Image courtesy Stages Cycling
What was initially seen as an upstart company, based in the fitness industry, attempting to provide power data to riders at a low price point has now announced a partnership with the savviest, most data driven team in the sport of cycling – Team Sky. The Stages power meter first traded on the fact that it cost less than half what other crank based power solutions cost. This led to a perception that is was also less accurate than other meters and not ideal for a serious athlete.
Stages played defense on this all year, showing that despite its low cost the meter was not only as accurate as any other meter, but more consistent over changing conditions than any other meter, which is actually a more important feature. These are features our own long term testing with Stages Power has validated. What became clear to us was the lower price of a Stages meter comes from its design as a single, left arm meter affixed to standard alloy cranks, not from any budget parts or less accurate data. The design also resulted in incredibly low weight, less than 20grams on our scale.
By measuring only the left leg’s power output Stages doubles the number to get a reading more inline with what we see from Quarq, SRM or pedal based systems that measure both legs. During our experience this resulted in lower overall numbers than registered with a Quarq meter, but more consistent numbers. For impressing our buddies with big power numbers it is not ideal, as a training device it is perfection.
As Team Sky moves to Stages for 2014 it seems clear some translation of old data will need to occur in order to put the doubled left leg power numbers in context for the athletes and trainers. The numbers Froome will see on the head unit he dearly loves to stare at will likely be slightly different than what he is used to. We have reached out to Team Sky for comment on this and will update you as soon as possible.
Team Sky’s thirst for data and their enormous budget mean any and all systems are on the table. For Team Sky to have chosen Stages means they value consistency above all else and after a lengthy validation period, according to Stages, they believe the meter will deliver better consistency than any other. After all, when Froome is six hours into a Tour stage and relying on his power meter to dose his effort on the final climb, an inconsistency of even 10watts could be the difference between winning and losing.
Reactions to the partnership from both parties on page 2.