Past month in MTB tech brings us a new ebike motors, carbon cranks, tyres, shades, gloves, peanut butters, goggles, fat grips, instant porridge and Whoops!
Shimano’s E8000 STEPS motor has been successfully powering some of the best e-bikes for years now, but it’s been eclipsed in terms of power and performance by the competition.
Shimano EP8 motor
Bosch’s gen 4 Performance Line CX motor and the Brose S-Mag fitted to Specialized’s Turbo Levo and Kenevo both have more power and can use bigger batteries.
So at long last there’s a successor to the E8000; called the EP8, it boasts an array of improvements over the old unit, including more power, less weight and a whisper-quiet ride. And perhaps best of all, it uses the same mounting points as the old motor, meaning you’re going to be seeing a lot of bike brands upgrade their bikes to the new motor over the coming months. This is great for buyers because it means we won’t have to pick our next e-bike based on its motor, instead it’ll come down to which is the best bike.
The biggest change then is that Shimano has boosted the torque of the EP8 by 15Nm over the old E8000 to bring it in line with the 85Nm Bosch Performance Line CX unit. On paper then, the two are now evenly matched.
It’s made the motor a whole lot lighter too – Shimano has pulled out all the stops on the EP8 to lose around 300g and 10 per cent volume compared to the E8000. It’s visibly smaller than the old unit, offering more ground clearance and enabling sleeker frame designs. There’s also a bigger battery available now, and most new high-end e-bikes will get this 630Wh BT-E8036 battery launched earlier this year. This internal battery pack gives an extra 25 per cent range, which translates into around 200 metres-plus of climbing per ride.
Shimano claims the EP8 is 36 per cent more efficient than the E8000. Or think of it another way, there’s 36 per cent less drag in the motor mechanism. This should mean that you can ride further on the same battery power, that there will be smoother reduction in power when you reach the 25kph limit, and it will be easier to pedal when the motor cuts out.
There have been some sizeable software changes too. You can more easily access max power in Trail, so you don’t need to switch modes as frequently, and Eco mode has been dialled to give you more range – an extra 20 per cent on flat terrain compared to E8000.
Shimano has also updated its E-Tube app, letting you better customise various parameters in each power mode – things like the torque curve of the motor, the maximum torque in each mode and how quickly the motor reacts to pedalling.
How does it ride? You can read our first impressions online at mbr.co.uk – it’s now got sufficient power to compete, boasts a refined engagement, improved software and a really quiet operation, all wrapped up in a lightweight, compact package. All told, the EP8 is a worthy successor to the E8000.
Whoop strap 3.0
The Whoop Strap 3.0 is a fitness tracker with a difference, wear it on your wrist whatever you’re doing and it will tell you just how much you can push your efforts, and how much recovery you need between rides. Crucially though, it’ll measure all this in real time, meaning the strap will tell you if you’re overdoing it, slacking off, or mashing yourself just right.
Whoop does all this by measuring your heart rate variability, your resting heart rate, your breathing and your sleep. The gadget on your wrist acts as the sensor for all this and sends the info to an app on your phone that makes sense of the data.
If that sounds pretty serious to you then you’re right, the Whoop Strap has been designed for people that take health and fitness seriously – some mountain bikers then, but by no means the majority of us. However, the Whoop could prove useful to regular riders too, using the same tools to maximise our riding time and minimise injury and exhaustion.
Whoop also works as a sleep coach, telling you how much of it you’ve had, whether you need more, and your ideal time to wake up. All pretty irritating for those of us with young children, but potentially useful for the rest of you.
There are lots of other interesting features here too, the strap has been designed to be worn 24/7 so it absorbs sweat and displaces pressure for maximum comfort, and you can also create videos displaying your real-time data. There’s a five-day battery life, and the whole thing is Bluetooth Low Energy compatible so you can hook up to other trainers and bits of gym equipment.
The Whoop Strap is free but you have to subscribe to get it – €25 a month for at least six months. There are other potential problems too, the strap can’t measure the effort you put into resistance training, so if you lift weights it could label you as rested when you’re completely smoked. We’ll let you know how we get on with the little thing later in the year, and if it really works.
E*Thirteen XCX Race Mountain Carbon Crankset
E*Thirteen says its latest XCX Race Mountain Carbon Crankset is the lightest in the world, under 360g without the chainring, or less than 400g with it. Comes 170 or 170mm crabon crank length, and uses E*Thirteen’s new APS preload adjuster to load the bearings.
Vittoria Aggro tyre
The new Vittoria Agarro has been designed for trail riding, it weighs a scant 850g but features a 120 TPI casing. Uses Vittoria’s Graphene compound rubber and 4C layering process, and the line of lugs between shoulder and centre line suggest it’s best for hardpack.
Sungod Vulcan FF glasses
Sungod says the lens on its new Vulcans FF glasses is made from something called co-nylon and this makes the whole package lighter and brighter than the industry-standard polycarbonate. Choose online from customisable colours and details, and lenses. Detachable lower frame too.
Fasthouse Speedstyle glove
The Fasthouse Speedstyle glove has been made for maximum mobility, with stretchy, expanding materials around the knuckles and between fingers, while there’s a two-way stretch to the main body too. Touchscreen fingertips, Clarino palm, velcro closure.
Pip and Nut
Pip and Nut makes peanut and almond butter without any nasties like added sugar or palm oil lurking in there, which makes it healthy and great riding food too. We like the crunchy peanut butter, made from hi-oleic peanuts and sea salt.
661 Radia goggle
The new Radia goggle stands by 661’s ethos of making highly protective kit at affordable prices. Key features are a lightweight construction, wide eye port and a smoke lens coated in both anti-fog and anti-scratch treatments. Two sizes are available and there are four colour/graphic options.
Orange Grappler grip
Orange has a new grip out, called the Grappler it has a bigger diameter than the old 130, uses a diamond pattern with waffle underneath, tapered shoulders for support and features a micro flange on the inside to prevent any chaffing. Comes as standard on new Orange 2021 bikes.
Moma Instant Porridge
Moma Instant Porridge Sachets are made from jumbo oats rather than smaller, chopped oats like normal instant gloop, meaning they have a lower glycemic index and release their energy more slowly. Laced with cranberries and raisins too, and raw cane sugar.
Birzman Uncage Side Draw Bottle Cage Combo Kit
There’s no need to carry tools on your body thanks to the Birzman Uncage Side Draw Bottle Cage Combo Kit. Two Co2 canisters are bolted under the cage, and there’s a velcro strap for your tube too, and you can choose left or right bottle entry.