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There are two basic types of ebike controller - cadence or torque sensing. Typically mid-drive ebike systems use torque sensing to control the motor, and cheaper hub drive systems often use cadence sensing. Hence many hub systems suffer from the pitfalls of cadence sensing: pulsing power application, lack of variation across gear ranges.

My question: are hub systems capable of achieving the same natural bike riding feel that mid drive systems do, when properly set up with torque sensing?

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  • No first hand experiences, but reviews of bikes with hub motors and torque sensors (Ampler, Cowboy, Vanmoof, Stromer...) are usually similar in their conclusion: they feel natural.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 14:47
  • Thanks, I wasn't aware of the fact those brands are already using this combination. I asked partly because the budget brand Aventon has started to spec rear hub+torque sensor on their newer bikes without breaking out of their price band.
    – SamA
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 15:31
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    Sam, re-reading the question, it looks like you are actually asking if a hub motor could have the same ride feel as a mid-drive, provided it has torque sensors. I have suggested an edit to the title as a result. Feel free to revert if this doesn't convey your intent.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 22:49
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    In short: yes. From all ebikes I've ridden, the higher segment hub systems felt the most natural. Which is mostly a byproduct of being a hub system, imo. Followed by higher segment mid-drive. Most lower end systems no matter what drive felt crappy. Unfortunately I don't know which types of sensors were in use. Could just as well be a combination of torque/cadence was used? But note there is more than just sensors: the software which decides the exact power curve to deliver also matters, quite a lot. I've ridden bikes where switching modes made the difference between 'meh' ...
    – stijn
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 12:34
  • ... and 'yeah this is just like an extra invisible pair of muscles attached to my legs'. Note: I'm actually not sure if the 'many hub systems suffer from the pitfalls of cadence sensing' has a lot of truth in it. I mean some might suffer from that but it's hard to quantify if that's like much more than half which is what 'many' seems to imply.
    – stijn
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 12:35

1 Answer 1

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I would say better, based on my experience with hub system + torque sensor ebike Koga Miyata Tesla (2008) and testriding newer bikes Tenways (2023) and iMove (2023).

Compared to the Qwick mid-drive + torque sensor bike, the Tenways and iMove were just more pleasant to ride.

The Watt has a hub system and a cadence sensor and I found it slow to respond to breaking and accelerating compared to the bikes mentioned above.

That said, @stijn is probably correct: bikes can have more than one sensor and the software of the controller is important in determining the feel.

That and the bike weight distribution and geometry.

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