Breaking news eMTB fans! Shimano has released its next-generation motor and it’s more powerful, lighter and more efficient. Meet the Shimano EP8.
Shimano have done their best to keep the lid on the Shimano EP8 cookie jar, but now that it’s here and we have one to play with, we can reveal all of the updates, improvements and changes made to the new eBike drive unit.
More Torque, lighter and quieter
While still an excellent motor, the E8000 is starting to show its age and an update is very welcome. Shimano being the perfectionists that they are though haven’t given it a shiny new body but have completely redesigned the system.
For starters, the EP8 boasts 15nm more torque for a total of 85nm, a significant increase and one that’s easily felt on the trail, but Shimano has also made all that power much easier to control. Not only does the EP8 offer smoother pedalling and has a claimed 36% less drag than the E8000, but the motor also manages power more naturally. Instead of sudden bursts of power, the 85nm unit delivers power in a more controlled manner. Once you do get up to speed and hit the speed limiter, the EP8 shutdown of power is less noticeable and no longer feels like you’re suddenly riding through a bog. The new power management is far better on the trail and makes the EP8 a much nicer unit to ride on fast flowing trails.
While increasing the torque, Shimano has decreased the size, the weight and the sound. Compared to the E8000, the EP8 is 10% smaller, with much of the size saving being on the non-drive side of the unit. Being smaller and more compact will allow manufactures to integrate the EP8 into bikes much better than ever before, and Shimano feels that we could see the new motor on more varied bikes including gravel and commuter bikes in the future thanks to the improved size.
The size reduction comes with a weight reduction of around 300g, bringing the overall motor weight down to 2.6kg. Helping to save the weight is a new magnesium casing that also helps to dissipate heat much more efficiently, a feature we’re sure riders in warmer climates will be happy to learn of.
Shimano hasn’t provided us with a statistic on how much quieter the EP8 is over the E8000, but on the trail, it has a less noticeable ‘whir’ than the older unit and in Eco mode, while riding tarmac the EP8 is very nearly, but not quite, silent.
20% more efficient
One of the standout statistics for the Shimano EP8 is the claim that it is 20% more efficient, but this is only true when riding in Eco mode. When riding aggressively in Trail or Boost you might see more of a drain on the battery than the E8000. Then again many of the MY21 bikes fitted with the EP8 are also receiving a battery upgrade to 630Wh too.
If you want to see how I’ve managed to get on with the EP8 in terms of range then might I suggest this video, where I give you a ride commentary and finish it all off with a few range stats that I’ve recorded so far.
Far better customisation!
While more power, less weight, better integration and a quieter sound is all well and good, perhaps the most exciting update to the EP8 is the software and the E Tube application.
Shimano has given E Tube a complete overhaul and we can now connect to our Shimano EP8 motor and play around with a lot more settings than we ever could. Once connected via Bluetooth, riders can adjust each assist mode on the bike choosing how much torque they want from each and even how they want the acceleration to behave. On top of this, riders can create profiles to suit different riding conditions, different riders or even create profiles that are specific to where they ride.
We’ve not been able to test the new application out for ourselves yet as it only gets released today, but from what we have been told by Shimano the new application will allow you to create multiple profiles with different torque and acceleration settings. For example, you could create a ‘power profile’ which gives you maximum torque and acceleration in each mode, or you could create a ‘range profile’ which will help you eke out every km from your battery before it drains. Savvy riders could even create custom profiles based on riding locations, perhaps a Peak District Profile for example.
We’re told that multiple profiles can be created and saved within the application and that they can be accessed from the app while on the trail, but there is space on the EP8 to store 2 profiles that you can switch too from the new SM-EM800 display.
New and improved Walk Mode
The Shimano EP8 system still gives us Eco, Trail and Boost modes with Trail and Boost allowing us to make full use of all 85nm, but there’s also a new intelligent Walk mode.
With the E8000 Walk Mode would only work if you had your chain in one of the lower gears on your cassette, hardly ideal considering you’re more likely to need Walk Mode on a steep climb and your chain will be on the opposite end of the cassette.
The Shimano EP8’s new intelligent walking mode works in any gear, which is far more user friendly. Simply hop off the bike, switch it to Walk and watch your eMTB scamper uphill at up to 4 km/h. For anyone wondering if Walk Mode has enough oomph to propel a rider and bike along at 4 km/h I can confirm that it does and it will even, slowly, get you uphill too.
Bye Bye W013
Perhaps the most searched error message of Shimano Steps motor system is the W013. This error occurs when a rider turns an eBike on with their foot resting on the pedal. The EP8 still has this error, but you have to be really pushing the pedal to get it to show up.
I’ve been able to turn the EP8 on and off with my foot on the pedal with no error, I’ve even been able to ride the bike and turn it on without an error message too.
Not just a new motor!
Shimano hasn’t just knocked out a new motor but also updated the display, control and even the wiring that goes with it.
The Shimano SC-EM800 is a colour display that’s slightly smaller than the previous version. It still provides you with all the important riding data you need, it still can’t really be seen in direct sunlight, and it still only shows you battery life as a group of 5 bars rather than a %, but it will now connect to 3rd party equipment wirelessly without the need of any extra hardware.
A more important update, in my opinion, has been made to the assist switch. E8000 bikes were designed to use an underbar shifter to switch between assist modes, but most riders swapped to an E7000 overbar button unit for better ergonomics and the ability to run a dropper remote.
For the EP8 Shimano has made the new SW-EM800-L, an over bar assist control with concave button shape and wider input area for improved ergonomics.
The final detail is the update to the wiring on the EP8 system. Each of these new components is now connected with the new EW-SD300 electric wire. The new wire is lighter, thinner and also futureproof. Shimano felt that the old wiring isn’t up to the job of transferring more complicated data that might be necessary on eMTB’s of the future, so has taken this opportunity to put that right.
The new wiring system is just 2.4mm thick rather than 2.8mm and should allow more electronic components the ability to quickly speak to one another. Manufacturers are still able to mix and match old and new parts with a wire adapter.
The same bolt patern
A final detail is that the magnesium shell of the Shimano EP8 uses the same mounting points and bolt pattern as the E8000, so we should see current eMTB models updated to EP8 fairly quickly.
The bad news is that Shimano doesn’t plan to sell EP8 motors aftermarket so you won’t be able to easily upgrade your current bike to the new motor. Even if you were able to source a motor you will need to ensure that the torque sensor is set for your bike otherwise it won’t function correctly, and this is something I believe only Shimano can do.
More Shimano EP8 coverage
I think that covers it all, for now, we do have a Shimano EP8 on test and we have a few videos of that unit on our YouTube channel already so check those out and keep posted to our Facebook for a Shimano EP8 live video Q&A coming soon.