Stages SC3 Indoor Cycling Bike Review
Stages SC3 Overview
The Stages SC3 is a commercial quality spin bike. That means that it is high-quality and incredibly durable no matter how much you decide to use it. You can tell just by looking at it that this is a performance-orientated spin bike that wants to help you spin fast. During this Stages SC3 review, we will dive into more detail about the features that make this an excellent spin bike.
The SC3 is the top of the Stages spin bike range. Thanks to a few added features, we think it is worth the little extra investment if you are serious about getting fit. It comes with a generous 15-year warranty on the frame (10 years on the CarbonGlyde Carbon Fiber Belt and 3 years on the mechanical systems). Bearing in mind you often see the Stages SC3 indoor bike in gyms, and spin studios, the warranty’s length is testament to its high-quality build.
The EcoSCRN Console on the Stages IC3 exercise bike may look basic, but it is anything but. It is one of the key features that sets this model apart from the more affordable exercise bikes in the Stages range. The EcoSCRN Console is easy to read and navigate and is 100% self-powered, meaning no battery changes or power cables are required.
The stats it shows allows you to maximize the training effect of every workout. It shows Kilojoules (work), Calories, Watts, RPM, Speed, Heart Rate (if connected to an HR strap), Time, and Distance. Using the super-easy buttons on the bottom, you can also switch between max, average, and ride totals. The built-in Stages Power Meter gives you direct and accurate watt readings, meaning you can use it to calculate your FTP (Function Threshold Power) and start testing your fitness using power zone training.
As you would expect for a spin bike in this price range, the Stages SC3 spin bike comes with Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity. However, what sets this exercise bike apart from the competition is the fact that Stages has not signed up to a sole app or fitness studio.
That means that you can sync your training data directly to your favorite 3rd party training app. Combine that with the built-in power meter and RPM readings, and you can have some real fun on group rides knowing that your avatar is moving thanks to your hard work.
The ANT+ is easy to connect to, and once your Heart Rate strap is connected, there are no issues with it dropping connection mid-ride. If you do not want to sync the Stages SC3 with your phone/tablet or laptop, you can opt to download your ride data straight onto a USB stick. This is an excellent feature if you want to track your workouts without committing to a single fitness tracking app.
As we said before, the Stages SC3 is self-powered. So to engage the powerful EcoSCRN Consol, all you need to do is start pedaling. It does not take many rotations for the screen to power up and your devices to pick up that the bike is alive and ready to go.
The Stages Power Meter is not unfortunately connected to the same generator as the screen and needs 2 AA batteries to provide your watt readings. That being said, the power meter does not use up much juice, and the batteries can last for 2,000+ hours without needing replacing.
The magnetic resistance system on the Stages SC3 is smooth and has a wide range. Interestingly it does not have a fixed amount of gears and settings. The manually adjusted resistance knob is easy to reach, and you can see what level of resistance you are in from the +/- signs, but there is no specific number. An important thing to reiterate the resistance is 100% manual, which means that you cannot use apps such as Zwift to take control and simulate inclines, etc, on the virtual terrain you are riding.
One really nice feature of the Stages SC3 indoor cycling bike is the dual gear system. In addition to the traditional twisty knob, it also comes with a lever. This lever drops or increases the resistance more than the twist of the knob. This is excellent for spin classes when the instructor wants you to simulate a climb or rapidly increase your cadence.
The transmission belt on the Stages SC3 has been crafted for serious cyclists that want to know all the power they are putting into the pedals is being transferred instantly to the flywheel and generating resistance. The toothed carbon fiber belt is hard-wearing and near-silent.
No noisy chain to worry about or any unnecessary maintenance. The transmission belt is also robust thanks to the carbon fiber compound, so you do not have to worry about it snapping under the strain of your huge thigh muscles after the years of training on the Stages SC3.
The 44 lbs flywheel that comes with the Stages SC3 exercise bikes provides an exceptionally smooth riding experience. Thanks to the heavyweight, superior build construction and high-quality carbon drivetrain, you get instant momentum as soon as you put your feet down on the pedals. The flywheel is not covered and is at the front of the bike. Frustratingly, this leaves it exposed to the buckets of sweat that will inevitably drop from your forehead during your workout. Also, it may not be the best option if you have any small children running around the home as it is uncovered.
As with all the spin bikes on the market, the flywheel and drivetrain system do not allow you to coast. When the flywheel is moving, you have no option but to keep pedaling. Obviously, it does come with an emergency stop button (but that is for emergencies, not just because you feel tired).
The Q-factor on the Stages SC3 is just 158mm. The Q-factor represents the crank arm’s distance, where the pedals are, to the bike frame. The larger the Q-factor, the further away your feet are to the bike while you are pedaling. Although some may find that more comfortable for most people and body shapes, it is better to have a narrower Q-factor below 160mm. This level of Q-factor ensures alignment of your hips and leg joints, reducing the risk of injury or inflammation due to your joints being literally bent out of shape. This 158mm Q-factor is similar to the distance you will find on traditional road bikes.
Pedals and Cranks
On a performance-orientated spin bike like the Stage SC3, you should be looking to ride it while wearing cleats. It comes with Dual-sided SPD & toe Cage pedals. You have the option to clip in with regular shoes if you have not invested in SPD compatible indoor cycling shoes. The plastic toe clips are easily removed with a small spanner if you find that the plastic cage ends up getting in the way during your spin sessions.
Specifications and Adjustability
Thanks to its sturdy construction and high-quality aluminum frame, the Stages SC3 has a generous max riding weight of 350 lbs. Thanks to both the handlebars and seat being 4 ways adjustable, it can accommodate a wide range of rider heights (4’10″ – 6’10”). The system to adjust both the handlebars and seat is super intuitive and safe. Also, it has clear numbers along with the frame/seat post, so it is super easy to find the perfect position once again, even if you have to share the Stages SC3 indoor cycle bike with someone else in your house.
As you can tell from looking at it, the riding style is supposed to be aggressive, which means you are hunched over slightly (as if you were riding a road bike). This riding position is not comfortable for everyone. However, once you get used to the slim seat, indoor cycling can be great fun when you are changing your hand positions, which is easily done on the road bike like dropped handlebars on the Stages SC3 spin bike.
This is a race-ready performance-orientated spin bike. Designed to be simple but effective at taking your indoor cycling training to the next level. The additional accessories on the Stages SC3 exercise bike are limited to two easy-to-reach bottle holders. They are conveniently placed just under the handlebars at an angle. This means that no matter how knackered you are, it is super easy to pick up and replace your water bottles. They could also double up as dumbbell holders, but this is not what they were designed for.
Stages SC3 Indoor Bike Pros:
- A performance-oriented commercial quality spin bike designed to help you go fast
- Super comfortable riding position thanks to the road bike like dropped handlebars and 4 -way adjustable seat and handlebars
- The EcoSCRN Console is simple but shows you all the training data you need to take your fitness to the next level
- Very accurate direct measured Stage Power Meter
- High-quality and near-silent Carbon fiber belt and teethed drivetrain system
- Narrow Q-factor simulating riding a road bike and improving pedaling efficiency, especially when wearing SPD pedals
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity that is not restricted to one app
Stages SC3 Indoor Bike Cons:
- For some, the 2 stage resistance system is the best thing since spin classes were invented. However, there is no denying that it is a bit awkward to get head around at first
- The aggressive riding position is not for everyone. The Stages SC3 is probably only worth the investment if you are used to riding a road bike and looking for a serious training aid.
- Although the EcoSCRN console gives you all your fitness data, it is a bit basic. It would have been nice to have a tablet holder built in to distract from the dull display of numbers.
The Final Verdict
This Stages SC3 review has taken into account all the main features we expect from an exercise bike. There is no denying that this is an incredibly well-thought-out and put-together indoor cycling machine. The commercial quality build and instant power transfer your get from the drivetrain, and magnetic resistance flywheel is an absolute joy to ride. If you are looking for a serious spin bike that can connect to your favorite 3rd party cycling app or virtual studio, this is worth the investment.
However, unless you are used to riding a road bike or are looking to take your training very seriously, this piece of kit may be an extravagance that does not have all the shiny bells and whistles of the more “all-around” exercise bikes on offer at the same kind of price.
Stages SC3 Spin Bike Rating
- Q-Factor: 158mm
- Pedals: Dual-sided SPD & toe Cage
- Flywheel: 44 lbs (20kg)
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Transmission: Carbon fiber belt
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Height capacity: 4’10″ – 6’10”
- Bike weight: 96 lbs
- Bike dimension: 24.5″W x 40.2″H x 43.5″L
- Monitor: Backlit (conserves energy by not being on all the time)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
- Applications: All major 3rd party Cycling Apps
- RPM tracking: Yes
- Speed tracking: Yes
- Watt tracking: Direct