG/app control and shifting work perfectly within that app whilst also recording all available data via the Garmin head unit (speed, power, cadence, torque, balance etc). Is it possible with the Stages?

    • Dan

      I connect the SB20 to Zwift for full control and connect my Garmin to the crank arms, or a different app. Nice to have to separate power connections.

  14. Ryan

    Thanks as usual Ray for the informative review.
    After being massively disappointed as an early adopter of a v1 Atom, I’m being cautious before choosing my next smart bike.

    I will be very interested to read your next post about Zwift, but from what I’m hearing from you already doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    Basically, a stages bike with kickr type gear shifting is the ultimate setup. Do you think it would be possible for stages to engineer a new handlebar setup and offer it as an upgrade, or would we be looking at waiting for the v2 bike in your opinion?

  15. Niels

    Thanks for both of the reviews, very helpful in making a choice between different smart bikes (SB20 vs Wahoo). Is it possible that a shifting bump will be added in a firmware update? Or is that hardware related?

    • Kevin

      Torque/current interrupts are all software-based. Same story for road surface simulation. I imagine that the only thing that could stop the implementation are patents.

    • Dan

      Stages has indicated that they intend to use phone vibration when shifting as an indicator. Not sure how well that will work, but that’s their plan.

    • RE: Hardware for shifting vibrations in handlebars

      As Dan noted, perhaps there’s a phone plan. I’d also question how successful that’ll be. Mostly because of the delays there. It’d have to be instant, and typically speaking it’s going to be hard for the Bluetooth side of that to be that quick. But again, we’ll see.

      Realistically, I’d rather just see them focus on a new V2 handlebar with the vibrations built-in, along with real bike-like shifters.

      RE: Hardware for road-feel like stuff

      Just to round out this question, it wouldn’t be possible for Stages to do the road-feel like bits that Tacx does, since they can’t stutter the flywheel since it’s not electromagnetic. Wahoo and Wattbike both could technically (Wattbike on their V2 unit), but I don’t know what patents/etc might stand in the way of that.

  16. Stefan Beyer

    Hi Ray, love Your review and the SB 20 seams to be the smart bike I need. I would use the SB 20 together with my wife but we use totally different saddles. Is there a possibility to change saddles quick like an a normal bike with 2 different seat posts?

  17. Garry

    Enjoying all these smart bike reviews. Add me to the list of people awaiting the Wattbike Atom V2 review / update.
    Contemplating replacing my Wattbike Pro with an Atom with the new resistance.

  18. David Chrisman

    Hoping they can get the ERG sorted out–this really sounds like the winner from a multi rider set up option point of view.

  19. ferdinand R Tomas

    i like tank like built of this, the price of the atom, the shifters of the virtua bike, the software of the wahoo.

  20. Rob Ford

    Hi all,
    Am looking at one of these as my home trainer, but my wife wants to be able to do spin classes as well. I have been looking around the web and don’t really get any great answers. If I subscribe to the Peleton app for my wife what type of interaction can I expect from this bike? Will any wattage/hr data be displayed in the peleton app? Is it easy to follow along with instructors and get the maximum benefit from the class?

    • You won’t get any interaction from a wattage/cadence/resistance standpoint on Peloton, though, that’s 100% the fault of Peloton. With Peloton’s digital app (meaning, you don’t have a physical Peloton bike) they only allow pairing of HR straps and cadence sensors, not power meters/trainers.

      You could though at least pickup a cadence sensor and affix it to it, and then you’d get cadence.

      It’s easy to follow instructors, and you could execute the workout steps on this bike using the Stages App (by just simply matching resistance levels). It might not be perfect, but after a few workouts she’d find her groove.

    • Ian

      Rob’s issue is the same as mine was 2 months back. It was a really tough for me, but I caved to meet my wife more than half way. I wanted the Stages SB20, but we landed and have been using the Stages SC3 now for 2 months. My wife uses the Peloton App and is fine with not having the app record the info for Spin classes, but you could also record all of that with the Stages Flight app. I have been using the SC3 with Rouvy with and without Training Peaks workouts and aside from not having ERG, I settled on saying I’m fine with this setup. Maybe I’ll get a smart trainer down the line or the SB20 in a few years, but I have power like on the actual bike for now and the SC3 is a tank and my bikes get to live free and outside as intended.

    • Rob Ford

      I am going to make my case for the SB20 tonight at dinner. Wish me luck :)

    • Ian

      If I had to do it all over again I would say there’s more controllable résistance settings and you don’t have to take your hands off the bars to turn a dial. The Peloton classes are pretty sweet, the variety of classes beyond cycling for stretching, yoga and strength are a nice plus! Hope your luck is better than mine, but you have a stronger case with Ray’s review at your disposal now.

    • “I am going to make my case for the SB20 tonight at dinner. Wish me luck :)”

      Hope it went well!

      If not, then my Peloton review being released shortly probably won’t help your case. So…better get your convincing done before then!

    • Ben Thomas

      Peloton Spin Classes can be linked with zwift for erg mode workout apparently. link to facebook.com

      I assume that would work on all the smart bikes

    • Ian

      Ray when is your Peloton review coming out? It’s been a while since this post. Curious because the wife saw the info about the new Peloton Bike yesterday and well in 2 weeks we will have both a Stages SC3 and Peloton for a short while (unless I keep the SC3, but really would prefer a Kickr or Elite Suito).

  21. Andrew Green

    The main advantage of this bike over the other options (at least from a UK perspective) is that they are in stock and available to buy.

    Sadly that can’t be said of the Tacx Neo Bike (I’ve had one on order since late March, latest estimate for availability is 3rd August although I expect this to change) Wattbike Atom (V1 or V2 with latest estimates mid-August) or Wahoo Bike (SigmaSports briefly had stock recently, but quickly sold out).

    Fingers crossed supply chains open up again sooner rather than later.

  22. Jeffrey Thomas

    Hi Ray/All,

    I just finished setting up my new SB 20 smart bike. All seems to be well, however I’m hearing a high pitch whining noise when I apply even the slightest bit of force on the pedals. The whining noise seems to be coming from down by the flywheel. It sounds like an electrical noise. Not a physical noise, if that makes sense.

    The noise disappears when I let off applying any force on the pedals – The flywheel can still be spinning.

    So I don’t think it’s the flywheel. I’m thinking it may be the resistance unit.

    I hear the whining noise in “Simulation”, “Egr”, and “Level” modes of operation.

    Also, the whining noise occurs and starts to get even louder when I squeeze the brake levers, even when I’m barely spinning and applying very light force on the pedals.

    I’ve updated the firmware for the bike to version 1.8.3+850. And I’ve updated the power meter firmware to version 1.6.3.

    Just curious Ray if you, or if anyone else who has the bike, has encountered this issue.



    • Eeks, no, I haven’t heard that. But, my guess is if you ping the Stages folks, they’ll answer pretty darn quick and sort ya out. Sorry!

    • Eric

      There is a normal high pitched noise from the flywheel area like you describe. May change when you apply the brakes. They all do it. When the fan is on and or music you would never notice it. Only in a quiet room with no other noises

    • Jeffrey Thomas

      Hi Eric and Ray,

      Thanks for both of your thoughts.

      I’ve uploaded an audio file to soundcloud.com demonstrating the whining noise.

      The link for the audio file is:

      link to soundcloud.com

      Does this sound normal to you?

      When listening to Ray’s youtube video review of the bike (above) at the 13 minute mark, I’m not hearing any sort of whining noise on his bike, like the noise I hear on my bike.



    • Jeffrey Thomas

      Here is a link to an additional audio file demonstrating the whining noise. In this case I’m just spinning the pedals, and I’m not squeezing the brakes:

      link to soundcloud.com


    • Martin Vereecken

      Maybe this FB-group might help you: link to facebook.com – it’s an active community of users sharing successes and issues with the bike. I think Stages support is quite active in it.

    • Weird, I don’t think I hear that on this bike. Either because it’s just resonating/absorbing differently in the cave, or something. Or maybe since I got the clunk-clunk noise I didn’t get the whine? :)

    • DA

      Mine makes the same noise. Coincides with the brakes too.

    • Bob

      Jeff, I now experience the same high pitched noise on my SB20. Have you had any luck resolving it? Thanks,

    • Jeffrey Thomas

      Firmware Release #: v1.10.0 (Released back on 10/28/20) seemed to clear up the high pitched noise I was hearing, especially when I would squeeze the brakes. I now only just barely hear the noise. As such, the noise issue on my end was clearly software related. Your noise issue may be something entirely different. I suggest you check the facebook SB20 users group, where there are many discussions about various noise issues.

  23. Zac

    Have you happened to try a pair of Assioma/Vector pedals and Powermatch to see if it makes ERG mode more or less consistent? Any info from Stages on when we’re likely to see an improvement via FW? I know you said you’ve tested several Beta FW releases, are you optimistic that this can/will be resolved via FW?

    • No, typically power match makes things worse in oscillation cases like this. Plus, the Stages Bike actually already has that – it has two power meters on its crank arms that it uses. :)

      I’m optimistic they’ll be able to implement smoothing, but whether or not that reduces oscillations under the hood (which would show up when compared to other power meters), is more challenging.

  24. JF Smith

    Ray, did you try any of the other apps? I own a SB20 and it does not work with Rouvy. There was promise of firmware upgrades but for the time being mine is collecting dust.

    • I tried TrainerRoad and Zwift via both ANT+ & BLE.

      I don’t think I tried Rouvy this time around.

      That said, which OS version doesn’t work, and via what method? I’m somewhat surprised if it doesn’t work, especially if over ANT+ FE-C.

    • Ron Skyewalkr

      btw i would suggest joining the fb group for the stages sb20. very useful bunch of folks there who can help you to get sorted. i can assure you though, rouvy works perfectly fine on the SB20. it’s one of my preferred apps at the moment (at least during my free trial period)

  25. Lee

    Mine arrived yesterday. As always, your reviews are excellent however they always seem to miss out on the “fun” that us regular retail purchasers get.

    Firstly, the comedy value that is in the build manual. Step5, Step6a, Step6a again, then 6b, 6b again in four pictures, all with arrows to help you guess what they mean when a single sentence would have been easier.

    Secondly, the fact that it took me over 20 minutes to update the firmware on the cranks. Why? Because when the app discovered my bike, it put down ANT IDs for cranks which I dont have – trying to get the app to see the new cranks was impossible, many repeated failed attempts, in the end I used the old stages power app to update the firmwares on the cranks, then paired them using that, then had to remove the bike from the new app, re-add it, and even then, the firmware had to be updated using the new app because it wouldn’t register the fact the cranks were 1.6.8 even though they were. Classic stages app and fech, nothing much changed since my first stages crank some 4 years ago :)

    Other than the tech BS, the build quality is excellent and the product looks solid. Very smooth riding. I pre-ordered mine ages ago, the simple fact the competitors have a daft top bar with thigh rub rules them out.

    • Haha…I didn’t even notice the duplicate numbers. But I agree, the manual at times made me scratch my head. You can actually see my repeated ‘Huh’ moments assembling it in the video, especially around the 2:25 marker, since that segment I think was sped up about 20x I think. That said, by time I sat down to write the review 2 months later some of the items seemed sorta petty.

      I had meant to actually send Stages a ‘Here’s my thoughts on the install process’ e-mail after I did it, but never quite happened. In any case…

      I did actually talk about the firmware updater process up above with the cranks. In my mind, that should be just self-contained. I should connect to the bike, and then it should know what the crank arms are, and go off and update them. I shouldn’t have to update three things.

      Of course, I also get that doing so requires more software development time, and I’m sure it’s on the list. And so if I have to choose between a cumbersome firmware update process being fixed, or getting dual BLE shipped, I’m gonna choose dual BLE every time.

    • Lee

      Yep, once you’ve built it, when you go back you can see what they are on about with their arrows and as you say, it seems a bit petty.

      I’m not talking about crank firmwares being done at the same time as the main bike, oh no I would have settled for doing them individually – but the stageslink app showed different ANT IDs for the cranks than the ones on the bike. Unable to change as the stageslink app couldn’t see the correct cranks to do firmwares and pairing. So I had to revert back to the old stagespower app, find and update the cranks, then pair them, then I could find/register them against the bike in the stageslink app. Essentially, had it not been for the fact that guys like us have done battle with stages (and other mfrs) apps/tech for years, it would have been a techsupport issue before you’ve even taken a single ride. I find I spend more time updating firmwares and resolving tech issues than I do performing basic maintenance like swapping chains and rings lol.

    • Oh, that’s weird on crank ID’s. I didn’t have that happen I don’t think. Different ones of course per side, but that’s a normal Stages LR thing.

    • Lee

      It was almost like the bike was built with two cranks, which then got swapped, because I can think of no other reason why “scan for cranks” would bring up 4. And I don’t have any stages cranks within reach before you ask ;-)

  26. JF Smith

    From Rouvy support team, “…we have reached out to Rouvy regarding app configuration and SB20 control, unfortunately it appears this is not yet a supported feature.”

    I feel it is VERY misleading to continue to advertise compatibility that doesn’t exist. I would have never purchased the SB20 had I known.

    • Again, that’s weird though. What app OS are you trying to use – mobile or desktop, and then which OS?

      I could see there perhaps being some FTMS issue (semi-common in the industry) over Bluetooth, but I’d be super surprised if desktop over ANT+ FE-C is broken there.

    • JF Smith

      IOS 13.5.1 on my Iphone XR and Ipad Pro 3rd gen.

      SB20 connects to Rouvy just does not control.

    • Gotchya, so in that case it’s using FTMS (via Bluetooth).

      In general FTMS is pretty stable these days, and since it seems to work without issue for both TR & Zwift, my guess here is that this is more of a Rouvy issue (since I can just about guarantee Zwift isn’t doing anything special as a one-off for Stages). But it’s always hard to tell.

    • Ron Skyewalkr

      rouvy works on the sb20 just fine. full trainer control, zero issues (outside of an android specifc bug in the latest rouvy app update)

      a couple of suggestions/things to look out for. in the old stages link app (prior to yesterday’s update), you were not able to have the link app paired to the trainer at the same time you’re paired with another app (like rouvy). so the issue you’re having is that rouvy is trying to control the bike but the link app won’t give up control. either disable bt on the phone that’s running the link app or shut down the app (i’m on android so idk if that’s something you do on ios). the other way to do it is to just shut everything down and power on rouvy and the bike only (NOT the link app). you’ll get paired and everything will work great.

      there was an update to both the SB20 and the stages link app yesterday that eliminates these issues. it enabled dual bt connections and provides an option in the link app to set the app to “external control” meaning you can use rouvy to properly control the bike and just use the app to view your gears. it’s the 2.7.2 update

    • JF Smith

      Thanks Ron, very helpful and will try again today. I’ve been waiting for the updates and will try it again today.

  27. Graham Clarke

    Anyone know where can order one in the UK? Stages site won’t allow it

    Secondly if money was no object and zwift is main thing what would you go for? (Currently use wife peleton with garmin vector 3 pedals but a bit fiddly)

    • Lee

      Sigma Sports in UK.

      If money was no object, I’d use a road bike on a KICKR. Thats my setup, the SB20 was for the family.

    • Graham

      Thanks for the reply , Sigma Sports don’t have it, couldn’t find it so rang them, a few places have it on pre-order now.

      Re road bike, the changing back and forth is a bit of a pain isn’t it? Im doing more indoor training at home based on time. Also I get very bad rash from chain oil and weeks of itching..

      I do like the look of Kickr, but then was looking at the bike..

    • Lee

      Hi Graham….

      changing bikes can be a chore I guess. I’m on the (indoor) bike 6 days a week, so I use an older bike permanently setup on the KICKR. It stays there all year apart from when I go to Mallorca as its my “won’t mind too much if the airline crush it” bike :)

      Due to illness haven’t yet tried the stages bike on TR or Zwift etc !

  28. Kevw

    Do you think the partnership with Les Mills will go any further?

    link to lesmills.com

    Maybe something to challenge Peloton? My wife already subscribes to Les Mills on demand for their other classes. They do a version of spinning called “RPM” but at the moment its just non-interactive videos.

    • Graham Clarke

      Other have tried this, Nordiktrak do it on the x22i with ifit and now live classes, but not sure how popular it is, I suspect its more brand.

      That would be interesting though as I have Les Mills On Demand, and RPM runs at my local gym and I find them great for VO2 Max training.

  29. Beatrice

    What do you think about ATOMX?
    is ist working properly with ZWIFT? Can you use all the 22 gears in Zwift. ERG Mode working?

    • All those functions work in Zwift today. I have both an ATOM X and an ATOM 2020. They are both similiar and different.

      The ATOM X and 2020 both share the new electromagnetic drivetrain, which makes gear-shifting much faster. I’m going to try and record a simple demonstration of it compared to the original Wattbike ATOM. But, it’s faster. Still, it’s the same 11 or 22 gear option as before. They’re working towards the same gearing flexibility you see in other products, and maybe will have aspects of that later this year.

      Beyond the ATOM X being beefed up for commercial usages, it also has vibrations in the shifters, which the Wattbike ATOM 2020 doesn’t have. That’s a big bummer, as they really help you feel like the shift is made.

      As for ERG mode, that’s definitely a bit rocky right now. It’s worse in variability than the Stages Bike for sure. I had a call with them and all their engineers about it this morning. They know the issue, and roughly know how to solve it (essentially, the new electromagnetic resistance unit is so powerful that it’s overcompensating to even half-RPM differences). It’s basically the same exact problem that Tacx had with their beefed up NEO 2T internals, and to a lesser degree some of the challenges Wahoo had initially too in ERG mode on the KICKR Bike.

      I’d say I’m more confident that Wattbike can fix it’s ERG mode issues than Stages (even though they’re bigger issues), because in Stages case they’re fighting a giant physical flywheel. Whereas in Wattbike’s case they’re just fighting programming.

  30. Lee

    Hi Ray

    I notice today there is a firmware upgrade. Its gone from “1.8.3+850” to “1.9.2+2629”.

    I tried looking/searching online but cannot find any release notes. If you know where Stages have them tucked away that would be useful. Failing that, if you know whats been changed I’m all ears :)

  31. DA

    I’ve had my SB20 for several weeks. I had some shipping problems, but that’s to be expected with the current Covid situation. I was able to fix the noise from their FAQ online. I believe some retaining bolts came loose because of poor shipping practices by the freight company. Once fixed, the noise is gone. I speculate some freight companies don’t keep it upright as required and that’s how some fly wheels are being damaged as reported on their FB user group. Either way, Stages support has been exceptional in addressing any concerns. I’m confident they’ll be there if anything goes wrong. My bike is an early SN and the flywheel is fine. I write this comment because the negative are often magnified and not the satisfied users.

    I will say that for me, the drive is not “whisper” quiet as some reviews claim, but it’s decently quiet and quieter than one of the videos I watched for one of the other bikes on DCrainmaker.

    Software has been great. I use Rouvy on an ipad and Stages Link on my phone for shifting. Amazing. No issues at all. Left/right power is very useful to see.

    Adjusting it is a breeze if you have multiple users. Numbers on the seatpost make it super easy.

    IMO, this is the smart bike to get of the 3 big ones out now.

  32. Axel

    Hi Ray,
    my girlfriend and me want to share an indoor bike. However, she’s more into spinning and me into Zwift, Fulgaz and so on. A combination that seems to be quite common outside.
    I now got a KICKR BIKE for testing but … unlike a spinning bike pedals can be stopped while the flywheel is still turning. I guess there’s no chance to change that (at least I found none).
    I’ve read that the SB20 I read has a fixed 5:1 gear, so that means, pedals keep moving as long as the flywheel is turning (like a spin bike). Can you confirm that?

    • Chad McNeese

      The SB20 has a freewheel to allow for coasting, like a normal bike.

      It is NOT a fixed gear setup like most spin bikes.

      The “fixed 5:1 gearing” you mention just means there is only one drive ratio, not adjustable gearing like a bike with derailleurs and shifters.

    • Lee

      You will not find that functionality (fixed gear/pedals spinning whilst flywheel spinning) in any smart bike, only indoor studio spin bikes.

  33. KamalaMala

    Having a bear of a time getting one of these up in Alaska. Clever Training never responded to shipping inquiries. Backcountry just won’t ship it here. Local stages dealer (treadmill, elliptical etc shop) won’t have it until 2021 because the dealer group is pushing to outdoor bike shops first. None in our bike shops though.

    Fingers crossed that Mack Cycle in Miami isn’t going to cancel my order.

    • KamalaMala

      Yep. They cancelled the crap out of that order.

      Ray! Any chance you can help me get Clever Training’s attention? I’m trying to buy a bike and join your VIP program with them, but no love.

    • Hi Kamalamala-

      Yup – will follow-up. I see it’s showing as in-stock, but my guess is that it’s the Alaska address causing issues?

      Out of curiosity, have you tried to place an order with CT?


    • Kamalamala

      Thanks!! I really appreciate the help. I get the attached message but no love when I try to contact them for a shipping rate.

    • Kamalamala

      CT finally got back to me. Due to size, weight, etc, Alaska gets nada. Suspecting that was the answer, I already made arrangements through one of our local Ikea/Catalog shippers that get things sent to them in Seattle and then fill a container to bring them up. The shipping will be a bit steep at $400 but right to my door. I’m guessing I’ll have the first one in the state! Hope I don’t have a bum unit.

      Thanks for trying to help, Ray!

    • Matt M.

      Whatever you do, don’t purchase from Clever Training. I ordered the SB20 in early August, and it’s been dead on arrival since. For its credit, Stages has been great to deal with although there seem to have been some manufacturing defects related to the flywheel and the handlebars on their first batch of bikes. From my conversations with technical support this is likely a non-issue now, but I’d be careful who you buy the bike from. Stages shipped me out a new flywheel but I’m still unable to ride the bike over two months after placing my order. Stages customer service has been great, but Clever Training has simply stopped responding to me after I asked to return and get a refund. I had to go through my credit card company, and I have still not received a response from CT. I was really bummed the bike didn’t work out, but I’m tired of trying to troubleshoot.

    • Kamalamala

      Finally up and running here in Alaska!! Moving, kids, blah blah, but I still think I’m first in the state. This thing is awesome on Zwift and stealth-sub quiet, particularly compared to my road bike on a Kurt kinetic. Thanks for the great review and guidance!

  34. Brian

    I just purchased the SB20 in a large part thanks to this review (plus those of the WattBike Atom, Tacx NEO Bike, and Wahoo KICKR). I’m trying to figure out peripherals/connections while I wait a few weeks for it to get here.

    I’m thinking of mounting a 16″ USB powered monitor (landscape), and hooking it up to a fire TV stick (also powered off the USB). The fire TV stick will be used as a steam remote play client for a Windows box (for zwift et al), and for its usual video watching capabilities. I have two questions related to this possible setup that I hoped you might be able to answer.

    I saw in the user guide that a 12 × 8.68 × 0.27 inch tablet is the max size supported. Obviously 0.27 is depth, but which of the other numbers is the actual maximum extension length of the tablet holder arm? If it’s 12″, it should fit no problem. If it’s 8.68″, it might be a close call.

    My second question relates to the USB ports. The monitor I’m looking at requires 2 amps. The fire TV stick requires 1 amp. You mentioned here that there are two 2 amp USB ports. My question is whether that’s 2 amps per port, or for both ports combined.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Mark @ Stages

      A direct reply from Stages. Our tablet holder was designed for iPad Pros, which has an opening of 270mm and will fit any iPad model in landscape, and even some in portrait such as the 11in and smaller ones. New 2020 model of the 12.9in measures 280mm in height, so this version will only work in landscape. Over time their bezels are getting smaller, so it’s possible future 12.9in models will fit in portrait mode.

      A 16in tablet sure would look nice on this bike, and most models out there will be ~230mm in landscape mode and fit well. I like your thinking here, and I’m sure more will follow suit down the line!

      On the USB question, the USB-A ports are 2.1A each. You should have no problems.


    • Brian

      Thanks Mark, I’ve got everything set up now and it works like a charm! I appreciate the help optimizing the display options.

  35. Richard

    Hi Ray, did you get the TT bars and have a look at them?

  36. Andrew

    Purchased and performed first ride. So smooth and quiet. I was lucky enough to find a bike shop where I could trial the kickr and the stages and the kickr was like a toy in comparison to this machine. The only and I mean only thing that is better and only because we as cyclists are used to it is the gear change. Other than that i found the kickr to be gimmicky. The only thing I can’t seem to get connected is my Fenix 5x to show speed. Power and cadence are fine. This dream set up that it has is awesome.

    • struggling_with_SB20

      How smooth is it? Mine was adjusted by a technician and it seems to grind still. I wish I could try one at a local store to compare. I would not call it smooth or quiet though. My road bike with conventional chain is much smoother. Probably quieter too.

    • Skyewalkr

      could you describe the “grinding”? the belt is a toothed gates carbon belt which has a feeling/sensation kind of like riding with a chain. it’s hard to describe but there’s definitely a feeling to it, which is perfectly normal

    • struggling_with_SB20

      Actually, you can hear a similar noise in Ray’s (when he’s not talking) review at 13:28-13:35. It’s a whir whir noise. Gets louder as he pedals faster. It’s not a constant grind, but sort of pulses with the pedal stroke. Mine’s louder than that, but very similar in fact. It doesn’t sound smooth either.

      link to youtube.com

  37. Andrew

    Unable to get stages sb20 bike to record speed to my Fenix 5x. Any others out there with similar issue. My watch picks up left and right crank as does my edge 1000 but not the flywheel. Really annoying as you cannot have a ride upload through Garmin connect and give you intensity data

    • But the power is the cranks – that’s what you pair to.

    • Andrew

      Yes but they don’t give speed so when you want your intensity minutes etc uploaded to garmin connect there is nothing to upload

    • Hmm, maybe that’s something that Stages can add in to the non FE-C channel.

      That said, intensity minutes, calories, etc… all come from HR (or power if there), so you should actually be getting those added in.

    • Andrew

      Will check that out…thanks DC

    • Andrew

      There has been talks that you don’t need the Fenix watch actually recording an activity to track IM but I rode for 20 mins to test this. I had the HR hooked up, power and cadence and my watch did not record the fact that my HR got elevated. So still no IM but I found a way to get speed and that was to use my Garmin 1000 head unit and it found the trainer but of course that does not upload any intensity minutes…come on Garmin sort your shit out. It’s pathetic that IM does not stream across all their devices. One day one company will put all these to shame and come out with a device that does it all properly

  38. tdufour

    Any firmware update to address the questionable ERG mode quality? It is a big show stopper for me as it is my preferred training method…

    • Trevor

      Curious about this too. Would hope to have seen some improvement over the last month or so.

    • Charlys

      Please provide update

    • Brian

      I’ve had mine for a couple weeks now, and ERG mode is still pretty unstable.

      As of right now the latest firmware is still v1.9.2, which was released toward the end of July, and didn’t include any updates related to ERG mode:
      link to manuals.stagescycling.com

      So despite the wait, I suppose there’s still hope that it will improve, since an update hasn’t been released yet that claims to have addressed it.

    • tdufour

      Brian can you confirm if ERG mode is improved with latest firmware update? Thanks!

    • Brian

      Oddly it won’t let me update to the newest firmware release. The app just tells me my firmware (which is still at v1.9.2) is up to date. I wonder whether they fat fingered the version number (seems like it should be v1.10.0 instead of v1.1.0). I contacted support to see why I can’t seem to update. I’ll post here again once I’ve been able to install and try it out.

    • Jean-Michel Lechevallier

      hi I am wondering if you had a chance to test the new fw v1.10.0. Naming was updated on their website now.
      I have a SB20 waiting for me at the store but I am on the edge to cancel my order as I am worried about the ERG mode with SUFFERFEST. I do all my trainings in ERG mode… and sufferfest usually keeps playing with power and pedalling speed targets.

      If anybody has tested, please share your experience

      I reached out to Stages on their facebook page and here is what I heard back

      “The difference between the StagesBike and others is that the power graph of power is much different than the feeling of the bike. What you will see with a stagesbike erg ride is a graph like the one attached, however the feeling during that effort is consistent with your experiences.

      The reason here is we have a very large flywheel that gives a realistic road feel, and actual power meters on the crank arms, so we are directly measuring power instead of an algorithm, and we also have a flywheel that provides inherent resistance due to its large moment of inertia. The average power within each lap is typically within +/-1w.

      I was a pro road rider for 5 years and this bike is working very well for me in erg mode, which is all i ride. I hope it works for you, some people do not like it and expect a very flat power graph, but in my opinion, this is much more “true” and realistic than other trainers.

      When the workout has a big target power increase for your sprint, it works well, if you do a huge increase in cadence with no increase in target power (say spin as fast as you can mid effort) the bike is still a little slow to react. Its quite quick on target changes (1s? Some rest intervals can drop power really low then returns to the right target after 2-3s).

      1.10.0 improved a lot of general things, so i think everything is a bit better in that release.

      One of the issues i do see with workouts is the super fast cadence increase with no target power change, we are going to be working on that for the next update.”

    • Brian

      I was able to update to 1.10.0 on Friday, and I’ve had a chance to do two workouts on Zwift using ERG mode.

      It definitely feels a whole lot better. It doesn’t fight me anymore while trying to get to equilibrium when the target power changes. That was my biggest complaint before – so I’m happy that seems to have improved.

      On the other hand, the power readings still fluctuate enough above and below the target that Zwift won’t give me a “star” for the block more often than not (though to be honest, this could just be because I’m fairly new to cycling and Zwift, and haven’t figure out how use everything properly). I’d like to do a direct comparison of the power graph to a workout a did using v1.9.2, but I haven’t repeated a workout that I did on the old firmware yet.

  39. Alex

    Hi Ray-

    Thank you for the review! Yours has been the most informative from all sources I could find online. I am very close to pulling the trigger on this bike to start my indoor set up – but I was hoping if you could comment a bit more on the noise levels of the smart bike.

    I live on the top floor of my apartment building – so my primary concern is the noise level and not disturbing my downstairs neighbors. In your opinion, do you think this is quiet enough so as not to get my neighbors knocking on my door? Thanks!

  40. marmi

    I can’t decide which would be a better purchase for the Stages SB20 or the Tacx Neo Smart Bike. Which would be your choice? The worst side of Stages is probably the software and, for example, the ERG mode, mechanically the device seems durable and the adjustments faster to use. Tacx would be a functional transmission, but mechanically weaker and if bad luck happens then there are problems with the belt and so on. The software side is better (?). Tacx’s weakness is still poor availability in Europe when Stages is available with a moderate delivery time.

    • Kaspar

      Hi. I am in the same situation, in my case for setting up our “mini-gym” between neighbours. I could convince them to get a “real cycling” bike instead of a spin bike or “old people ergometer” but which one to choose? Probably about 10-20 users. Tacx advantage: No power needed (important in our setting), shifters, road feel. Stages advantage: Durability, no leg rub. Tacx is about 100-200 CHF (=$) cheaper here in Switzerland. Wattbike Atom is unavailable and Wahoo WAY too expensive (same as Wattbike Atom X).
      Most important points for us: Need for mains power and durability.
      P.S. and Off-topic: There will be a second bike, probably Nohrd or potentially Peloton if I can manage to get it here. Anyone know if there are French language classes on Peloton (Canadian?)

  41. Tinus

    Hello Ray,

    The shifters don’t seem to work when using sufferfest although they are properly plugged in. The stages link app is on my iPhone open and the sufferfest on my iPad. In trying to find a solution I looked at the sufferfest and they don’t support the stages bike sb20, the same I saw on Zwift by the way. The other thing is that when I spin the flywheel to the max, the bike starts to vibrate. Is this normal? doesn’t to be ou

  42. Mark (Australia)

    Hi Ray,
    Did you resolve the noise coming from the flywheel?
    I purchased a new Stages SB20 this week. Third session on the bike it has developed an annoying clicking noise from the flywheel, it’s definitely not from the pedals or belt as the noise also continues when freewheeling.
    All of my time is on TrainerRoad using ERG mode, so far the experience is disappointing with the high levels of drift above and below the target power.
    The rest of the bike is solid.
    Feedback appreciated regarding the noisy flywheel.

    • Matthew ralph

      I have this issue now after about 3 weeks. I’m going to send an email to stages. See what they say. Have you found out the problem?

    • Mark

      Unfortunately still waiting on a response from Stages. At this point in time it’s likely I’ll be seeking a full refund. The after sales support so far is disappointing.

    • Andy Downs

      Hi Mark,
      I had this too, after about one week of use, there was a perceptible thunk (felt through the pedals) at a rate that was .67 of my cadence, and then a loud rapid ticking (heard despite wearing headphones) this is intermittent but getting more frequently. Stages are sending a replacement flywheel and a man to fit it. three weeks on i am waiting , thought they tell me stocks were due in end of last week,
      Overall noise (apart from that ) for Alex above, is low – my wife didnt even realise i was “on the turbo” until she heard me breathing. Erg variability is still present, it is more than on kickR even taking to account the fake smoothing that is applied.

  43. Colin Gray

    I don’t like Zwift but I have used the Wattbike at a local gym. However because of my age that is not a practical option at the moment so I am looking to but a suitable exercise bike. What I like about the wattbike is the structured sessions on the Wattbike App on my smartphone. Do stages provide anything similar for the SB20?

  44. MacCroat

    Hi Ray, I read your and other tests on various smart bikes. In the end it became the Stages SB20.
    I’m not a pro and I’m very overweight, the bike is supposed to help me get back into shape physically.
    One of the most important things in long training sessions is to make the right ergonomic adjustments.
    Unfortunately there are almost no instructions for this.
    Do you have a tip how to create a bike fitting for the SB20?
    An online source would be good.



    • Lee

      I think possibly you are over complicating this. As someone who also started out cycling from a very overweight perspective I can tell you that its likely the saddle/soreness will be your limiting factor. Provided you have a small bend left in your legs when the pedal is down, that will be fine. Even if you had a fit done, you would find that in time it would no longer be relevant. I started out with a 52 frame on a 70mm stem because i couldnt stretch/get low, now i’m on 54 frame with 130 stem.

      The SB20 has enough adjustment in all of the important areas to be comfortable; well as comfortable as any indoor bike can be.

      I bought the SB20 for my wife, she has been using it two weeks and currently 30 minute sessions are her limit before saddle soreness kicks in.

  45. Michael

    Thanks for the super helpful reviews. I’m weighing up the Stages vs the Wahoo. Price isn’t so much an issue – i just want to get the right bike, but it seems impossible to test ride them in the UK. Key downsides to the Wahoo to me seem to be the thigh rub (which would really bug me) and it just looks really rickety under load in all the videos I’ve seen. Positives are the shifters and the tilt, although the latter again looks a bit rickety. For the stages, the downsides to me just seem to be the shifters, although in practice this doesn’t seem a huge deal, and you mentioned it doesn’t power the flywheel on descents. In your experience, does the wahoo feel shaky, and are the shifters and lack of flywheel drive on the stages annoying or just a minor downside? And is the flywheel thing something they could hypothetically update in future via a software update?

  46. Ronald

    Bought it today, did some nice testruns.

    But have a weird issue.
    When I connect the bike to Zwift via Apple TV (BT)
    And have the shifting screen on my Apple phone (BT)
    And connect the bike to my Garmin forerunner 945 (ant)

    Than I’m only able to have half of the power in Garmin, it seems that when above applies my watch (or 530) only wants to connect to a single sided powermeter.

    When I lose 1 of the connections, everything works perfect. So with a watch and Zwift, the shifting screen won’t work.

    Everyone else got this issue?

    • Kamalamala

      Bought it?? As just walked in and walked out with one? I’ve been waiting in Alaska since August. Such a CF to get it up here.

    • Ronald

      I did read a lot of reviews and choose this one, and then with a lot of surfing on the web I managed to locate a couple at a local small dealer. I reserved one last tuesday, and today they were al sold out.

    • Ben

      Only had mine a week. I’ve sometimes only had half the power display on my Garmin sometimes. I think, which is what I’m going to try next, is if you only pair the left power meter as that gets the data from the right one and transmits all of it. I recommend joining the owners group on facebook. All the problems like this have been covered and is a good source of information.

      Also think the link app is a bit dodgy at the moment. I only use it for calibration and updates. Never have it open when in zwift. Apart from racing, everything I’ve done has been in erg mode so far. I have the Ant receiver strap to the cross bar on the bike with a 3m usb cable to the mac to make sure I don’t get any dropouts as had some on my first ride. There’s a lot to learn but I’m enjoying it so far.

    • Lee

      Hi Ben….

      so – you “should” be pairing to the ANT ID of the bike, not the left power meter. To say that using the left PM is “better” just shows there is something wrong. Fix, not workaround ;-)

      The bike does seem to be hit or miss when it comes to how the PMs integrate with the main bike. Today I noticed an upgrade for the crank PMs, but it took multiple attempts before both cranks showed the same 1.71 version. I also find that powering off the bike and back on is required in order to get it to accept resistance control changes.

      In my garmin I can only see ANT IDs broadcast for the bike, and the left PM. But it should be the bike one you use really. Esp if you want control of the bike through ERG/SIM etc.

      And generally its a very good idea to have nothing else paired or running whilst you’re using an ANT/BT device with an app. With dual BT functionality these days its less of an issue but it can be maddening sometimes when your app won’t see a device, all cos your phone in your pocket is holding onto a connection ;-)

    • Ben

      I have a Garmin 935 so will not be able to control the bike from it. I pair the bike with zwift and that works fine. Only need power and cadence on Garmin to get my training load. Which is why I think just the left will work.

    • Ronald

      I think I’ve sorted it.

      Don’t touch the Garmin so that you know for sure it ins’t searching any sensors.

      First connect to Apple TV, than connect to stages app on your phone. And when everything is running, connect to your Garmin.

      Then the smart bike is working and your Garmin is logging al the details. When I connect to my Garmin in the first step, one BT connection won’t happen.

  47. Jean-Michel L

    thanks for the great review. I am really looking at this bike vs the tacx mostly because of fit and also issue with thigh rubbing with tacx
    I am just wondering if there is any feedback about the ERG power stability issue that was raised and if this is resolved? I am heavy user of sufferfest so this is quite important to me. thank you

  48. Matthew ralph

    The knocking which rainmaker talked about in his review has started happening and is getting progressively worse. I’ve just taken a video to send to Wahoo support.

    Anyone else had this? Do they know what caused it?

    • Mark

      Unfortunately still waiting on a response from Stages. At this point in time it’s likely I’ll be seeking a full refund. The after sales support so far is disappointing.

  49. Dominic Donald

    I just invested in an SB20. Your review was a valuable part of my decision! I’m very happy with the bike.. you’re right. The bike itself is super-solid and easy to keep clean. One major advantage of the SB20 over the Tacx bike for me, was the range of adjustability – my partner (4’11”) can ride it with ease, which is great! It’s also incredibly quiet, even compared to my Tacx Neo smart trainer. Don’t even need earphones now! The tablet holder is very convenient, and the USB ports are essential.

    The only two relative downsides, compared to my Tacx Neo are:

    1) It does struggle with Erg Mode – as you noted in your review, the power does fluctuate around the average quite a bit. The other thing that you didn’t mention / notice, is that the bike is not responsive to big power changes. If I am riding at 250W and then the Erg goes to 400W for an interval, the SB20 can barely get there. The algorithm seems to struggle especially if you try to maintain or increase cadence at the same time. It only manages to increase the power properly if you slow down the cadence. Then, at the end of the interval, it take a good 10s or so to figure out how to get down to the prescribed power. It has trouble with the balance between varying cadence, actual power and target power from the three on-board power-meters.. as well as dealing with the flywheel.

    2) Probably related to this, it has trouble with setting the power as controlled by Zwift. If you’re on a hilly course, it doesn’t feel very responsive to gradient changes. With the Tacx Neo I could shift a gear, get out the saddle and go straight up to 420W (say) on a short climb. With the SB20, I get out of the saddle and it responds in a strange/unrealistic way.. I still haven’t figured it out, but the transmitted power seems to be much lower than it feels, and then it gradually creeps up.

    The feel of the bike is very smooth, which is great. It pedal stroke does feel ‘heavier’ than the Tacx Neo. Similar to when I moved from Wahoo Kickr to Tacx Neo, something felt different about the way you need to apply power around the pedal stroke. With the SB20, it really feels like you have to push the pedal more from 10-2 o’clock, whereas the Neo’s flywheel seemed to ease that part of the stroke. As a result, the load has shifted to different muscles and I notice the fatigue! the optimum cadence seems higher on the SB20 (around 98-100) as opposed to the Neo (90-95). Again, perhaps it’s the flywheel effect.

    The good thing is, all this could probably be fixed with firmware.
    The relatively poor shifter buttons could also be upgraded in future as an accessory, I imagine!

    All that said, it’s a great bit of kit and it works very well for training purposes. Well recommended.

    • Jean-Michel Lechevallier

      did you try the new firmware v1.10.0 to see if it improved the issues you mentioned? thanks

    • Richard

      Dominic – your 2 points are exactly how I’m dealing/feeling with the bike.

      For ERG mode, it just isn’t quite there, it takes 10-15secs to ramp up from 200w to 320w and by which time the 30sec interval is almost over and the same going back down to say 135w.

  50. Kasper Bech-Zimmermann Kristensen

    Thanks for a great review:)

    Can The Dual power meter go as an dual recording in zwift? Meaning, can you use the crank as main, and the flywheel A second on a garmin head unit?

    • Ron Skyewalkr

      no they’re independent left right power meters that work together as one unit when properly paired. there’s nothing stopping you from pairing to both zwift app and garmin. that’s what i do

  51. Michael Marzolf

    Dumb question, I am sure: do you need to turn the SB20 off when you are done with the workout? or just walk away?

  52. Tiffany Moerk

    We set up our SB20 yesterday and it won’t stop shifting. My phone constantly clicks or vibrates from the shifting feedback. It’s not rideable. Has anyone had this happen?

    • Yes, it happened to me. One or both of the plastic covers for the hoods was not placed perfectly when your bike was assembled, and the hood cover is pressing down one of the shifter buttons. The fix is simple: take off the hood (or hoods) with the problem and put the covers back on, being careful to place it exactly in the right place.

  53. Colin

    When using the Stages Bike with TrainerRoad is it possible to use the gears on the Stages Bike. (IE In ‘Resistance’ mode

  54. Great article and write-up, Thank you! One question…
    When you state on the ‘Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)’ as ‘No (But kinda)’, can you elaborate please? The Kickr states yes. What is the difference? It infers to me that the kickr will ‘coast’ downhill and pick up speed if the grade gets steeper? Does that mean that the SB20 won’t? That is very important if you can’t rest but still continue to ride downhill. Can you elaborate on this please?
    THank you

  55. cory_g

    Have there been any improvements to the ERG mode for use in trainer road or zwift? My only use case for a trainer or bike is to do structured workouts so it needs to work well enough with ERG mode to do that.

  56. Brian

    I finally got around to re-doing a workout that I had done with the old firmware. I can now say with confidence that ERG mode has significantly improved in the most recent firmware updates. For reference, the workout was Macro to Micro:
    link to whatsonzwift.com

    I attached the same section of the power graph from both workouts (the first two interval sets). v1.9.2 is on the top, and v1.10.2 is on the bottom. The graphs confirm my thoughts from my initial post using v1.10.0 – that it doesn’t seem to be fighting me as much to get to equilibrium when the target power changes. It also seems to be a lot better at keeping the power close to the target range. Just looking at the variance in the peaks and valleys in each of the 8 intervals tells a pretty good story about how much more stable it is.

  57. Nick

    I have a Garmin heart rate monitor that only transmits on Ant+.

    If I pair the SB20 with an Apple TV for Zwift etc will I get any heart rate data displayed or will I have to get a Bluetooth HRM instead ?

  58. John

    Hi Ray, great review as usual. I was just wondering if you were planning to update your smartbike shootout anytime soon. I’m torn between the Kickr and the Stagesbike and looking for inspiration to help me decide.

    • Funny timing. As I’m trying to get all these bikes back to their manufactures this month, I actually just shot the intro and outtro portion of the video this morning (plus the photos I’ll need). I don’t know exactly when I’ll shoot the rest of the sandwhich, or write up the post.

      However, my general guidance on KICKR BIKE vs SB20 is that the SB20 is a solid bike, and the KICKR Bike is a great bike too. Ultimately, it’ll really come down to what you can afford. As GPLama said a year or so ago, for the most part the pricing on these bikes are all inline with what you get for them.

    • Kaspar

      Being based in continental Europe, finances dictate either SB20 (about €3000) or Tacx bike (about €2800, Wattbike unavailable and Kickr > 700€ above the others). Building common room, so potentially many different users.
      Same-same or a clear preference for the SB20?

    • Matthew


      Assuming for the moment that you could afford both the SB20 & Kickr bike, and you were going to use them for the below, which would you buy?
      1). Me – exclusively TrainerRoad
      2). My wife – “free ride”, maybe following along with app spin classes


  59. John

    Great I can wait.

    Its not like I can buy either at the moment anyway, I’ll stick to the old faithful Elite Power Fluid for a bit longer.

    If it was just for me I would probably go kickr but my wife will use to more like a spin bike so I’m thinking the SB20 might be better option for both uses.

    Do you think the Tacx bike might get an upgrade next year?

  60. Robin


    Recently owner of the Stages bike. I have a lot of connectivity issues.
    1. Left powermeter not visible in stagespowerapp and because of that not updatable.
    Powermeter shortly pops up when i remove and replace the battery. But after 3 seconds it’s gone again.
    2. When connected to stageslink on my phone (to see the dreamdrive) and connected to Zwift (on PC) shifting gears is not working.
    3. In stageslink app the L/R powerbalance is 100:0 when the bike is not used. Shouldn’t this be 50:50 or 0:0 at that time?

    Any users have an idea that might help?

    • Brian

      For #1 I wonder whether it’s just a dead battery. If you don’t have one on hand, you could try swapping from the right just to see if it stays on.

      I’m not sure about #2, but I have seen weird interactions between Zwift and stageslink depending on which app you start first (e.g. disabling ERG mode if I start stageslink mid workout). It seems to be reliable if I start stageslink first, then connect with Zwift.

      I wonder whether #3 is related to #1, but that’s just speculation.

    • Colin Gray

      I am having a similar problem. Sadly whilst the Stages bike is a rock solid build it seems the software can be a problem. What’s worse is that for such an expensive product Stages support is dreadful.

    • Peter Gintz

      I am also having these problems; Stages Link seems to continually lose the power meters. Then the gears fail to work. Zwift seems to hold a better connection. Going Bluetooth only (within Stages Link) makes no difference. I’ve changed the batteries, moved the Bluetooth/Ant+ sensors to within a meter. ensured all drivers up-to-date, it doesn’t help. Probably going to have to return it.
      Stages LLC has also not replied to emails, their support to UK seems non-existent. Saddleback (UK distributor) are a bit better. I bought it from Wiggle, who annoyingly do not publish a phone number, I get email replies, but promised follow up contact has not happened yet.

  61. antimony

    I was looking at the Stages page, and their news mentions the most recent upgrade to Dream Drive is the ability to have sub-1:1 gears, which I never would have even thought was a thing they *wouldn’t* have.

    So: what’s the lowest (and someone is probably curious about highest, but not me) ratio each of the “big” smart bikes can handle? (Yes, I realize I could tweak trainer difficulty, but I’d rather replicate my sub-1:1 road bike setup.)

  62. Emilio

    Thank you.
    Which programmes do have real movies of many routes that really work with the Stages biketrainer SB20, that we just bought? I mean the programmes that really follow your input on the pedals.
    We would like to use programmes that show realistic roads that also respond to your imput.
    I was told that f.i. FulGas does continu with the video while you yourself stop pedaling.

  63. Erik

    I read both the stages review and tacx. Which would be better suited for an apartment as far as noise/vibration through the floor where a downstairs neighbor could possibly hear? I seem to be narrowing my purchase down between these two and am conflicted which to choose.

  64. JTC

    About to purchase a SB20 from my LBS – new batch of bikes arriving in two weeks. Does anyone have thoughts on ways I could introduce some ‘wobble’ to the SB20. Was sort of wondering if it would be possible to put something flexible under the 4 feet to introduce a small amount of play to the pedaling action of the SB20. Likely I am fine without it – but sometimes my old knees like a little give in the pedaling platform. Curious if anyone has any thoughts on how/if this could be accomplished. Don’t need much – just a bit of give.
    Thoughts? thx

  65. Mark Redman

    Thanks for a great review, as always. I used it to decide on the purchase (compared with a couple others I was considering) and then for the assembly. I am curious have you had experience with or feedback about replacing the power meters on the crank arms?

    I’m not sure, because I cannot get a response from Stages support (via Facebook Messenger, phone or online ticket), but I think the ones that came on my bike are bad. Upon initial setup, the power meters connected promptly with both apps (StagesLink and StagesPower) and updated the firmware, but the power reads 0 for both all the time, even while the cadence is accurate in the apps. I have followed each step for both applicable troubleshooting pages from the website half a dozen times to no avail. I also power cycled everything I could think of, replaced the power meter batteries, and uninstalled/reinstalled the apps while everything was powered down. The meters keep connecting but always reading “0” for power.

    Do you or any of the other commenters have either a suggestion for more troubleshooting I could try or experience with replacing the power meters on the SB20? Also is there any other way to reach Stages if they are not responding via FB, phone messages or online tickets? TIA!

    • Colin Gray


      Is there any way you can use your influence to get Stages ‘Up to speed’ with customer support. Whilst the SB20 build is great there are clearly significant issues with software. Mark is not alone. It takes 8/9 days to get a response to a ticket and any other e-mail follow up is just ignored. Solving these problems often requires ‘Try’ reply and ‘Try’ again, sometimes more than once. For such an expensive, quality product, this is not good enough!

  66. Colin Gray


    Is there any way you can use your influence to get Stages ‘Up to speed’ with customer support. Whilst the SB20 build is great there are clearly significant issues with software. Mark is not alone. It takes 8/9 days to get a response to a ticket and any other e-mail follow up is just ignored. Solving these problems often requires ‘Try’ reply and ‘Try’ again, sometimes more than once. For such an expensive, quality product, this is not good enough!

  67. bruce w

    Just got the stages sb 20 and so far i am extremely frustrated with the bike. assembly went well but not able to use it for training. I used the stage link app to configure but when i ride the screen is garbled. the rpm which display with a huge font overlays everything but the left most portion of watts. I do not see a display of what gear you are in which i thought was a function of stages link. Also, I have been unable to find any documentation on this screen.

    I have been able to connect with a trial of sufferfest but the values do not appear accurate. with watts around 150 and cadence at 100+, the top speed is only around 12 mph. the cadence feels higher than what is reported and resistance low.

    I have a support call in with stages but they say it will 4 – 6 days before they get back with me. not at all acceptable. i’m hoping that these are sw problems that can be easily fixed but until they are fixed, i recommend people avoid buying this bike.

    • Mark R

      Brief update: 17 days after submitting an online support ticket on 12/12/20 (in addition to leaving messages by telephone and Facebook) re the SB20 issue I described above, I still have not received any technical support. A customer service rep has replied a couple times by FB Messenger, but it’s “crickets” from technical support.

    • bruce w

      Mark R, Like you I’ve had problems with the bike. It’s not clear to me if your lack of power reporting is in the stages apps or a 3rd app like Zwift or Sufferfest. I had inconsistencies with the power reported by stages link and sufferfest. I resolved this by having the sufferfest just connect to the bike and not the individual power meters. then the readings were fairly close and consistent.

      if you don’t see power meter in the stages app, you might try to use an app like sufferfest to see if you can get power meter output.

    • Mark R

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      To be fair to Stages, I have now heard from their support. They were excellent–apologetic for the delay, thoughtful in their analysis, and helpful with next steps.

      Now that things are working well, I am loving it!

      Ray, if you had anything to do with prodding them to up their responsiveness, thanks! Love your site and appreciate all the info!

    • bruce wheeler

      Mark Glad you got your power meters working. I’ve had problems with mine. Replaced the batteries and they now work. The old batteries still had good voltage and both power meters went out within minutes of one another, so I don’t really think it was dead batteries. So I don’t know why they now work What was the magic done for yours.

    • Mark

      I’m not sure because I tried a few things several times. My best guess is that continuing to replace the batteries repeatedly finally achieved some sort of reset that allowed the power to transmit. But I don’t know if that’s right, because the power meters did pair effectively with the Stages Link and Stages Power apps from the beginning—they just weren’t registering any power. Anyway, seems functional now. Cheers!

    • Mark

      I’m not sure because I tried a few things several times. My best guess is that continuing to replace the batteries repeatedly finally achieved some sort of reset that allowed the power to transmit. But I don’t know if that’s right, because the power meters did pair effectively with the Stages Link and Stages Power apps from the beginning—they just weren’t registering any power. Anyway, seems functional now. Cheers!

    • bruce wheeler

      Mark, thanks for the update. My power meters failure to connect disappeared after a couple of battery changes. If I knew this would work again and wasn’t that frequent, it is something I could deal with. But without any response from Stages support, I’m left to guess.

  68. JTC

    Curious what SB20 owners are using for structured workouts in ERG or SIm. I have been a long-time Rouvy user for racing/group rides and also for structured workouts as Rouvy imports my Training Plan from TrainingPeaks and I was using the Rouvy Training APP (NOT the same as Rouvy AR app) to control my training. Now that I have bought the SB20 – Rouvy Training app cannnot control the SB20 bike…it only can find the Stages crank power meters and does not find the bike at a controllable sensor. I notice in the Stages Owners guide – Stages indicates Rouvy does not work in ERG mode with the SB20.
    So without switching to Zwift/Trainerroad – what are people recommending for controlled structured workouts (erg) imported from my TrainingPeaks plan?? Thanks

    • bruce w

      Problems continue for me with the sb20. For awhile, I was able to get stages link app to work by doing a forced stop and then restarting the app. Then yesterday this didn’t work, so i had to uninstall stages link completely. eventually, after spending nearly an hour trying different things, i was able to connect and get my training ride in. then today, had the same problem and after uninstalling the app eventually was able to connect with stages link to the bike but neither power is reporting. spent over 1 1/2 hours on this and had to abandon my training ride.

      Got the bike 12/17 and have spent way more time trouble shooting problems than riding it. Support doesn’t respond to tickets. So I had my credit card company reverse charges. Not going to pay over $3,000 for a bike that is unusable.

      It would be good if DCRainmaker would chime in with their perspective. The product review was one of the reasons I bought the bike. Losing confidence in this site.

    • Indy Jonze

      are you using the link app as your soul source of training? not using anything else such at zwift, trainer road fulgaz etc? I’m just trying to figure out why you’re spending so much time in the link app. i go in once a week or so to zero reset the cranks and be done with it before i run off to my main training apps

    • bruce w

      No, I use sufferfest in level mode for my training. the only reason i use the stages link app is to see what gear i’m in and shift gears which i can’t do in sufferfest. the work outs i’ve been using in sufferfest recommend level over erg and a few require level. and now my power meters don’t connect, so i cann’t even use erg as a fall back. never had any problems connecting with sufferfest. thanks for the response.

    • Colin

      Like you Bruce I purchased a Stages bike after reading the detailed review on this Website. I too have had loads of problems with what are clearly firmware issues. If I use TrainerRoad in ERG the link app, which is needed with all apps if not in ERG mode, just locks up. FulGaxz is OK if you can get it to recognise the correct sensors and Rouvy is OK but there is no ERG mode. Currently I can’t get the link app to reset the power meters. Stages Customer support is CRAP and their website does not even have clear instructions on how to reinstall the firmware. Whist the bike is quality the software is not.

    • “ It would be good if DCRainmaker would chime in with their perspective. The product review was one of the reasons I bought the bike. Losing confidence in this site.”

      I’m not really sure what to say here. It sounds like the core of your issue is that support isn’t responding. I don’t work for Stages (or get paid by them or anything else), so that’s really in their wheelhouse to solve.

      I’m happy to poke them, but passive aggressive comments on a Sunday directed to me isn’t the best way to go about it.

      The technical issues you are seeing isn’t something I ran into (yet, I noted pretty clearly I didn’t recommend it for ERG mode focused people), and honestly looking back at 6-7 months of comments, whatever your seeing doesn’t seem to align with what others are seeing.


    • Colin

      I think we all understand you do not work for or get paid by Stages. However it MIGHT be helpful if at some stage you were to ‘poke’ stages. With anything like a smart bike it is essential to provide prompt and helpful customer support. That’s what I expected with a £2700 purchase. I have had several ‘Firmware’; issues and getting a response from Stages is dreadful. Currently nearly 4 weeks since I raised the issue of being unable to reset the power meters. The support section of their website is also poor. It clearly worked ok for you on Apple TV, I believe, but that may not be true using say a Windows platform. That’s why decent competent and reasonably quick support is essential.

    • Indy Jonze

      i mean you can call them too, no? why are you waiting for tickets and email support responses when it seems you’re not getting anywhere by going that route? my experience with support has been the compete opposite of yours. i’ve contacted them several times for questions and they’ve gotten back to me within a couple of days. of course, 1. i’m in the US, so your support system may differ, 2. none of my questions were urgent enough to demand an immediate response and 3. my questions were outside of the biggest holiday period of the year when most companies are either closed or have reduced to minimal support levels

      i strongly disagree with your description of the support section of the website. are you looking at the same support section i do, with FAQs, troubleshooting sections and video walkthroughs of just about every possible issue we’ve seen with this bike? it’s very robust if you ask me and stages have gone out of their way to allow you to find a specific problem and follow the multiple steps to resolve it

      finally, as a last (or maybe first) resort, you should go to the sb20 facebook group. a lot of very helpful ppl there who have been with the bike for 6+ months in many cases and who have seen just about every issue out there. they can likely help

    • Colin


      I spoke to Stages on the phone on 4 December concerning a problem when using it with TrainerRoad where ERG mode caused the Link App to no longer work until the bike was disconnected from the power supply and reconnected sometimes several times. He was unable to explain why or suggest a solution except not to use ERG mode. Nothing on the Website regarding this.

      The same day I was unable to get the power meter reset to work despite following the what I could find on the website. The guy at Stages told me to e-mail him if I had any further problems. I e-mailed him on Dec 4 , 3 times since, and have raised two tickets. No response at all in a whole month. Do you really think that is acceptable even over Christmas?

      I have looked at all the videos. They deal with the basics; all of which I am familiar with. Cant find any information on a complete reinstall of the firmware. The final trouble shooting advice on pedals not resetting is ‘If this does not work contact Customer Support’,

      Phoning from the UK is expensive and not ideal as I am partially deaf.

      Finally I should not have to resort to Facebook to resolve issues Stages have a responsibility of addressing.

    • Richard

      Hi Colin,

      If you are UK based, you best would be to contact their UK distributor and support center which is SaddleBack on 01454 285285 – they handle all UK enquiries.

      I never use the stages link or stages power apps while using any other connected app – the default behavior of the bike is to be in ‘external’ mode – which means everything is controlled by your training app, be it Zwift, Trainer Road etc. Having a secondary app (ie the stages apps) could be the cause of your issues.

      If you are having issues with the cranks, reverse the batteries – this will reset them.

      Use the ‘Stages Power’ app for updating the firmware on the cranks – this can be done on each crank individually.

    • Colin

      Thank for that info Richard, I had no idea there was UK Support. I have tried with the Stages Power App but that did not seem to resolve the issue. Might be worth anther try.

      The reason I use the link app is because it is the only way I can see what gear I am in, or change from one set of gear ratios to another. Works fine wit Rouvy but not with TrainerRoad. It also works OK with FulGaz in SIM mode and ERG mode is OK but have had connectivity issues with FulGaz.

      Thanks for a vert constructive response.

    • bruce wheeler

      I use sufferfest to control the sb20, plan and log my workouts. The bike is in sim/level/ext mode not erg. I’ve tried erg a few times but seems hard for me to keep consistent rhythm. i’m a slow, old newbie to this stuff, so can’t offer an answer with a lot of experience. sufferfest does have some interface with training peaks but the forum post talked about uploading sufferfest plans to training peaks.

      link to forum.thesufferfest.com

    • Colin Gray


      Many thanks for the info regarding Saddleback, I telephoned Saddleback yesterday afternoon and was asked to provide full details of my problem by e-mail. I did this at 16:00 and 45 minutes later had a reply asking me to send several screen grabs of the zero resets from the Stages Power App and the Link App. I did this last night. He was back at 08:45 this morning asking me a couple more questions and by 09:15 I had an e-mail telling me they would send a replacement power meter crank. Great response, and that ought to solve the problem.

  69. JimC

    I have had my SB20 for a week now and have used it for 8-10 various workouts, races, etc. I can’t say enough what a HUGe UPGRADE this is over my prior setup of a bike mounted to a Wahoo Kickr (1 year old KICKR). IMHO it boils down to stages years in this space and comparing a purpose build INDOOR bike vs taking an OUTDOOR bike and trying to repurpose it as an indoor bike. There is no way I would spend $1200 on Kickr vs $2700 on the SB20….the SB20 is in a completely different world.
    The one thing DCR did not catch is that while he mentions it contact with all of the common Apps – I have been using Rouvy for both Racing/Group rides (Rouvy AR app) and structured workouts (Rouvy Workouts App). The SB20 Does not work as a controlled device with Rouvy structured training. Bummer for me as I have all my structured workouts in my TrainingPeaks calendar and Rouvy pulls them into their Workouts app. Worked with my Kickr but not SB20. Note that the SB20 Owners manual clearly states ERG mode does not work. Just odd that their AR App does work with the SB20 as a controllable device (for gradient, etc) during races.
    So I had to find another app that would present my structured workouts from TrainingPeaks — obviously Zwift is an easy answer… but now I need to pay for two apps vs just one. Personally, Zwift has too much visual garbage going on – I much prefer the small group races in Rouvy with real outdoor video. So I will be keeping my Rouvy for racing and group rides and using Zwift for structured workouts.
    The Stages SB20 is all of the great things I hoped it would be (albeit after only a few 100 miles of use). My outdoor bike is now cleaned up and in storage – ready for the outdoor season in a few months and no longer getting flogged by multiple users in our family. The secret sauce for the SB20 is the heavy flywheel, the momentum truly feels like an outdoor road bike on rolling terrain. I thought there would be a lot of effort to get over the inertia of spinning up such a heavy flywheel – but not the case. Also, the dreaded torque locking when your cadence drops in ERG mode (KICKR) is absent on the SB20. It’s the new thing – but right now I cant seem to take a day off of riding the SB20.
    All of these machines do require a fair amount of farting around with devices, sensors, remotes, passwords, etc…I think there is a group of users that would struggle getting everything going correctly. No one has yet “Apple’ized” the indoor experience (Maybe Peleton for that type of user). I suspect if Zwift releases an indoor bike – it will be closer to a Plug-and-play experience.

  70. Jerry

    I wish I could comment on my $3000 SB20 from Stages, but it was delivered defective. After 1 hour and 45 minutes with Tech Support on Monday, they deduced it was the handle-bar assembly and would send a replacement overnight, but they were doing inventory, so it wouldn’t arrive until the end of the week. It’s Friday and no replacement and not even shipped. Blamed it on inventory in-progress again. How does doing inventory take priority over a customer with a DOA defective non-functioning product?

    I’m returning the bike and getting a refund based on Stages poor Customer Service. The customer should come first.

    • bruce w

      I can’t trust anything that Stages Support says. I’ve had 3 tickets opened starting 12/18/20. They were closed and then deleted without notifying me. I actually got this from a support agent when i had difficulty in logging in to the support system.

      “From those ticket numbers I can verify that they have been submitted to our Stages outdoor support team. This would explain the issue you are having logging into the indoor cycling support portal. Currently the two are not linked. As mentioned previously we are in the process of merging the two systems to create ease of access.”

      Evidently at the time I entered the support tickets it made a difference if I clicked on the support button under stages link vs the sb20 bike as they went to different places. And it looks like their merge process deleted those tickets Stages has no intention of responding to.

      So if you’ve had support tickets open with stages, you might want to frequently check their status.

      It’s not my intention to turn dcrainmaker into an alternative support site but with stages non response to it’s issues, there aren’t a lot of other alternatives. If others asked, I would post more support issues I’ve had with stages.

  71. DWP

    Love your website, Ray — thanks for all your thorough, in-depth reviews and commentary.

    Question for readers who may have experience with both the Wahoo Kickr bike and Stages SB20: Due to an ordering/shipping mix up, I have both bikes on the way but one will have to go back — the question is which one?

    I ride/race in Zwift, and do some training in Sufferfest as well, currently using a Kickr Core (which has performed flawlessly). Getting a smart bike so that it will be easier for my wife to ride as well, and we can avoid the hassle of swapping bikes on/off the Core.

    Any thoughts on which might provide the best riding experience, and be the best option for two people sharing the bike?

  72. Mike

    Thanks for the ridiculously comprehensive review, Ray. I’m vacillating between the SB20 and the Tacx bike because I really just want something super solid and stable (I don’t need the Wahoo’s incline/decline feature). I’m worried I’ll have the thigh rub issue with the Tacx because I’m not exactly svelte.

    So I’m leaning towards the SB20. But I’ve been reading on the SB20 owners FB page that some people are not getting the top-end sprint power they expect (that is, lower than they expect). According to your review, though, the sprint numbers look spot-on. Is that right? If so, would you *guess* there’s some issue with their particular SB20s or possibly with their other power source? (usually pedals). Thanks!

  73. Michael Pikounis

    Thank you for an amazing review! I am now super confused as to what bike to buy. We are used to a Stages SC3 spinning bike and we do spinning trainning sessions. Will the SB20 work as well as the SC3 for Spinning or will I be dissapointed? Would I be better off with an SC3 or a Schwinn AC Power?

    • Bob

      If you are using something like Zwift or Rouvy or Fulgaz, where you have the automatic resistance change, the SB20 is a must and works extremely well with them. If you are just doing spin class like rides and you manually change adjustments, then you are paying a premium for the SB20.

    • Michael

      Thank you Bob for your reply. I am willing to pay extra to have the option to expand to other forms of training but I haven’t tried any freewheel indoor bikes and I am not sure if the SB20 without the fixed gear will feel .. wrong during my spinning classes.

    • Bob

      Michael, I get what you mean. I taught spinning for 10 years and the SC3 is one of the best (Stages is manufacturing SoulCycle’s bike that they are selling to the public, check the pictures side by side). The SB20 is more subtle and simulates road riding extremely well, which is why I got it. While the SC3 is sort of one dimensional with the resistance knob that you turn to both increase resistance as well as finding your cadence based on your desired power output, the SB20 has a multidimensional feel, as with Rouvy automatically increase resistance based on the road you are on, then the rider change gears on the SB20 to find your cadence and power output to match the desired result. Also, the SB20 simulates my bike gearing setup or a variety of setups, so there are 22 or more settings to vary your cadence and power, much more nuanced than the spin bike experience. With this wide range, I’m sure you will find where an SB20 will emulate your fixed gear sensation if you need it. Do you have a retailer nearby that will allow you to hop on a get the feel? Best of luck. Either choice is a good one.

  74. Henrik Öberg

    Did you noticed delay in Zwift doing sprints. Mine take maybe 4 sec to response when i spike.
    I also tried connect to left crank and the response was much quicker. I have adress this to Stages and hopefully they Will come Up with something. Otherwise its very nice and the stability is fantastic.

  75. Henrik Öberg


  76. Angel

    Hi there. Easy question, have ERG mode problems been solved??? And also how does the bike reacts with low cadence workouts??? As in example doing an exercise at 60rpm with my tacx neo smart, the unit can’t keep the torque so it slips and loses strenght. Does the bike has that problem too?? It is very common with magnetic flywheels.

  77. Joe

    Hello all, and just to be sure.

    I mainly train using my Garmin GPS and use structured workout, so in ERG mode holding a power or within a range with intervals etc and at different cadences. The SB20 will allow that no problem, right? just it doesn’t seem to hold power in a consistent manner, right?



    • Joe

      Also, just heard that the new firmware update fixed the “holding the power” issue in ERG mode….Have you guys tried it?


  78. JF Smith

    Angel, ERG mode on the SB20 is a total and complete failure to date. I’ve used ERG mode on both the Computrainer (since the 1990s) and Wahoo Kickr since 2012 and NEVER had problems in ERG with either. The SB20 is a joke and you’ll be luck to stay within 25 Watts of your prescribed interval.

    I understand they just released an update to “fix” it but wouldn’t know as I have yet ANOTHER support ticket open with Stages. This one has, to date, gone unanswered for 2 weeks. Tried calling as well but no luck. Buyer beware especially if interested in structured workouts via ERG or customer service.

    • Lee

      I bought my wife the SB20 and she uses it with TR in ERG mode.

      I just checked one of her recent workouts and looked at an interval. Whilst the recorded power does indeed look “choppy”, the actual power average for the interval was only 1W different to the target.

      My own belief is that the ERG mode in the SB20 is a victim of the very heavy flywheel, it has too much inertia when it wants to lower resistance and it takes more power to spin it up to target.

      However – having spent years with powermeters and all kinds of smart trainers, this is actually more like what happens in real life.

      If I can be bothered I’ll do an ERG workout on her SB20 and see what its like. Just upgraded it to latest firmware, bike and cranks.

    • JF Smith

      Here’s my last attempt—far from ideal. Hopeful the software upgrade helps. Fingers crossed their support will eventually respond.

    • Lee

      What is that graph even attempting to show us ? Any ERG analysis requires a graph showing the target vs the actual.

    • JF Smith

      Ooops, that’s fair. NOW, as you can, it’s far from ideal. It’s not just the visual representation of the wattage that is a concern but it’s far from smooth when pedaling and nothing like real life. Your point about the flywheel weight is not unreasonable at beginning and end of an interval but that doesn’t explain the complete dropouts and variability of wattage.

      I’m now 12 business days from submission of support ticket that has gone unanswered (with multiple calls that go unanswered and messages that are not returned). That’s reason alone to avoid buying a SB20.

    • JF Smith


    • Indy Jonze

      I use erg mode most of the time between tr and zwift workouts and it works perfectly fine…

    • Lee

      What I can’t see in this image is the scale / power.

      I do know that all turbos and smart bikes have a hard time matching resistance to target *if* the power is low. Certainly if I did a 150W or lower on my kickr the graph is far more spikey, but >250W everything smooths down nicely. So on the offchance your power is low that might explain it. If not then yes it looks somewhat crap, I agree :)

      I’ve 2 hour workouts this weekend, if I can remember I’ll jump on the wife’s SB20 and do them on that.

      Sorry to hear of your support issues. My experience of turbos and cycling tech is that unless the product is actually broken, I resolve everything myself. Whats your issue that you’ve raised with support ?

      I recommend the bike lots, provided it meets a basic criteria, which is usually “I want a bike the whole family can use”. If its a cycling buddy who just wants something for himself, I always recommend a KICKR. The SB20 really feels like a high end piece of gym equipment, I bought it for its sturdiness and the fact it has a low top tube which has been a complaint of the competitors. It is great, although I will admit that when I first got it I spent ages trying to get the firmware updated, the apps were “not quite ready for release” when the product was brand new.

    • Lee

      The wife just did a workout on the SB20.

      Now bearing in mind I said they are not so great at lower power levels, I think this is pretty good. Esp as she is an untrained cyclist and doesn’t have the smoothest of pedal strokes.

      I looked at one of the intervals. Target was 92W and her average power for the interval was 91W.

  79. Jean Francois Morienval

    Hello, congratulations and thank you for this real work which is not copying!
    I recently own an SB20, and getting started via the dedicated StagesLink application is … LABORIOUS !!
    First of all, StageLink refuses my email address (too old = Wanadoo) and I had to create a G-Mail address to create an account !!
    In the configuration, the application asks for the “device” weight. Is it the weight of my 7kg bike or the weight of the SB20 70kg? It is not exactly the same!
    Despite the purchase of a branded heart rate chest belt (StagesPulse), for the moment, it is not possible to have a heart rate on my KINOMAP app (the POLAR sensor is not recognized either)
    I agree, in addition to the iPad, you must open the application on your iPhone to visualize the development.
    Thank you for your help and again congratulations

  80. kevin cheng

    Hi Ray,

    I have the stagesbike and powertap p1.
    Recently, i also have some experiment to compare the power accuracy between stagesbike and powertap p1.
    Unfortunately, my result is totally different from yours.
    The power of stagesbike is higher than powertap p1 (average +7w in 6 tests).
    I’ve tried turn on/off erg mode, the gap is pretty much the same.
    Is it reasonable? I do appreciate if you can provide some advises.

    The following is my setting:
    Garmin edge 1000 for collecting powertap p1 data.
    goldencheetah to control the stagesbike.

    check list:
    1. crank arm lengths (V)
    2. power calibration for stagesbike (V)
    3. power calibration for powertap p1 (V)

  81. Martin

    Is there any rumours or information on a new version on this bike?

  82. Paula

    I’m researching a smart bike stages sb20 versus upgrading my Gen 1 Kickr to a newer model. I have a Cervelo S2, mid 2000s model on the trainer. I’m experiences drop outs and erratic power. Mostly use TrainerRoad.

    One concerned that I have is buying a smarts bike where the hardware will last 10 years or more but the software becoming obsolete. How sustainable are the current connectivity protocols. Is it better to invest in a new trainer; at a cheaper price.

    • Indy Jonze

      well it has (and i think they all have) both ant+ and bluetooth support. the protocols may become more robust over time, but the previous (current) versions should always be supported. i don’t think this should be much of a concern

    • Brian

      I just ordered a SB20 on Friday, should have it this week. I was also considering a second Kickr, but just did not have the room. for it.

  83. Rusty Austin

    I’ve been looking into a sweat guard for my SB20; however, I haven’t found one that’s long enough to fit. Have any of you done this?

  84. kay

    Does it make any sense to upgrade to a smart bike if you have already a high end trainer?! Will it help your training or racing zwifting? Or doesnt worth the extra 3k?

    • Brian

      In my case, it was worth it and has been a fantastic purchase. Actually takes up less space than my bike did, so I can have both the sb20 and the kickr setup if needed and my wife and I can ride the same rouvy route at the same time. If I was single I might still have purchased one as I like having the varied drive train options without having to spend money on cassettes I will only use on the trainer since I live in a very flat portion of then world.

    • JTC

      I agree with Brain – I have been riding indoors on trainers for 20+ years. Winters are at least 5 months – often longer. I have had them all – last year I finally was tired of converting my outdoor bike to be an indoor bike (and literally trashing it in the process). I went with the SB20 – coming off the latest Kickr…. night and day does not do it justice.
      The SB20 is always there and ready, it makes almost no noise, is was designed to be a great INDOOR bike – not a series of attachments to make it an indoor bike. If you can afford it – jump in the water is warm. I have 2500 miles on mine in a year. Mine has been perfect. Stages is a hardware company first – and it shows.

  85. Abraham

    In the comparison table, the field “MAXIMUM SIMULATED HILL INCLINE” for the Stages SB20 is empty. Can you not set a specific gradient, let’s say 5%, and play with the shifts to achieve the power target you desired? This is how I mainly use the turbo trainer, and how I would like to use the Stages SB20 if I finally buy one.

  86. k

    Did they fixed the erg mode instabillity ?! Ordered one but i red so many issues on fb group im thinking to cancel it.

    • Gerald Neely

      Cancel your order if you can.
      Stages Customer Service is beyond pathetic.
      My SB20 is less than a year old and the drivetrain has become noisy, rattling and with excessive vibration. Issued a ticket over a month ago and NO service action has been received. Even sent an audio recording of the noise. Sent a request for status 3 weeks ago and the response was they would get back to me soon. Second update request for service has been ignored.

      My SB20 serial number is 057.

      Attached is a pic of my SB20 to validate I own one of these Stages lemons.

      Will be filing BBB complaint this week but likely will need to file a legal action against Stages.

    • bruce w

      I never got erg mode to work well even when trying to hold at a stable output. Using Sufferfest, now Systm, forget about a 20 second interval, zero change i could ever get it to stabilize. I found level mode where i need to hit the wattage and stay near a target cadence, so much easier. and more fun, trying to get my gears right when i see in increase coming up in my workout. just like i see a hill coming up in the real world.

    • bruce w

      agree that stages support basically doesn’t exist. when i first got my bike, i had so many problems i reversed my credit card payment. eventually got things figured out and then let the cc payment process. but it took about 2 months.
      But i still have the fear that i would have a hardware problem that actually requires stages support to do something. Anyone who gets a stages sb20 is serious about their training that going months without the bike operationally would be a major issue.
      If I have a serious hardware problem like you appear to have, i’d file a complaint with BBB, open a small claims case and look into getting a wahoo kickr smart bike. i’ve been using sufferfest(now systm) and support has been OUTSTANDING!!!.

  87. Ian Clarke

    Hi Ray

    This has just been reduced in the UK to £1899. At this price point what would your thought be compared to Kickr Bike and Tacx Neo bike for value? Thanks

    • Jerry

      No matter the price, is there value with this product and it’s severe lack of Customer Service?
      Could you imagine buying a new car and getting super slow response to a warranty issue and then being required to do the defect investigation yourself? Well, that’s what I’m in the midst of with my SB20.
      Disassembling the bike and taking pictures and audio recordings to email to Stages CS. I don’t find any value in that!

      Plus they are not pro-active. If you don’t keep prodding them for response, they don’t follow-up.

      I’m afraid the suggestion of filing legal action is about to proceed.

  88. mf22433

    I see that Stages has developed a head unit that is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible for their SC3 spinbike: link to stagescycling.com
    I am wondering why they didn’t make it compatible with the SB20 to display gearing information for example.
    I hope their next generation smartbike will have such a feature… Can we hope for that in 2022???

    • Jtc

      “Next generation Smart Bike”. Has it been confirmed that a next generation SB20 is being released soon? With the deep discounts on the SB20 – I’m sort of wondering if a next gen SB is on its way?
      I have had my SB20 for a year now (about 2200 miles of hard indoor training) – and it has been perfect in every way. A gear level indicator would be nice – but I’ve not had it on my outdoor bikes for 30 years of riding and racing.
      My one request would be more around having a slight bit of flex or sway side to side. Similar to riding outdoors this reduces some of the stress on the knees when the bike is doing some of the moving laterally. As is, the SB 20 is a super solid platform and most people love that as it is rocksolid when sprinting so it captures all of your watts.

    • mf22433

      “Has it been confirmed that a next generation SB20 is being released soon?” … No, that’s why I am asking whether we can expect something in 2022 :-)

      The SB20 was announced in 2019 and released in 2020 if I am not wrong so I would expect that we should get closer to a 2nd generation for most of these smart bikes (including Tacx and Wahoo).

      I currently use a NEO 2T for the current winter season, however I would like to move to a smart bike for the next winter season.

    • Indy Jones

      they have several other existing head units that already display gearing info for the sb20…

    • mf22433

      Interesting, do you mean their Dash bike computers?

    • Indy Jonze

      Yes that’s it. Also the stages link app displays gearing and provides an audible shift indicator for no additional costs

  89. Kevin

    I have an SB20 on the way due to my wife wanting to ride more indoors and $1000 off seemed like a decent deal. I did not research as much as I would have liked due to the timing of it and have only now come to DC (my mistake).

    One of the reasons I went with the SB20 was multiple review sites discussing the benefits of when in ERG mode of when missing the target that the bike is able to sense that and then allow for you to be able to spin back up versus requiring too much force or torque to start moving again (issue with my Saris Hammer).

    However this is the first review where the issue of fluctuating ERG settings was mentioned.

    I have joined the FB group and it almost sounds like a lot of post-purchase rationalization. When people ask about issues with ERG fluctuating around the target the answer is that all the other bikes and trainers uses smoothing in their algorithms and the SB20 is actually more like outdoors where it is hard to hold a prefect wattage.

    It has also been mentioned to change the power reading to 3s average vs 1s as this will be less jumping.

    This all sounds wrong to me, but please correct me.

    I want ERG for the exact reason the outside IS so difficult to hold precise wattage. Outside I ride 1s power to work on cadence and holding power, but inside I want to watch Netflix unless it is short intervals like 30/15.

    So my two main questions are:

    1. Can the SB20 actually do ERG correctly for more mundane workouts controlled by Zwift (my platform of choice)?

    2. Is this something that CAN be fixed via firmware/software updates or is the large flywheel the issue and cannot be addressed?

    My Hammer does not seem to have these issues although it would struggle a bit with quick intervals like 30/15s, but I would think that almost any trainer/bike is going to have issues getting up or down to speed/power in those time frames.

    • Yeah, at the end of the day we’re simply 18 months on, and as you noted, it’s basically not hugely different.

      Unfortunately, this is the reality of the bike – largely due to the huge flywheel and the lack of ability to control it precisely. I know folks want to sidestep the issue, but as noted at the time of launch, this isn’t about other companies adding smoothing to their power numbers. Because what we *DON’T* see with other companies is the general fluctuation of the ERG set-point reflected in secondary power meters that are connected. Whereas we do with the SB20.

      Or, we could just look at the charts and plainly see that no other smartibke has as much trouble as this in ERG mode. I get why folks rationalize, but it would seem to be better to apply pressure to a manufacturer instead of acceptance. Either way, unfortunately.

    • JTC

      I think there is too much focus on ERG mode accuracy – yes – there is fluctuation, but I am not sure it matters … and the end of the set my watts are within a percent or so where they need to be. If we all think that a little variation in the erg watts is going to hold us back from achieving our performance goals – well then I am Cary Grant.
      I truly feel (not confirmational bias) that the lack of gear indicator and the erg mode drift is nothing to be concerned about. When I first got the SB20 I had my phone displaying the gears – then I realized I had forgotten to set it up a few times. Did it change anything? No – I can feel the resistance change just like a outdoor bike. I think the heavy flywheel (as Ray points out likely the Root Cause of the Erg issue) provides such a nice riding experience that I end up using the machine more than any of the other dozen trainers I have owned in 20 years. I actually worry they are going to chase this issue at the harm of some other current positive attribute. I normally suffer from Princess and the Pea syndrome – but trust me … it does not amount to a hill of beans if your watts fluctuate slightly during an interval (I have power meters on my outdoor bikes – talk about fluctuating watts during an interval!). I think people have become too clinical about their training metrics – its because they can… all this data all the time. It seems to me it is still about doing the work – even if the interval was 223 watts vs target of 220. And the SB20 has been a great place to dial in a great fit, smooth flywheel, quiet, built like a tank.
      The thing to be concerned about with Stages is a genuine lack of support – I had a question when I first got it and emailed their support center. Crickets. I mean like someone just comes along and deletes inquires. I hope that has changed in the past year. The FB user group is the place to get your questions answered.

    • Kevin

      Thank you for the reply. I also agree it makes sense to pressure the maker, but it also sounds like the manufacturer doesn’t care about its customers, which is also a bummer.

      The other bummer is this is basically the only solution for the wife and I to ride indoors. The other options are just too expensive.

    • Kevin


      I am not worried about the ERG mode fluctuating 3 watts. I think that happens on most trainers. That happens on my Hammer for sure. What it sounds like is happening is up to around a 50watt spread. Even 10 is actually unacceptable as 10-20 watts can drastically change the type of workout you are doing.

      Maybe this won’t be as bad as it seems once I actually get the bike, but I will trust Ray in his assessment of it.

      This and the horrible CS stories are making me regret this purchase.

      Unfortunate as I have a Stages PM on one of my bikes and it has been flawless minus going through CR2032 batteries like crazy.

    • JTC

      Kevin – if you and your wife are going to be sharing the SB20 – it is really easy to adjust seat height etc. Use some colored tape or something to mark respective settings and it is a quick adjustment. Much easier than a real bike with a seat binder bolt.
      I use my SB20 almost exclusively with Rouvy – especially now that Rouvy pulls in my structured workouts from Training peaks everyday. Any the RouvyAR group rides with real outdoor settings works for me better than the Zwift gaming’esq environment.

      Good luck!

    • Bill Mitchell

      Purchased the Stages SB20 about 2 months ago. 2 adults and 2 teenagers really like it in our family.
      Several points of comparison at our house – Schwinn spin bike with Assioma pedals, Elite Suito, Wahoo Kickr Core.
      SB20 is super easy to adjust between users. Accurate power. Quiet. Solid. Shifting works well (agree with others that don’t really need the gear indicator). Tablet holder is great.
      As far as ERG mode, we found the Wahoo Kickr Core is the best. Elite Suito fairly close behind. SB20 ERG not as responsive, but still works OK for steady rides and moderate ramp intervals. It keeps my teenage son from getting too lazy ;)
      The only issue I had was trying to use different tablets or phones to control the SB20 for different rides and people. The SB20 got miserably confused so trying to stick with a single iPad always used for
      I do wonder if Stages is about ready to release a replacement as they just dropped the price again

    • nycebo

      I’ve been wondering the same thing. All of these trainer bikes (especially Wahoo and Stages) have flaws that seem very easy to improve around with version 2.

  90. Kevin

    Got the bike finally. First ride was this morning with Zwift.

    Everything paired up just fine. Bike is super stable and extremely quiet. It looks great as well.

    My niggles:
    -Not really a great place to hang a towel. Right now it is in front of the handlebars but that gets in the way of the water bottles and puts a sweat rag very close to the control wires.

    -Bar tape seems grippy, but just a little sweat on the hand and they are quite slippery.

    -The ERG mode is horrible. I was getting up to 25 watt swings while doing an easy long interval ride. Then for giggles I would put in a sprint every now and then. Even with Zwift showing 1 sec power it would not show my sprint numbers. We are talking probably a difference of 250-400+ watts. So the ERG mode issue is not fixed at all.

    My wife better use the snot out of this bike!

    • Konstantinos Konstantinidis

      I disagree about ERG mode. I was really worried before i buy it also but it works great! If you pair any external powermeter with any trainer it will show the same fluctuation. This fluctuation of the readings are totaly on spot and are coming from the rider ability to pedal smooth and stable. The problem would be if the resistance was not constant and this is not the case.

    • David W.

      I disagree that any external power meter will show those variations. I have compared my Tacx Neo, my Tacx Neo 2, and my Kickr Bike with Favero Assioma pedals and Power2Max NGECO (on the Tacx trainers). The reported power values of all of those combinations agreed within the specs of the devices (+/-1% or +/-2%) regardless of the length of the interval (i.e constant power and sprints). I never saw anything like 50W differences.

    • Kevin

      Nope, that is not the case.
      -I have previously used a Kinetic wheel on trainer and used their algorithm system for power. Worked great in ERG with very little in fluctuations.

      -I then moved up to a Saris/Cycleops Hammer. Thing was flawless and at most would fluctuate 5w and that was because of my pedaling smoothness. This is with zwift set to 1s power readings too.

      When I ride outside of course I have decent swings in power, but that is because I don’t have ERG mode outside and there are so many variables such as wind resistance and gradient. I am not the smoothest pedaler, but my outside numbers look better than the SB20

      The whole point of ERG mode it to keep you in a target wattage. If it fluctuates 20 watts either direction you are not doing the workout you are supposed to be doing. If it goes 20w in just one direction you are most likely not doing the prescribed workout. Completely defeats the point of why I would want ERG and really why I train indoors in the winter. So I can get an easy, controlled workout.

  91. Kai Maison

    SB20 and SYSTM: Match Made in Hell

    Will be disputing the charge on my credit card for my October purchase of an SB20. Customer service has been completely silent for weeks on four tickets I’ve opened, three dealing with the bikes inability to operate in Level Mode with Wahoo SYSTM, one dealing with noise coming from inside the housing.

    SYSTM’s 4DP (and to a lesser extent Half Monty) fitness tests are pretty much gold standards. Both require Level mode. Based on my own frustrations with trying to get them to work and on the crickets coming out of Stages CS, I’ve concluded these tests are not possible to be run on the SB20.

    Making problems worse, the documentation on how to configure the bike with SYSTM is woefully incomplete. This is an interoperability NIGHTMARE. And I paid $3,400 for the privilege.

    I could go on about issues with power and cadence stability, but by now you get the idea.

    Ray, not sure if you have any ears at Stages into which you can whisper. But they should realize, if they don’t fix this stuff yesterday, they’re a non-player in the smart bike biz, their studio bike segment notwithstanding.

    • Indy Jonze

      this has nothing to do with stages. why aren’t you bothering wahoo? systm has had compatibility issues with the sb20. there were all kinds of issues when it launched and they’ve been working on getting it working ever since but i’m fairly certain some recent updates fixed just about everything. again, bother wahoo. they’re the ones with the issues. sufferfest worked perfectly fine with the sb20 btw, as does every other available smart biking platform.

      as far as configuration, you configure every app the same way. pair the sb20 as a smart trainer and off you go. what more configuration info did you need?
      seems pretty complete to me:
      link to support.stagesbike.com

      idk man i’m glad i’m not in customer service. all of this hand holding crap is too much for me

    • Indy Jonze

      the january 11th update specifically mentions fixes for the sb20:

      SYSTM for Windows/Mac 7.15.0 – 11 January, 2022

      Updated: Calendar to remain on the current week after rescheduling a workout
      Improved: Bluetooth connection for Stages SB20 bikes
      Added: Privacy Policy messaging on More menu

    • Kai Maison

      @Indy_Jonze Thank you for your insights. Not looking for hand holding. I’m not an idiot, and I’ve tried for weeks to get these things talking to one another.

      Have been to the link you provided, and it’s precisely an example of what I’m talking about. If you want to work in ERG mode, it’s perfectly fine.

      But have you personally tried to configure the SB20 and the 4DP Test in SYSTM? It requires Level mode. At the bottom on the page you linked, it says: “Note: The Wahoo SYSTM application is for Workouts only and will automatically place the bike into ERG mode.”

      The instructions at the page you sent say to put the bike in External Mode. Great. Bike sets the resistance, gear shifters are inoperative, so no Level mode.

      So it would appear that Level mode is not an option with SYSTM, and I just find that hard to believe.

      Maybe I’m the only one, and if I am, I’ll take a mea culpa. But I find it confusing — in the context of this issue — that the SB20 can operate in Level Mode (and resistance levels can change in the Stages Link app from 0-20), and SYSTM workouts can operate in any one of 10 Levels. Seems like you should set the Level in one place or the other, at a level that lets you hit all power targets you want to hit at an appropriate cadence.

      So I’m not at all being critical of you. In fact, I’m grateful you responded about the 1/11 update, though it hasn’t seemed to fix things on my end. Thank you.

      If I’m missing something really obvious, I guess I’m sorry. And I thank you and anyone else in advance for holding my hand. In fact, I hope that’s the case and that it’s not the case that SB20 can’t work with SYSTM in Level mode.

    • Indy Jonze

      apologies for the hand holding comment. it’s just frustrating for me to see ppl blame the bike which works flawlessly with 9 out of the 10 other apps but the sufferfest/wahoo team couldn’t get their new app to work properly out of the gate.

      now it’s been a while since i used sufferfest and maybe things have changed, but are you certain 4dp test requires level mode? i found this, which says you can use either
      link to support.thesufferfest.com

      on the stages end, i dug this up, which says level mode support for sufferfest was “coming soon”. now…that chart hasn’t been updated since June 2020. i know this because that’s when i bought my sb20 and printed that out when i was evaluating all of my free trials of the apps. i found my printout and it’s identical to the one in the link
      link to manuals.stagescycling.com
      maybe connect with the wahoo team to see what they say about it? in the FB group there were a few ppl communicating with them pretty regularly when systm launched and they had to deal with all of the compatibility issues, so i’m pretty sure they’re responsive.

    • Indy Jonze

      sorry one more thing. i absolutely HATE the stages link app and avoid it like the plague, BUT have you tried keeping the app open when you’re doing your 4DP thing and instead of choosing “external” mode using “level” mode instead? might be worth a go

      link to manuals.stagescycling.com

    • bruce w

      Kai – I’ve had the same problem with stages support – pretty much non-existant and useless. But after some trial and error on my end, I got the Systm(Sufferfest) app to work in “level” mode very well. I never use ERG mode in any of the workouts. I look at hitting the power targets where you need to anticipate when they ramp up and adjust my gearing to be somewhat close to the recommended cadence. I perform much more efficiently at 75 – 80 when Systm calls for a target of 90. When there are high cadence drills, I can briefly get to 115 but beyond that, my body starts to disassemble.

      Here is my setup and how i configure the sb20 and systm. First I turn the sb20 crank maybe a dozen times. Then I have the stages link app in simulation mode.on my android phone and connect to the bike using ANT. If the shifters work, I know I’m connected. If the shifters don’t work, i exit the app, and use the android system to do a force stop on the stages link app. then try to connect again, this usually works. sometimes, i need to both clear cache and data for the stages link app to connect to the sb 20. Not at all expecting stages to figure out what is going on and fix this. but my process regularly works for me.

      then i run the systm app on my pc. i set the mode to level from erg. I set a grade of 2% which seems to best fit my power/cadence profile. On my pc, I’m using ANT via a dongle and connect to the bike and not the crank power meters.

      i found the documentation for the stages link very frustrating to under stand what is going on, StagesLink is both the name of the app and the stages eco system, so when you googled stageslink you got all kinds of non-relevant reference to something other than just the app.

      hope this helps. i can go into a lot more detail if needed. but i have been able to uses the sb20 in “level’ mode with systm pretty well now for over a year. the start quirks are annoying since sometimes they delay my workout for 10 minutes or so to get the android app to connect to the sb20. only complete failure was dead batteries in the crank arm, so once a month or so use stage power to check battery status. i get about 4 months of battery life using the bike 4 – 5 days a week for 1 hour or less workouts.

    • bruce w

      indy jones – i got my sb20 over a year but it seems stages support still sucks. i use the systm(sufferfest) app. all my problems were with stages. there are still issues with the stages link app but i developed workarounds on my own. stages support was absolutely useless. systm support on the other hand was world class. but if the stages link app doesn’t connect to the sb 20, there is nothing systm support can do.

    • bruce w

      Indy Jonze – interesting comment about keeping the stages link app open. there’s no way i could use systm without the app running as i need it to change gears. i run the app in simulation mode and systm in level mode. never use erg. i think i could run stages link in simulation, level or external mode and get the same result.

    • Kai Maison

      @Indy_Jonze and @Bruce W — Thank you both for this exchange of helpful information. I know it takes time to prep thoughtful responses as each of you have done, and I am grateful.

      I also discovered an SB20 Users Group on FB, which is also providing some insights.

      Pardon if I earlier sounded a bit snarky. Working through some combination of a bad cold/flu, which put me in a bad mood after reading about others having their own difficulties with Stages CS.

      As a “tech” guy, I’m usually up to the challenge of figuring this kind of stuff out. I’ve been patient, and I think pretty thorough, in trying to figure this out, and it’s just really really frustrating. As a former Product Manager, I could go off on a long schpeel about why this kind of stuff happens with increasing frequency (blame: market pressures, product managers, developers). I’ve experienced it with BMW, Apple, Netgear… companies push out “minimum viable product” before it’s baked and expect early adopters to pay a premium for sorting out their messes for them. Gee, thanks.

      Interoperability is a huge issue, in the smart bike and app space, as it is in many other areas. “Plug and Play” has become a myth.

      I’ll get off my soapbox now.

      @Indy_ Jonze, according to the SYSTM documentation on their 4DP/FTP fitness tests, Full Frontal and Half Monty do indeed require Level mode. Only the first of Half Monty is done in ERG.

      @Bruce_W, a common thread I am beginning to see is that it seems to be that closing the Stages Link app helps. But then, you lose things like gear display, which is useful to have when in Level mode. I’ve been trying to connect everything using BLE, not ANT, with both StagesLink and SYSTM running on an iPad. I had been trying to activate a very old iPhone for use exclusively as a gearing display, i.e. Stages Link app running on iPhone and SYSTM app running on iPad, but this would obviously go against guidance to shut down the Stages Link app.

      Soon as I’m back in the saddle after this cold, I look forward to adapting your Android/ANT process to iPhone/BLE and giving it a try.

      Thank you both again.

    • brucew

      I wasn’t clear enough on how i start/stop the stages link app. I always have the stages link app running when i do a workout. primarily to see the gearing but also to periodically double check power and cadence with the systm app. at the end of the workout, in android i do a force stop. i found this makes it much more reliable for the app to connect to the bike on my next workout. and if it doesn’t connect, then i try another forced stop. still not working, next clear cache and data. this does require you to logon into the app and reconfigure your bike, just takes a couple of minutes.

      hope this works for you. i think you’ll like level mode, i use it exclusively. the link that indy jonze sent out for systm talks about using erg vs level. scroll down and it explains why the fitness ftp setting workouts of half monty and full frontal require level mode. for me in erg in short intervals, i simply can’t stabilize my power quick enough. for the workout. there’s also another benefit mentioned, if you’re having an off day. in erg if you can’t maintain the power and slow your cadence, you go into a death spiral as you decrease your cadence. in level mode, just slow your cadence down a bit or switch gears and you’ll still get in a decent workout. and if you’re having a good day, just change your cadence or gearing and blow away your power targets.

      not trying to turn dc rainmaker into a support forum for stages sb20 but frustrations with stages support makes owners desperate for a solution. would be great if stages hosted a user forums. very common in the tech world.

    • Indy Jones

      i’m still not clear on why you guys are wanting to keep the link app open. is it to see your gear changes? in the FB forum it’s pretty overwhelming that the app is to be avoided at all costs. they have another app, Stages Power, that we use to update firmware and check battery life.

      i’ve been in that FB group basically since the SB20 launched and the one common thread with a great many issues is control interference caused between the link app and the platform you’re using. both apps (link and rouvy/zwift/TR/Sufferfest etc) fight over which is controlling the bike at any given time and chaos ensues. there was an early update to the link app to add “external” control, which forces the link app to NOT control the bike and let the other app do it, but there have been the odd bug with that as well.

      i know it may be painful at first to not see your gear display, but try to not open the link app whatsoever. if you do for some reason, be sure to fully kill the app in iOS or Android and then hard unplug the SB20 and plug it in again to reset it. start your platform of choice, NOT touching the link app, pair the bike as controllable and i’d wager that 95% of your issues would go away

      but yeah, i’d strongly suggest joining and participating in the FB group. there’s very little we haven’t heard and haven’t been able to troubleshoot. I’ve personally never used sufferfest/systm, but a bunch of ppl have and can help i’m certain

    • brucew

      indy jonez – interesting comment. the simply answer is in level mode i get a more consistent workout being able to see the gear display. i tried a recent workout both with the gear display on or off. This workout had long intervals – 4 minutes that were close to my ftp with 3 minute recovery at 50% of my ftp. certainly plenty of time to get to a steady state. the ramp up is instant, so seeing the gear display just before the ramp up, gives me a good idea on how many gears to shift beforehand and then adjust if i don’t hit the power and cadence targets. sometimes i see the gears are right and i just need to stop being lazy and pedal harder. so yes, i could do the workout without the gear display but my objective is get this best workout and not learn ho to use the bike without the gear display. now for shorter, intense intervals – say 10 to 30 seconds, the lack of a gear display would be unworkable for me. i simply do an android force stop of stages link when i’m done with my workout and 95% of my problems are solved.

      now as to ERG mode, i’ve never found this workable for me and so no value in trying to get better at it.

      while i have used other apps, sufferfest/systm is all i currently use. but for those that do use multiple apps, don’t see why my workaround would not be useful. now i do use 2 devices, android phone for stages link and a pc for systm. systm only recently released and android version but i wouldn’t want to use it on a small screen.

      i have looked at the facebook users group. on several occasions. last night i scanned the posts for the last 5 weeks or so. what i found was that a lot of people have issues with stages link so i’m sure stages is aware of the issues but so far haven’t addressed it. facebook is not a user forum with a separate section for trouble shooting, so while problems are reported and sometimes solution offered, the problem/solutions are not as easily extracted if they were in a user forum.

      the other thing that stood out, was a lot of the facbook group used zwift. that’s not surprising due to it’s popularity. for me, i’m only into structured training and don’t have any interest in the “social media” aspects of zwift.

  92. Kevin

    So I now have 3 rides on the SB20. After the first one, I felt a little off. The second one had me questioning the wattage being sent and displayed by zwift.

    The feel of the power I was putting out felt at least 20w harder and my HR was inline with this as well.

    I threw on the Assioma pedals today and did a workout which basically had some easy intervals going between 65% of FTP for 4 minutes to 95% for 1 min.

    Man were things waaaay off. Just looking at my Garmin vs Zwift I was seeing probably an average of 20w difference with it sometimes going up to 50w or so. According to the Assiomas I was putting out way too much wattage to meet the SB20 and zwifts ERG settings.

    This was even more evident the higher the wattage was. Getting up to the 95% wattage there could be what looked to be 75w difference and it would take the SB20 12-15 seconds to even get me out of the red and even n the ballpark of the “correct” wattage. So this wattage issue is magnified by the horrible ability to handle ERG mode.

    This also occurred when dropping back down to the 65% interval, but would usually be resolved in around 10 seconds or less.

    This is the first time I have compared PM as for the most part I have felt that any PM I was using was in close enough proximity that is was not going to affect my training. I have Powertap P1, and Stages left side, and the Assiomas. My HR and PRE have always been fine with them.

    This is not the case with the SB20. My workout today went from below threshold to well above and I could feel it and see it with my HR.

    Firmware is up to date and I zeroed the pedals. Batteries should be good since it is brand new.

    Tomorrow I will put in new batteries and zero both the bike and the pedals.

    I will also hopefully have captured the data for both as I am used to my Garmin auto-starting, but I guess since I didn’t actually move anywhere it didn’t record the data. Didn’t realize until after the workout.

    Tomorrows workout is also going to be much harder and even more so due to the additional 20w increase I need to add.

    • Kevin

      This is the first 20 minutes of today’s workout. New batteries, everything updated and zeroed.

    • brucew

      Nice analysis. looks like the graph shows a bigger difference with shorter interval times, like around the 15:00 minute. Wonder if you switched to level mode and used gears to get to the target power and cadence you would be closer. This might separate whether stages accurately measures power or the erg mode makes it too difficult for the rider to hit the power target.

    • Kevin

      That 15 minute mark was just me putting in a quick little “sprint” just to show how much it can vary and to also highlight the erg issues

    • Kevin

      I did another ride comparing the Assiomas and the SB20. Still way off. I also tried pedaling with my knees coming almost to touching for one minute and then moving out for another minute. I have attached the comparison of knees in. It shows almost 18% difference!!!!

    • Martin

      That is now a well known issue with SB20. Cranks read low with low q-factor and high with wide q-factor. Cadance has an effect too.
      Lucky ones have a normal pedaling style and get good numbers. Others not so much.
      Check out the forums and user group in facebook. Informed opinion is this design is junk and cannot be saved by firmware. There needs to be a new crank design which will never happen.

    • Indy Jonze

      This guy has no idea what he’s talking about

  93. Michael J Fiola

    Hi Ray. I’ve been watching Stages send email after email touting an SB20 sale. Most recently, they’ve added a free mat to sweeten the pot. Where do you think the bottom will be? I want to time my purchase accordingly!


  94. kevin cheng

    Hi guys,

    How often do you change the cr2032 battery.

    My training hour is around 4 times a week(total 6~7 hour).

    I have to change it once a month.

    Otherwise the power meter won’t be functional.

    ex. power ratio between left and right is 90:10/ erg mode isn’t working normally.

    Does it matter that i turn off the dc supply which reduce the lifetime of cr2032?


    • brucewol

      I think the power meters go to sleep when the aren’t rotating. That’s why you need to turn the cranks when you use stages power app to connect. if so, turning off the dc supply shouldn’t change this. i get about 2 months per battery and i’m using a bit more than 1/2 of your training time. I would expect a lot more usage per battery.

  95. Luc

    I really like the SB20 overall but the tracking of intervals in ERG is terrible. I have a ticket submitted to Stages – I am hoping that something is setup incorrectly as right now it makes it very difficult to use where there are big step changes in difficultly. In the pic here you can see that a 30 second 500+ watt interval takes about 10-15 seconds to build up and then 10-20 seconds to drop down (to 250 watts or so). I am convalescing from a health issue and I am not digging the after interval “extra credit”– seems very likely a function of the firmware algorithm not responding correctly fast enough, rather than some inherent flywheel related effect. I don’t care about the accuracy or even the lack of smoothing — but I need the power level to be within 5-10% of whatever the native power setting is (at given watts) within 2-3 seconds. Used a Wahoo Kickr for 6+ years — so that is my benchmark. I really hope there is some improved firmware on the horizon. Anyone else seeing this?

    • Indy Jones

      my results are perfectly fine with 10-15 second intervals. i would check your setup

    • Kevin

      Good luck. I have the same issue, among others. Put in a ticket two weeks ago and haven’t heard a thing. Probably going to ask the cc company for my money back.

      SB20 is not capable of being a competent indoor trainer bike at the point.

    • brucewol

      Indy Jones – It sure looks like you’ve been able to get good results in ERG mode, something I and many others haven’t been able to achieve. You say check you setup but what settings are you referring to. In the stages link app, all I see that can be changed is the smoothing 1 – 3 or 10 seconds. And not sure how 10 seconds smoothing works for an interval spike of 15 seconds or less. And what app are you using, my app is Systm.

      As to expecting stages support to address this, I really doubt it. I’ve had no luck getting a timely response from them and gave up contacting them over a year ago as I developed my own workarounds. There have been many people complain about ERG and in the original review by DC Rainmaker, ERG mode was mentioned as a dislike. If it was easy to fix via a firmware upgrade, it should have happened by now.

    • Michael J Fiola

      Hey Kevin. Sorry to read of your troubles. Mine is working great. Did you ever get it resolved?

      One issue I had originally with ERG mode was a pairing conflict between Zwfit and the stages app on my phone. It took me a while to realize I needed to pair first with Zwift.

      Again, mine is working great. Maybe they need to send you a replacement

  96. Michael J Fiola

    I’ve been using by new stages SB20 smart bike for just over a month and thought others might benefit from my perspectives. Smart Bikes are large, important purchases that we live with for years, but they are not easily test ridden and compared. The more perspectives the better.

    Read on for my exhaustive (and exhausting!) commentary but the bottom line is that I’m very happy with the SB20 and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a indoor smart bike. I chose it over the Wahoo Kickr bike for several reasons:
    • Company history with indoor bikes and power meters
    • Personal experience with Stages indoor bikes and the original Wahoo Kickr
    • Personal priorities for reliable indoor Zwifting, power measurement, stability, and silence.
    • No desire for the added mechanical complexities of tilting and downhill motorized spinning
    • Steering would be nice, but not a high priority
    • Price

    For background, I use the SB20 exclusively with Zwift and it replaced my original and well-used Wahoo Kickr. I put in a lot of miles inside and out. Outside, Garmin Vectors provide my power data and up until a couple years ago I raced competitively.

    Upgrading to a smart bike was between the Kickr bike and the SB20. Both companies and bikes had a few things going for them. I’d been using Wahoo Kickr for years without issue. On the rare occasion I needed support, they were always available and helpful. Their bike reviews are very good and safely the most feature rich machines currently on the market.

    Stages has a long history of making rock solid indoor bikes, including those at the fitness club where I previously worked, and their ability to make a reliable power meter is beyond reproach. There are a couple of other options, but I know relatively little about the companies, and I felt either the Kickr or SB20 would fit the bill.

    To me, the choice came down to whether I wanted steering and tilting or just rock solid and nearly silent Zwifting. There is a non-trivial price difference too, but that was not my driving factor.

    A lot is made of simulating riding outside on an indoor trainer. I am old enough to have been suffering on indoor trainers long before Zwift, TrainerRoad, or even Sufferfest videos. Indoor riding was done out of necessity, and it sucked. The advent of Zwift, Watopia, interacting with other riders, drafting!, and the ability for smart resistance control was a radical breakthrough. It moved the indoor training needle from “it sucks” to “enjoyable.” Can it get better? Sure, but the improvements now will be marginal in comparison. This is where something like tilt control sits. It’s a marginal improvement, but not worth much in the way of added cost, bike complexity, or reliability.

    I’ve seen only two main complaints about the SB20. The first is that there is no side-to-side flex, and this is a positive to me. The bike is sturdy, that’s a good thing. It allows the rider to focus on the effort with zero distraction or annoyance from stability.

    The other issue is about power data. As has been reported here and in in other reviews, the rider experience in Zwift with respect to power reporting is different with the SB20 from that of the Kickr bike and from that of my original Kickr that I road for years. Well, do you want reality or a smoothed out simulation?

    When doing a workout in Zwift, it bothered me at first that any small variation in my pedal stroke resulted in the reported power output fluctuating, sometimes significantly, on the SB20. I’m putting in hard efforts and maintaining a perfectly smooth, consistent stroke is not always feasible. On my old Kickr, it didn’t matter if I started pedaling squares. The reported power did not change much. This bothered me until I realized I was just seeing a better representation of reality. The SB20 is measuring, and Zwift is reporting, real-time actual power, via real power meters on each pedal. I strongly suspect Stages, in conjunction with Zwift, could change what I see reported, to make it more “Wahoo-like,” but I prefer reality. And, as others have reported, the average power is as expected. This approach more accurately represents outdoor riding too.

    That’s about all. The SB20 is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. My indoor training has increased in both hours and enjoyment and I’m sure it will show this season on the road. If I’d only thought to register for the Zwift Everest Challenge years ago, I’d be on a shiny Tron Bike too!

  97. Martin

    Hi DC Rainmaker,
    what is your take on the accuracy problems people are reporting? Did you notice anything like this during testing?
    link to youtube.com

    • It’s always really hard to validate other people’s takes on accuracy when only two units are included, as in that configuration unless there’s a 3rd tie-breaker somewhere, I can’t easily determine where the actual issue is.

      All of my data is included in the Power Accuracy section above, and I didn’t see any actual accuracy issues here with two different brands/sets of pedal-based power meters (I did see ERG stability issues, which continue to this day, but that’s not power accuracy).

    • Martin

      Thanks. In this case it is not a case of pm vs pm comparison. It is the response of SB20 to PCO. It is possible to observe this without a second pm.

    • Yeah, the problem is using PCO is just showing cause/effect, it’s not saying which is correct. That’s simply showing that changing pedaling style impacts one but not the other, it doesn’t mean the “other” is incorrect.

      We see this a lot in power meters, where pedaling style impacts accuracy. And while we’ve seen virtually no instances of inaccuracies on Rally (save a couple of hyper-edge case things I touched on in the review, which is not this), that doesn’t rule out an issue here. And honestly, shifting of PCO is far more likely to impact the pedal PM than it is to impact the crankset PM.

      I’m not saying which one is correct here, I’m just saying it’s honestly impossible to know without corroborating it. PCO is merely a visible proxy for the written narration in the video, showing him/her shifting their foot placement. But it doesn’t clarify which PM is reading accurately.

    • Martin

      Thanks for taking time to chip in. I agree that the obvious reality is we can never know which pm is right, for any comparison. They can be both wrong also.
      In this case this happens to SB20 against other pedals too. PM or not, this can be replicated with any SB20. Video has a small power difference but I can hit 50+ watts extra with Assioma Shis due to 65mm q-factor.

    • Kevin

      So I have waited to make a comment until I had another set of cranks shipped to me. Same issue of accuracy compared to PM pedals (two sets) and comparative HR zones compared to again a Stages Left side crank, two sets of PM pedals, and a Cycleops Hammer.

      So maybe the SB20 is correct, but then you are saying that every other PM I have used is the wrong one including another Stages.

      C’mon Occams razor again.

      Both sets of cranks also displayed tendencies to change power outputs depending on if I was pedaling with my knees in or out, which implies that they are “extremely sensitive and accurate!” in sales lingo. Or unless you have a perfect pedal stroke with no lateral movement you will get different strain measurements.

      Again, two sets of cranks various PM, and yeah ERG is still not sorted.

      Did a ride where I had to cu the watts in half and the bike just started spinning with no resistance when it had to drop to the lower wattage.

    • Eugene

      While I don’t have as many power measuring devices as you or Lama, I do have quite a few and I routinely compare trainer vs cranks/spider vs pedals.

      Among these are:
      Stages left-only Ultegra 6800 crankarm (never used in comparisons since it’s single-leg only, was gen1…repaired and upgraded to gen2)
      4iiii Precision Pro Dual Ultegra R8000 crankset (never used, known right-side accuracy issues…used 1.07 scale factor as a bodge to approximate accurate readings)
      Garmin Vector 2 (became less accurate with time, attempting to fix with a calibration weight did not work)
      Garmin Vector 3, 2 pairs. (generally very accurate)
      Garmin Rally (again, generally very accurate)
      Favero Assioma Duo (generally very accurate)
      Quarq DZero, 2 pairs. (generally very accurate)
      Quarq AXS spider (generally very accurate)
      Magene P325CS (garbage at high torque/force)
      P2M NGEco 5×110/Rotor Aldhu (generally very accurate)
      Wahoo KICKRv5 (reads lower than the PMs, probably drivetrain losses. Replaced two under warranty. Each behaved similarly in terms of power reporting.)
      CycleOps Hammer (Reads a little high on sprints, used to read very high on sprints before firmware updates. Reads low at low flywheel speeds. Seems to fudge out assumed drivetrain losses.)
      Stages SB20 (The only power measuring device that varies wildly with knees-in/knees-out pedaling.)

      I also have Infocrank IC2s ordered.

      While I can never know for sure if any power meter is accurate, the majority line-up very well with each other in nearly 600 dual/triple-recorded rides.

    • I’m just here to comment on the impressive list of units… :)

  98. kurt

    Hi Ray,

    I am considering buying the SB20 but one thing holds me back. I use trainerroad for my indoor trainings. I always use the ERG mode. And as reported that is where the SB20 struggles. For me it is not an issue if the resistance is stable but only the reading is wobbly. If the resistance I get is also this wobbly I fear the bike is not for me. Do you know if the unstable reading affects the FTP ramp test?

    with kind regards

    • Michael J Fiola

      Hi Kurt. I just did the Zwift FTP ramp test on Wed. SB20. ERG. Worked perfectly. I’ve had my SB20 for a few months and have not had any issues.

    • Kevin

      I can’t speak for the ramp test as I do a different test for FTP, but I have had the SB20 go in and out of resistance a fair amount.

      Sometimes it will just drop resistance almost completely. Other times if I drop my rpms enough it becomes nearly impossible to spin the bike. I haven’t done much low cadence work with it out of this fear.

      I would stay away from the SB20 like the plague.

    • Jason Karew

      I’m having similar issues. Have you been able to figure out what is causing it?

  99. Juliana La Barbera

    We have 27 stages Bikes with monitors on them. We have found that one rider in particular who is our top rider has shortaged the monitor multiple times now. He sweats an incredible amount throughout the 45-60 min class. We have to reset the monitor or get the monitor completely replaced. Any thoughts??

  100. Michael Harrington

    Thanks for this amazing review. Really helpful. Could I ask one additional non-techy question for you and/or the community.

    Bike hasn’t arrived yet and I’m putting the 50” TV up on a wall mount, which has lateral plenty of movement and some tilt, but not vertical movement once bolted to the wall. So I need to get the height right.

    Could someone give me any advice on a comfortable height for the TV when riding longer rides mostly in the drops?


    • Kevin

      My 55″ inch TV is about 5′ away and roughly 28″ high. Seems fine for me.

    • David Manley

      My experience is almost go as low as you feel able. Looking down on the picture is always easy and less of an issue on the neck than trying to look up.

      I had a screen up once that died, when I put the new one up I lowered it significantly. And I still wish I’d put it down another 6 inches.

      In fact I might actually get around to doing it !

  101. Kevin

    This will probably be my last post. Hope people find it useful.

    I have now gone through 3 different cranks on my SB20. The final crank has seemed to only correct the inside/outside knee pedaling extreme variances.

    The cranks still register 10% low on wattage compared to numerous other PM. This makes the bike pretty much wothless, especially if you have any desire to do things like Zwift racing. Think about it. You are putting out 300w, but Zwift only sees 270w. No way you can compete.

    Makes workouts pretty hard to adjust to.

    I have sent emails and have not gotten a response in six weeks.

    So if you would like to spend $$$$ on an inaccurate bike with no CS then by all means buy a SB20 or any other stages bike.

  102. Jason Karew

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your review. I recently purchased an SB20 and have been experiencing some issues when Zwifting where there seems to be excessive resistance when sprinting or trying to roll a big gear on flat/downhill terrain. What seems to happen is if my watts start to get north of 400 the resistance starts to increase to the point that it is difficult to overcome (kind of feels like accelerating in wet cement). Have you experienced this or heard of anyone else having this issue?


  103. Henrik Öberg

    Compared to what. I have deen a couple of post were Favero shows way off.But what is the apple here???

    • brucewol

      Jason – You experience is similar to what I’ve found. yup, like accelerating in wet cement. seems the sb20 in erg mode doesn’t ramp up resistance fast enough and then try’s to catch up and way overshoots. very noticeable in sprints, less so if the ramp up is slow.

      i just use level mode all the time. to me it’s a game to see how well i can target gear changes and cadence to match the required wattage of the workout. gives me something else to do other than just pedal. my app is SYSTM(Sufferfest)

    • Kevin

      Are you replying to me?

      If so then I am comparing it to over 5 other power meters and two other trainers. 3 of those PM’s are direct as they are dual side pedals attached to the stages.

      I have already stated all of this. I have lots of apples and only one lemon.

    • brucewol

      nope, kevin i wasn’t replying to you sorry about the confusion. i just replied to the last comment as i do for more forums that sort replies just chronologically

  104. Peter Z.

    Looks like good sale for this right now. $1400 with year of Zwift
    link to stagescycling.com

    • Jim C

      That is an amazing deal – I have >7,000miles on mine with no issues at all – love it. Though… I dont worry about it reacting within 1 second and accurate to 1/2 a watt to my 20 second intervals!

      This sale makes me wonder if a Next gen version is on the way…

    • Indy Jones

      and what is it that you’d like to see in a “next gen” that isn’t on the current bike?

    • James

      If only a similar deal was available in the UK! (£2799.00 here!!) 🙄

  105. brucewol

    nope, kevin i wasn’t replying to you sorry about the confusion. i just replied to the last comment as i do for more forums that sort replies just chronologically

  106. Judy

    I am considering getting started on Zwift for indoor training. I do have a spare road bike I could set up on a trainer such as wahoo kicker or something similar. Besides price, how would I compare and contrast this versus Buying a stages SB20 and the experience I would have?

    • Kevin

      As I have made clear, I would avoid it like the plague. Non functioning if you actually know your zones, watts, etc.
      Customer service is non existent.

      I have a Saris Hammer that was/is flawless, but I got rid of my spare bike that was permanently on it, plus I have a SB20 paperweight that I would need to get rid of, so here I am.

      I would 100% go with a smart trainer over the sb20 especially if you have an extra bike.

      Only reason I got the SB20 was the wife said she wanted to start training so we needed an adjustable bike. She has used it literally twice. 😢🤔🤣

    • Judy

      Kevin, which mosel Saris do you have?

    • Mike

      Judy, just as a counter-point, I’ve had an SB20 for two years and I love it. Built like a tank, smooth, wonderful for racing.

      I haven’t put it through rigorous testing like Kevin has, but I had a Saris H2 for a couple years before getting the SB20 and I found the power readings consistent with each other (looking at many race results with average power, heart rate, etc.). The H2 reported my peak power (after firmware update) in a full-gas sprint 10-15% higher than the H2, but that’s the only noticeable difference.

      I’ve also had amazing customer service direct from Stages in the U.S.

    • Mike

      I meant to write: the H2 reported my peak power higher than the SB20.

    • Kevin

      I have the original Hammer. Never had an issue and I have Powertap pedals. Whenever I needed something Saris was quick to reply and helpful. Was all made in USA if that matters. Don’t know what the deal is now since they were bought.

    • Indy Jonze

      This guy does NOT represent the vast (vast) majority of SB20 owners who think it’s hands down the best smart bike out there. Would buy again in a heartbeat

    • JTC

      Agree Indy – his experience is unfortunate and I am surprised that Stages has not yet resolved it for him. My SB20 has been perfect for 2 years now – with 7000 miles of use… I would NEVER go back to an outside bike forced into duty as an indoor bike. It trashed my drivetrain, salty sweat all over the bike, etc… The SB 20 is purpose build for indoor training – not a hacked-together solution with an outdoor bike.

    • Indy Jonze

      they’re not going to resolve it because there’s no issue to resolve. this guy and there’s another guy in the SB20 FB forum (i think he’s chimed in here too) who eternally have issues with the stages power meters in general and reference the ~130 other pms they own and how stages doesn’t track perfectly to the 130 other brands. they cite how exaggerated knee movement, battery levels, phase of the moon, day of the week, etc causes discrepancies in the power tracking and point to a design flaw with stages, ignoring the fact that the pms on the sb20 are the identical off the shelf pms that have been in the field for years and that many pro teams use to great effect.

      they’ve both had them exchanged like a dozen times and they’re still claiming an issue that nobody can reproduce except these two (or maybe nobody is caring about a 1% variance). at this point if i were stages i’d have just given them their money back, wished them luck and told them to go elsewhere.

      there are a few thousand members in that fb group, the vast majority are having a great time with this machine

    • judith l seid

      thank you Mike. I’m not a great techie person, so looking to start with something simple and easy to learn. Some folks are suggesting I start with a Zwift Hub and see how I like that. Any thoughts?

    • How 'bout the ERG Feature?

      How do you feel about the ERG issue Ray identified in his original review? It’s been quite a while, of course, so I’m wondering if it’s better now as most of my indoor riding is ERG workouts.


    • Kevin

      Hmmmmm, did somebody have a bad day?
      I love the complete use of hyperboles and understatements all at once. Testing a 130 pm would take soooooooo long. If it was just a 1% variance then I would have no issue as that is what most claim, unfortunately it is around 10% which is a big deal and makes my sb20 worthless.

      Now two things can be true at the same time. Your sb20 works flawlessly and mine doesn’t. But just because your situation is different than mine doesn’t mean that the other one can not be true.

      There are actually many others that have had issues with the sb20 just like there are people that have no issue with them. However, I imagine few have taken the steps to see where the bike falls in line with reading compared to other pm they own, if they own others. Maybe they have crank based or hub based and cannot do direct testing.

      Interesting you say they are the same as off the shelf as they clearly aren’t as I own a Stages PM (which btw reads inline with my other PM, but not its own company’s)

      Just here to give other side of the experience, so that offends you so much. Do you work for Stages or something? If so help me out.

      I would love for Stages to refund me my money and get the bike out of my basement, but that would require the CS to respond to me first.

    • Kevin

      In my experience the erg is not great, but can be worked around. Also in case ol fanboy Jonze chimes in, many people have these issues, not just me.

      1. Slow to change between intervals. Depending on wattage and cadence I have timed it to be roughly between 10-40 seconds. So short intervals like tabatas are out. Longer ones can be dealt with.

      2. Instances where there is little to no resistance like the bike has just dropped the connection, except it hasn’t. On rare occasions I have had to reboot, but mostly it will just start working after 30 seconds or so.

      3. Low cadence spiral of death. If you are doing high gear low cadence work or dip your cadence down on a hard interval the resistance become so hard that you literally cannot spin the flywheel.

      I have personally experienced all of these and so have many others. You just kinda get used to it I guess…

    • Eugene C

      Look, others have conducted this same protocol as I have and noticed the same results, Upwards of +10% when pushing the knees out and the opposite when pushing the knees in. Try or for yourself. The voltage issue is also very real. A set of fresh CR2032s with initial voltages of 3.3V instead of 3.0V will cause the power meters to read very high for a ride or three. After that it will stabilize for the most part, and then read noticeably low when the batteries hit ~2.8V.

      I do not have 130 power meters, but I do have a dozen or so. The collection is growing.

      I have never had my SB20 hardware swapped out. I’d prefer if you don’t make up stories of your own. Your ignorance is astounding.

  107. Rusty Austin

    I just received an email from Zwift offering the SB20 plus 12 months of Zwift for $1399. That’s quite a discount compared to other smart bikes. I have to wonder if they’re just managing excess inventory or looking to move on to the next thing.

    I’ve owned the bike since mid-2021. Even with its issues, overall I’m happy with the bike.

  108. Can anyone tell me the dimensions of the box that the SB20 ships in? I’m thinking of getting one now that they are on sale, but I want to know if it will fit into the back of my car.


    • Brian

      It’s been a while since I got mine, but the box was quite large. I had mine in the back of my Honda Ridgeline and it took a good size amount of the bed. I suspect unless you have an extra large SUV, getting into a car will be tough. It also has a wood frame on the feet if I recall, and it quite heavy.

    • Brian

      The box Demensions are as follows

      L 58″ x W 22.2″ x H 46.7″


      148cm x 56cm x 124 cm

  109. okrunner

    With the state of the bike industry, is this $1399 sale with 12 months Zwift a good deal or the tip of the iceberg with smart trainers? Or, option 3, just Stages moving inventory for a new smart bike (unlikely)?

  110. BJ Sorensen

    Have you seen any improvement in the sb20 ability to get to power targets quickly and stay there in ERG mode?

    • Kevin

      Since no one else has replied…

      I have not seen any improvement. As of a month ago it was taking the SB20 20-30 seconds to ramp up roughy 100%. Meaning if was doing 140 then trying to hit 280 it would typically take 20-30 seconds.

      I did find a solution for almost all of the sb20 issues:
      I use Assioma pedals on it. Now intervals are met in about 7-10 seconds. Power is accurate.

      Still wouldn’t use it for short HIIT

      Thanks Stages!!!

  111. duncan

    I have a weird issue with my SB20 when using it in resistance mode, as opposed to erg mode, which so far Stages have failed to resolve. While remaining in one (virtual) gear, there is a gradual and progressive drift of that virtual gear such that I have to increase cadence in order to maintain the same power output. The screenshot shows an example from an easy 1 hour session I did today. I remained in the same gear throughout the session. Laps 3 and 9 are both at the same average power output of 190 W, but by lap 9 I had to use an average cadence of 98 rpm compared to 91 rpm for lap 3! Has anyone else experienced this behavior?

  112. Doug

    Has something bad happened at Stages? My SB20 is in a frozen state, locked at 100% resistance, not accessible via Bluetooth. I started calling their tech support line 2 and a half weeks ago and left messages. No response. 2 weeks ago they stopped accepting voicemails on that support line, it just says “No one is available to take your call at this time.” Pressing 0 says “Invalid Entry”. Going to the sales line results in “No one is available to take your call at this time.” Opened a support ticket 2 weeks ago on their support portal. No response. Sent emails to support@stages – no response. Tried to contact them via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – no response. Are they dead as a company?

    • Brian

      Have you tried using an Ant+ stick as a connection versus using Bluetooth? I found my connection on Bluetooth a little more buggy, and that might not be the correct verbiage, but with the various power meters and such, trying to connect everything looking for a bluetooth connection was not always as smooth for me. I had a Garmin Ant+ stick from an older trainer so I plugged it into my old laptop that I use for Rouvy, and it has been a much better experience. Not positive if this will fix this issue, for you, but you never know.

      Also make sure you have updated the SB20 firmware, there was an update in Jan 2023 if you have not done that.

      As far as their customer service connections, it has been sketchy for a while. When I was having issues around the blue tooth back in Feb 2023, I submitted a ticket and it took several weeks, maybe 3, for them to get back to me, by that time, I had fixed this issue using the Ant+ stick, so I told them to just close the ticket.

    • David Manley

      I notice that saddleback, the uk distributor, is selling the bike now at 1799 which seemed to make it a really good deal. came here looking to see if the ERG issues had been resolved only to find that it’s not really much better, some negative comments on the time taking to hit a power in HIIT type sessions and finally that stages seem to be a bit radio silent.

      Have you heard anything Ray?

    • Jonathan

      I don’t believe they’re dead, but I’m confirming that their customer service is _incredibly_ sketchy. Their new Chinese Overlords (please note this is a statement of fact, not a racially- or culturally-insensitive quip) do not appreciate or understand the value of after-sales customer service.

      That said, I have seen this 100% resistance issue raised elsewhere, but don’t recall the solution. Poke around search-wise, you might find it.

    • A Chinese company bought Stages?

    • jonathan

      TL;DNR: Chinese equity investors, not complete corporate sale.
      My intended point: It’s basically a good product, and I’d conditionally recommend it. But my experience with the company/product is relevant to readers considering the purchase.

      Details: During the protracted, sweaty hell of my trying to get my “issue” worked out, I employed all manner of search-fu and industry contacts to try and figure out what was happening with the company. Because, you know, you eventually develop a sense of when something’s…not right. (Though I’d like to think you have better/direct contact with them than I do.) The lack of responsiveness, the weird “this number disconnected” thing, the fact that my original support person was suddenly “retired”…

      I love cycling, support the industry, and well know the market’s small and margins are thin, so I’m inclined to be forgiving to companies in this space. But dropping ~$2K on something like this and having it die after 24 months isn’t acceptable.

      Here (link to bicycleretailer.com), Giant now owns over a third of Stages. The practical implications of this are likely:
      * Stages looks to show greater profit/lower expenses by cutting all non-essential expenses prior to pre-investment valuation,
      * I’ve had multiple Chinese partners. Perspectives on how budgets should best be allocated for long-term company health/growth, uh, differ.

    • Indy Jones

      you should go to the stages fb forum. there’s a couple of people there with “facts” that they were bought by some random chinese company or that peloton bought them OR that they (and garmin) are getting out of the bike business. you just tend to shrug it off after a bit and let them live out their fantasies…

    • Indy Jones

      ok 1. a “1/3” investment does NOT equal ownership. that title is reserved for 51%. also 2. you clearly stopped your “research” before getting to this minor point…

      link to bicycleretailer.com.

    • okrunner

      No doubt Stages has been in trouble financially as indicated by the failed investment from Giant earlier this year where Giant was to gain a 30% stake for $20 million. I believe Giant, in partnership with Stages, builds their bikes and they are Taiwanese not Chinese. Where’s the information they’ve been bought partially or wholly by a Chinese company? Just curious.

    • okrunner

      This is not correct. The Giant deal fell through. Google it. Giant does not own any of Stages as far as I can tell. The Giant board approved it but the deal didn’t work.

    • jonathan

      …OK! If Giant deal fell-through, it fell through. (Lord knows this happens all the time.) However, doesn’t alter my key point: Stages is _NOT_ customer-responsive, and why doesn’t really matter. They did ultimately get me sorted, and I’m appreciative of that! Just be clear-eyed about the company and the product before dropping coin. Again, I’d buy an SB20 again (if I didn’t have one), but it this recommendation has caveats.

    • Indy Jones

      i mean you pinned your entire argument on it…

    • jonathan

      I have no “argument.” My basis was to try and understand why, as the customer of a consumer products company putting an expensive, vexingly-designed product into the market and then failing to adequately support it, they might do that. There are many possible reasons (including the company’s DNA, that it might wish to focus on the B2B market, or the culture of its partners) but they all ultimately (almost certainly) boil down to money.

      If, as you note, Chinese investment fell-through, the downside to that is the presumed supply-chain and sourcing advantages that should have come (plus, of course, the working capital).

      None of this matters to us. We pay-up, we get a product, it’s good-or-bad, if we have issues with the product they’re either resolved or they’re not. As a cyclist, and (hopefully) benevolent person my aim is let perspective purchasers know: 1) It’s basically a good product, 2) It’s fussy and can have problems, 3) You have to be _very_ patient/persistent if you want support, 4) In my case I did ultimately get that support, and I now end up recommending the product (with qualifications).

  113. Jonathan

    TL;DNR: Challenging product and customer support, but I’d buy it again.

    We’ve owned ths SB20 since 2020, 3 years ago as I write this. I was initially thrilled by rock-solid construction, but frustrated by complete lack of even basic user/product thinking (no on/off switch, no power indicator or status/paired lights, requires batteries(!!!) in crank arms, no simple way to ensure everything’s working as it should). The thing was a fever-dream between brilliant stationary bike engineers and brain-dead electronics hardware and app developers.

    It was nuts, but it worked, and worked well enough with open-market apps like Zwift.
    After 2 years, it died.

    I’ll spare the long story (replaced several complete component assemblies) over the past 9 months and note that I was VERY persistent with VERY hard-to-reach customer service, but they were intermittently responsive enough to help find/replace the failed component. It’s been returned to operation, and thank God! I missed it, and am reminded how once you get past the many frustrations and flaws, the core operation of the thing – a quiet, stable, adjustable platform on which to vent my many watts of fury – is excellent.

    If someone (or anyone in the household) wasn’t technically-minded, and/or patient/persistent in the face of problems I’d tell them to just get a Peloton. But if they wanted to use apps like Zwift without having to dual-use their bike, I’d recommend they get this, even at this model version.

    If Stages has the resources and inclination to re-work it to 2.0 (Yo, Stages: find a real product manager, give them a reasonable calendar and budget, and let them do their job!) it could be fantastic.

  114. JTC

    Add me to the list of SB20 owners who have been stranded by Stages. After two seasons of trouble free use – my sb20 has suffered some sort of power failure such that the bike is no longer broadcasting data (not controllable and not discoverable by the stages app) and the shifting etc is unresponsive. So it is stuck at a very high level of resistance and no matter what I try it is not resolving. I swapped in a new power brick – this did not fix it.

    Like all the others here – my calls & emails into Stages are without a response. So in the middle of my winter indoor season – I have a very heavy indoor bike that is useless.

    • Jonathan

      I’m sorry for your aggravation. I recall this “constant resistance” issue is a thing. I also note (as a product manager) that since resistance is electronically actuated, and you (likely) have none when the thing is not powered-up, power brick would not be my first guess at all.

      I’d wild-ass guess it’s the same “B”/top board I had to replace. It’s not too difficult a job if you’re handy.
      What can I say, just keep trying with them. I got jumped on by others by noting they’d been acquired (apparently they have not), so… I think they’re just super-stretched on resources.

      Where are you located?

      Keep trying. You can’t have a $2K boat anchor. As you know, it’s a great device. It’s worth some aggravation to try and get resolved.

    • JTC

      Hey Jonathan – Thanks for the info. I am in the USA.
      To be clear, I am initially suggesting it is something power related as the day I discovered the issue – the first sign of a problem was when I approached the bike for a workout and plugged in my iPad to one of the sb20’s USB ports — the power output was in a constant off/on state. Thinking it was related to the USB cord or something – I then got on the bike for a ride and realized the resistance was in a state of off/on as well. Unplugging/replugging in the power supply a bunch of times I found that when the power supply was showing a solid green light – the resistance was in a very difficult setting. When the power supply would go to an off/on (flashing green light) state – resistance was also in and out. Also, the bike was no longer outputting any signals (Bluetooth, etc) – only the crank arm power meters were discoverable.
      I tried an offbrand power supply that other sb20 owners have used and that did not resolve it – the resistance was just set to very difficult (standing on the pedals I could turn them over at maybe 40rpm). Anyhow, reading the FB sb20 owners forum makes me think it is some type of ‘board’ inside. I can probably fix it if I had the parts – but like so many others, have been stranded by Stages.

      This has been one of the more disappointing consumer experiences I have had. Its not often a fella spends $3000 and then is left for dead by the manufacturer 24 months later.

      I am all ears if you have any advice. I am going to try my hand and getting hold of an executive at Stages and pleading my case. The normal channels through phone/email to support is a dead end currently. Trouble is – this is ‘peak’ indoor season for me … waiting 90 days for stages to help is not going to work.

    • Jonathan

      By “where” I meant there’s a non-zero chance we’re neighbors (I’m in NYC).
      There are 2 critical PCBs in the device. Both are user-replaceable. The top board is the one responsible for USB connection.
      I actually tried the “executive” route through LinkedIn, but am not connected to anyone connected to anyone at Stages (I’m in tech.)
      90 days; I waited way, way longer than that. It was months for me.

      I just don’t know what the deal is with this company.
      DCR (this site owner) should probably post a warning on his review.