It’s not just power meters anymore it’s head units, software, the whole ecosystem as Stages like to call it. Cyclist is intrigued by the launch of Stages new Dash head unit and Link software into an already flooded market.
It wasn’t even a generation ago that the forefront of a rider’s training technology was a basic bike computer; a digital wrist watch style screen coupled with a magnet on a wheel spoke; plus a notebook and pencil to tally the week’s totals. Power meters were rarely seen and it wasn’t until Stages revolutionised the market with an affordable option. This was five years ago. Since then power meters, exercise devices and apps have flooded the market, Stages once at the forefront, is just coming to the party with its own take.
“Dash is the most powerful and personalised training tool in cycling.”
We’re yet to get our hands on a physical device (but don’t fret, we’ve got one coming) so instead, we’re keen to look at the specs and for user purposes, compare against the Garmin Edge 520 and Wahoo ELEMNT, both of similar pricing. The GPS unit appears sleek, waterproof, and with a 2.7 inch LCD screen, on par with the competitors. It does differ with an aluminium chassis, Garmin owners don’t jump too quick as it has it’s own mounting mechanism. This offers the ability to use Dash in landscape or portrait orientations. Mounted in landscape, it is attractive, resembling an enviable SRM PC unit.
Regarding functionality, Dash offers customisable screen options with 16 data fields per page and orientation choice, basic map functionality, and a massive 25-30 hours claimed battery life – almost double the competition. It does however lack Wi-Fi, relying on ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, to upload it’s own Stages specific training files to the Link software. Link is undoubtedly the biggest drawcard.
A training ecosystem
The creation of a ‘training ecosystem’, as Stages refer to it, is not new, a concept competitors such as Garmin have been offering for some time but rarely get right, superseded by the plethora of cloud-based alternatives constantly emerging. Link aims to simplify it, integrating a rider’s power meter (Stages and third party), head unit (Dash), and training data file, all into the one interface.
Link via mobile app and cloud provides a user-friendly approach to performance management, incorporating coaching and training plans courtesy of Today’s Plan. It’s in Today’s Plan where the user can really get stuck in, with education, training library, calendar, workout editor and activity analysis all being offered. Furthermore, it allows access and customisation of Stages power meter and Dash settings including syncing, firmware updates, screen settings, and troubleshooting.
The latest offering from Stages isn’t as revolutionary as the last time they came to market, but for those who love their tech and analysis, it can’t be ignored. It’s unlikely to convert those already comfortable in their setups of mismatched head unit, power meter, and training apps but it does provide an easy introduction for any newbies to power or for those with OCD around their matchy-matchy setups.
Stay tuned as Cyclist takes Dash out of the box for a comprehensive review in an upcoming edition.
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