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This is the Stages SB20 review.
It’s by many considered the most solid smart bike on the market. But is that really so?
I interviewed Richard, one of its long-term users, to learn more about this smart bike.
Below, you learn what to expect from it, its benefits, disadvantages, etc.
Let’s dive in.
I am a 42-year-old age group triathlete competing in 70.3 Ironman events. I predominantly train indoors, so I was on the lookout for a smart bike that would take the weekly punishment of Ironman training.
Stages SB20 Summary
Here is a summary of the main features of Stages SB20.
Stages SB20 Main Features
- Maximum resistance: 2200W
- Gradient/decline simulation: 25%
- Power accuracy: ±1.5%
- Adjustable fit: Stack, reach, setback, saddle height
- Connectivity: ANT+ FEC, Bluetooth
- Power required: Yes
Stages SB20 Pros & Cons
Stages SB20 Pros
- Easily adjustable fit
- Two power sources (one in each crank)
- Tablet + phone mount
- Two bottle cages
- You can buy additional accessories (handlebar, holders, remote shifters, MTB shifters, etc.)
- Quiet operation
- High durability
Stages SB20 Cons
- Questionable accuracy due to the calibration process done in the factory (for different crank lengths). Some days it matches my Favero Assioma DUO, some days it’s off – but mostly it’s right.
- Unable to layout the bike as per my TT bike (due to the adjustments, it’s impossible to set up rear bottle holders or front holders to replicate racing conditions).
- Further to this, if you run a very aggressive TT position, some find they’re unable to get the seat forward enough.
- The buttons for changing gears are too soft.
Richard’s Experience with Stages SB20
What convinced you to buy Stages SB20 and not one of its alternatives?
The main priority for me was the quiet operation, allowing me to train indoors without causing too much noise to the family. On top of that, the standard 2-year warranty on most parts of the bike and the 10-year warranty on the frame. I looked at the KICKR as my prime choice, but its noisiness and market feedback across the forums led me to look at the SB20.
How long did it take you to build it?
About an hour from unpacking it – the instructions were pretty clear and concise. However, it’s delivered in a very heavy box, so I recommend asking a friend for help!
How often do you use it?
I use the SB20 5-6 days a week.
Why do you think Stages SB20 is better than a bike with a bike trainer?
I think the three main reasons it’s better are:
- It’s a quiet operation, so I don’t disturb other household members.
- It’s belt-driven, leading to almost no maintenance, saving you time from cleaning your bike.
- It doesn’t wear out your expensive chain, cassette, and chainrings on a road / TT bike.
TIP: Read this comparison of smart bikes vs. smart bike trainers.
What do you like the most about Stages SB20?
I like its reliability. I get on it, and it works without any fuss or fiddling. It’s also quiet.
Is there anything you don’t like about Stages SB20?
I don’t like the cranks-based power meters. They require replacing the CR2032 batteries, and sometimes, they don’t match my Favero Assioma DUO pedal power meters.
Did you do any accuracy tests?
Yes, I did. When I first got my DUOs for my road bike, I put them on my SB20 to confirm the accuracy.
I found out that the SB20 was reading a little higher. When I use fresh batteries and perform zero offset, the SB20 mostly aligns with the DUOs (which I believe more..), but the SB20 does seem to drift.
Over on the TrainerRoad forum, it’s been said that the issues could stem from when the cranks are calibrated at the factory, and the left and right are calibrated on different crank lengths.
Stages SB20 Alternatives
Stages SB20 FAQ
Would you recommend buying the Stages SB20?
Definitely – even with the crank and slight TT fit issues, it’s such a solid workhorse of a bike, I’ve had mine since Oct 2020, and it still works and looks new.
There really isn’t any reason to look elsewhere when deciding on which smart bike to buy. It’s solid, quiet, and easily handles anything you throw at it.
Feel free to follow Richard on his Instagram.