Before you buy an ebike, you should learn the difference between a ‘cadence’ and ‘torque’ sensor. These sensors are what tell an ebike’s motor how much pedal assistance to provide. The sensor type is one of the most important aspects of a bike’s ride quality, so it’s unfortunately this spec often goes ignored relative to power or battery size.

For some riders, the difference between a cheaper cadence sensor and a fancier torque sensor is massive and can significantly affect ride quality. For others, torque sensors aren’t worth the premium.

Whichever camp you end up falling into, it’d do you well to know the difference.

Cadence sensors

Cadence sensors offer the most basic type of pedal-assist technology. They measure how quickly you are turning the pedals, often by placing a series of magnets around the crank arms.

A typical ebike might have 8-14 magnets arranged in a circle, which are used as ‘checkpoints’ for pedal rotation. When movement is detected, the sensor tells the motor to start working.

Credit: Swytch