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. 


Chipps Chippendale

Singletrackworld's Editor At Large

With 22 years as Editor of Singletrack World Magazine, Chipps is the longest-running mountain bike magazine editor in the world. He started in the bike trade in 1990 and became a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the last 30 years as a bike writer and photographer, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish, strengthen and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

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