Unless you slept through high school physics, the equation Power = Torque x Cadence should look vaguely familiar, even if you haven't needed to use it since those awkward adolescent years. For Stages Cycling, that equation is much more than a foggy memory; it's the cornerstone of the company, the calculation that their power meters perform thousands of times per ride.
Stages began by designing power meters for stationary bikes, the type used in commercial gyms. Taking the lessons learned from that product, they then launched their own crank arm mounted power meter in 2012. The device's price, light weight, and weatherproof, wireless design helped it turn heads when it was launched, and over the last four years Stages' athletes have brought home multiple World Championship medals in everything from road to enduro racing. Initially, the power meters were only available on aluminum crankarms, but Stages recently released their own carbon crankarm and power meter combination.
The basic principle behind a Stages power meter is fairly simple – a strain gauge is mounted onto a non-driveside crankarm, where it can detect even the smallest amount of flex. An accelerometer is used to determine a rider's cadence, providing the second key part of the equation. Since the power meter is only mounted on one side, the number is multiplied by two, and the result is the amount of power (measured in watts) that a rider is putting out at any given moment. It sounds simple, but the execution is a good deal more complicated, due to the steps required to ensure that the device produces accurate, reliable data.
What exactly is that data used for? Well, by monitoring their power output, athletes are able to keep track of just how much effort they're putting out rather than relying solely on gut instinct. Sure, that four hour ride might have felt hard, but how hard was it really? For the recreational cyclist, the weekend warrior that's happy enough just to be out of the house and in the woods, power isn't going to mean as much, but for elite (or aspiring elite) athletes it can be a very useful tool for training and racing.
In order to learn more, we visited Stages' manufacturing and research and development facility in Boulder, Colorado, the location where every single power meter is designed and assembled.Research and Development