What is the Difference Between a Cadence Sensor and a Torque Sensor on an Electric Bike?

What is the Difference Between a Cadence Sensor and a Torque Sensor on an Electric Bike?

Cadence or torque sensors tell an electric bike’s pedal-assist system (PAS) when to engage the motor and propel the e-bike forward. Although just about any combination of a cadence sensor, a torque sensor, or both will work, each sensor type can have an impact on an electric bike’s performance and ride. An electric bike with Pedal Assist Sensors automatically turns on the motor when you pedal. With pedal assist, you do not need to use a throttle to control the motor.

There are two basic types of Pedal Sensors: CADENCE which measures if you are pedaling and TORQUE which measures how hard you are pedaling. And what is the difference between a cadence sensor and a torque sensor on an electric bike? A common response in the bicycle manufacturing industry is that a cadence sensor determines if you are pedaling while a torque sensor measures how hard you are pedaling.


Cadence Sensors

Cadence sensors measure whether or not you are pedaling. Riding a bike with a cadence sensor based pedal assist feels like using cruise control. The software is programmed to maintain a certain speed for each level of pedal assist regardless of how hard you are pedaling or other factors such as wind and terrain.

This gives you complete freedom to choose how hard you want to pedal at any given moment without impacting your speed. It’s also great for riding in a pair or larger group and keeping everyone together. Most basic e-bikes offer a cadence pedal sensor. The advantage of this sensor is that it's an inexpensive way to get some sort of pedal assist onto the bike, but the disadvantage is that the pedal assistance can feel jerky, laggy, and counterintuitive. Also if you want to pedal faster than the motor is spinning, the motor will actively work against your efforts.


Torque Sensors (Advanced)

The torque sensor is a totally different technology that uses a precision strain gauge. It measures your actual force on the pedal, sampling at 1,000 times per second over the entire pedal stroke. A torque sensor measures how hard the rider is pedaling to determine how much electric power to push to the bike. The harder you pedal, the more power it gives to the motor. If you pedal lighter, less power goes to the motor. It makes this adjustment in real time so it is technically amplifying your every input and makes the rider feel bionic! Many higher-end e-bikes use torque sensors and in some countries, cadence-only sensors are not allowed to be sold. The disadvantage is the cost is significantly higher to implement this technology as the precision component is relatively more expensive. HOVSCO A5 Mountain Cruiser is using this torque sensor!


Most of the time you won’t have to choose between a cadence and torque sensor when selecting the best electric bike for your needs. This is because lots of newer electric bikes come with both cadence and torque sensors installed.

A pedal-assist system that utilizes both cadence and torque sensors will facilitate a more intuitive and almost effortless riding experience.

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