Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary! Feel free to email in suggested topics/questions
A torque sensor is a device on an electric bicycle that measures how much torque the rider is exerting on the pedals. In other words, this allows the e-bike to know how hard the rider is pedalling. Generally speaking this means the bike is able to offer a smoother ride feeling, as it will give power proportional to how hard you are pushing, rather than giving a lot of power when you’re just on a flat. It also makes it less likely for the bike to take off when you didn’t want it to, as you generally only push hard on a pedal when you wanted to go forward! In the absence of a throttle, a torque sensor makes it easier to perform a hill start on an e-bike, as the bike can respond to your pedalling very quickly. Most e-bikes with torque sensors also have cadence sensors to help give the e-bike the full picture of what you are doing with your feet. However, generally people will just refer to the bike as using a torque sensor.
E-bikes with torque sensors usually do not have hand throttles, though there are some exceptions on the market.
Overall, a torque sensor will mean you have to work harder to keep the bike moving. And your e-bike will feel more like a normal bike in behaviour (more natural).
A cadence sensor is a device on an electric bicycle that is used to decide whether you are pedalling or not. They simply have a threshold that you’re either above and therefore get power, or below and therefore get no power. The amount of power you get when you are pedalling will depend on the e-bike itself and what settings it is on, but it will not depend on how hard you pushing on the pedals. E-bikes with Cadence Sensors in NZ are generally are equipped with a hand throttle as well so you can ask the bike to take off whenever you want, irrespective of what your legs are doing.
Cadence sensors generally make for an easier ride, as you can pedal as slowly as you want, or with as little force as you want, and the power will keep going even at maximum if you so wish.
Cadence sensors are accompanied with a bit of ‘lurching off’ behaviour particularly at low speed, as the control of power on take off is quite blunt. This makes it challenging to use a cadence sensing bike in low speed situations such as on loose gravel, off road trails or in high pedestrian areas or even just taking off from a stop on sealed roads. In such cases, it is best to use the throttle instead to take off and control power at low speed.