The Shimano STEPS E8000 is one of the most widely used eMTB motors. Despite being around for a few years, new bikes are still released built on this motor platform. Can it still keep up with the newest generations of motors?
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Since its introduction in 2016, the hardware inside the 70 Nm strong Shimano STEPS E8000 has remained largely unchanged. But that doesn’t immediately mean it’s worse than the current competition. When it was introduced, it was one of the most modern and innovative motors on the market. Thanks to regular software updates, improved connectivity, new batteries, display and remote options, the Shimano STEPS E8000 system has been updated multiple times. Shimano were also one of the first manufacturers to develop a speed sensor that can be seamlessly integrated in the dropouts with a magnet forming part of the rear disc rotor. Shimano now offer two external batteries with 418 Wh and 504 Wh capacities, as well as two different internal options with 504 Wh. The latter two are different in terms of weight, shape and size.
The older and bulkier BT-8020 continues to pose challenges for integration in the down tube, while the newer BT-E8035 is significantly smaller, lighter and easier to integrate. However Shimano also allow manufacturers to use batteries from third-party manufacturers. That means there are numerous Shimano bikes equipped with 600 Wh (or even more) batteries. Lots of manufacturers, like FOCUS, equip the Shimano motor with a modular battery system, providing space for an extra battery on the down tube. The minimal SC-E8000 has been available since 2016. However, the compact display, which tucks into a protected position next to the stem is still one of our favourites, even if it isn’t compatible with the Shimano E-TUBE RIDE app. The SW-E8000 remote that is intended to go with it can cause some problems in terms of compatibility with dropper post levers. Luckily, manufacturers can also turn to the STEPS E7000 tool box, allowing them to use the even smaller black and white display together with the minimal E7000 remote. If you want, you can also fit the tiny EW-EN100 dongle. Similar to Specialized’s TCU, this obviates the need for a remote or display on the cockpit. Alternatively, combined with the E8000 display, the dongle offers full compatibility with all Shimano apps.
On the trail, the Shimano STEPS E8000 offers three assistance modes: Eco, Trail and Boost. Trail mode offers progressive assistance that is effectively regulated across the whole range of the motor’s performance. Amongst the all-rounders, with 300% support the Shimano motor offers the least in our test and, with the exception of the FAZUA and Specialized SL 1.1, has to accept that it’s beaten on steeper slopes. Similarly, the STEPS E8000’s age is also noticeable in its pedalling resistance above the 25 km/h assistance limit. That’s particularly noticeable on the flats, where the motor ramps down the assistance abruptly. Unlike the Bosch or Brose which continue to provide limited support up to the legal tolerance of 27.5 km/h, the Shimano motor just cuts out completely above the threshold. Despite its limited power, Boost mode is less easy to control than for instance the Turbo mode of the new Bosch motor. The Shimano is a lot more aggressive and surges forward when you don’t want it too, lifting the front wheel or making the rear spin out. At lower cadences, the motor often seems to run out of breath too. The individual assistance modes can be tuned with the E-TUBE app in three steps, but this doesn’t match the level of individualisation possible with Specialized’s motors.
The Shimano STEPS E8000 is particularly convincing thanks to its modular cockpit, allowing customers and manufacturers to choose from some brilliant options. The possibilities for integration are also great thanks to the motor’s compact dimensions and wide choice of batteries. The progressive Trail mode is a lot of fun, but in terms of motor power, pedalling resistance and ride feel at the 25 km/h assistance limit, the Shimano unit now lags behind the latest motors.
- great possibilities for integration
- great range of choices for displays and remotes
- assistance modes easy to configure
- limited compatibility of E-TUBE RIDE app with components
- slight pedalling resistance above 25 km/h
- limited support at low cadences
For more information head to shimano-steps.com
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: E-MOOUNTAINBIKE team