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How To: Suggested Garmin Head Unit Settings To Get The Most Out Of Your New Stages Power Meter

December 8, 2015 |

Our Power Education Specialist, Benjamin Sharp, walks you through the steps he takes to get the most out of his Garmin settings.

 

Congratulations!  You just bought a Stages Power Meter.  Now what?

This is the first post of a series on how to “begin with the beginning”.  Having a new power meter can open up a world of insight into your riding and training.  Knowledge is certainly power and my aim with this post is to help you monitor the metrics that can be most useful in your daily training sessions.

The vast majority of Stages customers are using Garmin head units to display and record data being streamed from their power meters.  Personally, I prefer the Garmin Edge 510 (which will be my sample head unit for this post) but, we have had success with the Garmin Edge 1000, 810, 520, and 500 computers among others.  There are other head unit manufacturers out there, of course, and some of our customers have had positive experiences with those as well.  The Cateye Stealth evo+, Wahoo ELEMNT, and Lezyne Power GPS and Lezyne Super GPS come to mind.  

We have information posted on our support page with recommendations on initial setup of the Garmin computers here.  

Following these steps will ensure that you get the best possible communication between your Stages Power meter and your chosen head unit.  My intention here is to go through the page settings that I have set up on my personal head unit, e.g. what do I have my screens set up to display and why?  I’m going to try not to go down too many rabbit holes here but it’s a challenge.  There are lots of settings that lead to more and more options.

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Garmin Edge 510 on Bike Profile Selection Screen

The first thing you will want to do is customize your bike profile.  This is particularly useful if you have multiple bicycles that you use with the same head unit, whether they all have power meters or not.

For our purposes, we will set up a standard road bike:

To setup a bike profile, press the “wrench and screwdriver” icon from here on, I will refer to this as “Tools”.  1st, press “Bike Profiles”.  2nd, choose “Bike 1”.  3rd, press “Name”.  (Tools→Bike Profiles→Bike 1→Name).  Here you can customize the name of your bike.  

In my case, I like to use the model name of the bike, “Felt AR”.  When finished click the ✓ to confirm and save your revised bike profile name.  From the Bike Profiles screen, you can edit the bike image, the weight of the bike, the wheel size, etc.  I tend to leave these settings alone although it might be interesting to track the mileage you put on each of your bikes.  

As you are backing out of the menus be sure to “Enable” the bike profile.  When completed, you should end up on the page with all the Bike Profiles listed.  Click the newly created bike profile (in my case, “Felt AR”), enable the power meter and type in the ANT id per the instructions linked above.  Finally, back out of this screen all the way to the original Tools screen which lists “Activity Profile, Bike Profile, Bluetooth, etc…”.  

Next, press Activity Profile to take you to the list of Activity Profiles.  Press “Train”.  From here, we will set up the profile you are most likely to use on a daily basis, while outdoors.  It’s possible to setup an alternate profile if you like, for example for riding indoors, on a bike without a power meter, or even for racing.  

I like to set up an Alert to chime every 10 minutes of activity.  This might be a throwback to my days of coaching the USA Cycling Junior National Team but, the 10 minute chime works as a great reminder to take a big swig from my water bottle.  To set up the 10 minute drink alert: Scroll down to Alerts→Time→enable button→Alert At then set the desired alert frequency.  Back out of the Alert screens by pressing     twice.  

From this screen, you can set up Auto Pause, Auto Lap, Auto Scroll, and Start Notice.  My personal preference is to enable Auto Pause “when stopped” as well as the Start Notice “once”.  Auto Pause will prevent the head unit from counting stopped time as part of your workout (e.g. when at a red light, or making an emergency bonk-staving stop at a store an hour from home for Coca Cola and a Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pie – nope, never done that).  The only other setting I change is the “Start Notice”.  This chime assures me that the Garmin GPS is working correctly and is detecting stops and starts during my ride.  

Next, let’s set up your Training Pages.  It’s a bit of a tedious task with the Garmin Edge 510 but worthwhile to get it right, as this is what you will see while riding.  

To get to the Training Pages setting screen, from the Edge 510 main screen which say “RIDE” in the middle: Tools→Activity Profiles→Train→Training Pages

To modify each of the Training Pages within an Activity Profile, Select the page you want to modify (in this case, Page 1) then select the number of fields you wish to display on this first screen (6) and confirm with ✓.  You can enable/disable a Training Page from this screen as well.  Now, you can change what is displayed in each field by simply touching the field.   

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Garmin Edge 510 on Training Page Selection Screen

Training Page 1 – 6 fields.  I think of this as the “what is happening right now screen”.  It’s the screen I will use the majority of the time when riding.  The metric name that you choose in the Training Pages Modification Screen differs from the name for the same metric on the actual Training Page.  So, in the interest of making sure that you are selecting the correct metrics, with each of the following paragraphs related to Training Pages, I have created a key.  

 

Training Page 1
Select To Display
Timer→Time Time
Power→Power – 3s Avg. Pwr 3s
Heart Rate→Heart Rate Heart Rate
Cadence→Cadence Cadence
General→Time of Day Time of Day
Power→Power-kj Kilojoules

 

(Time, Pwr 3s, Heart Rate, Cadence, Time of Day, Kilojoules).  Time = Elapse ride time.  Pwr 3s = current 3 second average power.  I prefer to use this over actual power as it smooths the display a bit and I am less likely to see minor fluctuations in power, and thus, less likely to respond to those fluctuations.  Fear not, however, actual power (in 1 second increments, depending on our recording settings), will still be recorded.  The 3s average is only for display purposes.  Heart Rate = Current heart rate (provided you are using a paired hrm strap).  Cadence = current cadence, as broadcast by your Stages Power Meter.  Time of Day = Time of Day…important for making sure I’m not late for dinner or to the start line for a race.  Kilojoules = energy expenditure, important to track for appropriate fueling while training.  

 

 

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Garmin Edge 510 Training Page 1

 

Training Page 2
Select To Display
Timer→Time-Lap Current Lap
Power→Power – 3s Avg. Pwr 3s
Power→Power-Lap Lap Pwr
Heart Rate→Heart Rate Heart Rate

 

Training Page 2 – 4 fields.  This is the “lap screen”.  In other words, when doing specific intervals, this is the screen I default to as it shows all the information I deem to be relevant when performing intervals. (Current Lap, Pwr 3s, Lap Pwr, Heart Rate).  Current Lap = Elapsed lap time.  Whenever you hit the “Lap” button on the Garmin Edge 510 (this is the bottom-left button when looking at the face of the head unit), this time will reset to 00:00:00.  Pwr 3s = Same as on previous screen.  This gives real time power output, smoothed to a 3s average, important to see when trying to aim for a particular zone or power output for the duration of an interval.  Lap Pwr = Average Power for the current lap.  This number will reset to 0 when the Lap button is pressed.  Heart Rate = Same as above, current heart rate.  You might consider adding a 5th field for Cadence should you see fit.  

 

Training Page 3
Select To Display
Timer→Time Time
Power→Power – 3s Avg. Pwr 3s
Power→Power-Avg. Avg. Power
Power →Power – NP NP
Heart Rate→HR – Avg. Avg. HR
Cadence→Cadence – Avg. Avg. Cad.
Speed→Speed Speed
Distance→Distance Distance
General→Time of Day Time of Day
Power→Power-TSS TSS

 

Page 3 – 10 fields.  I consider this Page to be my “State of the Union” screen.  It’s sort of the catch-all page that tells me just about everything about what has transpired on the current ride.  Just about every question I could have regarding the status of my workout, is answered in one place.  I don’t make this my primary page because the screen resolution and my forty-three year-old eyes make it difficult to read the smaller

fonts when the screen is divided into 10 fields.  That’s not to say I don’t leave this screen on for some time so, there are a few metrics from Page 1 that are redundant (e.g. Time, Pwr 3s, , and Time of Day).  Also, with Avg. Power and NP, I can get an idea of the variability of the ride.  I do have some old school tendencies and like being able to see my Avg. HR.  Further, Avg. Cad., Speed, and Distance are displayed on this page.  Finally, I like to be able to refer to my Training Stress Score (TSS) at a glance.  This is particularly important when building or tapering for an event; I don’t want to do too much or too little relative to what I have projected I need to do.  

 

Training Page 4
Select To Display
Elevation→Total Ascent Totl. Ascent
Elevation→Total Descent Totl. Descent
Elevation→Grade Grade
Power →Power – Max. Max. Pwr

 

Page 4 – XX fields.  What I display on this page can vary quite a bit, depending on what curiosities I currently have piqued.  It will almost always include Totl. Ascent and Totl. Descent.  On long days in the saddle, I like knowing if I am higher or lower than my starting elevation.  It can be a great comfort knowing that, even though I might have 50km to go in a ride, I’ve (hopefully) climbed more than I’ve descended.  Tells me that generally I will be trending downhill to get home!  Along those lines I also have Grade on this Training Page, which tells me what percent grade I happen to be on. I also like having Max. Pwr, if nothing else, for potential, though unlikely bragging rights.  

Once your head unit is all set up, and you start your next training bout, you can cycle through the different training pages by swiping (on the Garmin Edge 510, 810, and 1000) across the screen or using the ← → arrows that pop up after you touch the screen. Future posts will cover some terminology and the first steps in navigating the new world of riding and more importantly, training, with a power meter.

In the meantime, get out and ride and play around with the settings on your head unit.  Hopefully you have found some ideas you can use, based on how my personal head unit is configured, and you are already gaining an appreciation for the “power” of the metrics your Stages Power meter and recording device can provide.  

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