Stages SC1 Indoor Cycle Review
The Stages SC1 indoor cycling bike is the cheapest of Stages smart bike SC-line. Fair to say, there is a reason for that. The bike lacks many of the features that sets its compatriots apart, and suffers somewhat on account of this. That being said, it is still a solid indoor cycling bike that will do the job for those who decide it would fit their needs.
The Stages SC1 spin bike is able to comfortably hold riders who weigh up to 350 lbs. It can also hold a wide range of users in terms of their size, with everyone from those around 4’10” to 6’10”. Fair to say, it can hold all sorts of people who are looking to make their workout a good one.
The SC1 has a standard magnetic resistance system that can be controlled with a knob. While it might not be the advanced StageShift resistance lever of the SC2 and SC3 indoor cycle, it certainly does the job of allowing the user to change how challenging their workout is.
In terms of the customization of the SC1, it comes with a standard pop pin adjustment system. Unfortunately, this really isn’t anything special, especially when compared with the FitLoc abilities of the SC3 and SC2 indoor bike. While it isn’t actively a bad adjustment system, it is significantly slower and less fluid than those of the other bikes in this line.
There are a bunch of optional extras that can come with the SC1 for those who want to just add to the simple experience. The EcoSCRN console allows the user to track their workout statistics in real time, while the Stages Power Meter captures even more data for the cycling enthusiast. We will go into more depth on whether or not we think these optional attachments are necessary to get the most out of the bike later in our Stages SC1 bike review.
The Q-Factor of the SC1 is 169 mm, and is pretty comfortable. Again, perhaps not quite as comfortable as the 158 mm of the other SC bikes, but it certainly is not the most uncomfortable bike out there. It does share the ability of SPD pedals with the more advanced bikes. That way, those who have SPD cleats and want to use them in their workouts can do so.
The Stages SC1 spin bike comes with a retail cost of $1,700, though with the optional console and power meter that cost can rise up to just under $2,200. Here is where the value of the SC1 really comes into question. Even without the optional console and power meter, it is still a pretty expensive bike. Yet, without those options (especially the console) that most other modern bikes have, it just seems like you would be paying a heck of a lot for not a lot of content.
Stages SC1 Comparison!
This is where I search the market, compare the SC1, and let you know if there are better options for the price. For 2020, I believe this indoor bike is a good value if power efficiency is an important factor for you.
Unlike any other indoor cycling bike in its price class that comes with flat Poly-V belts, the Stages SC1 is equipped with a “toothed/timing” belt. Its Gates Carbon Drive leads to 100% power transfer so all your efforts get delivered, even at the highest resistance levels without jerky slippage.
But, if 100% power transfer is not a factor for you, I suggest you look at the Schwinn IC4. It comes with Bluetooth monitor, SPD pedals, and many more features for half SC1’s price. And if you are interested to know which Stages cycle is for you, read our Stages indoor bikes comparison.
SC1 Technical Information:
- EcoSCRN Console
- Pedals and Q-factor
- Stages SC1 flywheel
- SC1 bike resistance
- Drive system & gear ratio
- Handlebars and seat
- SC1 price and warranty
- Shipping and assembly
- Stages SC1 Indoor Cycle pros
- Stages SC1 Indoor Cycle cons
- Width: 20.1”
- Length: 39”
- Bike Length: 114 lbs
- Max User Weight: 350 lbs
- Rider Fit Range: 4’10” to 6’10”
- (Optional) Dumbbell holder
- (Optional) EcoSCRN Console
- (Optional) Power Meter
- (Optional) Media Shelf
- (Optional) Bike Number Plates
- (Optional) Aerobar
As with the other bikes in the SC series, the Stages SC1 has a very slick design. The steel blue finish on top of a stainless steel frame. It is made out to be a simpler, stable bike that those who are just beginning to get into cycling would want to look into buying. The stability feature of the bike is most certainly the prominent one.
Another feature of the Stages SC1 is the Stages RoadBar handlebars. These are comfortable bars, but they do not do much else besides provide a place to set the arms. If one desires to get the media shelf or console, they will at least have something else up next to the handlebars.
In terms of the other optional features, they can be taken a couple of ways. In terms of functionality, the EcoSCRN console is probably the only one that we would consider necessary to actually use the Stages SC1 to its maximum potential. Otherwise they are just a collection of little accessories, decorations, or other minor pieces that really don’t make an overall difference. Unless you truly don’t have anywhere else to place your dumbbells, it is safe to say that they are skippable features.
- Although the Stages SC1 doesn’t come with any console or power meter, it is compatible with Stages EcoSCRN Console and Stages Power meter (sold separately).
- Stages SC1 power meter (sold separately) tracks direct watt/power output which result in superior accuracy.
- The EcoSCRN console on the Stages SC1 is battery operated
- The console displays the Max, Average and Ride totals for all statistics
- The console displays the following statistics: Kilojoules (work), Kcal (calories), Watts, RPM, Speed, Heart Rate (if wearing a strap), Time, and Distance
- The STAGE button allows for up to 99 sections of time (laps). Data does not start to record or average during the warm up stage (so total ride data is not skewed with poor warm up data).
- EcoSCRN Console and Power meter are Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible which means if you buy them, you can connect your bike with most cycling apps including Zwift.
We feel that the Stages SC1 EcoSCRN console, while optional, is important enough to have its own section. After all, this is the only way to make sure that the SC1 actually has the ability to track the statistics of your workout.
It isn’t a great look for Stages that this piece of equipment that we would consider almost essential for modern spin bikes to be optional and increase the price of the bike by $700. After all, if the cyclist wants to keep track of their workout stats and put it into some sort of tracking app, they are going to need some way to actually get the appropriate numbers. It feels quite similar to video games who drop downloadable content (DLC) on the day of release. Why is this content separate? Why not just include it in the base package?
If you want the data from the EconSCRN itself without having to copy it all down after the workout, it does have the ability to transfer that data via a USB. This is mildly convenient, as it doesn’t mean that you actively have to write down all the numbers. Additionally, the Power meter and the EcoSCRN have the latest Bluetooth or ANT+ protocol so that you can connect the bike with your device/s (phone, tablet, etc) and connect to most cycling apps for data tracking or online competitions.
Although, the EcoSCRN console doesn’t look all that futuristic. You see consoles on some other spin bikes and they look straight out of Star Trek or Black Mirror. This one looks like it could fit in with 2005 computers. Fortunately, it does a better job of actually working than it does looking.
To start, it will ignore the warm-up when deciding on how to display the final workout statistics. This makes it much more convenient for the user because they won’t have to spend time trying to calculate what sort of impact the warm-up had on their total workout statistics. It is compatible with a chest strap for those who want to track that statistic, which is a definite plus. The fact that it has the Max, Average and Ride totals for all of the statistics that it does track is a nice little feature that you won’t find on too many lower-tier bikes.
It also does the job of tracking all of the necessary statistics like Watt, RPM, speed, time and distance while adding in some nice new ones like the kilojoules. Overall, the EcoSCRN console does what it is supposed to, though it should still probably be part of the package by default.
Q-Factor and Pedals:
- The Stages SC1 pedals are SPD-compatible and have toe cages.
- The Q-Factor of the SC1 is 169 mm.
The Stages SC1 has a Q-Factor of 169 mm, which is good, though not quite as comfortable and efficient as the SC2 and SC3. It still does a good job of being ergonomically designed and feels pretty similar to a real bike while you ride.
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. Fortunately the SC1 does not have too much distance even if it is larger than some of the others.
In terms of the pedals, they are SPD compatible. This means that they can be used with both regular shoes and SPD cleats. These are usually for people who really want to take their cycling to the next level or are advanced cyclists. It does seem like an odd mix to have this compatibility with a bike that is generally meant for simple and beginner use, but it isn’t an unwelcome feature.
- The SC1 spin bike has a 23 kg flywheel.
- The flywheel is described as being “high inertia, cast iron perimeter weighted.”
- The SC1 flywheel is fixed.
One of the most notable aspects of the Stages SC1 flywheel is that it has a fixed flywheel. What this means is that the pedals and the flywheel don’t turn independently. They are connected to one another, turning and stopping at the same time. To actually remove your feet from the pedals safely, you will have to wait until the flywheel stops. This means that you can’t take your feet off of the pedals to take a breather like you would on a regular bike or some other indoor cycles. If you get cramps or there is some sort of emergency, you can’t jump off of the bike until the flywheel stops turning.
On the other hand, this does mean that you constantly have to pedal without stopping. That means more effective workout sessions for the user. You can also pedal in reverse with resistance, working out different leg muscles than you normally would. So there are certainly good and bad aspects of this design choice. Depending on how you like your workouts to go, you may really want to take this aspect of the SC1 into account when deciding on a purchase.
The flywheel on the Stages SC1 is at the front of the bike. This does mean that it is more vulnerable to sweat drops that will be raining down during the more intense workouts. Or maybe even the less intense ones if you sweat easily. Despite this vulnerability, the flywheel is surprisingly resistant to that potential sweat corrosion. Just the occasional wipe with a wet rag should be all the required maintenance for the flywheel.
The cast iron perimeter of the flywheel also means that it is rather resistant to damage from other factors. Bumping into other objects at home won’t make a large impact on the performance of the wheel. We still don’t recommend using it as a battering ram or anything like that, but it should still hold up under general circumstances.
Stages SC1 Resistance:
- The SC1 features a manually adjustable magnetic resistance system.
- This means that it cannot be controlled with wireless third party (or any) fitness apps.
- It has a standard Magnetic Eddy current with a micro-adjust resistance dial
- It does not have a set amount of resistance levels listed.
- There is an emergency push-to-stop for those who might run into an issue while riding.
The Stages SC1 is different to the other bikes in the SC series because it does not feature the unique SprintShift system. Instead, it has a much more standard knob that will adjust the resistance up or down. However, there are still no traditional resistance levels.
The problem with this lack of the SC signature resistance system and the lack of a fully traditional resistance system with resistance levels is that it leaves the Stages SC1 in a bit of a limbo. It isn’t quite as fluid at adjusting the SprintShift system, but it also isn’t as straightforward as the traditional levelled resistance system.
You can still do some solid interval training on the SC1 because of the inherent design of the bike, but it just isn’t quite as natural as it would feel on either the SC2 or SC3.
The Stages SC1 does not have the ability to automatically change resistance levels. Although the optional EcoSCRN console and power meter are capable of syncing with Zwift and other spinning apps, this bike can’t change the resistance based on whatever terrain it is simulating because it’s not electromagnetic resistance (it’s equipped with knob manual resistance).
Handlebars and Seat:
- The Stages SC1 features the Stages RoadBar handlebars in order to accommodate all sorts of hand positions.
- The SC1 has a unisex seat to appeal to all people.
- The SC1’s seat has a StagesFit adjustment with standard pop-pin height & patented fore-aft adjustment.
- There is an optional media shelf available for purchase.
The handlebars and seat aren’t anything exceptional on the Stages SC1. As with just about everything about the bike, they are stable and comfortable, but they won’t blow you out of the water with their fantastic abilities or technological achievement. The material used on the handlebars themselves is described as “comfort coated” aluminum. Clearly they feel like being quite specific about what it is made from. To be fair, they are not wrong. They are comfortable handlebars.
The StagesFit adjustment with the pop-pin height and fore/aft adjustment isn’t anything to really get too excited about either. Unlike the FitLoc systems on the SC2 and SC3, this system works like a normal adjustment system that you could find on any other indoor cycle that allows for such adjustment. That’s a shame, really, because the FitLoc system was quite a benefit for those who frequently adjusted their seat or had multiple users who did so.
Drivetrain and Gear Ratio:
- The Stages SC1 drivetrain gear ratio is 5:1.
- The SC1 has carbon fiber belt (Gates Carbon Drive) resulting superior power transfer
Again, the drivetrain and gear ratio on this bike doesn’t offer any surprises. The Gates® Carbon Drive™ Carbon Fiber Belt does a good job allowing the bike to run intense workouts while making sure that the machine doesn’t get too loud.
It is most certainly better than those with low-quality chains or leather belts. The carbon fiber belt also does a good job of resisting any sweat that might land on it. But more importantly, this toothed belt ensure 100% power transfer. So, no effort will be lost.
The gear ratio is 5:1. 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 SC1 Bike Price and Warranty:
- The Stages SC1 spin bike is listed at a retail cost of $1,700
- The optional console and power meter would raise that price by about $700.
- The SC1’s warranty includes:
- 10 years on the frame
- 10 years on the carbon fibre belt
- 3 years on the mechanical system
- 1 year for both the labour and electronics
- 6 months for the wear items
The Stages SC1 is part of the SC series, which by default raises its cost. That price becomes even heavier when one adds on the console and the power meter. Of course, that’s even without all of the other optional bits that you could order and attach to the bike.
The features that the SC1 comes with are somewhat lacklustre in comparison to other bikes in its price range. The fact that it lacks some of the most key factors (like a technologically advanced console that could connect to fitness apps), the value of the bike is most certainly up for discussion.
Probably the best part of the SC series are the warranties that come with the bikes. The Stages SC1 is certainly no exception. If you do decide to drop the money on this spin bike, it will last you for some time. Even if it doesn’t physically, the warranties will make sure that you will at least get a replacement.
The question that a potential buyer looking at this spin bike needs to ask themselves is this: is the SC1 enough? It is questionable. Considering how many features that one expects of modern spin bikes are missing or optional here, it really does put the value of the SC1 into question. If you are determined to get a Stages spin bike in the SC series, it might be worth investigating either the SC2 or SC3 simply because they each come with more notable features.
Assembly and Shipping:
- Shipped in a single box, so there is limited setup required.
- Should take about 1-2 weeks to arrive normally, though there are a variety of factors that could affect that.
- The Stages SC2 can be acquired through both online sellers and from the company directly.
If the optional console and power meter are bought, there might be slightly more installation as you attach the devices to the bike, but that process doesn’t take particularly long.
The shipping process can vary depending on a host of factors. It could just take a while for the company to get one to your location. Or there might be a global pandemic that shuts down the sale and production and distribution of all sorts of exercise equipment. It simply depends on the set of circumstances.
Stages SC1 Cycle Pros:
Gates Carbon Drive & Carbon Fiber Belt:
We absolutely love this feature of Stages SC1 indoor cycling bike. There is no other spin bike on the market in this price tag that comes with this drive system (at least not in 2020). SC1’s drive mechanism makes sure your efforts are not lost and every watt you put on the pedals gets to the flywheel without unpleasant jerky slippage.
The Stages SC1 is certainly well designed. Even during the most intense workouts, the spin bike will hold up well and keep the workout nice and productive. Because of the combination of magnetic resistance and carbon fiber belt, the workouts on the SC1 go really well for the user.
Again, thanks to the design choices of the SC1, it really turns out to be a comfortable bike. The adjustment feature on the seat means that it can fit a wide range of people’s heights. The seat on the SC1 is unisex. While this means that it can be rough or uncomfortable for both sexes sometimes, that is most certainly not the case here.
There will be very little to worry about with the Stages SC1 in terms of upkeep. The design of everything from the flywheel to the frame means that it is resistant to sweat and general degradation. Even when a piece of the spin bike might break or stop working (which is highly unlikely), the warranties that come with the SC1 should promptly fix that issue.
Stages SC1 Cycle Cons:
The technology on the Stages SC1 disappoints. The fact that you need to pay more to simply acquire any sort of technological capabilities is a really big strike against this spin bike. Even once you have the EcoSCRN console, it doesn’t do anything extraordinary that cannot be found on other bikes.
The Limited Features:
On the Stages SC1 bike website page, the only highlighted features that come with the bike are the Gates® Carbon Drive™ Carbon Fiber Belt and the Fore/Aft adjustment capability. Do those sound like features that should be the only two highlights of a bike? It just seems like there should be more to this bike for the price.
The biggest problem with the SC1 is the value for the money. There just doesn’t seem to be enough here to justify the price tag of $1,700. Especially not with the $700 boost if you even want the console and power meter. However, as we said before if efficient power transfer is a factor for you, the Stages SC1 spin bike worths every penny.
Last Word on the Stages SC1 Cycle
As you might have guessed by now, the biggest issue with the Stages SC1 indoor cycling bike is the value for money. It is a very fine spin bike that would be perfectly acceptable if it was priced at a much lower rate akin to other spin bikes that had a similar amount of features. However, because it is so much more expensive and has so much less for the cyclist to actually use, that throws everything out of balance.
The design of the SC1 is very good. It gives a solid ride to whoever hops on and will continue to give that ride for a long time. The comfortability of the bike is also at a much higher level than many other bikes, despite that seeming to not be a highlighted feature of the SC1.
Another key factor of how much someone would enjoy this bike is to examine how much they would enjoy the fixed wheel system. If you are used to the more traditional system where you can freely remove your feet and take a break, it might take some adjustment to actually get used to the way that this bike works. Ultimately it might seem too weird for some.
It might seem like we are being overly harsh on the Stages SC1. It is a good indoor bike that we just feel doesn’t offer enough for the price that it is listed for. If it were cheaper, then it would be a great recommendation.
Stages has a tendency to produce very good bikes. The SC1 would fit into that category if the price were lower. It is well designed, well built and can be well used for all sorts of different cycling workouts. The question that potential buyers should be asking themselves is whether or not they are willing to drop the $1,700 (or $2,200) price on a bike that may not fulfill all of their needs or wants. If you decide that this bike would match perfectly for what you want, then by all means go ahead and make the purchase. We just feel that there are better options out there for a similar price.