While Stages Cycling is widely renowned for making one of the world’s lightest, accurate and most affordable power meter systems, designing a performance GPS head unit represented a natural progression for the Colorado-based brand. The original Stages Dash – launched in 2016 – brought a newfound approach to the handlebar-mounted GPS cycling computer recipe boasting a new-and-unique portrait or landscape orientation layout and intuitive text-based workouts- it was an instant hit.
The original Stages Dash was designed with connectivity at its heart and played nicely with both Ant+ and Bluetooth protocols, allowing seamless pairing with both Stages Power and third-party devices, not forgetting GPS ‘breadcrumb trail’ functionality. The key attribute of the original Stages Dash hinged around guided workout coaching, advanced training metrics and personalised training pages with pre-set metrics housed within a 2.7in LCD screen. While it lacked a full-colour display, the black-and-white 240×400 resolution screen was designed to excel in extreme light situations while minimising battery consumption.
The company also launched the Stages Link app – an online hub comprising coaching and training analysis, equipment tools, workouts, training plans and device page management which were developed together with the brains at Today’s Plan. Unrivalled in many ways, it paved the way for the next generation of Stages Dash GPS head units which were introduced three years later in 2019.
Three new models packed with features that went beyond the previous model’s training- and racing-focussed rhetoric were introduced: an update to the original black and white model called the Stages Dash L10 and two new colour-screen models, the Stages Dash M50 and L50. Dubbed EverBrite, the new colour screens were designed to work in any condition and double up as a means of emphasising workout goals and achievements through the use of colour graphics and graphs. In terms of specifications, the M50 is the smaller of the two Stages Dash cycling computers with the ‘M’ denoting its size (2.2in screen). The L50 is the biggest unit in the portfolio boasting a 2.7in screen.
While the core ethos of the Stages Dash still features a deep integration of workouts and training, the new M50 and L50 models have gone big on navigation with maps tailored specifically for cycling – a great feature for those who enjoy bikepacking and gravel adventuring. Each unit benefits from 16Gb of onboard storage complete with large pre-loaded base maps covering major global regions with more available for free from the Stages Link app. Both models are compatible with GPX, TCX and FIT formats as well as saved routes from apps such as Strava.
With these three new models came a whole new Stages Link smartphone app, which made improvements to the device setup protocol, route preparation and data field customisation, while still retaining all the hallmark training hub and workout calendar management systems as before.
The incredible breadth of metric analysis and training benefits of the Stages Dash meant it quickly found its way to the top rungs of WorldTour cycling. In 2020 Stages Cycling added a fifth Tour de France title to its trophy cabinet for power meters when Team UAE Emirates rider, Tadej Pogacar secured overall victory, also using a Stages Dash M50.
With so many feature-rich options on offer, it’s easy to see why the Stages Dash has become a popular choice among recreational riders, gravel explorers, and elite-level cyclist alike – there’s something for everyone. Of all the attributes available the following five are the standout features that sets the Stages Dash apart from its competitors.
The Art of Custom
Both the Stages Dash M50 and L50 are appreciably easy to customise and set up. It’s an intuitive process that begins with deciding which way you’re going to mount the device on your handlebars – landscape or portrait. In terms of organising the on-screen metrics, you can set up multiple rider profiles, of which there are nine pages that can accommodate anything from one to a maximum of 16 fields. All this can be carried out using the Stages Link app or Stages Dash itself – wherever you might be, even during a ride.
Stages Cycling recently launched Smart Profiles – an intuitive feature that, when enabled, will automatically add or remove data pages and fields based on the sensors present. This is particularly handy when it comes to recovery rides or merely riding for the fun of it – situations when heart rate and power data are not important. In this case, the Stages Dash will automatically remove heart rate and power metrics and replace them with fields more relevant to the situation at hand. The same notion applies to smart trainers where a Trainer Control page will take preference nullifying the need for maps and the like. Smart Profiles will also work when paired to a smart light which will bring up a light control page showing everything from battery status and flash modes to controlling the light itself.
Compatibility is a cornerstone of the Stages Cycling philosophy and, as such, the Stages Dash will play nicely with all third-party devices ranging from power meters to smart lights – Garmin Varia RTL515 rearview Radar included.
Stages Cycling dominates the cycling computer segment when it comes to workout capabilities and this area is feature-packed with multiple ways to view your interval sessions in vivid detail and colour. The most intuitive setting in this regard is the Adaptive Zones feature which automatically updates rider FTP based on a rolling ride period – no more FTP tests required. Simply add one of the pre-loaded workouts and the workout efforts will be adjusted according to your new threshold value. When used in conjunction with Smart Profiles, the device will add workout screens and data fields to best facilitate your training sessions.
Maps and Navigation
While we’ve already established the Stages Dash is the most comprehensive data and training-focused head unit on the market, it also does a phenomenal job when it comes to navigation and mapping capabilities. The EverBrite screen makes the Dash ideal for exploring thanks to its wide, map-zoom range and colour-coded maps catered specifically to cycling. As a result, the maps will indicate trails, bike paths and roads with bike lanes to keep you safe and in control of your ride – amenities such as toilets, coffee shops and bike shops are included on the maps, too. The regional maps are extensive and worldwide map sets are available to download for free.
Stages Link App
Available for both mobile and desktop, the Stages Link app is the gateway to unlocking the full feature suite of the Stages Dash – for free. The app is ideal for tailoring and setting up the device, compiling workouts, carrying out firmware updates, monitoring power meter battery status, map management and course creation, not forgetting data screen customisation and post-ride analysis. It’s the ultimate device management tool for all your training and riding.