The new Stages Dash computer series in depth
21 JUNE 2022
By Nicki Giles
Discover how Stages has created an easy-to-use, powerful bike computer, with all of the advanced training features that the Dash is famous for.
Some cyclists enjoy tinkering with tech almost as much as riding their bikes, while others look upon cycling computers as a necessary tool to help them optimise their power output on rides. Most, though, just want to plan interesting new routes or ensure their training is heading in the right direction to meet their goals.
The Tour de France winning Stages Dash computer has always catered brilliantly to the first two types of cyclist and now, with the new Dash L200 and Dash M200, Stages has designed an all-rounder GPS cycling computer that will delight the ‘just ride’ contingent too.
Jim Stemper, Director of Program Management at Stages, explains, “We wanted to appeal to a broader user base. The new Dash has a completely new automatic Smart Profile that is populated as soon as you pair it with your sensors, such as your power meter, smart trainers or heart monitor. It does everything for you, although you can also customise the profile if you prefer.”
Making every ride better with tailored Dash training
In other words, you will be prompted to link your sensors to the head unit straight out of the box, after which the Dash and its partner app will automatically pull data from your GPS, Stages Dash HR strap and other connected devices, such as your Stages power meter, to build out data pages. You can even add a new ANT+ or Bluetooth sensor to your Stages Dash computer in the middle of a ride if you want to.
Both during and after your ride, you’ll be able to see your power, cadence, speed and heart rate, as well as track your altitude, ascent and descent in mapping mode, all on auto function. You’ll also be able to compare stats from different points of the ride, check how close to the Dash training targets you are using a series of colour-coded timed training zones and how long you’ve been in each zone, or zoom in on a given statistic you want to focus on while cycling.
Finally, as you cycle day after day, the Stages Dash computer will facilitate Adaptive Zones Training by keeping track of your efforts and automatically adjusting your Dash training zones based on your current fitness, while monitoring your proximity to your periodic workout goals. This will ensure that you’ll train at the right level to improve your fitness within the range of your abilities.
You’ll be able to ride for 10 hours with maps displayed and one sensor – such as your Stages Dash HR strap – connected, with the screen fully backlit, or for 18 hours in reduced power mode. Either way, the Dash will serve you well for the duration of your bucket list rides. On arriving home, you can charge the battery ready for your next ride in under two hours with the Dash M200, or under three hours with the L200.
Live mapping with the Stages Dash computer
Stemper remarks, “The Dash L200 and M200 can connect to Wi-Fi, which makes uploading maps easier than ever. They’re also easier to use, thanks to the accompanying app that has been built from the ground up by Stages. This can connect to all Stages products, or any other wireless devices in cycling.”
The new Stages Cycling app opens up incredible mapping potential for Dash users. You’ll be able to access live routing through the app to any chosen location worldwide, using the cycling-friendly OpenStreetMaps that come free with the Stages Dash head unit.
Wi-Fi connectivity paired with 16GB of internal storage ensures the maps, which identify and colour-code the best roads, trails and paths for cycling, and even display icons for bike shops, cafés, pubs and toilets, will be easy to download. This will make it easier to explore a new area by bike.
A connection to multiple satellite systems, including GPS, WAAS and more, means you can successfully navigate routes globally with the Dash. It’s also possible to update the region with the app when connected to Wi-Fi, then download maps local to your new location within 30 seconds.
A bold blue course lined with arrows to your chosen location will be automatically created, with no need to press lots of buttons on a head unit or contend with the touchscreen favoured by many GPS cycling computers, which becomes unreliable when it’s raining or you’re wearing gloves. You’ll also see notifications for upcoming turns and a cue sheet showing next steps and distances.
Optimise your cycling computer settings with the Stages app
The app has an easy-to-use, clean interface, and as with the device itself, it’s possible to opt for pre-set layouts or create fully customised screens, displaying your chosen number of fields. You’ll be given the opportunity to select 10-12 data fields for display on the Stages Dash M200, or 14-16 for the Stages Dash L200. In fact, it’s possible to control the Stages Dash computer entirely through the app, if you’re so inclined.
Using the Stages Cycling app, you will be able to set up and customise the Dash training programmes and display. You will also be able to update and calibrate your Stages power meter, manage files and all settings or update firmware on both the Dash and power meter, or connect to your Stages SB20 spin bike.
The same analytic features accessible through the Stages Link website are available through the app, including the calendar, ride graphs and time charts, and you can access your training history too. You’ll be able to use advanced functionality, such as ride history, analysis, performance charts, the course builder and the workout builder, on the Stages Link website or while connected to 3rd party devices such as Strava. Alternatively, for a small charge you can access those features via the app.
Let the Dash sync with your favourite apps
Another handy feature of the Stages app is its ability to absorb data from partner apps and share routes with them in turn. According to Jim Stemper, “There are now more 3rd party connections to the Stages Cycling app than there are to the Stages Link website even. It connects to every sensor, including the Dash, making it easier to create, customise and manage map tiles, and see a list of courses and workouts from the connections.”
There are lots of 3rd party connections already available, with more due to be added soon. The app can auto-sync and share files with navigation apps like Strava, Relive, Komoot, KinoMap, MapMyRide and RidewithGPS, as well as with the Dash head unit and fitness apps like Today’s Plan, TrainerRoad and Training Peaks. You can therefore push rides to these programmes or upload routes.
Pre-loaded workouts are managed on the cloud, so you can load them onto the Dash to create colour-coded progress graphs based on your Adaptive Zones or add them through the app to any linked device. You can also switch the zones off if you’d prefer to use FTP entry or zone calculations to track your training progress.
The Stages Dash head unit
In terms of hardware, the Stages Dash computer comes with its own light but extremely secure quarter turn style mount with a plastic interface. You’ll also receive a leash, USB cable and IPI document in the box, along with a quick start guide to get you up and running.
The Dash offers you a choice of landscape or portrait display, unlike its competitor GPS bike computers that remain fixed in portrait mode. Size-wise, the Dash M200 measure 8.13cm by 5.13, with a depth of 2.18cm, and weighs 76g. Meanwhile, the Dash L200 measures 9.38cm by 5.96, with a depth of 2.2cm, and weighs 104g.
You’ll find the high-resolution Everbrite™ RGB LCD colour screen is crystal clear and close to the surface, like a phone screen, with a resolution of 320 x 240. The display size is 5.59cm measured diagonally for the Dash M200, or 6.86cm for the Dash L200. Both models offer a clean user interface, while five buttons, crafted to be easy to press while wearing winter cycling gloves, are handily situated on top of the head unit.
Additional functionality with the Stages Dash computer
The bike computer can easily be paired with smart lights and is compatible with the Garmin Varia Radar. Using the Dash, you’ll be able to choose the type and position of notifications you’ll see when a vehicle is approaching, turn tones on and off, and monitor the functionality and battery for added safety.
The Dash also has specific settings to facilitate outstanding connectivity with eBikes and drive the creation of automatic Smart Profiles for those bikes. No other cycling computer comes close when it comes to effortlessly managing an eBike using your existing paired sensors.
Beyond these functions, a host of exciting updates are planned to arrive post-launch, including shifting integration with the Shimano Di2 and the SRAM eTap, climbing metrics and climb identification, and more besides.
A bike computer for all levels of cyclist
All in all, then, the Stages Dash M200 and Stages Dash L200, designed using feedback from pro riders and world class coaches, are the easiest GPS bike computers to use in their price point, with the best display, and the Stages product offering in combination with the app works a treat.
If you need further convincing that the Dash is one of the best cycling computers out there to help you smash your cycling goals, look to the pros. Since late February, Team BikeExchange-Jayco has been spotted with a Giant-branded Dash M200 as a fixture on their bikes during training and racing. Stages has had a long-standing hardware manufacturing relationship with the bike brand, so it made sense to invite Giant to offer its input on the computer.
Jim Stemper enthused, “The riders really liked our bike computer, which was very validating, as they’re extremely picky. The pros are our hardest customers. The fact that they were using it on rides tells us a lot about how we’ve done with the new Dash, it’s really good.”
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