The time has come: four years after Shimano presented the STEPS E8000
motor, its successor has arrived – the 2021 Shimano EP8. We tested the
new Shimano EP8 ebike motor before its official launch and compared it directly with its predecessor, the E8000, using two Husqvarna Mountain Cross eMTBs.
Doing so, we were able to identify the real-world differences between
the two, no matter how small, and out what makes the new motor better.
The new 2021 Shimano STEPS EP8 motor in detail
The new Shimano motor is more versatile than ever. Thanks to numerous
customisation options, the light yet powerful motor should be suited to
many different bikes from urban ebikes to aggressive eMTBs.
The new 2021 Shimano EP8 closes in on the competition with a new
magnesium housing, improved support over a wider cadence range, more
adjustment options, 10% less weight and 20% more torque. With an output
of 85 Nm, the new motor from the Japanese brand is on par with the 85 Nm
Bosch Performance Line CX, slightly more powerful than the 80 Nm Yamaha
PW-X2 and slightly weaker than the 90 Nm Brose Drive S Mag. However, be
careful before jumping to any conclusions. The torque output doesn’t
say much on its own as it depends on the overall concept of the motor,
its settings, software and the ebike as a whole.
Some aspects that made the Shimano STEPS E8000 so popular were its
compact design, resulting easy integration into frames, its low weight
and the customisable support modes. With its modular concept,
manufacturers and end-users alike could customise their cockpit with
numerous options for the display and remote. The fact that the new motor
has the same mounting configuration as the E8000 makes it easier for
bike manufacturers to switch to the new motor. Shimano have also
expanded the options of individual adjustment and tuning in the updated
E-TUBE RIDE app. As a result, the motor should be adaptable not just to
eMTB use, but also trekking and urban ebikes with the power output
What’s new? Top 10 facts about the 2021 Shimano EP8 ebike motor
- More powerful: The new Shimano EP8 puts out 85 Nm
of torque, 15 Nm more than its predecessor, the Shimano STEPS E8000.
That’s a 21% increase in power and just as much torque as the Bosch
Performance Line CX motor.
- Smaller: Compared to the previous model, the
EP8’s volume has been reduced. However, the motor’s mounting interface
has remained the same, meaning the decreased size mainly results in more
- Lighter: The EP8 with its new magnesium housing weighs 2.6 kg and is approximately 300 g (10%) lighter than the aluminium STEPS E8000.
- Less resistance: The new motor’s internals
have been completely redesigned and its internal resistance above the 25
km/h threshold is now basically negligible.
- Reduced lag: While the lag in the motor’s
response when you stop pedalling depends on the motor’s settings, it’s
been noticeably reduced overall.
- More ground clearance: Shimano have approved the new motor for 160 mm cranks. That will give you up to 5 mm more ground clearance when pedalling.
- Quieter? No. Shimano have greatly reduced the
hum of the motor, even when at maximum output. However, there’s a
metallic clunking to be heard coming from the gearbox of the EP8.
- New apps: Shimano are introducing revised apps
along with the new motor. With the Shimano E-TUBE PROJECT app, you can
adjust the individual modes, Eco, Trail and Boost, according to your
preferences, allowing you to limit the torque and much more. With the
Shimano E-TUBE RIDE app, your smartphone can now double as your ebike
display and navigation device.
- Custom motor tuning: The new EP8 has two
individually customisable motor profiles that you can select on the
trail via the display, allowing you to quickly switch between two
- Error code W013: Finally! Putting pressure on
the pedals while switching on the system always led to an error code on
the old Shimano STEPS E8000. This problem has been solved with the new
EP8. Goodbye error code W013!
Shimano’s new ebike batteries: 504 Wh, 630 Wh
Shimano’s new 504 and 630 Wh battery options were presented back in spring.
New Shimano displays and remotes for the EP8
The new EP8 motor also comes with the new SC-EM800 display. This is
the evolution of the compact colour display of the STEPS E8000 series
and it looks almost identical. It’s just as legible in direct sunlight
and mounted in the same position next to the stem, it’s equally well
protected in the event of a crash. The main changes are internal. The
new display has a faster chip and improved connectivity with smartphones
and other third-party devices such as a Garmin or Wahoo.
Custom motor tuning and navigation with the E-TUBE apps
The Shimano STEPS E8000 was one of the first eMTB motors that made it
possible to customise the support modes via an app on your smartphone.
This feature is still available for the Shimano EP8 motor and the
revised E-TUBE Project app offers increased functionality. The new motor
offers two ride profiles that can be selected via the onboard display
while the power output, support level and sensitivity of each can be
individually configured within the app.
The Shimano E-TUBE Ride app is intended for day to day use. It is
designed to function as a companion while you ride, recording your
route, displaying relevant riding data as well as live maps. It turns
your smartphone into a supplementary eMTB display and navigation device.
In combination with the compact EW-EN100 dongle, you could even do away
with the Shimano display and rely only on your mobile phone. However,
you won’t be able to use functions such as walk assist or choose between
The new Shimano EP8 motor on test
The Shimano EP8 motor offers a lot of hardware configuration options
for manufacturers and, in the case of the cockpit, for you. That theme
continues with the motor’s characteristics and handling as they’re
adaptable to the rider’s needs or intended use of the bike. The two
motor profiles give you two preconfigured motor settings, selectable via
the onboard display and thus allowing you to tune the EP8’s performance
on the fly. Despite the wide range of customisation possible, we can
still describe the new motor’s overall characteristics.
customisable motor profiles allow you to change the EP8’s performance
on the fly while out on the trail, but its general character shows
Eco mode is too weak for eMTBs even with support and torque set to
the maximum (49 Nm). It’s more suitable for trekking and touring bikes
when you want to cover long distances and make your battery last as long
as possible or when you want to ride with minimal assistance. However,
it makes little sense as a dynamic support mode on the trails. In that
case, Trail and Boost modes are your most suitable options. While you
can adjust the characteristics of each mode, Boost will always offer the
most powerful assistance, yet even with all the dials turned up, its
power remains easy to modulate both when pulling away and on technical
climbs. This makes the EP8 easy to control despite a noticeable increase
in power, especially in the lower cadence range. Trail mode also makes
sense for aggressive eMTB use as it’s able to deliver the motor’s
maximum torque output of 85 Nm, modulating its output depending on the
rider’s input, resulting in a natural and progressive ride feel.
new EP8 is powerful but it requires a lot of input from the rider in
Trail mode to unleash its maximum output. This is ideal for aggressive
The Shimano EP8 is very quiet on flat and moderate uphill terrain.
The inconspicuous hum of the electric motor is almost completely drowned
out by the bike’s other sounds. Only when things get particularly steep
and you’re demanding the motor’s maximum torque output does the EP8
make itself more noticeable, though it remains significantly quieter
than its predecessor. Nevertheless, the other noises generated by the
new motor can get annoying. Depending on the frame’s resonance and
suspension kinematics, the EP8 emits a metallic clunking noise inside,
similar to the current Bosch Performance Line CX.
Which characteristics of the EP8 can be tuned?
The Shimano EP8 gives you the option of using the display to select
between two independently customisable motor profiles. For each profile,
you can use the E-TUBE PROJECT app to tune three parameters for each of
the three support levels, Eco, Trail and Boost: assist characteristic,
maximum torque and assist characteristic at the start. How do these
parameters actually affect the motor on the trail?
This is the level of support i.e. by how much the motor multiplies the
input of the rider. With a high setting, the motor assists very
powerfully with little effort from the rider, while a low setting means
you have to put a lot of pressure on the pedals to get the maximum
torque and power out of the motor. Of all parameters, the assist
characteristic has the greatest influence on the feel of the motor on
This limits the amount of torque the motor puts out, but not necessarily
the maximum power since it can also achieve this at a higher cadence
with less torque. Instead, changes in maximum torque make the most
difference at lower cadences. On the trail, you’ll feel it when
accelerating or riding up steep chutes (especially if you’re in the
wrong gear), as well as when pulling heavy loads.
Assist characteristic at the start
This is the sensitivity of the motor when pulling away and only refers
to the moment when you put your foot on the pedal and exert that initial
bit of pressure to get going. In the fast setting, the motor reacts
quickly, with relatively little effort and minimal rotation of the
cranks, making it ideal for experienced riders. The lower the setting,
the slower the EP8 responds to input on the pedals, both in relation to
the force exerted and to the rotation of the cranks. The assist
characteristic at the start has a marginal influence on battery
consumption as this parameter affects the motor’s output for less than a
full revolution of the cranks.