When it comes to power measurement, Stages has long been on the forefront of training with power. From the gym to the Tour de France, their units have been battle tested under the most demanding conditions. And, with their recent price drops, now is the best time to start training with power. Their power meters are commonly used with Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra cranksets, but can be fitted to others as well. I have been putting the Gen 3 Stages Ultegra R8000 LR Power Meter it through the usual testing rounds and it’s definitely a sleek and reliable way to optimize your training.
Gen 3 Stages LR Ultegra R8000 Power Meter Features:
- All-new third-generation design
- Dual-sided measurement
- +/- 1.5 % accuracy in all conditions
- Active temperature compensation
- Accelerometer based cadence measurement
- Wirelessly upgradable firmware
- LED indicator displays battery level at start up (with no need for connect to an app) and confirms successful zero reset
- Updated accelerometer and addition of gyroscope for improved cadence resolution
- Upgraded BLE and ANT+ radios offer a 6x improvement of data transmission strength
- Uses two CR2032 batteries, good for 175 hours of use
- Left side thickness: 7.3mm
- Weight: 35 grams
- MSRP: $729.99
Installation was easy
Stages is one of the most trusted names in power meters and was used extensively during Team Sky’s most recent reign at the WorldTour level. Power meters, in short, are the most reliable way to measure your output and performance over time and during individual training sessions. Knowing your power output allows you to succinctly compare your performance from ride-to-ride. When used with Strava’s data analysis tools, I can directly compare performance on an entire ride or just specific segments. Since I’m more of a freestyle training kind of person, Strava is the best way for me to monitor performance and analyze data across multiple bikes, power meters and head units. Again, you must upgrade your Strava account to get power analysis data (no free lunch, but it’s worth it).
Let me step back with some installation steps. Swapping out a regular Ultegra R8000 crankset with the Stages LR power meter is very straightforward. Just make sure you order the exact same crank length and chainring size (for me: 172.5 length, 52/36 chainrings). There are a few tools you’ll need, like the Shimano Hollowtech cap tool, bike grease and a torque wrench. It took me about 15 minutes to swap out the crankset — easy peasy.
Keep in mind that crank-mounted power meters can have frame interference at the rear chainstay. The latest Stages units are pretty slim, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with most frames, but I’d recommend double-checking to be sure. For reference, it adds about 7mm to the inside of the left crank arm.
Setup was a little harder
Configuration was a little more involved and actually took me a couple of rides to complete. Unbeknownst to me, my dual-sided (LR) unit shipped unlinked (which, I’m told, shouldn’t be the case). Spinning the cranks a couple of rotations will kick off the LED’s. Once those fire, just pair it with your chosen head unit.
My first ride was using the Lezyne Super GPS head unit. It locked on and initially showed power numbers, so I thought I was good. As I continued pedaling, it was apparent that the data was way off — like by 90%. You can see that in this Strava activity log. I tweaked a few things, switched to the Stages M50 Dash and ended up with another ride that was trash. I then switched to the Wahoo ELMNT Roam with the same result. Yeah, I was frustrated.
After the third goose egg, I dug in and discovered that the left and right power units weren’t linked together. I followed the instructions in this support article and since then, my left/right data has been golden. Phew! Much ado about one little misconfiguration.
I’ll mention now that Stages also recommends zeroing the unit regularly. I’m a slacker, so I do it about every few weeks, but if you’re uber-religious about data accuracy, you might want to zero it out before every ride. It only takes about 30 seconds to do, so it’s no big deal to do it more regularly. With the StagesPower app for iOS/Android, you can link the units, perform zero calibration and install firmware updates. The app has worked flawlessly for me throughout my testing, which is always a bonus.
Bring on the data
Because I had the Stages LR Power Meter installed on the Factor O2 Disc with Black Inc Integrated Barstem (incompatible with the Stages M50 Dash mount), I used the Wahoo ELMNT Roam for much of the initial testing. The beauty of the Stages LR Power Meter is that you can use any modern power-compatible head unit, so long as it can read ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart data. Wahoo offers the simplest data management and the Roam unit is big and easy-to-read. All the data flowed just as I would expect — including magnet-free cadence. Installing magnets to capture cadence is one of the negative aspects of other power meters, like the Pioneer Dual-sided unit. I appreciate the sleek aesthetic and magnet-free measurement that the Stages LR provides.
Okay, so data. Depending on your goals, you can choose to upgrade your Stages Link account to gain access to their training plans, or use any number of power-based training systems. But, if you’re like me, you can freestyle it, using the numbers as guidance on performance among any number of variables (nutrition, sleep, ride timing, bikes, wheels, helmets, etc.). Since I’m primarily comparing the unit against other power meters and equipment, I want to see any data anomalies and track overall performance.
With the free analysis tools provided by Stages Link via the M50 Dash, this is the data you can expect. It’s valuable to see trends with form, fitness and fatigue data. When you upgrade for $199/yr ($20/mo), you can gain access to additional data as well as training plans. Activity files can be uploaded from other sources, but the easiest method to use Stages-Link.com is to always use your Stages Dash unit across all your bikes.
Aside from the other data captured, Stages will distill your activity into a “TScore,” which is similar to TSS you may see elsewhere. It’s a measurement of the workout based on intensity and duration. The higher the number, the more intense the workout was. When training religiously, you will want to hone in on one of these metrics and use it as your North Star to determine intensity, rest and so forth. The metric you choose can be determined by your coach or training goals, but with the Stages LR Power Meter, you will get all the necessary data to push your training to the next level.
With Strava’s analysis, this is the data you can expect to see. You get time in power zones and everything distilled down to Training Load and Intensity (their own calculation of training effort). Training plans are also available with Strava for an extra fee. Again, the Stages LR Power Meter will accurately get you all the data you need.
And, this is the one that I use for overall fitness progress — Power Curve. Even though I intentionally pushed it on a couple of segments to re-capture a KOM on this ride, I’m still trailing my 6-week average overall. As the season progresses, that curve will ideally flip as fitness level and power output improves towards a race or event during the year (for me, it would have been SBT GRVL). Stages also offers the same Power Curve chart, when you upgrade.
Since the Stages LR Power Meter will connect with any power-capable head unit, you can leverage any training plans you wish from those companies. Of course, Stages offers premium packages with some of the finest training programs available. If you are a data junky training for a specific event, their training calendar is hard to beat.
Comparing power data derived from the Stages LR unit to the CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer, it’s very close. Each brand measures slightly different, but it’s been pretty darn close on my indoor training sessions, so I have no reason to question the accuracy.
- Quality, reliable data measurement
- Syncs with any compatible head unit or training plan
- Can get going with just a left-side unit for $349 (Ultegra R8000)
- Sleek look that doesn’t stand out
- LED’s on each unit for instant feedback
- StagesPower app makes configuration and updates a breeze
- Only adds 35 grams to the crankset
- Left and right units didn’t arrive linked
- Detailed data only comes with a subscription
- Left side unit may not clear all frames
The Bottom Line: Stages LR Gen 3 Power Meter
With a sleek design and quality data capture, the Stages LR Gen 3 Power Meter for Shimano Ultegra R8000 is a great addition to your training regimen. Whether you are training for a specific event or simply monitoring your overall performance over time, the latest Stages LR Power Meter is sleek, accurate and powerful.
Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com