Konichiwa 2021! This is what we’ve all been waiting for: Shimano’s new EP8 motor replaces the STEPS E8000 with lots of exciting new features. We’ve got the top ten facts about the new EP8 motor, go into detail about its new app tuning options, compare the EP8 and its predecessor, the STEPS E8000 out on the trail and test the hottest eMTBs featuring the new Shimano EP8 ebike motor. You’ll find everything you need to know in this exclusive special.
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!
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. We also exclusively reviewed numerous other 2021 ebikes featuring the EP8 motor for you, wracking up countless kilometres in the Alps, on our home trails and in the beautiful Palatinate – not missing the chance to indulge local tarte flambée and wine, of course. When the team behind Shimano Europe visited our headquarters, we were able to discuss all the details and technical aspects of the new motor with the developers themselves and of course, we invited them out for a ride. We’ve spent the last few days typing our fingers to the bone to bring you this special with all the relevant information and scoops on the new EP8 motor and the latest bikes featuring it! Have fun reading!
Table of content
- The new 2021 Shimano STEPS EP8 motor in detail
- What’s new? Top 10 facts about the 2021 Shimano EP8 ebike motor
- Shimano’s new ebike batteries: 504 Wh, 630 Wh and more
- Can I retrofit the 2021 Shimano EP8 to my existing ebike?
- New Shimano displays and remotes for the EP8
- Will the old Shimano STEPS displays and remotes remain compatible?
- Custom motor tuning and navigation with the E-TUBE apps
- The new Shimano EP8 motor on test
- Which characteristics of the EP8 can be tuned?
- Old vs new – How does the EP8 compare to the STEPS E8000?
- Should I buy a bike with the old Shimano motor?
- Shimano, Bosch, Brose, Yamaha… Which motor is the best?
- Which ebikes are available with the new Shimano EP8?
- When will the bikes and the new Shimano EP8 be available?
- Our Conclusion
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. With its low weight and a choice of battery sizes, we can also expect to see new light eMTBs featuring the EP8 motor, similar to the Specialized Levo SL built around the Specialized motor or the NOX HeLIUM based on the FAZUA motor.
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
- 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 ground clearance
- 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 support configurations.
- 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 and more
Shimano’s new 504 and 630 Wh battery options were presented back in spring and you can find all the details in this separate article. Shimano are in the process of taking over the servicing of certified third-party batteries from BMZ, Simplo and Darfon. This allows battery capacities beyond 700 Wh. Note: servicing particulars are still dependent on the Shimano Service Center in your region and there can be significant differences from country to country. The best thing to do is to find out about the current status from a Shimano sales rep in your country.
Can I retrofit the 2021 Shimano EP8 to my existing ebike?
In theory, yes, because the new EP8 has the same frame-motor interface as its predecessor. However, in practice, this won’t be possible, not least due to legal reasons (warranty, CE certification, EMC testing etc.). In any case, the EP8 relies on new wiring interfaces and thinner cables so that parts of the wiring would also have to be replaced. You would also face the problem of getting your hands on an EP8 motor, which isn’t on sale to consumers.
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.
Ever since the introduction of the compact and cheaper STEPS E7000 remote, almost all manufacturers have been speccing it on their flagship models. The expensive E8000 thumb remote isn’t just bulky but also positioned where it conflicts with a standard dropper post lever. The new SW-EM800-L remote positions the buttons next to instead of under the grip, making for improved ergonomics and a tidy cockpit.
The SE-E5000 combination display, which was introduced this spring, is compatible with the new EP8 motor and combines the display and remote in one compact unit, positioned next to the grip on the left side of the handlebar. It’s also available as an aftermarket upgrade for all systems and costs € 110.
Will the old Shimano STEPS displays and remotes remain compatible?
Neither the old STEPS E8000 display nor the remote, which conflicts with most dropper post levers, can continue to meet today’s cockpit requirements. That’s why they’re being replaced by the new EM8000 display and the SW-EM800-L remote. The STEPS E7000 series, with the compact remote and black-and-white display, remains compatible with the EP8 via an adapter for the thinner cables. In this way, your cockpit will remain just as modular as before, allowing bike brands as well as riders to set the control and display up however they prefer.
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.
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.
As you descend trails, ride over cobblestones or whenever the motor engages and disengages at the 25 km/h threshold, the clunking noise it makes is loud and annoying. Despite this, the EP8 manages the transition at this threshold well. It gently fades assistance in and out above the 25 km/h assistance limit, within the legally permissible tolerance range. We didn’t feel any significant pedalling resistance either.
What are motor manufacturers doing wrong? The new Shimano EP8 also makes a metallic knocking noise when rolling over obstacles, just like the Bosch Performance Line CX motor introduced last year. All the ends bike manufacturers are going to to make bikes quieter seem to be in vain.
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 the trail
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.
The parameters of all three support modes can be adjusted within a sensible range, preventing Eco mode from suddenly being more powerful than Boost mode. Nevertheless, the multitude of parameters you can adjust can get confusing. That’s why most bike manufacturers configure their bikes at the factory with two usable motor profiles that match the intended use of the bike so that you make the most of it without first having to tune it or use the app. If you want to play with the settings anyway, you should first consider what exactly it is you want to achieve on the trail. Do you want more range, do you have problems when pulling away on a slope or do you find yourself arriving at the office all sweaty? We have some tips for you to find the perfect setup:
- Only change one parameter at a time and then test what effect that has on the trail.
- The ‘assist characteristic’ has the greatest influence on the behaviour of the motor and its battery consumption.
- It is best to keep the maximum torque setting at its highest for trail use as it will assist you when accelerating and on very steep climbs. The same applies if you’re a heavier rider.
- A fast ‘assist characteristic at the start’ is particularly suitable for aggressive use. Levels 1 and 2 respond too slowly and make starting unnecessarily difficult.
- Set up almost identical profiles and swap between them on the trail to isolate what effect small changes in the settings have.
Old vs new – How does the EP8 compare to the STEPS E8000?
How big are the differences really? Does the new motor only improve things or are there some disadvantages too? To answer what’s probably the most interesting question of all, read our detailed, back-to-back comparison of the Shimano STEPS E8000 and Shimano EP8.
Should I buy a bike with the old Shimano motor?
This much we can reveal from our comparison between the old and the new Shimano motors. On the trail, the EP8 is always one step ahead, particularly on steep and technical terrain. However, if you generally take things easier on the climbs, with a bit of luck, you might find a bargain on a STEPS E8000 equipped bike. The only problem is that the best eMTBs are currently hard to come by because they’re all sold out. Anyone who recently bought a new bike with the STEPS E8000 shouldn’t be concerned as the majority of bikes have barely changed in terms of geometry, kinematics and downhill handling.
Shimano, Bosch, Brose, Yamaha… Which motor is the best?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a simple answer for anyone wanting to know which motor is the best, because there’s no such thing. Nevertheless, we’ve already compared the new EP8 with proven motors such as the Bosch Performance Line CX, the Yamaha PWX2 and the Brose Drive S Mag. To find out which motor, or rather motor concept, is best suited to you and your bike, take a look at our big motor group test.
Which ebikes are available with the new Shimano EP8?
Shimano have tried to make life easier for bike manufacturers with the launch of the EP8 since the mounting interface hasn’t changed compared to the STEPS E8000. While the new motor is smaller, it should be easy for bike manufacturers to equip their existing frames with the EP8. Things are a little trickier with the larger 630 Wh internal battery. It takes up more space in the frame, requiring a larger opening in the down tube to take out, which in turn affects the frame’s stiffness, total weight and weight distribution. Some manufacturers such as Husqvarna, Propain and FOCUS have chosen to continue using their existing frames, relying only on the new displays and motor, while other manufacturers such as MERIDA have adapted their frames to accommodate the larger batteries. However, the EP8 will also see many brands design completely new frames, as Rotwild and Kellys have done. We had the exclusive opportunity to review some of the eMTBs featuring the new EP8 for you ahead of the motor’s launch and we’ll introduce you to some interesting options.
Husqvarna – updates across the entire range
Husqvarna have gone all-in: their entire 2021 eMTB range will feature the new Shimano EP8 motor. The Extreme Cross, Hard Cross and Mountain Cross models will be equipped with the new 2021 Shimano motor and a 630 Wh battery from Simplo. We’ve got all the details about their latest eMTBs for you here.
MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K on test
For 2021, MERIDA have adapted the frame of the eONE-SIXTY to accommodate Shimano’s new 630 Wh internal battery. Along with the updated motor hardware, MERIDA have also updated some components: the new FOX 38 fork leaves nothing to be desired and neither does the cleverly chosen tire combination. However, the bigger battery and harder-hitting components have made the eONE-SIXTY a little heavier despite the lighter motor. How will that affect its handling on the trail? Get the answer right here.
FOCUS JAM² 9.9 on test
The JAM2 9.9 DRIFTER 2021 features Shimano’s brand new EP8 motor and relies on FOCUS’ proven T.E.C. Pack battery system, which combines an internal battery with an external one, both with a 378 Wh capacity. But what has changed? And most importantly, did the JAM2 9.9 DRIFTER manage to impress us on the trail? We are the first magazine to have tested the new FOCUS and give you all the answers here!
Kona Remote 160 DL on test
Kona is a brand with a rich history: it wasn’t long ago that the Kona Stinky dominated bike parks around the world. Last year, the Canadian brand presented their full-suspension Remote 160 eMTB and with the Remote 160 DL they’ve now released a new flagship model featuring Shimano’s EP8 motor and 29” wheels. We already have an exclusive review for you.
Everything you need to know about the Kellys THEOS F
200% more impact-resistant, 200% more durable and the same weight as conventional carbon frames: the frame of the newly developed 2021 Kelly THEOS F is made of a thermoplastic steel-carbon composite called FEATHER, supposedly ringing in a new era in ebike technology. We found out what’s behind this promising eMTB featuring Shimano’s EP8 motor and 720 Wh battery.
All the details about the super light ROTWILD R.X375
The new Rotwild R.X375 is one of the most exciting eMTBs based on the new Shimano EP8 motor. The premium German bike brand have pulled out all the stops, integrating the new motor into a bike that is as light and agile as possible. We take a closer look and tell you everything you need to know about ROTWILD’s new concept.
When will the bikes and the new Shimano EP8 be available?
It’s currently still unclear when exactly the new eMTBs will be available. Many bike manufacturers have almost completely assembled bikes waiting for the new motor in their warehouses but Shimano are currently experiencing unforeseen delays in the delivery of the EP8 motor. We’ll keep you posted and let you know as soon as Shimano get everything under control.
The new Shimano EP8 motor offers numerous updates, upgrades and comes fitted to many exciting models for the 2021 season, some of which are breaking new ground. In terms of trail performance, integration and connectivity, Shimano’s new EP8 motor is among the best, leaving its predecessor far behind: a huge leap in performance! The annoying clunking and the uncertain availability of the motor and consequently, that of new bikes, are the only things clouding the otherwise positive overall impression. We’re sure this is something the Japanese giant will soon get a grip on!
Some more information on the new EP8
- Old against new: Shimano STEPS E8000 vs EP8
- The Shimano EP8 in our motor test – How does it fare against Bosch, Brose, Yamaha & co
- Shimano website
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: Jonas Müssig, Felix Stix Photos: Robin Schmitt, Felix Stix