New Affordable Shimano ESSA, Short Reach Levers, and Cross Compatibility

by 19

Hang on a minute, cross compatibility… affordable groupset… short reach levers so everyone can ride bikes… it’s not a late April Fool, it’s a happy reality from Shimano. It’s apparently part of a move to simplify the line up, but it’s taken a bit of figuring out what the PR is actually saying. What’s also interesting is that this appears to be a focus on the entry-to-cycling market – whether that’s kids and teens, or just low cost of entry. We’ve not seen any big leaps at the high end of Shimano’s line up for a while – will we see them emerge as the Olympic hoo-ha warms up, or is better gear on a budget a focus of the current business strategy?

Shimano ESSA

Shimano ESSA is an 8-speed crank and derailleur based on the Hyperglide system, apparently ‘engineered with the transformative Essence of Active concept’ (No, we don’t know either, we have asked). It’s compatible with Hyperglide and current 8-speed flat-bar ACERA, ALTUS and TOURNEY TX systems and is billed as ‘ideal for a wide range of casual sport bikes, including MTB, fitness, and city bikes’. Mated with a Hyperglide cassette, you can get a 400% gear range, with 32T and 42T crank options. That should offer a good selection of mix and match options when trying to build a bike on a budget – or looking to replace worn parts without having to start all over again. It’s a bit of a shame the cranks are so long however – some shorter ones for budget teen builds would have been nice.

CS-HG400 8-speed cassette 11 – 45T39.99
RD-U2000 Essa rear derailleur, GS for 45T, black49.99
FC-U2000 Essa chainset 32T, 8-speed, black, 170mm, without chainguard49.99
FC-U2000 Essa chainset 40T, 8-speed, black, 170mm, without chainguard39.99
FC-U2000 Essa chainset 32T, 8-speed, black, 175mm, without chainguard49.99
FC-U2000 Essa chainset 40T, 8-speed, black, 175mm, without chainguard39.99
ST-EF515 EZ fire plus STI for hydraulic disc brake, right hand, 8-speed, black27.99
Anticipated RRP prices, GBP

Short Reach CUES

Shimano CUES is available in 9, 10 and 11 speed, launched in 2023 as a value orientated groupset. To the existing options, Shimano now adds short reach shifter and brake options. For the fact fans: thumb travel is reduced by 11%, with the shifters 10mm and 12mm closer to the rider, while the brakes are 20% closer to the handlebars. They are however a two finger brake design, so perhaps not great for teaching good mountain biking habits.

Hubs Refresh

Shimano’s non-series front hubs and freehubs get a shake up in the 11/10/9/8-speed line-up:

  • The TC600, TC/QC500 series will include labyrinth and contact seal bearings – designed to ‘endure extreme torque levels for aggressive trail riding’.
  • The QC400 series will feature contact seal bearings only
  • The QC300 series retain the traditional cup and cone bearings.

Riders (probably on e-bikes as this is what it’s designed for) on FH600 and FH500 freehubs with Microspline will now be compatible with SHIMANO LINKGLIDE 11-speed hubs. These can also be upgraded to Hyperglide+ 12-speed.

All sort of boring but sensible? For those who spend their days fixing this stuff, it’s probably a pleasant antidote to lots of new product launches with integrated whatsits and electrified thingummies.

More Reviews

Giant Stance 29 1 review

The Giant Stance 29 1 is a refreshingly affordable mountain bike. Yer classic entry level full-sus…

Cannondale Habit Carbon LT 1 review

Long story short: the Cannondale Habit Carbon LT is a great little bike. Key question: would…

The Grinder: Zefal Bike Taxi Tow Rope, Continental Argotal, Fox Dropframe helmet, Zipp 1ZERO HiTop Wheels

Is that creak me or the bike? Real-world product reviews from real-world riders.

Wolf Tooth Resolve Dropper Post review

The Wolf Tooth Resolve dropper does away with the usual IFP arrangement, that can leak air…

This category can only be viewed by members. To view this category, sign up by purchasing Singletrack Membership.

Pace RC295 AXS Ultimate review

The Pace RC295 then. Full carbon. 135mm rear travel dual linkage. 140-150mm fork. Full 29in or…

Issue 147: Column: What New Standards Have Been Worth It?

Maybe don’t go to the pub with Benji if you’re a bike industry engineer… Words: Benji…

Issue 145: Making Mountain Bikers

An exercise in learning to mountain bike reminds Hannah how much we take for granted. Words…

Singletrack Issue 141 UK Adventure: Pilgrim’s Regress

Adam Boggon returns to his childhood haunts in this reflective ride through Fife. Words Adam Boggon…

Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

More posts from Hannah

  • This topic has 19 replies, 14 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by tjaard.
Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • New Affordable Shimano ESSA, Short Reach Levers, and Cross Compatibility
  • ballsofcottonwool
    Free Member

    short reach levers and shifters, yay! 170mm cranks <facepalm>

    ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Sorry – for the hard of thinking, what’s so wrong with two finger braking?

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    Sorry – for the hard of thinking, what’s so wrong with two finger braking?

    Wondering that myself. Unless it’s that thing where you’re supposed to be dragging your brakes all the time?

    dirkpitt74
    Full Member

    Wonder how the short reach shifter will be for kids?

    Biggest gripe I have on kids bikes is the fact the kids can’t change gear with a lot of the thumb shifters – and some of the grip shifts are really bad (I have trouble with  a couple of them!)

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Disc brakes are powerful enough that you don’t need more than 1 finger to stop efficiently (or aggressively, or however else you choose to stop). The hydraulics allow such a light feel on the lever that there isn’t any need to have more than 1 finger pulling on the lever.

    Well set up cable systems also can be used 1-finger, but they don’t tend to remain as consistently smooth for as long.

    1-finger means more fingers wrapped round the bar, but if you are happy braking with 2-fingers, then keep doing it…there isn’t a law stating how it should be done, but 1-finger does tend to allow a more controlled stop (as you don’t need to grab the lever as hard and you have more contact wrapped round the handlebar)…but it is whatever works for the rider.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    @dickbarton fully agree but the quote being replied to was:

    They are however a two finger brake design, so perhaps not great for teaching good mountain biking habits.

    I have no idea why a 2 finger lever would encourage bad habits. Set up right you can use it 1 fingered or all of them on smaller hands.

    Anyway, I’m looking at those short throw gear changers, just installed my old SRAM Attack shifter on my daughters bike and wondering if they might be a bit long on the throw.

    EDIT: ah wait a minute, that’s a different ratio to traditional 9 speed isn’t it?

    thepodge
    Free Member

    I’ve been swapping out twist shifters for Decathlon own brand trigger shifters on kids bike and noticed there was a lot of seemingly unneeded throw so if these are easy enough to get hold of and compatible then they could be a nice little upgrade.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Ah, skim reading without my glasses on and I’d missed that…and there was I trying to be helpful (and probably straying into patronising – not intentionally).

    Also agree, unsure why 2-finger braking would encourage bad habits either…I see plenty folk skidding and they all use different finger solutions for braking, so it doesn’t seem to be the more fingers the worse you are at braking…I blame the mags and influencers trying to make things look cool. This thing can’t be cool – I do it! 😉

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    Two finger braking is less desirable on a mountain bike because there are are fewer fingers on the bars to hold on with – especially important on the bumpier stuff. If you’re braking with two fingers, you’re only holding on with your pinky and ring finger – weak fingers. Add in a middle finger and you’ve got a much better grip on things. It does need your brake levers to be a shape that suits one finger, and to be light enough to squeeze with just one finger, but most decent MTB brakes do that these days. If you’re used to hauling on your brakes with two fingers, it can take a bit of brain training to get that middle finger off your lever and onto your grips. See also: having your thumbs under the grips instead of on top of them (yes, that’s a thing too).

    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    Sorry – for the hard of thinking, what’s so wrong with two finger braking?

    It reduces the amount of your hand used for gripping the bars which in turn can reduce the amount of control, and increase fatigue when riding rougher terrain.

    Non issue for many people, but makes a difference for some.

    sillyoldman
    Full Member

    Yes, but plenty of us grew up with pre-V-brake cantis, and/or shitty brakes on early 80s BMX bikes and so had no option but to use 2 fingers. Doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to 1 finger braking later.

     

    Or just mount the levers inboard – don’t hear people talking about Hope’s monstrously long levers as multi finger levers.

    speaker2animals
    Full Member

    Baffling. Why not just make it part of the CUES system? You know, CUES, the one they were banging on as being cross compatible across 9/10/11 speeds.

    I’m sure they know what they’re doing? LoL!

     

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Are you sure its not an April Fool? Only 8 speed and not compatible with either Cues or the standard range. Im not sure what they are trying to achieve?

    sillyoldman
    Full Member

    Because it’s a sub-Cues group? Interchangeable with current stuff (unlike Cues), and so addresses concerns of those who either don’t want/need the increased durability that Cues brings, or don’t want to pay the entry price to that set up as it’s effectively a whole new group, whereas Essa parts can be used in existing 8 speed set ups.

    Essa- entry level 8 speed compatible with existing parts.

    Cues – 9/10/11 speed set ups with some cross compatibility but not backwards compatibility, and with focus on durability for some MTB riders and E-MTB riders.

    SLX upwards – 12 speed Hyperglide+ with focus on shift speed and performance.

    Makes sense for the different types of rider out there.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    See also: having your thumbs under the grips instead of on top of them (yes, that’s a thing too).

    Did you mean that the other way round? Because thumbs should definitely be under.

    Only 8 speed and not compatible with either Cues or the standard range. Im not sure what they are trying to achieve?

    It is compatible with the standard range, it’s just consolidating Tourney, Alivio and Acera. Makes sense tbh and the cassette range negates the need for front gears. Not sure about the price being “budget” though.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    It is compatible with the standard range, it’s just consolidating Tourney, Alivio and Acera. Makes sense tbh and the cassette range negates the need for front gears. Not sure about the price being “budget” though.

    Agree with this.

    I reckon it’s 99% aimed at the OE market though, where the pricing will be very low.

    And the real life aftermarket pricing will probably be much lower than RRP?

    5lab
    Full Member

    Surely the levers would be the same as normal levers with reach adjust wound in? Or do they push more fluid for each mm of lever travel thus reducing total stroke at the same time as reducing power?

    sillyoldman
    Full Member

    Lever angle will be improved over a standard lever with reach adjusted right in.

    tjaard
    Full Member

    Exactly this ^.

    Although my own first “real”  mtb, in 2004, had disc brakes, I started with the old habit of 2 finger braking.

    This meant that on rough descents, I would alternate between holding on with 3 or 4 fingers, then switching to 2 fingers on the brake and 2 on the grip.
    Once I heard about 1 finger braking, it was the easiest technique improvement of all the tech tips back then and since.

    Suddenly I had a secure grip AND was ready to brake at any time!

    Granted it wasn’t the hardest habit to change, but still, it’s a habit, so I agree, I’d much rather have new riders learn to use 1 finger from the get go.

    On the other hand, the reality is, most of the bikes with these groupsets will not be used in serious mtb terrain, so I can see why Shimano would do it.

     

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Our half price sub offer with code ‘HELLO50’ ends tomorrow.