By Alex Evans
It weighs a claimed 2.6kg, which is a 300g saving on the previous motor, thanks to its all-new magnesium casing. Shimano’s managed to reduce the volume and therefore the width of the new motor by 10 per cent, too.
Shimano has also tweaked the EP8’s software to produce a “more natural feeling e-mountain bike”. It’s done this by adjusting how the three support modes work and offering user-customisability of those modes via itsE-Tube Ride and E-Tube Project apps.
At the centre of Shimano’s new DU-EP800 motor is an increase in maximum torque from 75Nm for the E8000 system to 85Nm, now rivalling Bosch’s recently updated Performance Line CX motor’s output.
At the same time as increasing torque, Shimano’s managed to reduce claimed weight to 2.6kg from 2.9kg for the old E8000 system. This 10 per cent reduction is due to a magnesium drive unit casing and Hollowtech crank spindle, which also claims to boost stiffness.
Battery efficiency, and therefore range, has been improved, too. Shimano’s done this by decreasing pedalling drag from inside the motor by 36 per cent compared to the E8000 system.
Pedal drag is most noticeable when the motor system is turned off – some people have likened pedalling an electric bike without assistance to riding through glue. These sensations should be reduced with the EP8 system.
The reductions have been achieved by altering the motor’s seals, changing its three-stage gear design and using a new one-way clutch, which also gives the motor quicker engagement when the rider starts pedalling and smoother disengagement once the rider stops.
Its range has increased by 20 per cent in Eco mode compared to the E8000 unit and, even though torque has increased overall, battery range in Trail mode remains the same.
The new magnesium drive unit’s body has better heat management and improved cooling fins compared to the previous system. New EW-SD300 wires also contribute to better heat control thanks to their smaller size. They can also transmit more data, opening up the potential to expand Di2 and other accessory compatibility and functionality.
Improved heat management means the motor can operate at maximum torque for longer without reductions in performance or other reliability issues.
Shimano has also managed to reduce its decibel output, claiming it makes the same amount of noise as the E7000 unit.
Not only has its audible volume been reduced, but its size has been cut by 10 per cent over the E8000. This, Shimano claims, improves ground clearance, makes the motor look sleeker and results in a narrower 177mm Q-factor.
Despite its reduction in size, it uses the same frame mounting pattern as the E8000 and E7000 units, which means bike manufactures can spec any three of those motors on their frames.
It also opens up the possibility of retrospective upgrades to existing E8000 and E7000 owners, however Shimano’s press release doesn’t mention whether this is or isn’t possible.
A more basic FC-EM600 crank – that looks suspiciously similar to Shimano’s new Deore M6100 crankset – is also available with the same length options as the XT version.
A new DU-EP800-specific CD-EM800 chain device is available and features a mud-shedding design. Thanks to adjustability, it’s compatible with 56.5mm and 53mm chain lines.
There’s also a 12-speed chainring that’s only compatible with 56.5mm chain lines or Super Boost 157mm rear axle bikes without chain devices.
The remote control unit has also been updated with more concave buttons, which Shimano says improves operational comfort and control while making it easier to use the buttons.
The new remote – SW-EM800L – is also I-spec compatible which means it should be possible to attach compatible dropper post levers to it, such as Shimano’s SL-MT800-IL.
The computer display looks unchanged and works in the same way as the old one. It does now have the option to change between customisable rider profiles (more on that shortly) and can connect to the smartphone-based E-Tube Project app via Bluetooth and compatible third-party bike computers to share gear and battery information.
The new DU-EP800 motor system is compatible with Shimano’s electric mountain bike batteries including its newest and biggest BT-E8016 and BT-E8063 630Wh units or smaller, but faster charging 504Wh BT0E8035-L battery.
As well as the physical changes to increase torque, Shimano’s re-written its electric mountain bike software to adjust the way the motor’s torque is delivered. It hopes this will make its assistance feel more natural.
The amount of pedalling input torque needed to access assistance has decreased across the modes. Boost mode now only needs 20Nm of rider torque for the full 85Nm of assistance.
Similarly, Trail mode now delivers peak power sooner, requiring only 60Nm of rider input instead of 100Nm for the E8000 series motor and is claimed to be more responsive than before.
Eco mode only delivers 30Nm of maximum torque and that figure is reached using a similar amount of effort to the E8000 system.
When connected to the E-Tube Project app, it’s possible to customise the torque levels of the three riding modes between 20 and 85Nm.
Shimano’s introduced rider profiles, too. Assistance levels can be set for different rider profiles which means the bike can be quickly transformed from an endurance, battery-saving bias to an outright power rig.
The E-Tube Ride app – the second Shimano electric bike companion app used to display on-the-hoof information on a smartphone’s screen – has been updated, too.
New features include ride history and live maps plus updates to the user interface. The app will now automatically sync rides with Strava, too.
The navigation feature uses a Mapbox base map that Shimano claims has “street-level detail and high-level path detail in forests and trails,” although information about how the system works is limited and makes us wonder whether Shimano plans to produce a more feature-rich display and onboard computer like Bosch’s Nyon and Kiox systems.
Technical editor Tom Marvin has managed to spend some time on the EP8 system ahead of the launch, but hasn’t spent enough time on the bike yet for a full review.
I was lucky enough to get hold of the updated Merida eONE-SIXTY ahead of the EP8’s launch, in order to get some ride impressions on the new motor.
While I’ve not had as much time as I’d like on Merida’s enduro-focused electric mountain bike so far, I do have some brief ride impressions of the new motor to share.
First up, it’s worth noting that the accompanying E-Tube Project and Ride apps from Shimano have not been available ahead of launch, so the functionality to adjust the power settings, power delivery and create my own profiles has not been tested yet.
What is immediately noticeable is that the motor is significantly quieter than the E8000 motor that preceded it and those on offer from Bosch. While there is some background motor whine, it’s very quiet overall, something that many riders will appreciate.
In Eco mode the motor’s support is very subtle and will likely work well for riders looking for that little helping hand on hills and away from traffic lights, rather than those looking for the ‘full’ ebike experience.
If the reported range extension is correct, the EP8 could be great for riders on bike tours looking for assistance for their loaded bikes over longer distances.
In both Trail and Boost modes the EP8 provides a very smooth delivery of its power throughout its power band.
At the top end, when the assistance drops off, there’s no cliff-edge in support, so that transfer to fully-human powered riding isn’t quite as demoralising.
While this works well in Trail mode, I did feel that in Boost mode I wanted to be able to exploit the motor’s power all the way to the end of its assistance. I suspect, though, that with the app’s adjustability, this is something that should be able to be programmed in.
Trail mode is likely where mountain bikers will spend most of their time. Here, the motor’s assistance level seems to easily complement the effort put through the pedals.
This means there’s plenty of torque control when manoeuvring up steep, loose or technical climbs, without much in the way of uncontrolled wheel spin.
While the previous generation E8000 motor was very well mannered, the EP8 feels just that little more refined in this respect.
As mentioned, I would like to spend more time on the Merida eONE-SIXTY to get a better grip of both the bike and the motor.
However, if I was to draw any early criticisms, it would be that I struggled to get the motor to provide its full level of assistance (as indicated by the sliding scale on the motor’s display unit) even when tackling steep climbs and putting in as much manual effort as I could.
This may well be a result of the power delivery tailing off to give a smoother transition to non-powered riding, but on steep pitches I was so far off the 25kph limit that, really, I’d like the full 85Nm of power to be easily delivered in this situation.
Alex started racing downhill at the tender age of 11, later going on to compete internationally representing the UK. At 19, he moved to the Alps to pursue a career as a bike bum clocking up moon-mileage riding the famous tracks in and around Morzine, France. In that time, he broke more bikes than he can remember. Alex then moved back to the UK when he landed a job working for Mountain Biking UK as their Features Editor — BikeRadar’s sister title — as their features editor. Since working for MBUK, Alex’s focus has moved to towards bike tech and he now wants to find out what bikes and components represent the best value for money regardless of discipline. Alex’s current fleet includes his trusty commuter bike, a 2017 Marin Gestalt 3, his long term Orange Stage 6 RS enduro bike, a used and abused 2015 GT Sanction Pro, a Scott Voltage YZ dirt jump bike and a Deluxe Pro 2 BMX.
Sign up to receive our newsletter!
Thanks! You’ve been subscribed to our newsletter.
By entering your details, you are agreeing to BikeRadar terms and conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time.
World news – THAT – Shimano boosts ebike power with brand-new DU-EP800 motor