Stages SC3 Review: What You Need to Know
Stages SC3 Overview
‘Stages’ are a well-known brand in cycling and one of the only companies to transition from an outdoor cycling market to indoor. Personally, I am familiar with the brand as I have one of their power meters on my road bike and found it to be brilliant. When I got the chance to review a spin bike of theirs, I couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer. They currently offer a few different indoor bikes. The range we are speaking about today is the SC. The SC range has three cycles in it SC1, SC2, and SC3. The SC3 is the most advanced and is a great example of the technology ‘Stages’ as a company produces. It’s an expensive indoor cycle and classed as high-end but is it worth the money?
The assembly for the Stages SC3 indoor cycling bike is relatively standard and should take between 1-2 hours. You will require tools, but nothing too specialist; Allen Keys, adjustable spanners, and some screwdrivers. The warranty is excellent, with 15 years on the frame, ten years on the carbon belt drive, three years on the mechanical system, and one year on electronics.
Let’s start by talking about the monitor. Stages are known for the technology they produce. The first thing I like about it is that its power is generated from the hub, removing the need for the bike to be wired to a power socket or contain batteries. The backlight is on constantly and makes the screen visible in the lowest of light. The rider data is impressive, Max, Average, and Ride totals for the following metrics: Calories, Watts, RPM, Speed, Heart Rate (if wearing a strap), Time, and Distance. Another field it boasts is if you enter your FTP (Function threshold power), it will show you the zones you’re riding in. It has Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, meaning you can link any heart rate monitor or add-on accessory. It also has the capability to connect the exercise bike up to your tablet or computer so it can be used for Apps such as Zwift and Peloton. Unlike most spin bikes on the market, the power data comes from the crank arm just before the pedal. I was pleased to see this because ‘Stages’ really made a name for themselves using this technology. The power data will be very accurate. The SC3 is the only bike to have this power system in the crank arm. Although great technology, one thing to mention is the power unit will require 2 AA batteries but should last 2000+ hours.
The resistance and transmission system is very advanced on this spinning bike and has some features you don’t often see in other magnetic spin bikes. It has a Carbon drive system with a Carbon Fibre belt. This is special because it requires no maintenance or lubrication, and they are so confident in this that they offer a ten-year warranty on the belt and three years on the mechanical parts. These bikes were intended not just for home use but also for spin studios. The parts have been made to be highly durable, and no expense is spared to make sure the SC3 Stages spin bike can handle anything you throw at it. The resistance is a magnetic system. With this combination of top-notch carbon transmission and magnetic resistance, the bike is extremely quiet. The resistance is smooth, and you feel connected to the bike. It has a 5:1 Gear ratio, and you adjust the resistance on a dial in front of you while you ride. The dial is micro-adjustable so that you can find the perfect resistance for your riding. It has a unique sprinter shifter on the dial. Instead of having to build the resistance right up from the dial, you can hit the sprint shift, and it will put the resistance up high quickly. When released, it drops to the original resistance position it was before. Some cycling teams favor this bike, and this is one of the reasons why.
The pedals it comes with are standard toe clips on one side and SPD compatible with the other. They are of high quality and are built to last. It has a Q Factor of 158mm. It is the size of the bracket between your feet where the crank arms attach and rotate. It would generally be 150mm, on a high road bike and a mountain bike, 170mm. What I look for is a size between 140mm and 170mm. The 158mm Q Factor on the Stages SC3 spin bike is a perfect size, in my opinion. The Flywheel weight isn’t listed, but it isn’t like most flywheels. It is a Perimeter weighted flywheel. This means that the flywheels’ weight is not held in the center but sits outside the flywheel. This gives the bike more of a feel, as if you were riding a standard road bike outside.
The frame is 6061T-6 Aluminium and uses advanced hydro and air-formed tubing. It is 24.5” in width and 43.5” in length. It weighs a sturdy 43kg and is easy to move about on the front wheels. As far as indoor bikes go, this is relatively compact. It is lighter than most of its competitors but feels well built and designed to be this way.
To me, one of the best features of this bike is user capability. It is very adaptable compared to most. It can fit users from 4ft 10” to 6ft 10”. This is an incredible range, and I feel stages have made an effort to cater to everyone they can and increase the bikes usability. It has two bottle holders just below the handlebars and doesn’t support a tablet or phone. Unlike most bikes, this is made for a road bike feel. You can see it sports road racing handlebars, as you can see the bars drop down for an aerodynamic position, and the tops have been shaped to replicate road bike shifter hoods. This isn’t for everyone but as an avid road cyclist myself, I quite like this, but it does take away from the spin bike feel. The handlebars and saddle can move vertically and horizontally. It has a pin system and many options to get the fit as close as possible to perfect. The adjustment is effortless, and I feel they have put time into making a straightforward lever system so you can change the settings quickly and efficiently. It feels solid and stable no matter how you are riding it. It handles well in sprints and heavy climbs and offers a smoothness like no other while going nice and steady.
Stages SC3 Indoor Cycle Features:
- Q-Factor: 158mm
- Pedals: Dual-sided SPD Toe Cage Flywheel: Unlisted
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Transmission: Carbon Belt
- Weight capacity: 158kg
- Height capacity: 4ft 10”” – 6ft 10″
- Bike weight: 43kg
- Bike dimension: 24.5″W x 43.5″H
- Monitor: Backlit
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
- Applications: Can connect to Zwift, Peloton
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: Direct
Stages SC3 Indoor Bike Pros
- Stages Power Meter Technology.
- More adjustable than other bikes to suit small or tall riders.
- The actual Bike is Small in size.
- Generous Warranty.
- Great screen with lots of data.
- Drop Handlebars.
- Carbon Fibre Transmission.
- A bike capable of linking to other Apps.
Stages SC3 Indoor Bike Cons
- Stages don’t have an App but are working on one.
- Very road bike focused.
- There is no elbow pads on the handlebars
- Doesn’t look as good as some of its competitors.
The Final Verdict
I was very excited to get a look into one of these bikes, and I’m not disappointed at all. The quality is fantastic, and so much thought has gone into the design. It offers riders of all heights the option to ride and adjusts with such ease for comfortability. The onboard computer is full of data and could accommodate a regular spinner up to a top-end elite athlete. It feels stable and smooth, and I feel very confident when standing in a high-power sprint. The only thing I don’t feel it offers is anything on the interactive side of things. Companies like Peloton or Echelon offer a community, and most high-end bikes have an app that you can train with. Although Stages are currently making an app, they haven’t got one for now, and this is something someone like myself would want if spending this amount of money. You could use the Stages SC3 indoor bike for Zwift or put Peloton on a tablet or TV in front of you, but there is probably a more suitable bike on the market if that’s what you want it for.
In my opinion, the bike is mainly aimed to be in locations such as a Spin Studio, Athletes training facility, and the home of a serious road cyclist. It’s a great product, and I rate it highly. As a serious road cyclist myself, I can see the appeal of this bike. As someone looking for an alternative to a Peloton, this probably wouldn’t suit. Value for money-wise, it is definitely a fantastic training tool I’d be proud to own.