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Stages power meter on 2013 Madone–clearing up the confusion.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

January
28
2014

I do not currently own a power meter, however–thanks to TrainerRoad’s excellent Virtual Power–I am able to do indoor training workouts in my Bike Torture Chamber using wattage targets based on my FTP (Functional Threshold Power). Power-based training is a significantly more effective way to train compared to using heart rate or perceived exertion as a guide.

As good as TrainerRoad’s Virtual Power is (it tracks remarkably well with real power meters), obviously it can’t help you when riding outside. As I’ve become more serious about my cycling training, my need for a real power meter has grown. My friend and mountain/road cycling beast Roger Sutton never misses an opportunity to remind me of that. 🙂

Traditionally the biggest obstacle between cyclists and power meters was their high cost. Power meters can cost several thousand dollars, and that’s obviously not a trivial expense “just” for power readings.

Power meters in general have begun to come down in price, but there is a new kid on the block that is really making waves in the power meter market: Stages Cycling.

The Stages power meter.

The Stages power meter.

Stages power meters are integrated into the non-drive side crank arm, and they have a number of advantages over their competition: extremely low cost (well under $1,000), ease of installation (just replace the non-drive crank arm and you’re done), lightest weight of any power meter on the market (adds just 20 grams), automatic temperature compensation, ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart compatible, built-in cadence sensor and more. Check out Stages Cycling for more details.

Team Sky is a believer: after extensive testing and validation, they have elected to exclusively use the Stages Power meter during the 2014 racing season. That’s one hell of an endorsement.

Stages has a generous 14 day return policy, and they also offer a “PMP” (Power Meter Protection) enhanced warranty. This optional 2-year extended protection plan not only extends the factory 1-year warranty for an extra year, it also covers accidental damage to the power meter during that time.

My friends over at Brick City Bicycles, an authorized Stages dealer, are working on getting me a sweet deal on one of these units. Obviously my excuses for not owning a power meter are exhausted… almost.

As I was researching Stages power meters online, I came across conflicting information regarding the compatibility of the unit on my 2013 Madone 5.9. The (potential) problem is due to the Madone’s rear brake location under the chainstay, which protrudes away from the frame slightly. Some people reported that the Stages would clear the brake assembly, while others said 2013 Madone users were out of luck.

I decided to go to the source, and contacted Stages directly for information:

“I am very interested in purchasing a Stages power meter for my 2013 Trek Madone 5.9 (Ultegra, 175mm). I’ve read conflicting information regarding the compatibility of the Stages unit on my bike, specifically due to the Madone’s rear brake location under the chainstay. Can you help me clear this up before I make the purchase?”

I received a fast reply from Amy that eliminated the confusion:

Stages Power Meter mounted on a 2013 Madone 5.2 (Image courtesy of Stages Cycling)

Stages Power Meter mounted on a 2013 Madone 5.2 (Image courtesy of Stages Cycling)

“The reason for the conflicting information is that it depends on the actual brake caliper. The 5.9 uses the Bontrager brake, which gives the most space. The Ultegra and Dura Ace direct mount brakes do not offer the same amount of clearance between the crank arm and the arm of the brake, making it difficult or impossible to use a Stages.

I have specifically tried an Ultegra arm on a 2013 Madone 5.2, so here’s a photo of my result (at left). As you can see, it is somewhat close, but there is plenty of room for the crank to spin freely.”

Note: The 2013 5.2 Madone and 5.9 Madone have identical frames and brakes.

Amy added the following:

“It’s always good to do one last double check as needed. I recommend using an 8mm allen wrench to make sure it fits between the wide part of the brake arm and your crank. It should be good, but never hurts to double check it.”

When I performed this test, the 8mm allen wrench did not quite clear. I suspect this is because I’m running Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels, which I believe are a bit wider than the stock Bontrager Race Lite wheels (so the brakes stick out a little more).

So, if you’ve got a stock 2013 Madone with Bontrager Speed Limit brakes, you’re probably good to go. Will the stages fit my Madone with the Zipps? it’s going to be very close. I sure hope so! I’ll let you all know.

The incredible deal I posted in yesterday’s blog on Pearl iZUMi’s P.R.O. In-R-Cool® Bib Shorts is still going as of this morning. My guess is Amazon is blowing out their 2013 stock to make room for the 2014 line. If I’m correct, once their existing stock is gone prices will return to normal (MSRP on these excellent bibs is $175.00, and I rarely see them fall below $130). So, as of this writing you can still pick up Pearl iZUMI’s top-of-the line P.R.O. In-R-Cool® Bib Shorts for as little as $51.42. Even at full price these shorts are worth the money, as they are extremely comfortable and last a long time. At these prices they are a steal. I can assure you that A) The deal is real, and B) These are authentic, brand new Pear iZUMi bib shorts. Do not let this get by you, stock up before they are all gone!

John Stone Fitness Comments

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