Stages SB20 Review | A Smart and Good Value Indoor Bike
Another of the smart bikes coming from the men and women of Stages, the StagesBike SB20 is one of their latest and greatest attempts. It does an excellent job of providing the user with just about anything they could want from one of these types of indoor cycling bikes.
The strong, silent “smart electromagnetic resistance” that the StagesBike provides the rider is quite impressive. It will give you up to 2,200 watts (at 130 rpm) of a surprisingly realistic road feel. This can be especially valuable for those who like the feel of an outside workout underneath them.
As this is a smart indoor bike, it does come with a decently sized price tag. The retail price falls at just around the $2,900 mark. Certainly, it isn’t the most expensive example of a bike on the market, but it most certainly is nothing to laugh at.
The StagesBike might not have all the flashy technological capabilities as some of the other smart bikes on the market, but it still provides an extremely stable and pleasant workout experience for users of all skill levels. The Stages Solo indoor bike might be a more advanced cycle (in terms of tracking display) from the same company, but it costs about $1,000 more.
For those who don’t need or want all the extra flashy features that come with a display but still want a smart bike, the StagesBike SB20 might just be where they want to look.
It is hard to find too much wrong with the StagesBike SB20 indoor cycling bike. It isn’t a perfect piece of exercise equipment, but then again, you would be hard pressed to find one of those anywhere. The stability and overall design of the SB20 do a good job of making sure that just about any rider will be able to enjoy their workout on this machine.
Stages SB20 Comparison and Alternatives
You are reading where I regularly update the Stages SB20 review to let you know if there are better smart indoor bikes on the market for the same price range. Currently, in 2022 I know there are several smart spin bikes including NEO Tacx, Watt, and Wahoo, but none of them are as good as SB20. And here is why SB20 is a better bike.
Watt Bike Atom is cheaper but a bit loud, has only one crank length, and the horizontal adjustment system is a pain (requires tools). Tacx NEO (also has one crank length) and Wahoo KICKR are more expensive but they have design issues (depending on your lower lower-body structure/thigh gap, your legs might rub against the seat post/tube on each stroke).
And even more importantly, Stages is a much more experienced name when it comes to spin bikes/indoor bikes and I have no doubt their bikes are sturdier and more durable. So, you can’t go wrong with Stages SB20 (at least until Tacx and Wahoo build their second smart bikes and get rid of the flaws that exist on the current models). Overall it’s one of the best spin bikes for Zwift cycling.
|Names||Wahoo KICKR Smart Indoor Bike||Tacx NEO Smart Indoor Bike||Stages SB20 Smart Indoor Bike||Wattbike Atom Smart Indoor Bike|
|Incline||Electronic Incline and Decline||Not Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Handlebars||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment|
|Saddle||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Vertical & Horizontal Adjustment||Horizontal Adjustment|
|Bounce||Not Available||Automatic simulation bounce of cobblestones||Not Available||Not Available|
|Screen||No screen on the bike||With screen on the bike||No screen on the bike||No screen on the bike|
|Crank||5 Crank length options||3 Crank length options||4 Crank length options||1 Crank length option|
|Pedals||Flat cage pedals included||Not included||Not included||Flat cage pedals included|
|Gears||Virtual preset and customisable gears||Virtual preset gears||Virtual preset gears||Virtual preset and customisable gears|
|Transmission||Poly-V Belt||None||Timing Belt||Chain & Belt|
|Flywheel||13-Pounds||None||50-Pounds||Dual Flywheels (20-Pounds)|
|Chafing||Possible seat tube leg rub||Possible seat tube leg rub||Not an issue||Not an issue|
|Resistance||Electronic Magnetic (Automatic Change with Zwift)||Electronic Magnetic (Automatic Change with Zwift)||Electronic Magnetic (Automatic Change with Zwift)||Electronic Magnetic (Automatic Change with Zwift)|
|Tracking||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time||Watt (direct), RPM, speed, gear, & time|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth & ANT+||Bluetooth & ANT+||Bluetooth & ANT+||Bluetooth & ANT+|
StagesBike SB20 Technical Information:
- Stages SB20 Technology
- Pedals and Q-factor
- Stages SB20 flywheel
- SB20 bike resistance
- Drive system & gear ratio
- Handlebars and seat
- SB20 price and warranty
- Shipping and assembly
- Stages SB20 Smart Bike pros
- Stages SB20 Smart Bike cons
- Weight: 138 lbs
- Width: 22”
- Length: 62”
- Rider Fit Range: 4’10” to 6’10”
- Max User Weight: 350 lbs
- Stages Power Meter
- Frame Material: 6061T-6 Aluminum
- Max Power: 2200 Watt at 130rpm
- 2 USB Ports, 2 Media Areas for Smartphones/Tablets
- 2 Bottle Cages
One of the most noticeable aspects of the StagesBike SB20 spin bike is how stable it is when you first start your workout. The 138 lb weight really shines on the more intense exercise routines, as you will find that this bike will not shift underneath you. It is quite astounding just how stable the bike can actually be while really rocking back and forth on those fast and hard workouts. Especially compared to some other smart bikes like the Wahoo Kickr Bike and the Tacx Neo Bike, which have the tendency to get wobbly at times.
The open-frame design of the StagesBike SB20 is one of the nicest things about it. Short riders will be able to fit comfortably on the bike, continuing the tradition of Stages allowing cyclists of all shapes and sizes to use their spin bikes. The open frame design also allows the average user to avoid the possibility of their legs rubbing up against the seat tube or top tube. Inner leg rub is certainly a problem on many other smart bikes, but it seems that Stages have figured out a method to avoid that issue.
StagesBike SB20 Technology:
- Has a series of buttons that allow for virtual shifting via individually configurable switching buttons.
- 25% max. virtual incline (on Zwift)
- Stages Bike – SB20 Smart Bike App.
- Wireless Firmware Updates
- StagesBike SB20 Control Modes
- The bike provides your RPM, speed, and watt/power including the balance of your right and left legs (separate power sensors).
- 4 Different Modes that can connect through ANT+ or Bluetooth: Simulation Mode, ERG Mode, Level Mode, Manual Mode
- Note: Stages SB20 cycle doesn’t come with a display/monitor which means you are required to use your own device (if you want to ride on apps or track your stats).
The technological capabilities of the StagesBike SB20 is a bit odd. It is nowhere near as advanced or intricate as the console on the Stages Solo spin bike. No high level games or satisfying achievement list, but that is replaced by something else. The focus of the SB20 is on connections to other apps.
It differentiates itself by having the ability to virtually adjust itself. One can either do this by pressing switching buttons on the or by using the Zwift app to shift up to 25%. This is honestly quite an impressive feature, as none of the other Stages bikes share it. It seems that Stages have caught up with the modern smart bike design, which they must be praised for.
While the StagesBike SB20 can be used without any additional applications or devices, it does have the ability to use different control modes in order to give the rider a different workout based on what mode they choose. These can be accessed through apps like Zwift, RGT, Rouvy or others.
The Simulation mode allows for apps to send variables that result in a realistic outdoor riding feel. These are variables like gradient, windspeed, rolling resistance and drafting. The user can press the configurable shift buttons in order to change the different variables.
The ERG mode of “target power” mode is another of these modes. ERG mode controllers send a wattage value that the StagesBike will attempt to maintain as users pedal. The resistance depends entirely on cadence and the controller target power value. That way the rider performs the workout exactly as it was intended to be.
Level mode is “an arbitrary way to control resistance, meaning the device connected to the StagesBike can ask for the full range of resistance available.” You don’t often hear companies describing one of their features as arbitrary, so this was a surprise. Basically, it appears that levels mode is simply a way to control the resistance from an app. The StagesBike will produce the least amount of resistance when level is lowest, and 100% resistance when the level is max.
Finally, manual mode is exactly what it sounds like; the mode without virtual control. It is enabled any time there is no external controller sending commands to the StagesBike. Specifically, it comes into play when the user turns on the SB20 or when there are 15 minutes of inactivity. Manual mode allows users to change gears using the shift buttons (or use the brake levers) to create resistance during their ride.
Fully ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart broadcasting
Fully ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart FTMS controllable
Connects to apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, The Sufferfest, Peloton, and more
Here is where the StagesBike SB20 indoor cycling bike really separates itself from every other bike that Stages has put out. It has the ability to connect to third-party apps like Zwift and allow the app to automatically change resistance, which has been a feature people have been begging for on the other models like the Stages SC3 and the Stages Solo bikes.
This connection finally allows people to connect to apps that they already have set up and customized to themselves rather than starting over or having to keep track of two different fitness apps.
The connectivity of the SB20 really makes it feel on par with other modern smart bikes. Clearly, we are excited about this feature and everyone else should be as well. Now Stages smart bikes will really start to enter the realm of third-party app compatibility.
Note: To simply use the SB20 By Stages you don’t necessarily need any additional device (tablet, phone, etc) or app subscription. You can hop on and change resistance manually. But if you want automatic resistance change for uphills, tracking watt, RPM, speed, and other stats, then you need to use your own screen and preferred app.
To fully connect the Stages SB20 with certain applications like Peloton, it’s best that you use the QZ application. It’s basically a bridge app that takes the data from the bike and sends them to the applications that aren’t yet fully compatible with the SB20. Aside from being a bridge, the QZ offers so many other customization and features. So, I suggest you give that a try with the SB20 bike.
Q-Factor and Pedals:
- The StagesBike SB20 has a Q-Factor of 157mm
- Pedals are not included with the Stages SB20
- Stages SB20 has the standard 9/16″ pedals thread size
- SB20 has four crank length to choose from: 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm
The 157 mm Q-Factor is an excellent choice for the StagesBike SB20 spin bike. It is just the right amount for the workout on the bike to feel natural. For those who are unaware, the Q-Factor is the distance between your feet while sitting on the bike.
Too much distance and it tends to become uncomfortable or give an unnatural feel to the ride. Similarly, too little and you will find it impossible to pedal. The latter is certainly a rare case, as generally it is considered that the narrower the Q-Factor, the better.
The StagesBike SB20 has 9/16″ pedal thread and it is SPD-compatible. For those who are unaware, SPD-compatible pedals mean that SPD cleats can connect to the pedals as well as regular athletic shoes. You can purchase a pair of two-sided indoor bike Spd pedals for as little as $50.
StagesBike SB20 Flywheel:
- The StagesBike SB20 has a 23 kg flywheel
- The SB20 has a fixed flywheel
- The flywheel is described as being “oversized”.
The 23 kg flywheel on the StagesBike SB20 is an impressive feature. It is described as oversized, which makes “climbing, acceleration and coasting feel spot on.”
That isn’t exactly a whole lot of material to go off of in terms of specific details about the wheel itself, but what is clear is that they are not wrong. The flywheel does a good job in combining with the gear ratio and magnetic resistance to make a stable and quiet ride that can suit any intensity.
The flywheel is fixed, which means that the pedals and the flywheel don’t turn independently. They are connected to one another, turning and stopping at the same time. If you want to release your shoes from the pedal clips, you need to wait until the flywheel stops turning.
This can be a bonus for some, as it means that you constantly have to pedal without stopping. You can also pedal in reverse with resistance, working out different leg muscles than you normally would. This can make for some extremely effective exercises, as it keeps you on the move the entire workout.
Others might find the feature a negative one. If you get cramps or there is some sort of emergency, you can’t jump off of the bike until the flywheel stops turning. You also will be unable to take a break unless you completely stop the workout. This can certainly take some getting used to if you are unfamiliar with the fixed flywheel system. Of course, some might never get used to it and that can be a definite strike against the SB20.
StagesBike SB20 Resistance:
- The StagesBike SB20 features adjustable electromagnetic resistance system.
- The resistance system on this bike is what makes it a “Smart Indoor Bike”.
- It has the ability for the resistance to change (for uphill not downhill) when connected to third-party apps through ANT+ or Bluetooth
- The SprintShift system means that it is adjustable with custom workload settings.
- It does not have a set amount of resistance levels listed but can create up to 2200 watt which is sufficient for all fitness levels.
- There are resistance/gear adjust controls on right and left bars.
The StagesBike SB20 spin bike both shares features and differs greatly from many of the other Stages indoor cycling bikes. It shares the SprintShift system of changing resistance that many of the other Stages bikes have. This means that one can manually adjust the resistance settings with just a flick of a switch rather than twisting a knob around multiple times in order to get the correct setting.
The cadence definitely changes when one does switch the settings, but it takes some getting used to on account of it being so different from a usual resistance system. Some might prefer to have the traditional method of having a set amount of resistance levels, but the Stages system certainly isn’t bad.
Another thing to take note of is the fact that the StagesBike SB20 does not have a way to indicate the gear selection. Even when it is connected to the Zwift app, there is no way to find out exactly what sort of gear change is happening. Supposedly that should be fixed at some point, but we are unsure exactly when it will be occurring.
Finally, the SB20 is different to the other Stages bikes due to its ability to be operated virtually. No other Stages bikes have this capability, either for third party apps to affect the resistance or the Stages App itself to do so. It certainly feels more modern and more akin to what a smart bike should offer.
Handlebars and Seat:
- The StagesBike SB20 has handlebars that will adjust in their reach/stack with laser-etched sizing scales.
- The SB20 saddle has the ability to micro-adjust in its fore/aft alignment
- For vertical and horizontal adjustment you don’t need to use tools like some other bikes such as Watt.
The general design of the StagesBike SB20 is a very good one, and this can especially be seen in the handlebars and the seat. There are quick-release dials that allow the user to adjust the height and fore/aft of the saddle and the cockpit in a much faster time than those of rival smart bikes.
Featuring a nice center cut, the saddle itself is already comfortable and eliminates numbness, though if you find yourself wishing for more comfortable or familiar indoor bike seats, then you can switch it out at your discretion.
It is a similar story with the handlebars. They can be adjusted exactly to the degree that the user wishes thanks to the hash marks that align the saddle bar and the arms of the handlebars.
Drivetrain and Gear Ratio:
- The StagesBike SB20 has an individually configurable gear ratio
- The standard gear ratio that comes with Stages spin bikes is 5:1
- SB20 is built with top-of-the-line Gates Carbon Drive and Carbon Fiber Belt (automative-grade toothed belt) for maximum power transfer.
The drivetrain is the“CarbonGlyde™ Gates® Carbon Drive™ Carbon Fiber Belt” that comes with all of the other Stages bikes produced. The drivetrain of the StagesBike SB20 isn’t any different than that of its fellow stages bike.
Fortunately, the carbon fiber belt that does come with all of the Stages bikes is well built and can handle any sort of ride. It will last a good while and remains quiet while giving a good system of resistance to the flywheel.
The gear ratio on the SB20 is a bit different than other Stages spin bikes. Usually the gear ratio is listed at 5:1, which is a solid choice for the bike. However, on this spin bike, there is the ability to individually configure the gear ratio.
For those who are unaware, these bikes have a small pulley belt and a big belt ring connected to the flywheel. For every turn of the big wheel, the small pulley turns 5 times. Stages made the call to let this one be adaptable, which is a good thing. It does feel a bit odd, though, as their standard 5:1 gear ratio has been working very well so far.
StagesBike SB20 Price and Warranty:
- The StagesBike SB20 is currently listed at a retail price of $2,900
- The SB20’s warranties include:
10 years on the frame
10 years on the carbon fibre belt
2 years on the power meter
2 years on the bike components
The StagesBike SB20 spin bike is a very convincing smart bike. For the price, you can get a lot of features out of it, including its ability to connect to third party apps like Zwift. It does come at a decent cost, though it is not as expensive as the Wahoo Kickr Bike or the Tacx Neo Bike. It is also cheaper than the Stages Solo bike.
The warranties on the SB20 are also generous enough to make sure that any damage or missing parts should be easily replaced. Fortunately, due to the durable and steady design of the SB20, that shouldn’t be frequently necessary.
Assembly and Shipping:
- Shipped in a single box, so there is limited setup required.
- Stages SB20 weighs around 140-lbs when shipped.
- It comes on a wooden pallet and the main parts are factory-assembled.
The shipping should take about 1-2 weeks to arrive normally, though there are a variety of factors that could affect that. As with all of the Stages spin bikes, the setup process is almost nonexistent. All that you really need to do is take the StagesBike SB20 out, put it where you want, and then hop on and get pedaling. No sweat at all.
As for the shipping process, that is outside of our control. It should usually take about 1-2 weeks, though that could be influenced by a variety of factors.
The postal service might be backed up, someone might make a mistake in the paperwork somewhere, or a global pandemic might bring the shipping process of most products to a screeching halt. You just don’t really know what can happen at any given time.
StagesBike SB20 Smart Bike Pros:
One of the best things about the StagesBike SB20 spin bike is how durable it is. This bike is so well made, so well designed, that you will feel like it is invincible. Even on the most intense workouts, you won’t ever fear it breaking or deteriorating. It hasn’t been out long enough to test the durability over a longer amount of time (such as 3, 5 or 7 years). However, if the beginning durability of the SB20 is anything to judge from, you won’t have to worry about any sort of damage or deterioration for a long, long time.
The customization of the SB20 is another highlight of the spin bike. This is an area that Stages have on lockdown across their bikes, with features like the FitLoc system. It is no different here, as both the handlebars and the seat are micro-adjustable thanks to their measurement meters. It is also much quicker to change these settings than many other spin bikes.
The Little Bonus Features:
It might seem odd to put this as one of the pros of the StagesBike SB20, but it really is one of the nicest bits of this indoor cycling bike. Considering that it comes with 2 water holders, multiple USB ports, a tablet holder for entertainment, and a power meter all alongside the new ability to connect to apps like Zwift is a brilliant move on the part of Stages. It only adds to the number of features that the SB20 offers to its cyclists. Some people might raise an eyebrow at having two water bottle holders, but for those who want to go on the longer rides, they might easily go through multiple bottles.
That stability of the StagesBike SB20 must also be praised. Similar to the durability, this spin bike will hold you steady even under the most intense workouts possible. Where other bikes might start to shake and shudder underneath you, the SB20 will do no such thing. Once in place, unless you decide to move it through its front wheels, it isn’t going anywhere.
Smart Resistance & Four-Crank Length:
What makes the Stages SB20 indoor cycle a smart bike is its “smart electromagnetic resistance” that allows the cycling apps to automatically change its gears and mimic the uphills. Unlike some of its competitors, the Stages SB20 smart bike comes with 4 crank length options. So, you can set up the bike exactly like your road bike.
StagesBike SB20 Smart Bike Cons:
Lack of a console:
It has to be said that the lack of a dedicated console is disappointing. One might expect that a piece of exercise equipment labeled as a “smart bike” would have some sort of advanced console in order to track the statistics of the ride. While the StagesBike SB20 does somewhat make up for this by allowing for the Bluetooth/ANT+ connection with third-party apps like Zwift and the tablet holder where one would expect to find a console, it still feels like there is something missing.
The Vague Resistance System:
The resistance system of the Stages spin bikes has always been a point of debate. Because they have steered away from the traditional system of having a set number of resistance levels, their shifting of resistance levels can feel significantly vaguer than others. You can certainly still feel the shift and still get the benefits of working out against higher levels of resistance, but it becomes harder to track exactly what level of resistance you are working against.
There have been reports of the StagesBike SB20 having some issues with Bluetooth after it arrived. This is a serious issue, as it essentially takes away the “smart” part of the smart bike. These reviews and reports do seem to be in the minority, which is good. But we thought that it would be a valid problem that one should be aware of. If this does happen, it would be advisable to contact Stages customer service. Hopefully, for the next version, they will also add WiFi and ethernet connection as they are more stable than Bluetooth. It’s what Wahoo had to add to the new Kickr Bike V2 to avoid connection issues.
Stages SB20 doesn’t include any pedal so you will need to buy them separately which is not exactly what we were expecting for the price. I know most riders prefer to use their own pedals, but the least Stages could do was to include a pair of dual-sided indoor bike pedals.
No incline and decline:
For a smart indoor bike that costs nearly $3000, I think the SB20 should have a physically adjustable incline and decline system so the bike would tilt forward and backward when hitting an uphill or downhill on Zwift similar to Wahoo Kickr. Not only incline/decline, it should also have right/left titling to lean when you reach the curves like Bowflex Velocore bike.
Last Word on the StagesBike SB20:
While the StagesBike SB20 is not a perfect bike, it is still an extremely good pick for anyone who is looking for one of the most well-designed smart bikes on the market. The stability and durability that makes up this spin bike really is what brings it into the upper tier.
It might be disappointing that the SB20 does not have a console, but the combination of virtual control modes and its ability to connect with third-party apps like Zwift makes up for a lot of those missing features.
The additional little features that come with the SB20 are also a welcome treat. The double water bottle holders, the areas for tablets or other media devices and the USB ports are all welcome additions and can make an otherwise boring workout into an entertaining one.
Then there is the customization of the SB20. It’s honestly quite brilliant. The quick adjustments that can be made on both the seat and the handlebars are what makes the spin bike able to fit such a wide range of people.
The resistance system might be an issue for some, especially those who prefer to keep an exact track of how they are going about their exercise program. It is most certainly vague at times, though it still does the job of setting a challenge for whoever happens to be riding it.
The Stages SB20 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a bike that will give them a stable and fulfilling exercise. It has the ability that many other Stages bikes do not in that it can connect to third-party apps like Zwift through ANT+ and Bluetooth. It is as adjustable as any other Stages bike, which means that almost any rider can hop on and find their sweet spot. It might not have the console that you would expect on a standard smart bike, but the SB20 most certainly makes up for it in the variety of other features that it offers its riders.