Electric bikes are more widespread than ever, and a primary reason for that is their pedal-assist sensors that make cycling nearly effortless. Most electric bikes use cadence sensors in the market.
So, what are the different pros and cons of an eBike cadence sensor?
The cadence sensor is a cheap, low-effort way to measure the number of revolutions a bike’s crank makes. They are soft on the knees and let a rider keep a constant speed. However, it can’t measure pedaling force, making pedal-assist unresponsive and jerky.
What is A Cadence Sensor eBike?
An eBike’s cadence sensor is a machine that records your pedaling effort and transfers that information to the motor. It’s a vital part of pedal assist since the engine couldn’t supply the correct amount of power to the bike without it.
So, the cadence sensor ensures you get the necessary boost to cycle comfortably.
In design terms, the cadence sensor is intuitive. The device sits at the crank and uses a sensor alongside a set of magnets to record how fast you pedal. It records the frequency of the crank’s revolutions and sends that information to the motor.
So by now, you should at least somewhat know the word cadence sensor ebike.
How Does The Cadence Sensor Work?
It’s effectively a switch. Pedaling activates the motor while stopping or pedaling backward will turn it off. You can then manually control the motor’s boost by adjusting the assist mode.
The cadence sensor works by attaching magnets to your rear wheel’s crank. These magnets spin around the crank whenever you pedal. A separate sensor records how quickly they pass by, measuring your crank’s rotational speed.
Your motor receives that information, and then you add or lower the boost it provides. By doing so, the cadence sensor acts like the ‘heart’ of your bike. However, it cannot detect pedaling force, only how rapidly you pedal.
The number of magnets your cadence sensor has determines its accuracy. A device with only three magnets won’t be as fine-tuned as one with fourteen. If you change your pedaling speed, a three-magnet sensor will take far longer to adjust your motor and pedal assist. It’ll notice the change later since more time passes between each magnet going through the sensor’s range.
However, even high-quality cadence sensors have this issue, although to a lesser degree. That’s why cadence sensors are known for giving jerky, hard-to-manage pedal assist.
Benefits of A Cadence Sensor Electric Bike
Cadence sensor electric bikes are typically at least $200 cheaper than their torque-sensor counterparts. The individual components are more affordable, too, with cadence sensors costing as little as $20.
Additionally, these sensors are easy to activate because you need to start pedaling, not applying significant force.
That low-effort start translates into a low-effort ride, too. Your bike won’t slow down if you pedal lightly, making these rides excellent choices for people with weak knees or poor stamina.
Electric bikes with cadence sensors are also the oldest design. There’s more diversity in available options and styles.
Disadvantages of Cadence Sensor eBike
However, cadence sensors are not ideal for a comfortable ride or for anyone needing to control their pedal assist delicately. Because cadence sensors can’t immediately transfer your pedaling speed to a motor, there’s a delay between you pedaling and receiving the necessary boost.
This low responsiveness results in uneven power delivery.
Cadence sensor eBikes also have low battery life. Their motors provide consistent power regardless of your strain or route’s difficulty.
Differences Between Cadence Sensors and Torque Sensors
Cadence and torque sensors are different ways to activate pedal assist but have vastly different designs and goals. The former measures your speed, while the latter records your pedaling force.
Torque sensors use a precision strain gauge that records your foot’s pressure on the pedal. They’re so precise that they measure up to 1000 times per second.
Since a torque sensor records and transmits this data in real time, your motor adjusts quickly and smoothly. Not only that, but the engine gives the power to compensate for how hard you pedal, not how fast you pedal.
So, torque sensors are excellent for climbing hills. They detect your torque, letting the motor compensate despite your low velocity and multiply your effort.
Then, once you’re on flat ground, the motor relaxes, preserving its battery life.
Unfortunately, cadence sensors lack these modern features. They’ll run through your battery swiftly because they aren’t as adaptable. Please don’t rely on cadence sensors to immediately respond since they don’t track your crank’s rotations in real time.
Which is Better Torque or Cadence Sensor?
The better sensor type depends on your riding style, budget, and regular routes. Although top-of-the-line electric bikes use torque sensors, that doesn’t mean that cadence sensors are automatically inferior or outdated.
Cadence sensors are a low-effort way to power your bike. Because they only detect how quickly your crack rotates, you can activate them without much strain. For people with tender knees or other health-related issues, cadence sensors are ideal.
This option is also significantly cheaper than torque sensors. If you can’t afford a high-quality eBike, one with cadence sensors won’t disappoint you.
On the other hand, torque sensors are much more sensitive. They make cycling intuitive since the motor responds more accurately to their detailed inputs.
It’s the logical and natural way for most people to ride. The more effort they put in always translates to the more speed, or torque, they receive. Because of that, torque sensors are also the best for riding through uneven terrain or if you must stop and frequently start on your route.
Read also about: Guide to Torque Sensor eBike
Do All eBikes Have a Cadence Sensor?
Not all eBikes have a cadence sensor. Instead, many eBikes have torque sensors.
Since torque sensors are more precise and give you a smoother ride, they’re the favorite of high-end bike producers. However, that quality comes attached to a severe price. Advanced technology isn’t cheap, and neither is a torque sensor’s components.
Because of that, most budget eBikes still come equipped with a cadence sensor.
Older eBikes typically have cadence sensors, too, since their designs predate the torque sensor’s invention or widespread use.
The legislation also plays a role. While most American-made eBikes have cadence sensors, cadence sensor-only eBikes are banned in other countries.
You can find eBikes that have both sensor types. Although these models are expensive, they combine the best of both worlds to an impressive degree.
Look out for an eBike with a cadence and torque sensor. The pedal-assist quality is unmatched, and activating it guarantees a smooth ride where you’re always in control. It’ll give you consistent power when pedaling normally but bursts of speed when you need it.
To conclude, a cadence sensor for an eBike is an excellent choice for a recreational rider or anyone on a low budget. Although they’re less responsive and rougher than torque sensors, they provide consistent power for much less physical effort. Cadence sensors are affordable, reliable devices, and you’ll find them on most electric bikes.