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Hands on: connect cadence and speed sensors directly to Apple Watch with watchOS 10

A speed sensor

The Apple Watch has a new feature in watchOS 10 that enables direct pairing of speed and cadence sensors for more nuanced bike ride tracking. We go hands-on with the feature.

Speed and cadence tracking isn't a new concept for avid bike riders. Many Bluetooth sensors have existed for years that enable simple data gathering, but they require awkward third-party apps and health integrations.

With watchOS 10, users can pair compatible sensors directly to their Apple Watch. This eliminates the need for third-party clients and integrates directly with the Workouts, Fitness, and Health app features.

Various health sensors can be paired to Apple Watch for extra tracking metrics such as cadence, speed, and power sensors. We tested the speed and cadence sensors from Moofit.

The sensors are small and relatively easy to attach with the included rubber bands. They run on CR2032 batteries that last about 9 to 12 months.

The speed sensor attaches to the wheel hub, while the cadence sensor attaches to the bike's crank arm. Once the sensor batteries are inserted, they are active and ready to pair.

A cadence sensor
A cadence sensor

The Apple Watch Bluetooth settings surfaced the sensors right away. The sensor names are mostly gibberish, such as CS8L-C or similar, but that doesn't matter as long as they both appear and pair.

Once paired, all we had to do was start riding and begin a cycling workout. The speed and cadence metrics showed up in the tracked workout.

Apple Watch Bluetooth settings
Apple Watch Bluetooth settings

The new Live Activity for biking workouts on iPhone can also display speed and cadence data. One view has an active speedometer, but Bluetooth has a momentary lag, so speeds were accurate if a second behind the e-bike's speedometer.

Those looking to get more out of their biking activity tracking get an easy boost from watchOS 10. We recommend something like the Moofit sensors we tested, which come in a pack of two for $32.99 on Amazon.