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Stages Cycling Power Meter: Mechanical Damage on 2nd Ride from Rock Slam (bummer)

Update: Stages has gone above and beyond my expectations, see customer support experience comments that follow towards the end of this piece.

The one all-day extreme ride for which I really wanted power meter readings (White Mountain Peak) could not be recorded, due to near immediate mechanical damage to the Stages Cycling crankarm.

Shown below is a Stages Cycling power meter crankarm as 'hit': the cap and battery are missing, lying among rocks somewhere high in the White Mountains. This is a Shimano XTR mountain bike crankarm. The cap and battery went missing on the 2nd ride; those rocks near the summit of White Mountain Peak are very unfriendly to bikes.

The tape at bottom is some gaffer’s tape I wrapped over the exposed innards to protect it. Once repaired, I think I’ll wrap tape semi-permanently over the protruding assembly so that the cap and battery cannot be popped off and get lost again. It points to what I feel is a flawed design for mountain biking: it is to be expected that when mountain biking, rocks and what-not can bounce up and hit just about anything, particularly the protruding Stages “wart” no the crankarm. Perhaps the design should anticipate that, such as with an extra strength metal surround, or a plastic sheath around the unit—whatever it takes—the user should not have to invent a protection solution.On the other hand, this might be a little harsh: it looks like the unit took a good hit from a rock and I suppose any piece of gear can suffer from such things: bad luck here.

While I know that anything can get 'knocked' while mountain biking, it shows that the design can suffer from from impacts. I like my gear to be bulletproof (like SRM power meters), but of course I’ve never hit my SRM crankset with rocks (on the road), and maybe its calibration would then be affected too. I’m just frustrated that the one ride for which I wanted power readings had none; it’s an all-day effort that I have time to do only once or twice a year.

Stages Cycling crank as whacked by a rock

Stages Cycling customer support

I value customer support and lightning-fast turnaround which is why I rely on SRM for my road bike power meter data. In this case, I submitted a support request on the Stages Cycling web site at 10:30 AM California time, as well as leaving a voice message; no one answered the phone at support or sales (recorded message). I suppose Monday can be extra busy.

Late in the day (5:33 PM PST) I did get a phone call from the Stages Cycling Colorado facility (7:33 PM for them), which I appreciate since that’s after closing hours. Stages promised to send me two replacement caps/covers.

The next morning, Stages Cycling called me again, this time to explain that the damage probably would not be fixed by replacement covers, and offered to replace the crankarm, which is way above and beyond, since it is clearly damage, not a product defect.

Stages had this to say (highlighting added by WIND):

Very sorry to see that it took a rock hit and failed on you. We're sending a replacement. We did notice that this experience shook your faith in our design, so we wanted to offer a bit of insight/opinion.

The Stages Power meter has been in use in the world cup, both XC and DH, as well as the EWS circuit for the last two seasons, and yes, we've seen a limited number of failures due to rock hits or other unforeseen trail encounters, but the fallout has been very small.

We should point out that if you simply tap a chainring of the favored SRM on a rock or log, there is a good chance you will throw the calibration off. Far from bullet proof. The real issue here, is that a rider will then continue along thinking they've got good data, but it's really bad data due to the hit, and they'll really never know it. Far from the accuracy claims made. Of course checking chainring bolt torques and changing rings all requires a recalibration too, and this user recalibration introduces another chance for inaccuracy. And finally we've seen off adjusted magnets wear through SRM cases on their sponsored pros bikes.

The point isn't to single out SRM, but to illustrate that these are all delicate and precise measuring devices and all susceptible to possible issues, especially on a mountain bike. Realizing this, we have a plan in place to give peace-of-mind to those investing in and using power off-road.

What we absolutely recommend is our Power Meter Protection plan for off-road, downhill and cyclo-cross enthusiasts using our meter in the most extreme cases. This gives a rider 2 years of no questions asked replacement in the case of damage, for a nominal cost. Furthermore, even with the added protection package, you'll find the Stages Power meter costs about 1/3 of the cost of an SRM.

I know your help request was answered by our Tech Support team, but I'm not sure they were aware it was due to a rock hit. I'm pretty sure, by looking at the housing, that the doors alone won't fix your problem. So that's why we want to replace it and have you continue your review.

WIND will definitely be reporting on the power meter with more experience. It’s nice to have power readings on MTB finally.

More on the Stages PMP (Power Meter Protection) plan

I also learned that Stages offers a power meter protection plan.

In my view the PMP plan is a no-brainer, greatly increasing the value of the total product offering over time. Kudos to Stages Cycling for offering this plan, which I now enjoy.

Summary details

Purchase the PMP plan and enjoy the additional peace of mind when using your Stages Power meter in any/all cycling disciplines, even those with the most severe conditions, from muddy 'cross to rock strewn DH. Stages Cycling will protect your valuable investment from the unforeseen and often unavoidable risks.

Program Benefits:

Comprehensive warranty coverage including accidental damage for a period of 2-years from the date of purchase.

Accidental damage is product failure due to items such as: water damage, impact damage due to rocks or crashes, essentially any failure of the product brought on by reasonable use.

Program Limitations:

Stages Power meter must have been purchased from an authorized dealer or from Stages Cycling direct

PMP must be purchased within 14-days of original product purchase

A Stages Cycling Representative will contact you by email to collect: proof of purchase, the power meter model/serial # information and activate program coverage

- Does not cover loss or theft of the covered product
- Does not cover deliberate damage, or damage associated with improper installation

About 13,500' elevation near summit of White Mountain Peak — relatively smooth section!

As usual, the Garmin Edge 500 had large errors. It is off by 1860 feet (finish elevation should match start elevation, and summit elevation is wrong).

Click for larger image.

Elevation profile round trip from camp to Owens River to White Mtn Peak summit and back
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