Shimano's second generation e-MTB system is packed full of new features designed to bring EP8's performance standard to the best ever seen in Shimano's e-biking history. Many of the unique features of SHIMANO EP8 come in its more powerful yet lighter weight, smoother pedaling, cleanly integrated and reduced-noise drive unit, which also manages to keep cool more efficiently and provide improved bike handling over its predecessors.
As well as this two revamped mobile apps – the E-TUBE PROJECT app and the E-TUBE RIDE app – give riders more display options and more customizable control over their drive unit’s characteristics.
The new system follows SHIMANO's long-standing e-biking principles of creating a natural feeling ride with controllable high power when you need it most, wrapped up in a total SHIMANO system package. From the e-bike drive unit to the drivetrain and brakes, it’s the performance level you expect from a brand with almost unrivalled experience in mountain biking.
The new EP8 drive unit (DU-EP800) is capable of pumping out 85Nm of torque to conquer the toughest trails and steepest climbs. This 21% increase in power over its SHIMANO STEPS E8000 predecessor comes along with a 300g weight decrease to 2.6kg (10% reduction) thanks to a new magnesium drive unit casing. This low weight and high peak power makes it one of the best-in-class drive units in terms of power-to-weight.
The increase in power-to-weight is also complimented by an improvement in battery efficiency. The drag (the friction that comes with a pedal rotation, noticeable in particular when operating the system without power) has been reduced by 36% (vs. E8000) thanks to an updated seal structure and optimized gear design. This friction reduction creates improved battery efficiency when the motor is active, or a smoother ride when pedaling without support (ie when the motor is switched off or when riding above 25 km/h). Together with the friction-reduction is an improved clutch mechanism which provides a smoother cut-off when pedaling above 25km/h.
That increased torque is also not at the detriment of noise. In fact quite the opposite, the new EP8 drive unit is quieter, operating at the same level as E7000, so you can cut the distractions and focus on the trail.
Added to that, the smaller magnesium drive unit shell features improved heat-conducting properties with redesigned internals (optimized gear structure and new EW-SD300 wires) to aid cooling and improve performance when operating at maximum torque on long, steep climbs.
The drive unit case is also shaped more in line with the smooth lines and angles of bike frames which improves ground clearance and, together with internal batteries, makes SHIMANO EP8-equipped bikes impressively sleek packages.
All of these factors combine to provide natural and refined power delivery from a lighter, quieter, more compact and more powerful motor with less pedaling drag and a 20% increase in range.
- The EP8 drive unit runs with a 177mm Q-factor) and comes with its own dedicated cranks which are available in a new 160 mm length (also 165/170/175 mm).
- The system will typically be spec’d with SHIMANO’s new XTR/XT/SLX/Deore 12 speed drivetrain with Dynamic Chain Engagement+ (12 speed) and three chainring options (34T/36T/38T).
- DU-EP800 uses the same frame mount pattern as DU-E8000 and DU-7000 meaning manufacturers can use the same frame design between multiple SHIMANO drive unit models.
- SHIMANO EP8 is also compatible with mechanical shifting (9/10/11/12-speed) gear systems, Di2 (11-speed) systems and internal hub gear (11/8/7/5-speed) systems. In particular EP8 is fully compatible with the recently introduced NEXUS Inter-5 making high power Shimano internal hub gear City & Trekking bikes a true reality.
- A new chain device (CD-EM800) is also available. The new mud-shedding design provides additional chain managemnt and is compatible with 11-speed and 12-speed SHIMANO STEPS set ups running 56.5mm or 53mm chain lines thanks to an adjustable space between the guide and chain.
- The system can be turned on via buttons on the computer, the battery, or an in-frame button (EW-SW300) usually located on the top tube.
Handlebar controls: Computer and switch
The EP8 computer display (SC-EM800) shares many external similarities with the highly-praised E8000 computer display, but with a new feature allowing riders to switch between customisable profiles. It has a 1.6” colour screen, readable in bright sunshine, with a compact and low-profile body to suit demanding mountain biking trail conditions.
The SC-EM800 computer communicates wirelessly with SHIMANO’s E-TUBE PROJECT app via Bluetooth allowing riders to change drive unit characteristics on the fly. The SC-EM800 can also communicate with 3rd party cycle computers via ANT to display gear and battery information.
To operate the drive unit riders can use EP8's new drive unit assistance switch, SW-EM800-L. This allows riders to toggle between ‘Off’, ‘Eco’, ‘Trail’ and ‘Boost’ support modes plus Walk Assist mode. The switch has an improved shape featuring concave buttons with wider input area to make them easier to push and control. The switch comes in SHIMANO’s I-spec design standard making it compatible with the dropper post levers (eg SHIMANO’s SL-MT800-IL). Alternatively the drive unit assistance switch can be removed completely if riders prefer to change support modes via their EW-EN100 toggle switch.
However, removing the switch completely removes the possibility for the very handy Walk Assist feature found on all SHIMANO STEPS systems. This has been updated for EP8 Mechanical systems to create an intelligent Walk Assist mode, which means riders can hop off and walk their bikes with assistance from the drive unit. A double push of the drive unit assistance switch causes the pedals to turn and the bike to move forwards at 4km/h, regardless of which gear the bike is in.
The battery options include the new batteries SHIMANO released in May 2020, the two 630Wh batteries, the downtube BT-E8016 and the internal BT-E8036 battery, or the smaller but faster charging 504Wh internal battery, the BT-E8035-L. Like their predecessors, all SHIMANO STEPS batteries are extremely long-lasting, taking up to 1000 full charge cycles before they drop to 60% of their original capacity, which in many cases is longer than the average ownership of a bike.
Refinements to EP8’s software is the other half of SHIMANO’s formula for a more natural feeling e-mountain bike. That has been achieved through adjustments to the way the three support levels perform, along with the customizability of those modes.
- BOOST mode now tops out at 85Nm of torque, reached with low rider input torque.
- TRAIL mode also tops out at 85Nm but it is also more responsive to a rider’s inputs, either saving battery at low input torques or quickly ramping up the power delivery to provide the maximum 85Nm output at approximately 60Nm of input torque. This is much sooner than its predecessor and it’s this smarter assist ratio algorithm that makes TRAIL mode so versatile that mode switching can, for the most part, be forgotten about.
- ECO mode tops out at 30Nm, reached in a similarly responsive manner. Aside from increased riding range, ECO mode of course can be used for riders to get a workout when they want it.
Meanwhile an updated E-TUBE RIDE app can be used by e-bike riders to monitor all their riding information in a smart phone display. Screen display options shows riding metrics in ECO, TRAIL and BOOST modes plus newly added functions including ride history, live maps and user-friendly graphical updates.