Thursday, May 5, 2016

Interview with Stages - I Haaavvvve the POWER!!

Triple Threat Triathlon team member Sean McLean (New Jersey) recently had the opportunity to interview Matt Pacocha, Marketing Manager at Stages. Matt has been with the company since its first power meter shipped to the public, and has a lot of great insight. Thanks fellas!

Can you describe some of the struggles that Stages encountered when trying to break into the power meter market? Brand-loyalty and skepticism of new players into this market is quite the hurdle to get through, but Stages seemed to have no (obvious) issues here, and from a consumer's perspective, quickly gained a solid following. 

We had the right product at the right time, and that made it really easy for us to break into the category. Our engineers approached the task of making an accurate, consistent, durable and affordable power meter in a way no one else making power meters ever had. In reality, though, making it simple to install and use are our greatest achievements—they’re a hallmark of Stages. Sure there were opponents to our ‘radical’ one-sided design, there still are, but now we’ve proven to be just as useful in training and racing as anything else out there.

This solid grasp of the market is pretty evident in your successful partnering with a cycling team like Sky. Can you expand a bit on how this partnership has affected Stages? 

In a single sentence, our experience with Team Sky forced us to be the best we possibly could, in every way. Support of Team Sky tested our product, and led to perfecting our second generation of Stages Power meter. The Team also tested our technical staff, they honed our customer service skills, and they’ve helped us look at all of the systems in play when measuring power. Of course, they’ve also helped legitimize the product, and their use of Stages Power has raised awareness of both the Stages Cycling brand and our products.

The introduction of the Stages power meter really lowered the financial bar needed to start training with power. However, over the past 6-12 months, we've seen some new entrants trying to compete on price. Do you feel that this is a threat to Stages?

At Stages, we have always designed, engineered, and manufactured the product that we wanted to use. We’ve always sold Stages Power at the fairest price we can achieve. Most of us on staff would not have been able to afford a power meter before Stages Power, so that was a driver in the development of the original design. During the 2014/2015 seasons we made significant gains in the efficiencies of producing Stages Power. For example our first upgrade came through the implementation of a laser for etching the raw alloy cranks. This tool took our first production step from 3 hours of manual work, to 38min of machine work per power meter batch. Our second improvement came in the form of our robotic gluing process, which again lopped hours out of our production time, while increasing quality and consistency. We now have two of these machines. And finally, we’ve been able to realize price efficiencies through greater volume with our crank arm vendors. All of these factors combined to allow us to reduce our prices. It still takes 16 individual steps and more than a day to produce one single meter, and we have highly skilled professionals making the meters in Boulder, Colorado. For the quality, and professionalism that goes into producing a Stages Power meter, we see our price as a great deal!

Among the many debates in the cycling community, one-sided vs dual-sided power meters seem to be one of the most contentious. How does Stages feel about the perceived limitations of only capturing one-sided power?

We have, and continue to, exhaustively test dual meter systems. There are gains to be had with regards to the accuracy of total power measured, however, we have not seen this data show any benefit to the performance of a rider when training or racing. Our meter is supremely consistent, an attribute not always focused on, yet arguably more important to training than ultimate accuracy. As you note this topic is one that can be argued over for days. We understand with some people, a single sided system will never be good enough. Regardless, we firmly believe that our single sided system will always have merit.

We’re always testing. Let’s frame a dual sided product for what it is: considerably more expensive and more complex in both set up and usage, but without clear performance benefit. It’s heavier too. All this being said, would you still want it? That’s the question, and it’s a tough one, because everyone at Stages has proven to themselves that they can train and achieve their individual goals with our current meter.

Does Stages have any inclination to delve into other cycling products besides power?

Yes. We make a beautiful line of bicycles. Seriously, our SC Series indoor cycling bikes are changing the indoor cycling space, and they’re a pretty compelling product for any cyclist who spends time indoors at home. You guys should definitely check them out.

Any other Stages tidbits that you would like to share with our readers?

For sure! As you know, we’re passionate cyclists at Stages Cycling. The company is constantly working to help cyclists meet their goals through training with power. In your team's world, that’s through both training and pacing with power during the bike leg of racing, but in other aspects of cycling someone’s goal might simply be losing weight or quantifying the work they do on a bike, much like they track movement or steps throughout their days.

All of these are legitimate uses of power and we want to help people understand every way that Stages can help them meet a goal.

We’ve started a campaign called I am a Stages Cyclist #iamastagescyclist in which we’re looking for Stages riders to share stories of how the Stages Power meter or Stages SC series bikes have helped them meet a performance goal.

If any of the racers on your team or readers have stories to tell, they can win both a forum to tell the story and some sweet Stages schwag should their story be picked and highlighted on the 
Stages Cycling website. Encourage them to share their best Stages accomplishment with the #iamastagescyclist tag on Facebook or Instagram!

Related Posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment