Stages Dash L50 & M50
Stages Cycling has had a string of releases in the last few months, most notably their indoor spin bike equipped with a dual-sided power meter and a set of drop bars for an on-the-road feel. However, its $3000-plus price tag sets it apart for most of us looking for a helpful training tool. More practical is their latest update to their Dash computer line, the L50 and M50. Both computers received the same updates, but the L50 uses a 2.75-inch screen, while the M50 is slimmed down with a 2.2-inch screen.
The all-new computers first caught our eye in 2018 at Interbike when a couple of pre-production models were on display. Color-coded power and elevation tracking, along with intensive mapping capabilities, looked to impress when we got our hands on one. When both arrived, we found the larger, $300 L50 included all of the best updates at only 30 grams heavier and $50 more than the M50.
Customization takes a front seat with the new unit, and much like the original Dash 1, the L50 can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Up to 16 data fields can be displayed on a single page, or each field can be set to a certain size to highlight important zones. The L50 received an updated mount, which uses lightweight alloy interfaces that can be adjusted to reduce swaying with the Torx T6 wrench included in the box. To cope with the various sizes and aero bars on the market, Stages has added more mounting options, like a top cap mount, accessory mounts and under-bar mounts to help keep the computer streamlined.
Stages uses what they call an Everbrite screen, and it’s noticeably more vibrant than Garmin and Wahoo screens and especially brighter than a Lezyne Mega computer. While it’s hard to tell in the photos, colors pop out on the map and color-coded heart rate/power zones. Don’t fret, all this increased screen power doesn’t mean hampered battery life. Stages claims the L50 has up to 11 hours of ride time, and after a five-hour ride, the computer still had more than 50 percent of the battery remaining.
The L50 takes advantage of the Everbrite tech and 2.75-inch screen with its intensive mapping. Not only equipped with the modern-day basics of point-to-point navigation and return-to-start features, the L50 boasts a few features we haven’t seen on a cycling computer before. While tracking a ride, the maps display nearby bike shops, restrooms and even bars (what, no donut shops?). That’s what you get from a company made up of cyclists.
Setting up the Dash for the first time is a fairly simple process. The computer walks you through connecting to your smartphone, then from the Stages app you can connect to your heart rate monitor, power meter, cadence or speed sensors. The computer sets up a homepage using the connected sensors that consist only of the data fields that are recording.
Our first ride consisted of a route created on the Stages Link website; however, routes can be uploaded from another GPX, TPX or FIT file and even Strava. With 30 miles of road and about 15 miles of it being gravel, the Dash was put to the test. The Everbrite screen, along with the color-coded data zones and gradient markers, made quick glances at the screen all that was necessary to know where we were and allowed us to keep our eyes up the road. A slight beep paired with a bit of haptic feedback for turn-by-turn directions and pop up notifications from our phone kept us on the right path and on the grid.
Over the next couple of weeks we completed a variety of rides and used the mapping feature to its fullest extent by visiting new bike shops and watering holes. The color-coded power zones and heart zones were handy training tools that left us looking up more than down.
Stages’ Dash L50 boasts many features that set it apart from the competition. The mapping system is a step above anything we have seen on the market, while the Everbrite screen adds to the capabilities and makes the Dash easy to read, giving us more time to take in everything around us.
Vibrant, easy-to-read screen
Maps give it an edge
Tech glitches make it not ready for prime time
Price: $300, L50; $250, M50
Weight: 152 grams with mount (L50)