Drivetrain large Shimano has struck again at e-bike drive system rivals with a very overhauled and totally up to date new system known as STEPS EP8 that replaces the ageing top-end E8000 system. There’s extra torque, much less inner friction and decrease weight and dimension, all paired with software program adjustments to present 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 shedding floor to different full-fat e-bike drive techniques 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 sturdy – and Bosch matching – 85Nm of additional help on high of regardless of the rider produces, however the firm reckons that is a comparatively small ingredient 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 total 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 huge effect on the 100kg-plus system weight of motorcycle and rider collectively.
Examine new and previous models aspect by aspect and it is apparent that EP8 does give higher floor clearance nevertheless, with a lot much less of a protrusion forwards of the underside bracket. It is also now attainable to get brief 160mm crank arms for the unit, which ought to assist stop a little bit of earth-beating on technical climbs.
The load discount is down partially to an all-new magnesium casing; in addition to being a lighter materials than the aluminium of previous, it is also stated to conduct warmth far more successfully, that means that the motor can ship most output for longer with out having to enter thermal shutdown – presumably not an issue within the UK, however actually a chance on large 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 inner drag over E8000, whereas additionally being a lot quieter when in use. The drag discount is important – it ought to make the unit simpler to pedal when you hit the help cutout restrict (or run out of battery) nevertheless it’s additionally stated to enhance total vary, alongside the opposite software program adjustments. There’s additionally a brand new clutch mechanism that provides a a lot quicker choose up too.
Extra cruising vary with smarter ‘Path’ help
Whereas the batteries that Shimano affords 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% enhance in vary over E8000 when in Eco, with all different components the identical.
That is value taking with a giant pinch of salt, as there’s slightly little bit of fudging of numbers – it appears just like the default Eco setting on EP8 provides much less help than with E8000 – however a extra helpful declare is that there is no 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 present increased ranges of help in a way extra much like how ‘Enhance’ features whenever you wish to go arduous, nevertheless 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 may have to be fairly eagle-eyed to note any main variations between it and the E8000 model, save for the very fact it makes use of new, slimmer cables which can be additionally stated to connect extra securely. Consistent with earlier models, it is a fairly primary affair that has a 1.6″ color LCD that exhibits help settings and will be cycled by way of all the standard velocity, vary and odometer settings. If you wish to any extra element readily available, you may 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 optimistic engagement and barely angled buttons to make it simpler to search out and use in a rush.
New E-Tube Challenge app with extra customisable help
A very important change has additionally occurred to the E-Tube challenge 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 having 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 in addition how arduous the help cuts in, from ‘delicate’ to ‘fast’. Help can be stated to be tapered out extra naturally on the velocity restrict, giving a much less noticeable transition.
It is also now attainable to create two totally 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 unit default too, permitting totally different bikes to have a distinct response.
This large unfold of settings is required partially as a result of EP8 is designed as a system for the whole lot 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 will not be what somebody heading right down to the retailers essentially wants or desires.
How does it journey?
We have had a brand new EP8 drive system hooked up to a Merida e-One Sixty and we have given a superb little bit of journey time on it, so take a look at the First Experience for some impressions of the way it now performs.