Many businesses track individuals' performance in charts, whether with sales growth, revenue trends or other metrics. Stages Cycling has a chart on employees' watts-per-kilo output at their functional threshold power.
While this chart was created for fun by customer service rep Amy Shepard, it does underscore the company culture at Stages, where the lunch rides are fast and furious, and more than a few staffers have national titles and former pro licenses to their names. Power measurement isn't just the product — it's what many of the employees live and breathe, seven days a week.
Senior vice president Pat Warner, by Shepard's rough estimate, ranks near but not at the top of the W/kg chart, a point he disputes in good nature.
"Guess it sucks to be fat!" jokes Warner. "I think [the ranking chart] should be based directly on FTP or a flat time trial. Who really races uphill anyway? Oh wait, I did all weekend."
Stages Cycling launched its left-crank-arm-based power meter in 2012, and has been the power-meter provider to Team Sky for the past two seasons. Stages has 43 employees, with about half of those in production roles in the company's headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Stages now sells into 36 countries. The company declined to disclose how many meters have been sold thus far.
Bikes aren't just for display at Stages; many employees are avid riders, including the executives
"The mentality we had while developing the power meter was ‘simplify,'" says Andy Lull, Stages Cycling's product development director. "The goal was a simple-to-install, simple-to-use power meter that provided consistent and accurate results that you can train and race to. A byproduct of this approach was a more affordable power meter. I think the Stages Power meter meets our original goals."
When Stages launched, the power-meter choices were basically the high-performance but very high-cost SRM, or the more affordable hub-based PowerTap. Stages came in and undercut PowerTap, and the market has since exploded with meters from many brands, with many pushing downwards on price.
Stages makes all its power meters in Colorado. The gallery above walks you through all the steps — or at least all the steps we were allowed to show you.
After a lazer cleans off the crank's finish, strain gauges are applied to the inside of the arm
Recently, a few dual-sided Stages prototypes have surfaced underneath Team Sky riders. Warner confirmed the ongoing development of Stages meters with Team Sky, but stopped short of saying when or if a dual-sided meter would come to market.
"We would be crazy not to continue to test with Team Sky," Warner said. "What you saw on Team Sky was Stages. We are running different types of tests out there. But most Team Sky riders are on our production left-arm meters. The beauty of Team Sky is that they are the most analytic team out there, and of course they are riding 25 to 30 hours a week, so we get great feedback."
Click through the gallery above for an in-depth look at how Stages makes power meters with Shimano, SRAM, FSA and Cannondale cranks. Oh, and who is on top of that W/kg FTP chart? That would be the new guy, Jim Stemper, who is fresh off retiring as a domestic pro and comes in at 4.99w/kg, by Shepard's educated guesstimate.
Deflection under load is measured and recorded for calibration