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Understanding E-Bike Sensors: Torque vs. Cadence

When shopping for an e-bike, one of the key features to consider is the type of sensor it uses to assist you while pedaling. The two most common types are torque sensors and cadence sensors, each offering a unique riding experience. Let's dive into the differences between these sensors to help you choose the e-bike that best fits your needs.

What is a Cadence Sensor?

A cadence sensor works by detecting if you are pedaling and then prompting the motor to provide assistance. It’s a simple, effective system that has been used in many entry-level e-bikes. The sensor measures the rate at which the cranks are turning and typically provides assistance based on preset levels selected by the rider.

Pros of Cadence Sensors:

  • Simplicity: Easy to manufacture and integrate, making these e-bikes generally less expensive.
  • Consistent Assistance: Provides a steady level of power regardless of how hard you pedal, which can be great for casual rides.

Cons of Cadence Sensors:

  • Less Natural Riding Feel: Since assistance isn’t related to pedaling force, it can sometimes feel like the bike is running away with you, especially at lower speeds.
  • Inefficient Power Use: May lead to quicker battery drain as the motor provides constant power based on pedal movement, not pedal force.

What is a Torque Sensor?

Torque sensors, on the other hand, adjust the motor’s output based on how hard you are pedaling. This creates a more intuitive and responsive riding experience, as the bike works in tandem with your efforts. The sensor measures the actual force you apply to the pedals, scaling the motor’s assistance in real-time to match your pedaling.

Pros of Torque Sensors:

  • Natural Riding Feel: Mimics the feel of riding a non-electric bike by closely matching your pedaling effort.
  • Efficient Use of Power: Helps conserve battery life as it provides assistance proportional to the rider's input, which is particularly useful on varied terrains.

Cons of Torque Sensors:

  • Higher Cost: More complex to manufacture and integrate, often resulting in a higher price point for the e-bike.
  • Learning Curve: Some riders may need time to adjust to how the assistance is applied, as it can vary significantly with pedal force.

A picture makes it easier for you to understand the difference between the two sensors.

Torque sensor vs. Cadence sensor

Which Should You Choose?

The choice between a torque sensor and a cadence sensor depends largely on your riding style and preferences:

  • Go for a Cadence Sensor if: You prefer a simple, budget-friendly option and enjoy consistent assistance without the need to pedal hard. This might be suitable for leisurely rides around the neighborhood or on flat terrains.

  • Opt for a Torque Sensor if: You want a more natural ride that mimics traditional cycling, which is great for those who use their bike for commuting or on varied terrains. It's also ideal if you want to maximize the efficiency of your e-bike’s battery.


Both sensors offer distinct advantages, and understanding these can greatly affect your satisfaction with an e-bike. Cadence sensors might be perfect for casual riders who value simplicity and cost-effectiveness, while torque sensors could be the better choice for enthusiasts and commuters looking for a more dynamic and responsive riding experience. When choosing your next e-bike, consider what kind of rider you are and what you need most from your pedal-assist technology.