Shimano Goes Electric with XT-Level Steps Motor

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Not really a surprise, given than Shimano already makes an urban e-bike pedal-assist system, but it’s interesting that Shimano is coming in, guns blazing with an XT-level electric motor system.

The launch is this weekend at the Lake Garda Festival in Italy and we’ll bring you some impressions from our correspondent there when there’s time to fully digest it. For now, though, we have some pretend computer pictures and a press release – with promises of more later.

Shimano Steps 2
Drive side with optional ring guard.

So, is this an inevitable step for Shimano (and for mountain biking)? Or is it the beginning of the end? Get those comments fired up while reading the highlights of the press information below.

And, wait a second, although that’s just a computer mock-up, is that a thick-thin, narrow/wide chainring? It definitely looks like one. Something you want to tell us, Shimano?

Chainring close

“The drive unit is compact so frame manufacturers can make E-MTB frames with shorter chain stays, giving riders have better maneuverability on the trail. The cranks sit with a narrow Q-factor, so riders feel like they are riding a standard mountain bike. And most importantly the lightweight unit is controlled intuitively by a left-hand power mode switch with three settings (Eco, Trail and Boost) for different types of terrain.”

So a slim motor and three speed settings (rather than Bosch’s four) – so far so simple. Though it implies that there’ll be no cross compatibility between the motor mountings, so users of a Bosch-equipped bike won’t be able to swap, and vice versa. Saying that, though, it’s not easy to stick a Ferrari engine in a Ford car…

Shimano Steps 1
It’s a motor. From Shimano!

“Shimano first launched its urban and leisure-orientated e-bike components (E6000) in 2013. Now, with the knowledge and experience that comes from many years of developing high-end MTB components, Shimano unites its technological expertise with the release of its E8000 components, dedicated towards the rigors and demands of e-mountain biking but designed so that riders can experience the true sensation of the mountain bike.

“The SHIMANO STEPS E8000 series E-MTB components features a powerful drive unit (DU- E8000). Power for the motor is provided through a large capacity 500Wh battery (BT-E8010), complete with battery mount (BM-E8010).
Driving force is transmitted through a dedicated chainring including crank arms (FC- E8050/E8000) and a 34T or 38T chain ring (SM-CRE80-B/CRE80), which comes with an optional chain retention device (SM-CDE80).”

That’s a big chainring. The Bosch systems run a granny ring-sized single ring. A bigger driving ring implies a bit more torque and slower revs from the motor. There’ll be hollow or cheaper solid cranks available.

The head unit will be familiar to any Di2 owner. Now with Bluetooth

“The system is controlled through a sleek bar-mounted cycle computer (SC-E8000) and a FIREBOLT switch unit for assistance control (SW-E8000-L), along with a speed sensor set (SM- DUE10) for the rear wheel. The remaining components of the drivetrain can be supplied from Shimano’s Di2 MTB components (XTR/XT) or mechanical 10 and 11 speed drivetrains.”

“The new SHIMANO STEPS MTB system can communicate via Bluetooth with the E-TUBE software platform allowing you to change settings and customize your set-up via computers, tablets or smartphones.

The compact and powerful 70Nm of torque provided from the SHIMANO STEPS MTB motor is designed to make every moment of every ride fun. The drive unit is held in a triangle formation around the bottom bracket resulting in secure, direct and efficient power transfer from the rider to the cranks. Its compact design incorporates cooling fins on the drive side for the heat dissipation from the motor.”


Standard looking battery won’t look out of place. Or win any design awards either.

And finally…
“The compact drive unit accommodates frames with shorter chain stays to give E8000-equipped bikes typical mountain bike handling and maneuverability. It also provides a Q-factor (ie the distance between the outer edges of the crankset) in line with DEORE XT cranks, helping to retain a natural feeling. Power for the motor is delivered by a slim but durable, low profile and waterproof battery on the downtube delivering over 500Wh. A secure mount keeps the battery firmly in place even over rough terrain, yet removing the battery for charging is simple with a sideways release mechanism.
Connected to the motor is either the hollow crankarm (FC-E8050) or the solid crankarm (FC-E8000), both of which are available with 34T or 38T chain rings (SM-CRE80-B/CRE80) for 10 or 11-speed cassettes. Chainrings feature Shimano’s Dynamic Chain Engagement technology and, together with an optional chain retention device (SM-CDE80), ensures chains remain on drivetrains.
The system is controlled by the compact SHIMANO STEPS MTB colour LCD computer (SC-E8000) to offer riders their gear number, power assist mode and battery range information.
The power assist modes are controlled by a dedicated MTB handlebar switch (SW-E8000-L), allowing the rider to change between Eco, Trail and High Power modes, plus the Power Walk mode.

SHIMANO STEPS MTB components will be available from October 2016. As we said earlier, we’ll let you know what the real thing looks like shortly. 



Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (12)

    i expect it because of their history that it looks like a fishing reel?

    You might want to rethink the Peugeot engine in a Ford car as some come with that as standard! Other than that can we grab the pitch forks now?

    I’ll make up something more outlandish then 🙂

    Shimano already told you about the thick thin addition to their DCE rings, and erm, you told us…
    Funny that Shimano add thick thin to their tall hooked tooth profile, while Sram recently added a hooked profile to their thick thin rings in the Eagle group….

    Yes, seems such a long time ago…

    Aaaagggghhhh!!!!! sorry, feel better now 😉

    Dear Shimano, can you please stop fannying around with motors and electric shifting and spend some brain juice on bringing us a decent gearbox to replace the derailleur. Thank you. That is all.

    Oh dear, a German company and a Japanese company building motors, who’ll have the first emissions scandal?
    It could be me, after tonight’s Chicken Tikka Naga.

    See when I hit 60 years old ( long time off ) I’m going to be loving the fact that ebikes aren’t a new thing, and I can go out and go as quick as ever (or quicker, or slower, or the same)

    OK, I may be getting a little anal here bearing in mind it is only a computer generated image, but as well as being an N/W ring, it also looks like a 104bcd rather than the 96 asymmetric ring that they’re using now with XT.

    I’m with davidd.

    If only Bosch, Shimano and Pinion got together and made motors for E bikes and gearboxes for non e bikes that could all bolt into the same mounts. A bit like current bikes having standard BB’s, Oh, hang on.

    does this bring us any closer to a non-pedal-assist gearbox transmission from shimano or have i misunderstood whats in that box?

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