Electric Bike Cadence Sensor vs Torque Sensor: A Deep Dive

Electric Bike Cadence Sensor Vs Torque Sensor Featured Image

Navigating the eBike world brings you face to face with an intriguing match-up: electric bike cadence sensor vs torque sensor. Unique in their rights, choosing becomes a challenge. But, how do you choose between the two?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this comparison article, you’ll get an in-depth comparison between cadence and torque sensors to help you decide which one is the best fit for your electric bike. We’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as provide a final take on deciphering the eBike world of cadence vs torque sensors.

Key Takeaways

  • Ebikes use pedal assist sensors to control the motor without a throttle.
  • There are two types of pedal assist sensors: cadence and torque sensors.
  • Cadence sensors work like an on/off switch, turning the motor on when you start pedaling and off when you stop.
  • Torque sensors measure pedaling force using a strain gauge and adjust motor power accordingly.

Diving into eBike Sensors: Cadence and Torque

You might be familiar with electric bikes, but do you know how they work? An electric bike relies on two types of sensors to control the motor: the cadence sensor and the torque sensor.

A cadence sensor measures whether you are pedaling or not, while a torque sensor measures the amount of force you are applying to the pedals.

The key difference between these two sensors is how they measure and deliver power to the motor. Cadence sensors deliver power as soon as you start pedaling, while torque sensors require you to apply force to the pedal before the motor engages.

Unveiling the Cadence Sensor

A cadence sensor works like an on/off switch, turning the motor on when you start pedaling and off when you stop. It consists of a sensor and magnets attached to the crank and frame, with the number of magnets affecting the system’s responsiveness; for example, more magnets result in a more responsive system.

Pedal assist levels can be manually adjusted, and it requires spinning the cranks to engage. Cadence sensors are cheaper and easier to use than torque sensors, but offer less range and less intuitive control.

Exploring the Torque Sensor

Experience the ultimate connectedness to your ride with a torque sensor—the perfect blend of power and responsiveness. A torque sensor measures pedaling force, using a strain gauge, to adjust the motor’s power accordingly. It amplifies pedal input based on force applied, providing a smoother and more natural riding experience. It also offers adjustable power delivery, allowing for precise control of the motor. Compared to cadence sensors, torque sensors are more expensive and require more effort to ride—constant pedaling force is needed to keep the motor engaged. But it pays off with better handling, increased range, and an overall more dynamic ride.

Torque SensorCadence Sensor
Power DeliveryVariableConstant

The Key Difference Between Electric Bike Cadence Sensor vs Torque Sensor

The fundamental difference between cadence and torque sensors: a torque sensor amplifies your pedaling force, whereas a cadence sensor essentially works on an on-off principle.

Picture a cadence sensor as a behind-the-scenes conductor of your eBike ride. It detects pedal movement and responds by activating the motor. It takes just a few degrees of pedal rotation to trigger the pedal assist, keeping the motor engaged as you continue pedaling.

Whilst a torque sensor offers a more nuanced response to your pedaling efforts. It calibrates the motor power based on the force you exert on the pedals, offering a more integrated and intuitive ride experience. Consequently, maintaining a constant speed requires constant pedal effort.

Though harder to activate, necessitating forceful pedaling, and typically costlier, torque sensors offer a smoother power delivery. This sense of natural, intuitive control, along with superior range and handling, makes eBikes with torque sensors the go-to choice for seasoned riders.

Here are the key differences between cadence and torque sensors:

  • Measurement: Cadence sensors measure if you are pedaling, while torque sensors measure how hard.
  • Power Delivery: Cadence sensor power delivery is constant, while torque sensor power delivery varies with the force applied.
  • User Experience: Cadence sensors are cheaper and easier to activate, while torque sensors offer a more natural feel.
  • Range per Charge: Cadence sensors have less range per charge, while torque sensors offer up to 10 miles more per charge.
ebike riding through pier

Weighing the Pros and Cons: eBike Cadence Sensors vs Torque Sensors

Pedal Assist Cadence Sensors are cheaper and easier to use, but require more effort to reach higher speeds and less power to sustain them.

On the other hand, Pedal Assist Torque Sensors amplify rider’s efforts for a more natural and intuitive connection, but are more expensive and require more effort from riders.

Pros and Cons of Pedal Assist Cadence Sensors

We organize a detailed list of the pros and cons of ebikes with a cadence sensor. 

Advantages of Cadence Sensors: Ease of Use and Consistent Power

  • Ease of Use: Cadence sensors make pedaling easy and maintain consistent power output, ideal for casual riders.
  • Consistent Power Output: The cadence sensor measures the crank speed and adjusts the motor power, ensuring smooth, consistent propulsion.
  • Cost and Installation: Cadence sensors are generally cheaper and easier to install, a reason they are popular in low-end to mid-range eBikes.
  • Effortless Riding: Because cadence sensors require less effort compared to torque sensors, they are the preferred choice for those seeking a more relaxed ride.
  • Ideal for Casual Riders: With their simplicity and ease, cadence sensors are perfect for casual or recreational riders who prefer a relaxed biking experience.

Disadvantages of Cadence Sensors: Less Intuitive, Less Range

  • Lack of Intuitive Feel: Unlike torque sensors, cadence sensors may not deliver a natural riding experience as the motor only engages when pedaling.
  • Less Smooth Riding: Cadence sensors could make it harder to maintain a constant speed, resulting in less control over the ride.
  • Ride Quality: Torque sensors offer a more connected ride quality, making the power delivery feel more seamless with the rider’s pedaling.
  • Range Limitations: Torque sensors can extend an eBike’s range by 5-10 miles per charge compared to cadence sensors due to more efficient power usage.
  • Responsiveness: Cadence sensors don’t respond as quickly to changes in pedaling, reducing control over the bike’s acceleration and deceleration.
  • Handling: Compared to torque sensors, cadence sensors offer less precise steering and control, making it harder to navigate corners and obstacles.
ebikes fat tires parked

Pros and Cons of Pedal Assist Torque Sensors

We organize a detailed list of the pros and cons of ebikes with torque sensors. 

Advantages of Torque Sensor Electric Bikes: Natural Riding Style and Longer Range

  • Natural Riding Experience: Ebike with a torque sensor provides a more intuitive and connected riding style, mimicking the feeling of a conventional bike.
  • Extended Range: Torque sensors can increase the eBike’s range by 5-10 miles per charge due to optimized power delivery based on the rider’s pedaling force.
  • Smooth Power Delivery: By adjusting motor assistance according to the force applied to the pedals, torque sensors ensure a smoother power output.
  • Improved Handling: The precise response of torque sensors to pedaling input allows for better control over the eBike, enhancing handling and precision.

Disadvantages of a Torque Sensor Electric Bike: More Pedaling Resistance and Effort

  • More Pedaling Resistance: Torque sensors can result in increased pedaling resistance, requiring more effort from the rider to maintain higher speeds.
  • Increased Effort: Maintaining a consistent speed or torque with a torque sensor requires more physical exertion as the system amplifies the rider’s input.
  • Less Suitable for Casual Rides: If you’re looking for a relaxed, effortless ride, a torque sensor might not be your best choice due to the greater pedaling effort required.

Cadence Sensor vs Torque Sensor: A Detailed Comparison

Ride quality, cost, responsiveness, and legal aspects are all factors to consider when comparing ebike with torque and cadence sensors.

From ride quality to cost considerations, responsiveness, and handling, to legal aspects and safety, we will explore all aspects of torque and cadence sensors on eBikes.

Ride Quality: eBike with Torque vs eBike with Cadence Sensors

Comparing eBikes with torque and cadence sensors, you’ll feel the difference in ride quality right away. Torque sensors amplify your effort for a more natural and enjoyable ride. With a torque sensor eBike, you’ll experience smoother acceleration, better handling, and more precise steering.

They also require more effort, as continuous pedaling force is needed to keep the motor engaged. On the other hand, cadence sensors are easier to engage and require less effort, as spinning the pedals keeps the motor engaged. However, the power delivery is jerky and uneven, affecting ride quality.

Cost Considerations: Electric Bike Cadence Sensor vs Torque Sensor

Cadence sensors are cheaper, costing around $20, while torque sensors cost around $150.

Ebikes with cadence sensors are more affordable and common, while torque sensors provide a higher-end riding experience. The type of sensor affects the system’s responsiveness, ride quality, efficiency, and range.

Ebikes with torque sensors are $200-$500 more expensive than comparable quality ebikes with cadence sensors. Torque sensors require a more advanced controller and software, increasing costs.

Responsiveness and Handling: Electric Bike Cadence Sensor vs Torque Sensor

Pedaling with torque sensors provides a more connected and responsive ride compared to cadence sensors. Torque sensors measure pedaling force using a strain gauge and adjust motor power accordingly, while cadence sensors use an on/off switch to measure if you are pedaling and turn the motor on or off.

Torque sensors amplify pedal assist system input depending on the force applied, while cadence sensors offer constant power delivery. Torque sensors respond almost instantly to changes in pedaling, making them more responsive and providing a smoother, more natural ride.

Ebikes with torque sensors offer better handling, allowing for confident and precise steering. They also require more effort to ride, as continuous pedaling force is needed to keep the motor engaged.


Surprisingly, when it comes to the torque sensor vs cadence sensor debate, torque sensors are legally allowed in more places, offering more freedom for e-bike riders. Some localities have stringent regulations regarding the type of pedal assist sensors allowed. Cadence sensors, while easy to use and can make starting to pedal simpler, may not meet the safety criteria in certain jurisdictions. This nudges the favor towards ebikes with a torque sensor.

The complexity doesn’t stop at the sensor type. Several countries limit an electric bike’s motor size to a maximum of 250 watts and impose a speed cap of 20mph for the pedal assist system. What’s more, throttle-controlled e-bikes, which often use a throttle to control the motor, are frequently off the legal table due to safety considerations.

Safety features on ebikes are more than just accessories—they are often legally mandated necessities. For instance, many jurisdictions require the installation of brakes that instantly cut off the motor’s power when activated, ensuring a safer ride. The stakes are high, as non-compliance may not only lead to a siren behind you but in the unfortunate event of an accident, riding an illegal e-bike could lead to significant liability issues.

In the grand game of laws and e-bikes, compliance is key—even when the rules seem perplexing. So, what’s the difference between a cadence sensor and a torque sensor in terms of legality? Quite a lot.  You might find that a torque sensor costs around the same as a cadence sensor, but gives you a more legal and safer ebike experience.

Identifying the Best Fit: Torque Sensor vs Cadence Sensor Electric Bikes

Exercise and pedal assist activation are two important factors to consider in order to make the best choice.

While cadence sensors are the most popular option, torque sensors can provide a more natural and intuitive riding experience. You may also consider a throttle-controlled ebike for a different type of experience.

Exercise and Pedal Assist Activation: Making the Choice

Deciding between cadence and torque sensors for an ebike requires careful consideration of the rider’s exercise needs and pedal assist activation preferences.

For those seeking more exercise, a torque sensor may be the best fit. It amplifies the rider’s effort and multiplies input for a natural riding experience. It provides battery-powered assistance when needed.

On the other hand, cadence sensors are easy to use and offer flexibility in effort. They allow the rider to put in pedaling power when desired.

Selecting an eBike: Cadence Sensors, Torque Sensors or Both?

Cadence sensors measure if you are pedaling, while torque sensors measure how hard you are pedaling. Ebikes with cadence sensors are cheaper and easier to engage the motor, while torque sensors provide a smoother, more natural, and intuitive power delivery. The table below provides a comparison of these two sensor types.

Cadence SensorTorque Sensor
ActivationSpinning the cranksForce on the pedals
ResponseLess frequentAlmost instant
CostCheaperMore Expensive
Power DeliveryConstantVaries with force
Ride QualityJerky and unevenSmooth and natural

Cadence sensors are suitable for casual riders, while torque sensors are preferred by more experienced riders. Both sensor types have pros and cons in terms of ride quality, acceleration, efficiency, and cost, so the choice should be based on personal preference and desired riding style.

heybike multifunction display jpg

Other Options: Throttle Controlled eBikes

If you’re looking for a different riding experience, you might consider a throttle-controlled ebike. These ebikes use a throttle to control the motor, rather than a pedal assist sensor. This allows the user to maintain a certain speed without the need to pedal.

The torque vs. cadence sensor debate is also relevant here, as torque sensors measure how hard you are pedaling while cadence sensors measure if you are pedaling.

Throttle-controlled ebikes offer these advantages:

  • Comfort – You don’t need to pedal to maintain a certain speed.
  • Control – Throttles allow you to control the amount of power going to the motor, making it easier to ride.
  • Cost – Throttle-controlled ebikes tend to be less expensive than ones with cadence or torque sensors.
  • Safety – Throttles allow for more precise control of the ebike, making it easier to maneuver in tight spaces.

Throttle-controlled ebikes provide a different riding experience and can be a great option for those looking for a less physical ride.

Final Take: Deciphering the eBike World of Cadence vs Torque Sensors

Comparing cadence and torque sensors can be overwhelming, but understanding their differences is crucial in finding the perfect e-bike.

Cadence sensors measure the number of pedal rotations, while torque sensors measure the force applied while pedaling. Torque sensors are more advanced, offering a smoother and more natural riding experience.

Cadence sensors act as an on/off switch, while torque sensors adjust power delivery based on force applied. Cadence sensors are cheaper and easier to activate, but riding requires more effort.

Torque sensors provide a more intuitive ride and increase range by 5-10 miles per charge. However, they are more expensive and require more effort to engage.


Cadence and torque sensors both have their pros and cons, and it’s important to know the difference between the two before making a purchase.

While cadence sensors are cheaper and easier to activate, torque sensors offer a smoother, more natural riding experience, like a symphony of power and efficiency.

So, if you want to get the most out of your electric bike, consider investing in a torque sensor and you won’t be disappointed.

For a more in-depth exploration of your e-bike options, you might find our guides on how to choose an electric bike and types of electric bikes helpful. To gain a better understanding of what an e-bike is, check out our detailed article here. Also, for more resources on electric bikes including ebike classes, batteries for electric bikes, and electric bike motors, do check our electric bike resources.

Investing in a bike with a torque sensor may initially seem daunting, but the enriched, natural riding experience and the extended range it offers, certainly make it a compelling choice for discerning e-bike enthusiasts. And as always, we at eMobilityQuest are here to guide you through the winding roads of the e-bike universe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Torque sensors enhance biking by adjusting pedal assist to your force, fostering an interactive ride. Cadence sensor bikes, though cheaper, provide steady power irrespective of pedal effort. For a more intuitive, engaging experience, consider an ebike with a torque sensor.

For a smooth ride with power adjusting to your pedaling force, consider a torque sensor. It enhances comfort and efficiency by aligning motor assistance with your effort.

A torque sensor’s downside is it demands more rider effort for consistent assistance, as it amplifies pedaling force. Plus, the advanced tech in torque sensor ebikes often makes them pricier.

A torque sensor and a speed sensor serve different functions on an ebike. The key difference lies in their responsiveness: torque sensors respond to rider effort, while speed sensors respond to rider activity. 

A torque sensor measures the force applied to the pedals and adjusts the motor assistance accordingly. A speed sensor, often associated with cadence sensors, detects the rate at which the pedals are spinning (pedal cadence) and provides motor assistance based on preset levels.

A cadence sensor measures the speed at which you are pedaling, while a torque sensor measures the force you are applying to the pedals.

A cadence sensor uses a magnet and a sensor to track the rotation of your pedals, while a torque sensor uses strain gauges to measure the pressure you apply to the pedals.

Yes, an electric bike equipped with a torque sensor can detect the amount of force you are applying to the pedals and provide assistance accordingly, making it easier to pedal.

No, with a torque sensor, the motor will automatically provide assistance based on the pressure you apply to the pedals, eliminating the need for a throttle.

The cost of a cadence sensor for an electric bike is around $50 to $100, depending on the brand and features.

If your cadence increases, the torque sensor will provide more assistance, allowing you to maintain a consistent speed with less effort.

Torque sensors use precision strain gauges to measure the force applied to the pedals, making them highly accurate in detecting the rider’s effort.

Yes, it is possible to retrofit a cadence sensor to an electric bike that does not have one. However, it is recommended to consult with a professional bike mechanic for proper installation.

Yes, some high-end electric bikes are equipped with both cadence and torque sensors, offering a more advanced pedal assist system.


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