Stages Technical Support

I do technical support. I do. I feel like someone at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting saying that - but that is something for another post ;)  This week I had some great support from the people at Stages Power Meters - and it was exceptional. Enough to be worthy of talking about.

Stages - they make power meters - power meters for bicycles. What these are in essence are strain gauges that convert the deflection of the hefty aluminium slug of a crank arm into watts of energy required to achieve this - and then relay this via a number of different protocols (Ant+ and Bluetooth) to a head unit or other gathering unit - in short a smart phone, laptop, or Garmin etc..

The other day mine went on the fritz.

First of all it said that the battery was low. Fair enough. New battery. The last one was about a year ago and it shouts out wireless all the time right - coin battery - a year - updates every second - sure.

Change the battery - update firmware from phone - calibrate - check it's all good. Fine.

Head down the road end of the day - registering and recording power - then nothing.

Stop - retry - calibrate - nothing again... then "battery low" again. Repeat the process - calibrate alternating between not happening or 1024. Call me a sceptical computer scientist - but 1024? That does not sound "good" when it is usually around the 640 point. No. Sounds broken.

Unhappy bunny.

Contact Stages technical support expecting the usual pointless run around - the kind that you get from Garmin - but you know how it is - you gotta play the game.

But no!

I got a timely and technical reply from their guy at the other end. Here is an example of a recent exchange.

I am very impressed - enough to feel the need to put it into writing.

"Thank you for sending those photos across. I would like to start by getting a couple of replacement battery doors sent out to you. The current door you have installed was produced just after we made a change to our door material to boost durability. This worked out very well, however, we discovered a few months later that this new material was actually producing doors slightly oversized. These oversized doors tend to pinch the battery when installed and pull them away from the negative terminal resulting in dropouts and poor connection. We have made a running change to correct this issue.

What is a good shipping address to send these to?

To further make this worse, it looks to me that your negative battery terminal is much flatter than we like to see. I would like you to make an adjustment to this terminal and have included instructions to do so.

I have also included an example image to indicate the three latches that secure your battery door in place. I would like you to take a first-hand look at these pieces to check for any signs of cracking or broken plastic that would prevent your door from fully locking in place. You can even lift gently on each with your fingernail to inspect closely. Let me know if you find anything noteworthy.

As long as the power meter is in good condition you will be good to go with the new battery doors. Especially as the ADC has recovered to a very good value."

This was my third email response. Well pitched. Assuming I have a degree of clue. Looking to fix my own problems. Giving me tools and articles to fix them. Not a "you have failed to RTFM knowledge base link are you stupid?" - but explanation and attached picture heavy PDFs.


'Why' is king. Start with it so says Sinek - he is irritating and slightly too smug for me - but he has a point. Explaining why you have made changes goes a very very long way to making this boy a happy one even if it does not sit well everywhere.

I was aware they had made changes - I am also aware that the number one way to check between models is the colour of the O ring. Here they had gone on to explain they made a change, it didn't always pan out how they wanted, and explained they have fixed and offered a number of solutions.

Parts in post. Changes advised completed.

Even if it doesn't work out - I have not been left with a feeling of "we have your money now - you are out of warranty - want a new one?"

Small things go a long way.

Dear Will at Stages Cycling. Thank you. It matters. Even if it's a rubber stamp of an email - it didn't feel like one. Bravo. Chapeau.... oh and thus far before the new back it's failed to disappear again.

Small things. Big difference. Happy days.

UPDATE Friday 11th August

Thank you to Will Poole for the package of joy that I received today.

What I have here are new O-Ring seals, and the new(er) model backs for the battery compartment on the non drive side crank arm.

This replaces the existing one with Orange seals from a previous generation.

Lets see how this goes - however nice one Will from Saddleback - really appreciated (oh and if that is the same Saddleback that organises the Fred Whitton - thanks again).

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