What is a Cadence Sensor and Do You Really Need One?

All new 2023 models of Aventon e-bikes may look the same as previous versions, such as the Pace 500.3 vs Pace 500.2, Level vs Level 2, and Aventure vs Aventure 2. However, when you come to ride them at EZ Bike, you’ll notice that they feel totally different. This difference is due to all of them being upgraded to cadence sensors. But are they really worth the extra money? And is it the correct choice for everyone?

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We’ll start with the conclusion first: the answer is a resounding yes, but with two exceptions that we’ll get to at the end.

A torque sensor is located inside your crankshaft and detects the amount of torque your feet are applying. The harder you pedal, the more power it will send to your bike’s motor. In practice, your motor will work harder when going uphill and less when on flat ground, while keeping the work you put in more or less constant. In other words, the Ebike will know when you are struggling and give you more boost, and it will ease off when you don’t need any more power. Your bike will also use battery power more efficiently since you won’t waste power when it's not needed.

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On the other hand, a cadence sensor is an on/off switch that detects if your feet are moving or not. When activated, it gives the bike a set amount of power based on the power level setting you are in. It does not know or care how hard you are working; it simply adds a fixed amount of power. Cadence sensors also have a small but very noticeable lag, meaning your motor will kick in a bit after you start pedaling and continue to overshoot a little after you’ve stopped. This is extremely annoying for most people and dangerous for inexperienced riders.

So, it seems that the torque sensor is simply superior. The market reflects this, as when you look at high-end e-bikes, they are all equipped with torque sensors. So why do cadence sensors exist, other than being cheaper? As mentioned earlier, there are two scenarios when they have an advantage. First, when you don’t really want to “ride” your bike and would just like to free-wheel. You can set your assist level to a very high setting and let your motor do all the work while you crank your pedals without much effort. If you are wondering, yes, you can use your hand throttle to achieve the same thing on torque sensor Ebikes. The second scenario is when you want to feel the road more, so you want to pedal harder when going uphill and less when going on flats. Since cadence sensor bikes always add a constant amount of power based on your setting, it would be up to you to provide the additional power necessary to go up a slope or to accelerate.

Ezbike Canada|Level.2 Step-Through Commuter Ebike

Returning to the initial question, do you really need a torque sensor or is a cadence sensor adequate or even preferred? For most people, the answer is that torque sensors are more preferable. However, just in case you are not “most people,” come ride both at EZ Bike and see what you prefer.