Shimano New EP8 Motor Kit

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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 dialled down.

What’s new? Top 10 facts about the 2021 Shimano EP8 ebike motor

  1. 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.
  2. 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 ground clearance
  3. Lighter: The EP8 with its new magnesium housing weighs 2.6 kg and is approximately 300 g (10%) lighter than the aluminium STEPS E8000.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 support configurations.
  10. 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 motor profiles.

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.

The customisable motor profiles allow you to change the EP8’s performance on the fly while out on the trail, but its general character shows through regardless

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.

The 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 eMTB use.

Climbing, the EP8 conquers obstacles and technical challenges with ease. You can intuitively modulate the motor’s power output via your input on the pedals.

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?

Assist characteristic
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 the trail

Maximum torque
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.

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