The opportunity has finally arrived to train with a power meter; a Stages Cycling Ultegra power meter which takes the form of the left hand crank arm replacing the original. There are lots of options in the market place for training with power both more and less expensive than the Stages offering. Some are based in the rear wheel hub and others in the crank itself. I am sure it won’t be too long before a company like Shimano actually builds it in as an integrated option.
The installation of the Stages power meter is straight forward and simply a case of removing the existing left crank arm and replacing it with the Stages power meter crank arm. Note I have the Stages Ultegra 6800 as the colour matched my Ultegra 6770 groupset; there are no compatibility issues The power meter includes a battery which requires a slip of plastic removing in order for it to make contact. Note that there does seem to be an issue with clearance for some bikes so Stages offers a diagram which shows a 10mm hex wrench inserted between the crank arm and chain-stay as a check for clearance.
There has also been issues with the product and water penetration so it is clearly pointed out that the battery door must be correctly inserted and the o-ring type seal in the correct position.
After installing the crank I followed the set up instruction for pairing with a Garmin Edge 500 and ran through the calibration. The Stages unit communicates with Garmin through Ant+ but also has Bluetooth to communicate with fitness apps on your phone such as Strava. The first couple of rides out on the road the signal would continuously drop and the power reading would hit ‘0’ and then three dashes (‘- – -‘) would appear before a few seconds of nothing and then the reading would come back but only to drop off again.
Stages have a good list of potential fixes in their support section so after updating the firmware for the power meter via an app on my iPhone and updating the software on the Garmin I tried again. Sadly no luck.
Finally I switched my Garmin ‘out front’ bracket which holds the Edge 500 in front of the handlebars to the standard bracket which holds it in place on top of the stem with rubber bands. Hey presto no signal drop off between Garmin and the Stages and all is well with the power readings. I would guess that due to the position of the Garmin unit with the out front bracket that the handlebar itself is attributing to interrupting the signal.
Now onto the fun bit which is to make good use of the data while training. Back soon….