Sensors Guide

Sensors Guide

Sensors will unlock the potential of your cycle computer to give you a much better idea of your performance. Speed, cadence and heart rate monitors connect to compatible cycle computers with ANT+ and/or Bluetooth and are all relatively affordable. If you want to take your cycling to the next level then a power meter will tell you how many Watts you lay down with each and every pedal stroke.

Heart Rate Sensors

Heart rate sensors are positioned on your chest and held in place with a strap – you often see them on pro cyclists when they undo their jerseys on the climbs. Once you have paired your heart rate monitor to your cycle computer, you will be able to view your heart rate in real time on your cycle computer screen. Some smart watches and other wearable tech items feature optical heart rate sensors and are a great alternative to wearing a chest strap.

Showing a front and rear view of a Heart Rate Monitor wrist watch

By monitoring your heart rate in real time, you will be able to adjust the amount of effort you put into your ride. Knowing how your heart rate responds when you cycle will enable you to fine tune your training by riding within certain limits, pushing yourself on intervals and monitoring your recovery.

  • Know how much effort it takes to ride a section
  • Evaluate the condition of your cardiovascular system
  • Know when to up your intensity and when to pull back
  • Learn your heart’s ability to recover from a ride or an interval
Front view of two road cyclists, one of which is using Garmin Technology

Most popular heart rate sensors

Speed and Cadence Sensors

Speed and cadence sensors attach to your bike and connect to your compatible cycle computer with ANT+, Bluetooth or with wires (on wired cycle computers). Sometimes speed and cadence sensors are combined into one unit that attaches to the chain stay.

Speed sensors monitor the rotation of your front or back wheel which your computer then converts into speed, in much the same way as a speedometer on your car. As well as monitoring your speed in real time a speed sensor will allow you to analyse your average speed and maximum speed post-ride. GPS computers also offer speed data but there is slight lag in real time data when using GPS.

Close up view of a Panobike sensor attached to the frame next to the rear wheel of the bike

Cadence is the rate that your legs turn as you cycle and is measured in revolutions per minute, much like the rev counter on a car. Cadence can have a real effect on your pedalling efficiency and many cyclists find that a high cadence improves their performance. By riding to a specific cadence and then comparing that with your other ride data you will be able to find you optimum cadence and improve your cycling performance.

  • Know how fast you are riding in real time
  • Analyse maximum and average speed data post ride
  • Know how fast you are pedalling in real time
  • Find your optimum cadence and improve your performance
Mountain Biker attacking the rough terrain

Most popular speed and cadence sensors

Power Meters

Power meters offer the next level in cycling performance monitoring by telling you how many Watts you are pushing through the pedals. Power meters are an essential training and racing tool for the pro peloton, top riders like Chris Froome monitor their power output constantly throughout a race. While power meters are in a higher price point to the other sensors, the benefits for a serious cyclist make this a worthy investment.

Power meters are located on the bike, either in the wheel hub, on the cranks or in pedals. Checkout our in-depth power meter guide for more detailed power meter info.

Showing a power meter and the phone app which shows the relevant information

Most popular power meters