Shimano launches all-new STEPS EP8 e-bike drive system with extra torque, much less weight and decreased friction
Drivetrain big Shimano has struck again at e-bike drive system rivals with a totally overhauled and totally up to date new system referred to as STEPS EP8 that replaces the ageing top-end E8000 system. There’s extra torque, much less inside friction and decrease weight and dimension, all paired with software program adjustments to offer a journey really feel that is claimed to be extra pure feeling than ever.
Whereas Shimano’s E8000 drive system gave spectacular efficiency when it was launched again in 2016, in recent times it has been dropping floor to different full-fat e-bike drive programs when it got here to headline figures corresponding to torque, with each Bosch and Specialised providing models that simply outdid Shimano’s peak 70Nm twist determine.
Drive unit is smaller, quieter, much less draggy – and makes extra torque
The brand new STEPS EP8 delivers a way more strong – and Bosch matching – 85Nm of additional help on prime of regardless of the rider produces, however the firm reckons that is a comparatively small factor of the entire suite of updates and enhancements the brand new system has.
The EP8 drive unit nonetheless makes use of precisely the identical body mounts as earlier than – one thing that can endear it to producers – however the general dimension of the drive unit has gone down by 10% and there is additionally a claimed 300g discount in weight. Shimano claims that this provides the system a greater power-to-weight ratio than earlier than; that is technically true however in practise is unlikely to have a big impact on the 100kg-plus system weight of motorbike and rider collectively.
Examine new and previous models facet by facet and it is apparent that EP8 does give higher floor clearance nonetheless, with a lot much less of a protrusion forwards of the underside bracket. It is also now doable to get quick 160mm crank arms for the unit, which ought to assist forestall a little bit of earth-beating on technical climbs.
The load discount is down partly to an all-new magnesium casing; in addition to being a lighter materials than the aluminium of previous, it is also mentioned to conduct warmth far more successfully, which means that the motor can ship most output for longer with out having to enter thermal shutdown – probably not an issue within the UK, however actually a risk on enormous and sizzling Alpine-style climbs.
The internals of the drive unit have additionally had fairly the going over, with Shimano claiming a 36% discount in inside drag over E8000, whereas additionally being a lot quieter when in use. The drag discount is critical – it ought to make the unit simpler to pedal when you hit the help cutout restrict (or run out of battery) however it’s additionally mentioned to enhance general vary, alongside the opposite software program adjustments. There’s additionally a brand new clutch mechanism that provides a a lot sooner choose up too.
Extra cruising vary with smarter ‘Path’ help
Whereas the batteries that Shimano presents have not modified in capability, with a 630Wh and 504Wh choices that may be mounted internally, externally or daisy modified collectively Shimano claims that there is now a 20% improve in vary over E8000 when in Eco, with all different components the identical.
That is price taking with a giant pinch of salt, as there’s a bit little bit of fudging of numbers – it appears to be like just like the default Eco setting on EP8 provides much less help than with E8000 – however a extra helpful declare is that there isn’t any vary penalty when using in ‘Path’, regardless of the additional torque on provide.
Certainly, Shimano reckons that ‘Path’ is just about the one help setting most riders will want. It has been tweaked to offer greater ranges of help in a way extra just like how ‘Increase’ capabilities whenever you wish to go exhausting, however it’s additionally much less grasping on help whenever you’re cruising and placing much less torque into the unit your self.
There is a new show unit too, although you will have to be fairly eagle-eyed to note any main variations between it and the E8000 model, save for the actual fact it makes use of new, slimmer cables which can be additionally mentioned to connect extra securely. In line with earlier models, it is a fairly primary affair that has a 1.6″ color LCD that reveals help settings and will be cycled by way of all the standard velocity, vary and odometer settings. If you wish to any extra element available, you will must pair it with a Garmin, Wahoo or one other appropriate GPS unit to behave as a show, however that is straightforward sufficient with Bluetooth and ANT+ connections.
There’s additionally a barely tweaked distant. It feels far more of a high quality merchandise than the E8000 half with extra constructive engagement and barely angled buttons to make it simpler to search out and use in a rush.
New E-Tube Undertaking app with extra customisable help
A very vital change has additionally occurred to the E-Tube venture app, which can be utilized to tweak help settings utilizing a Bluetooth smartphone connection. It has been completely revised to supply far more customisation of every mode, with customers with the ability to tweak the height torque on provide in every of the three settings, plus the ‘character’ of the help from ‘Eco’ to ‘Highly effective’ and likewise how exhausting the help cuts in, from ‘gentle’ to ‘fast’. Help can be mentioned to be tapered out extra naturally on the velocity restrict, giving a much less noticeable transition.
It is also now doable to create two completely different help profiles utilizing the app, that are then saved on the bike and switched between utilizing the bike’s show unit. Producers can tweak these profile settings from the manufacturing facility default too, permitting completely different bikes to have a distinct response.
This enormous unfold of settings is required partly as a result of EP8 is designed as a system for all the things from metropolis hybrids to high-end mountain bikes, whereas E8000 was all the time a performance-focused system. The short, highly effective response you want on an e-MTB isn’t what somebody heading all the way down to the outlets essentially wants or desires.
How does it journey?
We have had a brand new EP8 drive system connected to a Merida e-One Sixty and we have given little bit of journey time on it, so try the First Experience for some impressions of the way it now performs.