Bad Designs and Good People.

Last night I was working on the Storck during the 15 minutes the wife allows me each week for bike maintenance. My bikes are starting to fall apart, although probably not as quickly as they would if I actually turned a wrench on them.
When I got to installing the crankset, I decided to use my Quarq S975 power meter. Over the years I've abused it horribly. It's seen countless soaking wet rides, and was even submerged when I rode through a flooded bike path tunnel. Seeing the Garmin mounted to the handlebar stem under a couple inches of water while you chug along slowly is quite the experience. Through all of that, that S975 never had a significant problem that a new battery didn't fix. Since the Storck will not likely live a life of relative comfort, the S975 seemed like the obvious choice.
I tightened down the crank arm bolt to the specified torque setting of "real tight plus one grunt", then prepared to install the chain. The only problem was that the crank wouldn't turn, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of that particular component. The S975 spider was bound tightly to the bottom bracket shell, which meant that this particular option wasn't going to work.
Just when I think I've got it beat, the Storck kicks me in the lady parts again.
Off came the S975, and I installed a basic SRAM Force crankset, which fit perfectly. Now the options are to try my Quarq RIKEN power meter, which may fit, or my Stages power meter, which is guaranteed to fit.
The problem with the Stages? It died the first time it saw rain. Drying the interior out, a hardware reset, and a new battery fixed the problem, but the experience did little to instill confidence. This is ironic, because I originally purchased it for cyclocross, a discipline that celebrates rain and mud.
Since I occasionally peruse the interwebs for bike-related stuff, I vaguely was aware of a replacement battery cap that was supposed to fix the issue. A call to Stages confirmed that this was actually the case, and that they would be sending not one, but two caps to me free of charge. They also asked that I send them pictures of the unit so they could make sure there were no other issues causing the problem, and pictures of me in a Borat mankini for their customer database. OK, I made the last part up, but I forwarded that picture anyway just to be safe. I'm sure the very nice customer service representative I talked to will be thankful I went the extra mile.
I hope the caps will fix the issue. I do appreciate that Stages recognized the deficiency and worked to fix it for their existing customers- at no charge. They're constantly tweaking their firmware to improve reliability and accuracy, and I respect them for it. They stand behind their product, but not so much that they can't recognize what needs to be addressed.
My A-B comparisons of the Stages (with current firmware installed) against my Quarqs have shown that for most of my applications, the Stages will do the job. It's not a perfect match, especially on shorter, more intense efforts, but certainly within the ballpark. That would save my more expensive Quarqs from the abuse I've heaped on them in the past- hopefully prolonging their lives. Power meters aren't cheap.
If I'm lucky, my wife will double my wrenching allotment this week so I can finish the Storck, and I can actually ride the hunk of aluminum that has caused me all of this mental anguish.
That would be neat.


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