Electric bikes featuring pedal assist sensors will automatically turn on the motor when you are pedaling. Pedal assist does not require a throttle to control the motor. This is all done by your own pedal power. There are two types of pedal sensors: cadence sensors, which measure if you are pedaling, and torque sensors, which measure if and how hard you are pedaling.
What is a Torque Sensor on an eBike
Torque sensing technology is a precision strain gauge measuring the actual force applied to the pedal. The sensor sends this information to the controller of your eBike, and the unit then calculates the amount of electrical power the motor requires. Rather than telling the motor to turn on or off if the pedals are moving, a torque sensor delivers power dynamically depending on how hard you pedal.
This technology samples at approximately 1,000 times per second over the pedal stroke. Torque sensors essentially measure how hard you are pedaling. This sensor is used to gauge how much power to send to the motor to propel the bike.
On the lowest pedal assist setting, commonly called eco mode, the system can amplify your pedaling power by 50 percent. On the highest setting, commonly called performance mode, the system can increase pedal power by up to 300 percent!
The harder you pedal with a torque sensor, the more power the sensors direct the motor to use. If you pedal lightly, less power goes to the motor. This technology adjusts itself in real time with no need to press buttons or adjust settings. Simply pedal more or less for more or less power!
RIDE e MTB Pro Tip: With eBikes growing in popularity learning all the terms and definitions can be a bit overwhelming. Let me help with this comprehensive glossary. 👉 eBike Glossary
What is a Strain Gauge Torque Sensor?
Strain gauge technology has been around since the late 1930s. It has been standard in the small motor industry since then. This method is well understood and comprises all the power meters on sport bikes of today. These use a standard dual strain gauge configuration which helps temperature sensitivity, are extremely low power consumers, and have superior range.
There are a variety of different strain gauges available. Read more about these and their properties here: https://sensitivus.com/products/contactless-torque-sensor-module/e-bike-torque-sensor-technology-comparison/
What Are Some Advantages of Torque Sensing Pedal Assist?
One of the main advantages of any pedal assist on an eBike is to save you energy. If you are on a long ride or powering up a steep hill, pedal assist can save your legs and allow you to ride for longer. This way, you finish a ride feeling energized rather than worn down.
Pedal assist is more intuitive than using a throttle, so it is a great option for beginners and novice eBike riders. An eBike with a pedal assist system takes the guesswork out of using a throttle. Pedal assist also gives your eBike more range allowing you to go farther than relying on the battery alone with a throttle system. (Source)
Another advantage is the torque sensor’s speed. This sensor works immediately so there is no lag in the pedal assist. The module simply changes the power output based on your pedal pressure. This technology allows you to get the most power out of each pedal revolution.
RIDE e MTB Tip: Are you thinking about building an eBike? It isn’t very hard – Heck I’ve got step by step instructions with videos along with all the tools. Check it out 👉 How to Build a Mid-Drive Electric Bike
Do All eBikes Have Torque Sensors?
No. They do not. eBikes with torque sensors can be more expensive than those with just cadence sensors. Most eBikes with mid-drive motors have a torque sensor system. Some eBikes come with hub motors instead of mid-drive motors. These may have only a cadence sensor, and no torque sensor. Torque sensing eBikes are usually seen as higher end. Although more costly, they are higher quality.
Be aware that in some jurisdictions, eBikes with only cadence sensors are not allowed for safety reasons. eBikes must come with torque sensors to be legal in these areas. If you live somewhere where eBikes are regulated, check your local laws before purchasing an eBike or a conversion kit. (Source)
What is the Best Torque Sensing eBike?
One of the best eBikes with torque sensing pedal assist is the Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X. This model features both torque and cadence sensing technology, giving you a smooth pedaling experience. It features a 750-Watt hub motor and a 19.2 Ah battery. This eBike gives a maximum range of approximately 80 miles per charge.
Learn more about the Juice Bikes CrossCurrent X here: https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/crosscurrentx
What is the Best Conversion Kit for an eBike?
One of the most reliable and affordable conversion kits on the market right now is the Bafang BBSHD 48 and 52 Volt 1000-Watt Mid Drive Electric Bike Motor Conversion Kit. This kit is customizable for any combination of features you desire. It has 10 kinds of LCD display, 8 kinds of batteries, and 4 chainrings to choose from.
This conversion kit is compatible with nearly all bicycles including mountain bikes, road cycles, and commuter bikes. It is easy to install and comes with a one-year warranty.
Did you Know You Can Convert a Regular MTB to Electric?
Bafang a leader in DIY electric bike conversions has a mid-drive kit that will fit on most regular bikes. I’d recommend the BBSHD kit, it’s a complete setup with a huge capacity battery and a 1000 watt motor. Why this setup?
- Heavy duty 1000 watt motor (built for cargo bikes)
- +50 volt 17.5 Ah battery for speed and distance
- Easy installation with provided tools.
If you’re considering a conversion, do what I’m doing get the BANFANG BBSHD 1000w eBike Conversion with Battery
A torque sensor on an eBike is a wonderful choice. This setup gives you maximum power while maintaining optimal battery life. It is also safer than using a cadence sensor alone, and easier to use than a throttle. The torque sensor operates by sensing how much force you apply to the pedals and tells the motor how much power to put out accordingly. This system is immediate so there is no lag in getting extra power right now. This technology can save your legs on long rides or steep hills.
If your eBike does not already have a torque sensor, or you are considering buying a conversion kit for your existing bicycle, torque sensing conversion kits are available at many online retailers and in many eBike shops.
Lastly, ensure you check the laws and regulations in your local area for standards on eBikes. Some areas regulate these while others do not. If they are regulated, you will need to follow the guidelines when outfitting your eBike. If they are not regulated, ensure you are choosing the option that keeps you safest for your typical commute.
Hi David Humphries here the guy doing all the pedaling behind the scenes with this blog. I’ve been in the MTB world for a while and recently started getting into eMTBs. You can check out more about me HERE and on my other passion project – DIYMountainBike.com