Stages' first bike computer revealed along with Stages Link cloud-based training software
Stages Cycling is set to again capture the imagination of power-meter-curious cyclists everywhere with the launch of Stages Dash, a new high-end cycling head unit that's designed to be the most powerful and personalised training tool on the market.
Available in early 2017, Dash is all about maximising your cycling performance and that means focusing on the power data that matters. With this in mind, Stages has launched the computer simultaneously with its new Stages Link online training software. This cloud-based system offers a platform for training plans, ride analysis and device management – and also allows you to send workouts direct to Dash for training sessions that test your legs, not your IT skills.
"When a rider buys a power meter, they're looking for something more than a number—they have a goal," said Pat Warner, SVP of Stages Cycling. "After three years providing power to Team Sky, we've realised that athletes from professional to recreational have similar aims: they all want to meet their goals and they need simple guidance and immediate feedback to succeed.
"This new Stages ecosystem enables all riders to maximise their performance and meet their goals, with a simple and intuitive interface featuring unrivalled customisation, and training programs that learn and adapt from each rider's unique characteristics and achievements."
User friendly, feature rich
Dash has been created with the power meter user in mind, but that user can be a data junkie or someone who just wants the basics out the box. Dash covers both types of rider and everyone in between, offering a very user-friendly yet highly customisable experience.
To keep the user interface simple, Stages has streamlined Dash's software for an intuitive experience without the need for a manual on hand. By minimising multi-level menus and giving the most important power data from first set-up, those new to power can just get on with training.
With performance improvements at the front of its designers' minds, Dash's workout functionality means training sessions can be wirelessly downloaded to the device. Workouts have on-screen descriptions and prompts for each interval or rest to ensure the best possible quality in each and every training session. This data is then uploaded to Stages Link (more on that below), which in turn automatically updates Dash's FTP and training zone settings when the two are paired.
While there's no turn by turn navigation, Dash does use GPS for activity logging and you can follow route breadcrumb trails. Stages is also planning to add push notifications from a Bluetooth enabled smartphone to add turn by turn features to Dash in the future.
Much of the Dash's improved usability comes from its ability to display full or half pages and even the option to have half the screen static while pages of user-defined data scroll in the other half. This means you can also show data such as course profiles across half a screen while maintaining all your vital power data at the same time.
You can also choose the layout, size and placement of each data field with five screen options and up to 16 fields per screen. On top of that, Stages has designed Dash for both landscape and portrait orientations, allowing you to better tailor your cockpit set-up.
The screen itself is a high-resolution 2.7-inch, high-contrast black and white display that keeps battery consumption to a minimum while maximising legibility in all conditions. There's also a backlight with ambient light sensor for use in low light.
Activity profiles and sensors
Each Dash is shipped with preset activity profiles that are context sensitive based on which devices it's linked to. For example, heart-rate data appears if you're using that type of sensor, but isn't shown if a HR strap is not present. This enhances that all-important usability for those wanting to improve performance without getting into the minutiae of head unit set-up.
Of course, each profile is completely customisable too, so you can really get down into the details of your ride data should you wish. This can be achieved either directly on the unit itself or through the Link online software or smartphone app, which also allows wireless firmware updates.
Like Stages power meters, Dash is compatible with both Bluetooth and ANT+ with the head unit able to connect up to eight devices including power, heart rate, speed / cadence, smartphones, smart trainers, Shimano Di2, SRAM ETap and glucose measurement.
Dash has a built-in battery that's charged via a regular micro-USB connector. The unit takes around three hours to fully charge, which gives you between 25 and 30 hours of riding time.
Dash has been designed for use with Stages Power meters, but will work with other third party meters along with other ANT+ or Bluetooth devices. However, in the case of power meters, non-Stages users will miss out on the added data of the new .stages file format.
Dash can also upload to other sites such as Strava, but this will strip out high speed mode data and workout target information from the data-rich .stages file format, meaning it's best used with Stages Link, especially to gain the benefit of the new platform's coaching and education-focused features.
Stages has also created a new, flexible mountain system that's designed to complement Dash's sleek aerodynamic design while also possessing the strength to withstand the toughest cobbled sections of road. Additional mounts allow multiple installation options to take advantage of Dash's portrait or landscape orientation options – ideal for road, MTB or triathlon bar set-ups.
The Stages Link software is the final element in the Power / Dash ecosystem and is a one-stop training platform encompassing training plans, daily workout planning, activity upload, performance analysis, power meter management and Dash customisation.
Link's training plan builder takes into account your goals and available training time to dynamically build custom workouts to help you reach your goals. The system can create weekly, monthly and even yearly plans, with the workout for each day sent directly to Dash ready for your next session. It's essentially like having your own cycling coach planning your next session for maximum gains.
Like Dash, Link has been designed with user-friendliness in mind. The tabbed layout gives instant access to each area of the software, yet has plenty of depth for those who want to drill down into their activity data, send workouts to their Dash and totally customise training screen settings and alerts. It's also packed with instructional videos, definitions and tips.
Link is set-up around training zones, introducing riders to this training philosophy and giving guidance and immediate feedback from sessions to show riders how data is helpful in achieving performance goals.
Through this analysis, training plans can be continually recalibrated based on session or race feedback. One of the coolest elements is the Performance Manager chart, which shows how past activities and future workouts affect predicted performance.
"We've developed a complete experience that will personally guide a rider through the process of living with and meeting their performance goals with power," said Warner. "This system we've developed is an easy and fast way for a rider to achieve their best performance."
In addition to the web-based software, there's also a Link smartphone app that combines Stages Link functionality with the current Stages Power meter utility app and Dash Utility app. The Stages Link app includes performance management, calendar, workout editing, activity overviews and other user settings.
Look out for Stages Dash in early 2017 and stay tuned to Saddleback for more information on price, availability and pre-orders.