The brand-new Shimano EP8 is the youngest motor in our group test. Does that automatically make it the most up-to-date and in turn, best ebike motor on the market? Can Shimano’s new motor generation catch up to the competition again?

Before we get into the review, we would like to tell you about our latest print edition. The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!

Shimano are back! While the old STEPS E8000 had to admit defeat, the new EP8 plays right at the front of the pack (click here for all the information on the new Shimano EP8 motor). With 85 Nm torque, the new Shimano motor delivers the same output as the Bosch Performance Line CX (with the recent software update). Nonetheless, the character of the EP8 is fundamentally different. Even if the motor delivers similar levels of torque, the EP8 requires more input from the rider to make use of its full power. That will make it particularly attractive to sporty riders who don’t want to be pushed up the hill like the Yamaha or TQ motor are wont to do. Instead of brutish power, the new EP8 shines with the complete control it offers in all three assistance modes. While Boost mode on the STEPS E8000 was too unruly for technical uphills, the EP8 can be intuitively controlled even in the maximum support level. Setting off, even with the motor set to its most direct mode, is a lot easier to control than the Yamaha, without feeling sluggish. At the 25 km/h assistance limit the EP8 handles a lot more smoothly than its predecessor but can’t quite keep up with the seamless transition of the Specialized SL1.1. Amongst other things, that’s due to the metallic clunking emanating from the motor when the assistance (dis)engages.

Legal tuning
The E-TUBE Project app offers options to tune all assistance modes, each with three different parameters, and to save these in two individual motor profiles

Like the STEPS E8000, the motor characteristics of the EP8 can be adjusted via the updated E-TUBE Project app. However, the EP8 offers significantly more options and a similar range of functions to the Specialized motors. The EP8 allows you to set up two individual motor profiles that you can switch between while riding. All three assistance modes, Eco, Trail and Boost, allow you to tune, within reasonable bounds, how the motor behaves when setting off, how much motor support is provided and the maximum torque output. In addition, the assistance limit can be reduced down to 15 km/h. That might make sense for a kids’ eMTB or for controlling your training.

Complete freedom
Shimano permit manufacturers to use batteries from certified third-party suppliers and will eventually take over servicing for these. That will offer more freedom for the design of bikes that are better designed for their specific area of application

Shimano give bike manufacturers the freedom to choose. Many modular components are available for the EP8 motor including displays, remotes and internal, as well as external, 504 or 630 Wh batteries. Manufacturers will have even more flexibility regarding batteries as Shimano approves the use of certified third-party batteries and will even be taking over servicing for these. That gives manufacturers significantly more freedom for bike design as the dimensions and integration options of the battery usually play a deciding role. Shimano bikes will be able to make use of everything from small 375 Wh batteries, to modular concepts with an additional external battery, all the way to integrated batteries with capacities exceeding 700 Wh. The new compact remote is integrated into the cockpit just as neatly as the colour display which now offers full smartphone connectivity. As is typical for Shimano, you can combine different display and remote units freely (partly with the use of adapters). You can now use your smartphone with the E-TUBE Ride app to navigate and as a bike display. However, you need to invest in a separate phone mount. We would like to see an integrated mount, similar to Bosch’s SmartphoneHub, offered in Shimano’s ecosystem to allow the E-Tube Ride app to be controlled with the motor remote. Thanks to slimmer cables, various sensor options and lots of freedom regarding batteries, the EP8 offers manufacturers many options for integration. In addition, the adjustable motor settings will let manufacturers tune its characteristics to suit the concept of each bike that it is being used for. That means the new EP8 won’t just be suited to all-rounder builds but will also make exciting new light eMTBs possible.

Our verdict

Shimano are back! The new Shimano EP8 motor has no problems keeping up with the competition and retains its sporty character. Great integration and customisation options make it easier for bike manufacturers to implement their own concepts. In terms of connectivity and tuning the motor almost every other brand, except Specialized, should take Shimano as an example. The only problems are the loud clattering of the motor and currently, the uncertain delivery timeframe.

Tops

  • excellent modulation in all assistance modes
  • tunable motor settings
  • great integration and flexibility for bike designers

Flops

  • clattering
  • uncertain delivery timeframe

For more information head to shimano-steps.com

All motors in this comparison: Brose Drive S Mag | Bosch Performance Line CX | FAZUA Evation Firmware 2.0 | Yamaha PW-X2 | Shimano STEPS E8000 | TQ HPR 120S | Specialized SL 1.1


It's finally here: The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!

Words: Felix Stix Photos: Robin Schmitt

About the author

Felix Stix

Felix is chief of testing and undoubtedly one of the best test riders in the world. With a degree in sports engineering, excellent mountain bike skills, his love of technology and as a certified bike guide, Felix has everything it takes to make comprehensive and fair assessments of bikes. His legendary group tests are internationally known and feared, though they tend to be a bit longer due to his love of detail and technical deep dives. Every year, he reviews around 100 bikes, specialising in the subject of tires, motors and suspension, before putting on his skis come winter! His know-how is incorporated into each of our reviews, ensuring the quality of our work stays high!