Why We Make Power Meters:
Thebrand was launched in 2012 with the mission of bringing power to every rider. Up until that point, power meters were cost-prohibitive (costing close to $3,000) and difficult to use. The first power meters on the market also had trouble compensating for temperature fluctuations, were difficult to install, and required additional sensors and components. Stages’ team of engineers, business-minded entrepreneurs, and avid cyclists, had a vision of how to solve these problems, not just for the professionals, but for every rider. So they hit the market head-on to make incredibly accurate power meters that were accessible, affordable, and easy to install. Today, Stages makes a for every type of rider and every type of bike.
How Stages Power Meters Are Made:
Sixteen individual steps go into making an alloy power meter and even more steps are required for carbon cranks. We’ve boiled the production process down into five basic steps to give you an overview of how a crank turns into a Stages Power meter at our Boulder production facility.
Step One: Clean & Prep
Stages uses a perfectly calibrated laser to etch away any paint or external coating from the crank arm. This reveals a clean, raw surface to bond the strain gauges to.
Step Two: Bond the Strain Gauges
Several things are needed to carry out this essential step:
- A meticulously cleaned & prepped crank arm
- Special glue
- The perfect amount of glue
- The precise amount of pressure
- The right amount of heat
The goal of this step is to chemically weld the strain gauges as closely as possible to the metal crank arm so that the slightest amount of torque can be measured. If done correctly, the strain gauges and crank arm become permanently bonded and act as one.
Step Three: Add Electronics & Housing
This is where the power meter comes to life and is put to the test. In this step, all of the necessary electronics are soldered on, and a unique serial number and ANT+ ID are assigned to the power meter. Before the housing can be applied, every power meter goes through a series of tests to ensure that the strain gauges, accelerometer, Bluetooth connectivity, and temperature sensors are all working properly.
After testing, the housing unit is glued to the crank arm. This bond is unique and has to live up to very high standards. It has to be water-tight, strong enough to endure knocks, rocks, and mountain bike rides, yet still pliable enough to respond to the torque of the crank arm without breaking the housing. (Surely, that’s not too much to ask?)
Step Four: Calibration & Quality Control
This is where the souped-up crank arm goes to school and learns how to be a power meter. Every Stages Power meter is calibrated for weight/force and temperature influence to ensure that it is consistent and accurate regardless of the temperature you ride in. Each unit is also tested to make sure that it is water-tight.
Step Five: Test Again
Accuracy and consistency are non-negotiables at Stages so all of our units undergo after-production testing to ensure an accuracy rating of +/- 1.5%. Once they pass, the power meters are polished, boxed up, and mailed to you.
Stages Power Key Features:
- High-resolution electronics with enhanced signal strength for reliable, consistent data capture and transfer
- Integrated accelerometer for magnet-free cadence
- Both ANT+ and Bluetooth transmission for compatibility with virtually any computer, phone, or smart trainer
- Tested and proven accuracy to +/- 1.5%
- Active Temperature Compensation firmware that automatically adjusts for temperature changes during your ride
- IPX7 water-resistant
- User-replaceable CR2032 batteries
- Superlight – adds just 20 grams
- Automatically zero resets
The People Behind the Power:
Human touch and oversight are what make our power meters special. Stages Power meters are assembled by hand at our Boulder, Colorado facility. Every power meter is touched by eighteen people, each ensuring that our standards for quality, consistency, and accuracy are met.
The same crew of engineers and leaders that created the first affordable, accurate, and versatile power meters are continuing to innovate and oversee power meter production at our Boulder facility today. We take pride in keeping our power meters close to home and close to the engineers who dreamed them up.
What Are the Benefits of Training With Power?
At this point you might be thinking, “Cool technology, but do I really need one?”
Power meters have earned their reputation as a training device for world-class athletes, but their true benefits are available for any rider. Here are the top four things a power meter can give you, regardless of how or where you ride.
Analyze Your Workouts
Analyzing data during a ride is motivating. Analyzing data after a ride is gratifying. And, analyzing data over time is just flat-out rewarding. Without data, it’s impossible to know how far you’ve come or if your workouts are effectively moving you toward your goals. Power metrics take the guesswork out of training and they help you understand your body and your effort. A simple glance at your power data and you can identify cardiovascular training zones, weaknesses, strengths, and gains. Analyzing your workouts allows you to compare yourself to the only other person that matters… you!
Accurate & Consistent Metrics
Power data does not fluctuate and can add a concrete crosscheck to workouts. Power meters generate solid metrics that communicate the pure effort (mechanical response) of a workout. A watt is a watt, regardless of whether you’re hyped up on caffeine or suffering from a sleepless night. The only way to influence power output is to put in the work. Any increase in effort instantly elevates power data, whereas other modalities, such as heart rate data, can be slower to respond to heightened effort. The accuracy, responsiveness, and consistency of power metrics can help you figure out what works best for your body both, in the moment and over time.
Improve Training Efficiency & Quality
Power provides a quantitative evaluation of the intensity of your workouts. Instead of basing how hard you are working on perceived exertion or other qualitative factors, power meters generate real-time numbers that can be immediately displayed on a head unit, console, or leaderboard. This instant feedback can help you know when to work less, hold the line, or increase workload based on the remaining distance and time left to ride.
The data that’s collected from each ride can also be used to build training protocols and individualized power zones. Power zone training uses a rider’s functional threshold power (FTP) to establish personalized watt ranges (zones). Riding in each zone affects the body in unique ways and allows you to purposefully target specific exercise intensities (like active recovery, endurance, tempo, threshold, V02 max, and anaerobic) while avoiding overtraining.
Quantify Improvement Over Time
Power is a great tool for setting goals and measuring improvement over time. The watts don’t lie. A rider who begins riding with an average of 120 watts per hour and improves their average watts per hour to 150 is getting stronger and elevating their level of fitness. Power output allows you to focus on your gains and reinforces your commitment to improving your fitness.
Power is knowledge thanks to the Stages Power meter.
Want to see more?
Watch the video below to take a quick tour of the production process.