Stages is a brand perhaps best known for its power meters – the US-based company was the first to introduce features such as Active Temperature Compensation, dual ANT+ and Bluetooth communications, as well as measuring power on the left crank.
But Stages has continued to branch out into different areas, having entered the indoor bike market in 2015 and with cycling computers being the latest dive into cycling innovation with the brand’s “data driven” approach.
But are the brand’s efforts in this area with the new Dash M200 cycling computer enough to earn a spot in the best cycling computers for training and routing? We got to grips with the Dash M200 to find out…
Stages Dash M200: construction
The device is compact but the 2.2inch screen presents a very clear background to view all your data with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. The device itself measures 813 x 513 x 218mm. The Stages L200 offers a larger and longer lasting alternative, but is heavier and more expensive.
At 77g it is fractionally heavier than the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt V2 and Garmin Edge 830, but nothing at all noticeable (even the biggest weight weenies wouldn’t feel the difference when mounted on a bike).
Using a regular quarter turn mount presents a thumbs up for compatibility, with this style ng the most universal solution. The IP57 waterproof rating is also a step above what competitor products offer.
Charging is done via Micro USB with a claimed battery life of 10 hours on normal mode, or 18 hours using power saving features.
Stages Dash M200: the ride
My very first impressions of the computer was that the screen has been very nicely executed. Although the dimensions are pretty much identical to the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt V2, the Stages Dash M200 somehow manages to feel as though it’s bigger and brighter than it actually is – whilst also not over-cluttering your bars.
The buttons are intuitive and easy to use, but even so, I would say I prefer the setup on both Wahoo and Garmin with an up-and-down button on the side of the unit. Setting up custom pages was easily done in the app, as was uploading workouts to complete or uploading them to Strava and training peaks after completing them.
The Stages Dash M200’s ‘big wheel’, which displays either a power or heart rate with colour zones, is an addition I really liked and visually makes the screen very attractive – although it meant I kept getting drawn into pressing a little bit too hard on some hill sections, just so I could get it into the purple (highest) zone.
Another thing I loved with the screen was how it presented data from the Garmin Varia Radar, with the alert going from amber to red as the car gets closer. The computer does have the capacity to link to your phone to show all incoming notifications, whereas other devices are limited to what they show, however I found I turned this off as I found it distracting when I was riding.
One little gripe that I do have is that you can’t expand or shrink the detail on the screen. I like to have a page which shows time of day, ride time, and elevation just for when I’m doing standard rides. I do also like being able to see power and heart rate but I don’t want them visible all the time.
With the Stages Dash M200, I have to make a separate page for one that includes heart rate and power and one that does not rather than being able to zoom in and zoom out from what is displayed on the screen, as on the Wahoo.
Also, although I did like the details, the vast amounts of data, and the fancy ways of showing the metrics on the Dash M200, in practice I didn’t often use them and conducted most of my data analysis on the computer afterwards.
Another neat little feature that I discovered was the profiles feature. The Stages can set different profiles with different sensors linked to it. So for example, my indoor profile had a Wahoo Kickr V5 linked to it, while outdoors had a 4iiii Precision V3 linked to it. When the Stages connected to the KICKR it automatically used the Indoor profile, whereas it automatically went to the outdoor one with the 4iiii. This was a useful feature as I like very different data on display for a turbo session compared to an outdoor ride.
Syncing routes from Strava to the computer was easy to do, although navigation with the device wasn’t the best. It was easy to follow the route and zoom in and out, but the map wasn’t detailed and didn’t show other roads on it. Also, when I went off route, it didn’t try and redirect me back on to the route. I tried repeatedly to download a detailed view of maps but was unable to, which is a shame given that images I’ve seen of the mapping on the Stages looks very good!
As far as battery life is concerned, I did a lot of rides with the unit in the first week and completely forgot to charge it at any point. The 10 hour claimed battery life I would say is well within its capacity as I spent around that amount of time with the screen on between charges. Charging also feels like it is done relatively quickly.
I would prefer to see the use of USB-C for charging rather than the micro USB. Given the EU law coming in that all charging should be done via USB C as standard, I expect this is something that will be updated in the future.
Stages Dash M200: value
So value wise, it is a little cheaper than its direct competitors, but the mapping functionality isn’t quite as good and there are those small USPs that might be non-negotiable for some people – such as the ability to ‘zoom in and out’ on data fields (as with Wahoo head units) or integration into a wider fitness network (as with Garmin and its Connect app).
Stages Dash M200: conclusion
A compact bike computer but high screen brightness makes it feel larger! Competitively priced with a few features that set it apart from the competition. 14 data metrics at once is impressive but a bit much for all but the biggest data geeks. For the most part it functions really well – equal in many ways to Wahoo and Garmin’s – Stages just needs to make the maps easier to access.
If you can get it on a good discount, then by all means go for it. But at full list price, you might want to pay that bit more for a Wahoo or Garmin.
Stages Dash M200: specs
Display: Full colour, 81.3×51.3×21.8mm dimensions, 240 x 320 resolution
Data fields: Up to 14 on a single page
Battery life: 10 hours normal, 18 hours battery saver
Connectivity: ANT+ and BLE
Charging: Mirco USB