What are cadence sensors, and how do they work on e-bikes?

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One of the first things you want to figure out as an e-bike owner is how the Pedal Assist System (PAS) works. PAS is a term for the bike components that automatically power the motor when you pedal. PAS uses a sensor that determines when you need assistance and uses this information to decide when to power up the motor. A basic type of sensor used on e-bikes is a cadence sensor. This simple yet effective sensor makes an e-bike fun and easy to ride. Here is a short explanation of what cadence sensors are and how they work on e-bikes.

  • Cadence sensors continually trigger the PAS when you are pedalingin gear, allowing you to go as far and as fast as you want. Cadence is simply the rate at which your bike’s pedals are spinning, like the RPM of a car’s engine. A cadence sensor uses a disc with magnets that rotates when the pedals are spinning forward and determines when to send power from the battery to the motor. As soon as you stop pedaling the PAS turns off, allowing the bike to just coast.
  • Cadence sensors detect when you are pedalingyour e-bike but don’t know how hard you are pedaling or what gear you are in, so you can adjust the settings to suit your needs. The PAS typically has 5 settings, from 0 not giving any pedaling assistance, to 5 giving the most assistance. The higher the gear you are using, the easier your e-bike is to pedal. A low gear is all that is needed for standard road biking, and you only need to pedal slowly when riding in a low gear to activate the cadence sensor. You can adjust the PAS setting to make the bike comfortable to ride based on how much exercise you want to get. Once you choose your desired PAS setting, the bike will adjust the motor power accordingly to maintain a constant speed, much like the cruise control feature on a car.
  • A cadence sensor system is great for recreational riders and riders with tender knees. Once you adjust the PAS to your comfort level, you can use the cadence sensor to pedal with little to no effort. This is called ghost pedaling, where your legs simply follow the motor assisted pedalingrotation, allowing you to just relax and enjoy the ride. You can pedal as much or as little as you want and still go as fast as you want. For this reason, many doctors have suggested e-biking as a good primary form of exercise for people with arthritis and joint problems.

If you own an e-bike that uses a cadence sensor system, you want to be able to optimize the PAS to match your riding conditions and fitness level. Knowing what cadence sensors are and how they work will help you get the most out of riding your e-bike. Mokwheel uses cadence senors to help you find your own sweet spot and ride your e-bike at a peak performance level.  

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