Why e-bike torque numbers matter more than you think

You should choose an e-bike based on torque, not just power

Side view of commuter e-bike
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’re conditioned by the automotive industry to think about a vehicle’s horsepower as an indicator of its performance. Horsepower is a measure of power output, although watts can be a more useful unit for power measurement, particularly for electric bikes, which are usually limited to 250 watts continuous output – that’s 0.335 horsepower.

Arguably more important is the maximum torque that a motor can deliver, whether it's an internal combustion engine in a car or an electric motor in an e-bike. It can be tricky to understand why power and torque are both significant and in what circumstances each matters. So here, we’ll delve into torque, what it is, and why it’s an important contributor to the performance of an electric bike.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.