Shimano STEPS E8000: this is the name of a new series of components for electric mountain bikes produced by Shimano. A new motor, a new 500Wh battery, a new display and new mechanical components, all designed to be used on e-mtbs. Available from october 2016.
It was just a matter of time. A giant like Shimano was bound to play such a move, after the growing success of electric mountain bikes. Let’s recap briefly: in 2013 Shimano presented its ebike system STEPS, based on a mid-motor. The STEPS was designed mainly for city or trekking bikes. It surely easy a very good system, but there was something missing, something that, as time went by, was more and more problematic: there was no version of the STEPS designed to be used on an electric mountain bike, a greatly expanding sector.
In 2015, to patch things up, Shimano released a firmware update that basically changed the way the motor delivered its power, making it more aggressive; there was also a change in the battery mount, which was made more resistant; and the compatibility with 11-speed systems was added, which is typical of mountain bikes. It was however a patch that did not bridge the gap with specialist solutions such as the Bosch CX version or the Yamaha motor.
What’s new on the Shimano STEPS E8000
The new system is so different from the old that the identification series of the components changed: we went from the 6000 series (which will probably stay on the market as the system for city and trekking bikes) to the Shimano STEPS E8000 series for e-mtbs.
First of all there is the new E8000 motor. It’s lighter and smaller than its predecessor, and can deliver a torque of 70 Nm. The Q-factor has also been reduced. In its press release (whence these pictures come) Shimano insists on the fact that the motor now makes it possible to produce electric mountain bikes with a shorter chainstay.
The new BT-E8010 battery (with the new support BM-E8010) now has a 500Wh capacity (previously the STEPS system only offered 418 Wh batteries), on a par with its competitors. Electric mountain bikes are normally used on steep ascents, therefore the more capacity, the better. On average (a very rough average, as there are many factors influencing battery consumption) you need about 100Wh every 400 meters of elevation gain. The battery is waterproof.
A new, small display mounted on the handlebars (SC-E8000) is used to monitor the new STEPS system. It shows the speed in km/h, the selected gear (10 in the image below), the level of assistance selected (Boost in the example) and how much battery capacity you have left. It is possible to access many settings via bluetooth, through the E-Tube Shimano platform, from a pc, a tablet or a smartphone (and therefore even when you’re out in a forest). It’s a very small display: Shimano must have picked up on the praise lavished on the Specialized Levo system, which completely eliminates the display, deciding not to follow the path marked by Bosch with its huge Nyon display.
A new controller called Firebolt (SW-E8000-L) is small and easy to reach with the left thumb. It makes it possible to choose between 3 levels of assistance (as we have already written on this website, we would prefer 4 levels on a e-mtb, to better manage the motor’s power delivery and consumption). Coupled to the motor there are new mechanical components, most importantly the chainrings: it is possible to choose between 34T and 38T, both with the Shimano Dynamic Chain Engagement system (a particular teeth profile). There is also a chainguard used to keep the chain in position.
The rest of the mechanical components to couple with the Simano STEPS E8000 for electric mountain bikes can come from the XTR or XT series, also in their Di2 versions.
Some thoughts on the STEPS E8000
On the one hand, these new components come somewhat late on the market, as the competitors (Bosch, Yamaha and Brose) are already well established. On the other hand, it’s also true that: 1) the Shimano brand is extremely well-known in the bike world, and this can make the introduction of the STEPS E8000 into the market easier; 2) The world of the electrc mountain bikes is in such a big expansion that it is not too late to start cutting a piece of the pie.
We are very curious to see how e-mtb lovers will welcome this Shimano STEPS E8000 system.