Stages Dash M50 First Look
By Saddleback Ltd – 19 June 2019
We unbox the all-new Stages Dash M50 head unit and highlight all the new features of this next-generation cycle computer.
The new generation of Stages Dash cycling computers has just started to arrive at Saddleback and the first offering to hit UK shores – the Dash M50 – has plenty to get excited about if you’re looking to get the most from every ride – whether that’s following structured training, exploring the roads and trails with turn-by-turn navigation or having all your key data visible at a glance.
There are three Dash units in the new range, the M50 pictured here, its big-screened sibling, the L50, and the monochrome L10, which pairs advanced training features with incredible value.
Today we’re focusing on the M50, which, along with the L50, offers the most advanced specs of the line-up and is the perfect training companion for roadies, triathletes, gravel riders and mountain bikers who want instant data, mapping and simplified training to eke out every last watt.
The Dash M50 has all the features you’d expect from a modern bike computer including GPS-based speed and distance, ANT+ and Bluetooth device compatibility and custom profiles, however Stages has added a whole host of additional features that makes Dash something extra special.
Screen and form
The M50 benefits from Stages’ new Everbrite high-res LCD colour screens. Exclusive to the Dash units, the Everbrite displays are super crisp and clear with user-selectable brightness and an auto-dim mode. The M50’s screen is 2.25” (compared to the L50’s larger, 2.75” offering) and redefines visual fidelity for bike computers.
The clarity of the display makes it easy to read with the most cursory glance, but there’s no compromise on battery life. The Stages team has worked hard to ensure you’ll be able to ride from dusk ’til dawn with the M50 clocking in at 12.5-hours of real-world run time at 30 percent screen brightness.
One of the original Dash’s most popular features was the ability to add a huge amount of data fields to each screen without sacrificing visibility. The M50 retains this training benefit with 12 data fields – you get 16 on the L50 – and each is now easier to read thanks to the Everbrite screen.
The ability to mount the Dash units in portrait or landscape modes is also back, giving you the chance to find the perfect setup on your bars or between your TT extensions in tandem with the selection of rugged aluminium mount options on offer. Stages has also retained the metal elements of the Dash’s casing, giving a positive and secure clamping surface.
Mapping and navigation
Like the L50, the Dash M50 come equipped with full turn-by-turn navigation based on cycling-specific Open Street Map base maps that feature bike paths, dirt tracks and potential hazards. All the maps are totally free, updateable and available for any worldwide region. Plus, with 16gb of internal storage, there’s plenty of space for even the most epic trans-continental adventures.
To help you on your way, you’ll get on-screen notifications and audio alerts to help you explore your route, which can be created either using the all-new Stages Link app for iOS and Android or through exporting a FIT, GPX or TCX file from Strava, RideWithGPS or your favourite course-routing site. You can also add your own points of interest, which will be displayed on the route.
Colour plays a big part of the user experience with the new Dash units and this is shown through the navigation mode’s course profile view, which details the elevation ahead complete with coloured percent grade, so you know exactly when your legs are going to feel the burn.
Of course, the heart of the Stages Dash is its ability to simplify complex workouts into easy to follow training sessions to help you reach your performance goals. This concept has been elevated with the M50 thanks to the Everbrite screen, which allows rider-friendly views including colour-coded power and heart rate zones, an interval progress graph and a zone range gauge.
The latter of these takes its cues from Stages’ indoor training bikes and gives you a coloured area of the gauge to aim for with a pointer to show if you’re hitting the sweet spot. It’s simple, clear and helps to maintain motivation when beasting yourself on the turbo.
You can follow the Dash’s many pre-loaded workouts or add your own .FIT files from the Stages Link online training system, which is delivered in partnership with Today’s Plan, or upload sessions from other third-party apps such as Training Peaks.
One of the coolest features of the Dash is its ability to learn from and adapt to your form. Your power zones can be automatically tweaked based on your rolling data rather than relying on regular FTP tests that disrupt your training consistency. This is particularly ideal for time-crunched athletes who want to get the biggest bang for the buck in every single training session.
On top of this, there are advanced metrics such as Intensity Factor to help you pace your efforts perfectly and TSS so that you don’t start switch into warmdown recovery spinning until you’ve hit the ideal figure from your training plan.
The M50 and L50 have been designed with advanced connectivity in mind. Not only do they play nice with virtually any Bluetooth or ANT+ sensor – meaning compatibility with almost every power meter and smart trainer on the market – but Stages has also backed this up with superior antenna tech that gives a rock-solid signal to minimise dropouts. It can also be used to control your smart trainer and even integrates with your Di2 or eTap drivetrain.
A real favourite for members of the Saddleback team who’ve been testing the new Dash computers is the smartphone syncing capability. Just pair Dash with your iOS or Android device and you’ll get on-screen call and messaging notifications while riding plus wireless file upload via the Stages Link app, which can also push ride data automatically to third party training sites including Strava and Training Peaks.
The Stages Link app also allows you to easily customise your Dash data fields, analyse your rides and view your training calendar.
All this adds up to a comprehensive yet user-friendly experience that will help you achieve your best performances in both training and racing.