The next step for Stages Cycling: Dash L50

Leaving on one side the bike computer companies with the biggest market share like Garmin or Wahoo, we were interested in trying an alternative option that, although not being as well-known in the industry, offers great quality and specs, putting it at the same level as the two aforementioned giants.

In this case, we chose the American brand Stages Cycling, which is focused on power meters and other sensors, outdoors and indoors, with more than 10 years of experience.

One of the latest launches from the firm is the newly born Stages Dash, a GPS unit with some interesting features for the current needs of cyclists and which we will be able to find in three different versions: L10, M50, and the big brother, the L50. We were able to test the top-end model, the Stages Dash L50, together with the speed sensor, the heart rate sensor and the Stages Power Dual power meter.

First impressions 

Although we already had the Stages Dash in our hands during the last edition of the Eurobike Show, the first thing that surprised us in a good way after opening the box and pressing the Power On button was the resolution of the screen and the sensation of robustness and reliability from the materials it is made of.

Apart from that, what got our eye was its size (55 x 40 mm), its weight (128 gr) and the mounting system which reminds us of the PC8 from SRM.

Technical features

If there is something that amazed us from the first moment we got our hand on the Dash L50 it is the performance of its battery. Taking into account that the color display and the resolution it supports, one has to acknowledge that they have been able to find a good equilibrium to compensate for both things. Stages have designed a unit with low energy consumption that grants 12h of autonomy at full color with the possibility to be able to clearly see what is on the screen at all-time, with the possibility of changing the brightness automatically depending on the light conditions.

Another feature that stands out from the performance of the unit is the precision of the GPS, where the American firm has put a lot of resources in. The Dash L50 uses sport-specific maps powered by OSM technology that shows relevant information along the track and is capable of distinguishing the different types of roads, trails or other lines, tagging them with different colors.

We also liked the way in which the altitude profile and the map are integrated on the screen while navigating, showing your position at all times. Say goodbye to the commonly used sentence: “another turn and we are at the top…”. Now you will easily know what you are going to face next, which can help you to manage your energy levels and have a clear vision of the track.

The GPS unit from Stages is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth devices in addition to the most popular third-party apps. If you are a data geek and would like to track your performance metrics, this Dash L50 is you. The default display is focused on training metrics, giving a lot of importance to everything related to watts, in addition to a few other useful indicators for the self-demanding cyclists. It allows you to customize your training plans, import them or to select one from your default list; the device will guide you through every step of the selected training. Furthermore, the HR and power zones are tagged with different colors so that you can easily know the type of work you are doing which is helpful to know if you are correctly following the plan. Obviously, if you use a Stages power meter, there is a total integration and syncing without the need to calibrate any additional sensor.

Usability

As regards the use of the Dash L50, although it comes by default with a display that takes into account the basics needs of the user, it is important to highlight how easy it is to personalize both the user profile and the screen display, with endless combinations, metrics, maps, and graphs. You can submit your preferences from the device itself, the mobile app or the Stages Link platform. 

When you activate any training plan (you can do this in workout mode), the Stages Dash changes its display, colors and the values contained so you can get the job done with just what it is essential for it.

Another interesting aspect is that you can set up the unit vertically or horizontally thanks to the two anchoring points it has, so one can choose depending on their preferences. A night mode with a black background is also available, to optimize the user experience in those situations where we are riding in the dark.

Stages Link

The Stages Link platform, both in its web and mobile version, has been improved to provide better tools review cycling activities with a complete analytical software composed by tables and graphs, a calendar to plan your future tracks or workouts and even a process of validation to detect any anomaly in the data collected. 

From the platform itself, the users have everything they need to configure and administer everything involving the Stages Dash, import tracks and define how to sync data from third-parties (unfortunately Komoot is missing from the list). 

Summary 

We think that stepping into the world of cycling computers was the natural step for Stages Cycling, and by launching the Dash L50 they have wanted to show how versatile is the product, which creates a great fit with any rider willing to improve their performance. 

On the one side, we are not convinced about the anchoring system because the action of inserting it and removing it wasn’t fully comfortable for us, and we would like to see a model with the same features but contained in a smaller and lighter device. 

On the other side, the quality of the unit and its finishing get full marks. The specifications (like the screen and battery life) are well balanced, it comes with a powerful platform like Stages Link and, in terms of pricing, it is at the same level as the closest competitors. Without any doubt, with the Dash L50, the American company enters in the sector with an ambitious product, which we are sure will not go unnoticed.

Photos by: Brazo de Hierro