By: Troy Templin
We have been testing the new Stages Dash head unit for a few weeks now and that’s no secret. If you follow our social media we have been posting photos. But what we haven’t mentioned is that Stages has been working on much more than just another computer to capture data. They have created the Stages Link, which is a web-based training program that can make training simple. Not only is it a place to view and analyze data but you can select or create a personalized training plan on the site to fit your needs and goals. This stages ecosystem is all linked and these workouts can then be displayed and followed on the Dash head unit.
For many of us, myself included I love to ride and I love to push myself but I don’t always know how to plan a workout to get me to the next level or ready for my next event. Well, Stages Link has it covered. The program has many different training workouts that can be fine tuned to your personal need. From the number of hours, you are able to ride to the days of the week you prefer to ride. Then it takes the information you supplied and can create a training plan that works for you. Each workout is then stored on the dash head unit so you can follow the exact plan while riding, no need for any other tools or notes. Just you, the bike, the Dash head unit and the lap button and you can train more efficiently.
The Dash unit itself is designed with training and workouts as its top priority. Yes, it can be used as a basic computer too but the level of information and the design of the entire unit from button layout to interface are urging you to make a goal and create a workout plan to get you there. The unit has no touchscreen and while many users might think this is a flaw it made us a bit happy. Many times touchscreens are finicky when they get wet or you have gloves on. This can hinder the experience and affect the result of your workout. for example in a hard effort with sweat dripping from the brim of my helmet, all I’m doing is scanning between the road then a quick glance at the clock and power numbers then repeat. The worst is when you look down and it’s not there, somehow the sweat has landed perfectly on a touch button and you are displaying the screen brightness setting or now looking at a map of the local area. While not a big deal its the little details that Stages has implemented in the Dash that makes it the new go-to for anyone that has a training plan or is thinking of readying themselves for a big ride or goal event.
The ability to have your workouts on the head unit and then follow them using the lap button to move to the next portion of each workout is amazing. Also, a very useful piece of this is there is a field that can be filled out with a description or directions on how to properly execute each portion of the workout. So if you maybe had a coach that gives you a new workout they could enter a brief description and as the rider, you wouldn’t need to go online and try to memorize all the steps and decode some of the abbreviated titles.
While we created a plan and had a schedule we didn’t always follow it and that’s fine. Even if you decide mid-way through a ride you are going to do something else that’s fine the Dash will work like a regular GPS computer and track your ride and continue to collect the sensor data. It won’t beep at you and tell you that you are off course or you missed an interval but instead relies on you and your judgment to tell it when you are ready for the next part.
As a computer, the dash is great with over 30 hours of battery life and countless display options to select from. These can be set up before a ride on the Dash unit itself or even better on the Link site that will automatically update the head unit on its next sync. We enjoyed the menu when setting the display up because things are categories and tiered rather than just an obnoxiously long list to select from. this made it very easy to find the settings we prefer. Then you can make multiple layouts in verticle or in horizontal. The Dash mounts are simple and rely on a metal to metal connection of less chance of failure. There is also no need to change the mount position to switch between horizontal and vertical.
The Dash has ANT+ and Bluetooth sensor connection but does not have WiFi. This means you will need to either plug in the unit to a computer to unload and update rides and workouts or you can use the Stages Link App that is for IOS or Android. The app is simply a way for you to wirelessly upload and download information for the most part. All settings and preferences for the Dash itself still need to be changed on the Link site or on the unit itself.
The Link site is a partnership of Today’s Plan and stages with much of the interface being the same as a traditional Today’s Plan account. There are a few added tabs for the Dash settings and a Stages Power meter tab to track the health and updates of your unit. Then Stages has also offered a hand full of free plans that they feel will help most get started in creating workouts and setting goals when training with power. With the purchase of a Dash, you will receive two moths of the premium service that offers more analyzing charts and options.
While we test countless products each day many are great but don’t find their way to living on our bikes or getting further than just the test phase. The Dash is not one of those items and has been in heavy rotation since its first outing on our bars. The simplicity plus the powerfull interface create a computer that can be almost anything a modern cyclist would need. The only option that is lacking currently is some sort of mapping or routing function and then there is currently no way to review your rides on the unit itself when finished. These are both very minor inconveniences and can/ will most likely be added in the very soon future. Overall if you enjoy riding and are looking to better yourself for that next event then Stages has an entire package that can simplify the data and maximize your time on the bike. All coming together to allow you to be the most prepared and capable you can be at your next big event.
For more info on any of the Stages products head to stagescycling.com