Shimano have made electric motors before but the new XT E8000 motor marks a major move into e-MTBs.
April seems to be the month for new Shimano drivetrain announcements. Following on from their new 11 speed SLX and electric-shifting XT Di2 stuff, Shimano have just released details of their forthcoming XT-for-eBikes range – Shimano E8000.
Shimano’s latest press release comes with some excellently provocative statements that are sure to add fuel to fire around the rights and wrongs of powered mountain bikes – “E-mountain bikes level the playing field between riders with different fitness levels and abilities. Uphills become a joy, taking riders to places they couldn’t previously reach. And when riding uphill can be quicker, it gives riders more time to enjoy the downhills.”
Anyway, we’ll not get into the debate now. We’ll let you discuss it all in the comments section below.
Shimano’s first MTB focused e-bike motor
It’s not the first eBike range that Shimano have done. Back in 2013 they came out with E6000 which was squarely aimed at urban and commuting use. E8000 is aimed squarely at electric mountain biking (eMTBing we’ll call it).
The decision to stick the XT label on it is perhaps the most significant move here. If something says Shimano XT on it then it should be a premium off-road performer. It’s a big statement of intent from Shimano that signifies a major commitment to eMTBing.
The motor specification
As well as offering more torque and a gear range more suited to steep terrain, the new XT E8000 motor is more compact and slimmer than most motors.
This means that frame designers can still design around having relatively short chain stays to maintain nippy handling response of a regular MTB.
The motor mounts in a triangular way around the bottom bracket area. It won’t be retrofittable onto existing eBikes that use Bosch motors, for example.
The slimness of the motor also means that the cranks – and thus pedals – aren’t excessively far apart (think John Wayne). This should further assist in E8000-equipped bikes feeling similar between your legs as regular mountain bikes. There are cooling fins on the drive side of the motor to reduce heat build-up.
Different power settings
The motor has three power-assist settings: Eco, Trail and Boost. There is also a Power Walk crawler setting for when you’re so knackered you can’t even push your bike unaided.
There are two sizes of chainring going to be available: 34 or 38 tooth. Both of which are quite a bit bigger than Bosch’s granny ring-esque rings – can we assume a lower rev count on the Shimano motor?
E8000 chainrings feature Shimano’s Dynamic Chain Engagement technology; slightly hooked teeth which are also alternately thick-thin for keeping hold of the chain firmly over rough ground. There’s also an optional chain retention device (SM-CDE80) for those who like belts with their braces.
There will be two sorts of crank arm available, hollow or solid. The latter will be cheaper.
Compatibility with existing components
To complete the drivetrain the E8000 motor will be compatible with 11 speed Di2 XTR and Di2 XT components or mechanical 10 or 11 speed setups.
There are two bar-mounted components. One is a display head unit computer with colour LCD (SC-E8000) and the other one is the ‘Firebolt’ control unit that goes on the left-hand side of your bars (SW-E8000-L).
The computer displays current gear selection, power assist mode and battery power/range remaining. Shimano’s E-TUBE software and smartphone/tablet app can communicate via Bluetooth with the bar control to change settings and customisation.
The battery mounts on the down tube much like all other e-MTBs. Shimano claim to have a very secure, rattle-free mounting design that is still simple to remove the battery for charging purposes. The battery looks a bit slimmer than some other companies’ ones but it’s still quite substantial (understandably really). The battery is rated at 500Wh and kicks out 70nm of torque.
Shimano Steps e-MTB E8000 components will be available in October 2016. We’re awaiting a few more details, such as weights and BCD sizes, and we’ll update this story as and when we get the info.
Full list of SHIMANO STEPS MTB components
- 70Nm drive unit (DU-E8000)
- 500Wh battery (BT-E8010)
- Battery mount (BM-E8010)
- Crank arms (FC-E8050/E8000)
- 34T or 38T chain ring (SM-CRE80-B/CRE80)
- Chain retention device (SM-CDE80)
- Cycle computer (SC-E8000)
- FIREBOLT switch unit (SW-E8000-L)
- Speed sensor set (SM-DUE10)
- 11-speed (CN-HG901-11) or 10-speed (CN-E6090-10) chain
- 11-speed or 10-speed Di2 or Mechanical rear derailleur
- 11-speed or 10-speed cassette