Change gear without pedalling with Shimano FREE SHIFT

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New e-bike specific version of Shimano XT Di2 features something called ‘Free Shift’. Put simply, this allows riders to change gear without pedalling.

Shimano explain: “FREE SHIFT is made possible by Shimano’s unique system integration capabilities with Deore XT Di2 and new Shimano EP platforms [more about the new EP6 and EP801 motors in minute – Ed.]. When you shift, the XT Di2 system prompts the EP Drive Unit to simultaneously advance the drivetrain at the chainring and make smooth, pedal-less shifts.

“FREE SHIFT technology allows you to make decisive gear changes while diving through corners, bombing into large dips and g-outs, and rolling through technical sections of trail, ensuring you’ll always be ready for the trail ahead.”

For those who may not know the ins and outs of e-bike motors, basically the crank arm aren’t directly attached to the chainring. There’s a kind of clutch between them.

You can most clearly see this dis-connect in effect on current e-bikes with something called ‘overrun’ ie. the chainring keeps rotating for a bit even after the rider stops pedalling.

So this FREE SHIFT function basically sees the chainring rotating (around the BB axle) whilst the cranks remain motionless.

Make sense?

We’ll see if we can find any illustrative videos to embed in this story once the embargo times is a few hours old.

Anyhow. We don’t know about you, but we think this sounds really freaking cool. And very useful.

Yes, it would have been nice to see Shimano’s Di2 go fully wireless (the semi-wired system from 2008 is looking a bit dated) but there’s no denying that this Free Shift malarky sounds innovative, ingenious and rad.

And hang on. There’s more.

Dubbed ‘AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE’ (catchy!)

AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE is a new mode that automatically changes gears for you.

Shimano: “Utilising SHIMANO’s LINKGLIDE drivetrain technology paired with Di2, the system has the ability to make predictive gear changes based on your speed and cadence.

“In combination with FREE SHIFT technology, AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE can make predictive shifts while you are coasting, always finding the optimal gear for every pedal stroke.”

There’s technically two e-bike centric XT Di2 drivetrains. One is 11-speed LinkGlide, the other is 12-speed HyperGlide. The 11-speed drivetrain has a “high-durabliity focus”. The 12-speed drivetrain “prioritises fast shifting speed”.

The AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE sounds like it’s with the 11-speed LinkGlide version of XT Di2.

The 12-speed HyperGlide version can do the AUTO thing but only when coasting.

Shimano Deore XT Di2 LinkGlide

RD-M8150-11s
  • 1×11-speed with 11-50t Cassette
  • New CS-LG700 Cassette – 200g Lighter Than Previous CS-LG600
  • RD-M8150-11 e-MTB dedicated 11-speed Di2 rear derailleur
  • SW-M8150-R/IR SHIMANO DEORE XT Di2 Right Shift Switch and I-SPEC EV
  • Full Manual Shifting
  • Full Manual Shifting with FREE SHIFT Enabled
  • Automatic Shifting While Pedaling and While Coasting with AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE
  • Compatibility: SHIMANO EP600 and EP801 Drive Units

“LINKGLIDE’s 11-speed cassette and chain are built to stand up to persistent daily wear and deliver seamless shifting up and down the cassette.

“With the integration of advanced Di2 and SHIMANO EP technologies, XT Di2 LG enables the unique ability to shift without pedaling in the all-new FREE SHIFT mode. Leveraging LINKGLIDE’s unique ability to deliver smooth shifting up and down the cassette for 11s drivetrains, LINKGLIDE technology unlocks the all-new ability to perform automatic gear changes both while pedaling and coasting in AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE mode.”

Shimano Deore XT Di2 HyperGlide+

RD-M8150-12s
  • 1×12-speed with 10-51t Cassette Options
  • RD-M8150-12 e-MTB dedicated 12-speed Di2 rear derailleur
  • SW-M8150-R/IR SHIMANO DEORE XT Di2 Right Shift Switch and I-SPEC EV
  • Full Manual Shifting
  • Full Manual Shifting with FREE SHIFT Enabled
  • Automatic Shifting when Coasting
  • Compatibility: SHIMANO EP600 and EP801 Drive Units

“Combining the refined shifting performance of SHIMANO HYPERGLIDE+ drivetrain and advanced Di2 technologies, the all-new DEORE XT Di2 HYPERGLIDE+ (HG+) groupset brings revolutionary shifting modes and next-level shifting performance to the SHIMANO EP platform for e-MTB.

“Utilizing a centralized battery power source and the latest in EP technologies, XT Di2 with HG+ is the ultimate in lightweight, smooth, and fast shifting for e-MTB.”

New Shimano EP6 and EP801 motors

Okay, the EP801 is technically *just* an updated version for the existing EP8.

The EP8 update provides compatibility with the aforementioned FREE SHIFT and AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE. The EP801 can also handle an all-new FINE TUNE MODE on the E-TUBE PROJECT app for power profile customisation.

And, intriguingly, the EP801 has some additional accessory ports “to ensure future-proof compatibility”.

The totally new motor then. Called the EP600 (or EP6 if you prefer brevity).

Shimano EP6

We don’t have a great deal of info about the new motor. The use of the number 6 in its name feels like it’s denoting a Deore level in terms of groupset tiers.

The headline spec is 85Nm torque, the same as Shimano’s top tier EP8 drive unit. The EP6 motor does sport the same futureproofing ‘CAN’ accessory ports as the EP801. The claimed weight of the the EP6 is 3.0kg, which is 300g heavier than the EP801.

Compatibility-wise, the EP6 will work with regular mechanical drivetrains, internal hub gears with Di2 spec, the new Shimano CUES drivetrain, XT Di2 LinkGLide and XT Di2 HyperGlide+.

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Viewing 26 posts - 1 through 26 (of 26 total)
  • Change gear without pedalling with Shimano FREE SHIFT
  • While this does sound awesome, all I actually wanted was a gearbox in the motor. Or failing that, less gears that will last longer – a wide range 8 speed on an ebike is MORE than enough

    Premier Icon brakestoomuch
    Full Member

    So if you happen to bump into your mate John and he is riding an EP6-equipped bike, you could legitimately say, “Hello, John, got a new motor?”

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Or use a sensible gear system? Then this is normal

    Premier Icon edd
    Full Member

    Wonder if it will be possible to hack the rear derailleur and shifter with a road Di2 battery for riders wishing to ride a pedal only mountain bike rather than an motorbike e-bike?

    Premier Icon honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    @BikeBroRadradbikebro They do have the Linkglide version, which is (one) less gear, and lasts longer

    Premier Icon Markie
    Full Member

    I’m not sure AUTO SHIFT WITH MANUAL OVERRIDE could deal with inordinate amount of time I spend on the big sprockets!

    Premier Icon chainbreaker
    Free Member

    It sounds a good idea on paper, but I think in reality it’ll be awkward and unintuitive to use – a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    You can change gear without pedalling on a Sturmer Archer 3 speed…

    Premier Icon chrismac
    Full Member

    When is the mountain bike version coming

    Premier Icon MrOvershoot
    Full Member

    Greybeard

    You can change gear without pedalling on a Sturmer Archer 3 speed…

    And Shimano Alfine. Its great on my town bike as you can be really lazy coming up to junctions and shift down to the right gear when just sat waiting.

    Very little is new in the world of bikes!

    Premier Icon honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    edd

    Wonder if it will be possible to hack the rear derailleur and shifter with a road Di2 battery for riders wishing to ride a pedal only mountain bike rather than an motorbike e-bike?

    It’s a regular bike 12 soeed group also. Just auto when plugged into the new motor.

    Even the old Di2 11s could be plugged into a Shimano eBike

    Premier Icon argee
    Full Member

    I’m guessing this is useful for ebikes with the listed shimano motors, is the E801 a hardware change over the E800 (E8), so does it work with older models, as it’s powered by the ebike i take it that its wired into the ebike in some way, either via the motor or cable from the battery?

    Seems a bit of a big show of new mechs and so on, but with a very limited scope, will this be more seeing them on newer ebikes in 2023, rather than sold separately, again as always, shimano are a lot of fuss to fit over the cleaner AXS system.

    Premier Icon Gary Biles
    Full Member

    How do you change gear when that flimsy looking power cable to the mech gets ripped off of your bike? Every MTB rider knows that rear mech is probably the most vulnerable part of your bike why put a power cable in such an exposed position and right next to moving pivot points on the suspension?

    Premier Icon rocketdog
    Full Member

    Commuters on e-bikes who don’t want to have to think about the gears. Ever. From a maintenance point of view as well as whilst riding along

    until they drop the bike on the right hand side and bend the rear mech hanger, nothing will ever be maintenance free until they get rid of the vulnerable parts sticking out from the bike.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    Commuters already have Nexus Di2, I don’t actually see what problem this is trying to solve other than taking even more engagement out of the process.

    Premier Icon Olly
    Free Member

    having the wheel driving the chain around the crank, even if briefly seems like a recipie for disaster once the drive chain isnt box fresh.
    better off putting efford craming a reasonable gear range inside the motor and running a singlespeed, even free-wheel free back end.

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “having the wheel driving the chain around the crank, even if briefly seems like a recipie for disaster once the drive chain isnt box fresh.”

    Surely it’s turning the chainring using the motor to shift when you’re not pedalling? It knows what gear it’s in. It knows how fast you’re going. So it can turn the chainring to shift normally without providing any propulsive force by making sure the sprockets are turned slower than the current wheel speed.

    Premier Icon paule
    Free Member

    You can do the same thing with a front freewheel mechanism, as sometimes seen on trials bikes (obviously not so much now that they’re pretty much all singlespeed)

    Main issue here would be finding a freewheel with more than 22t I think!

    Premier Icon Fahzure Freeride
    Full Member

    The additional ports are a big add.

    Premier Icon desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    eh? Mine never does that. (DSG is auto innit?)

    Right. Decision made. When this auto gear changing is included on eMTBs, I’ll be buying one.
    Hopefully one day: auto-steering and it’ll be like a self driving car! But on 2 wheels! Tap in the route on your Garmin and sit back! What a life.

    Premier Icon harry_the_spider
    Full Member

    How much will you cry when you smack that on a rock?

    Premier Icon robertajobb
    Full Member

    I assume the thin weak cabling so they can sell more replacement mechs at high prices whe inevitably you rip a couple off the bike ?

    Premier Icon LAT
    Full Member

    having the wheel driving the chain around the crank, even if briefly seems like a recipie for disaster once the drive chain isnt box fresh.

    there is a freewheel. the chainring is driven by the motor, so you don’t need to turn the crank for the ring to turn. the computer tells the motor to turn the ring.

    a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    i’ve driven many automatic cars and i’ve not experienced this. i think it is a rumour started my jeremy clarkson when he reviewed a lexus on top gear.

    Right. Decision made. When this auto gear changing is included on eMTBs, I’ll be buying one.
    Hopefully one day: auto-steering and it’ll be like a self driving car! But on 2 wheels! Tap in the route on your Garmin and sit back! What a life.

    it’s all a bit weird, isn’t it?

    Premier Icon thols2
    Free Member

    a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    Old autoboxes used to be terrible when mated to small engines. Modern ones work much better. I think this would only hunt if you were on constantly shifting terrain with constant variations in speed, in other words, when you’d be constantly changing gear anyway. If it’s programmed sensibly, it should be fine for normal terrain.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    eh? Mine never does that. (DSG is auto innit?)

    i’ve driven many automatic cars and i’ve not experienced this. i think it is a rumour started my jeremy clarkson when he reviewed a lexus on top gear.

    Lucky you, I can assure you the auto boxes in Vivaro’s/Masters do exactly that on gradients as the one in my mums does it all the time. Pain in the hole. It will depend entirely on how smart the controller is.

    Premier Icon desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    a bit lìke an auto box in a car, it’ll hunt for gears when it doesn’t need to in certain conditions.

    Ah, got it. So it (might be) a (tiny) bit like (rarely experienced) auto boxes in (very few) cars. Cool. Yeah it’s bound to (not) be just like that 😀

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