The new component system will includes a 1x chainring setup, a rear derailleur, works with the Hyperglide platform, and gets eight gears for under £200


Shimano’s latest drivetrain is called Essa, it uses the same narrow-wide tooth profile as top-end XTR, boasts a singlering 1x chainring on the front for easy shifting and chain retention, but it’s set to be one of Shimano’s cheapest setup ever. That makes it spot on for new riders looking to jazz up old bikes featuring old-school drivetrains with double chainrings up front.

So while it probably won’t be sneaking into any best mountain bike groupset features, it’s one of the most important drivetrains we’ve seen in years thanks to its potential to improve the best entry level hardtails.


Shimano Essa

Shimano Essa is probably going to be popular on a lot of budget hardtails, even computer-generated ones

The new components include a crankset and rear derailleur. It features eight gears and is compatible with the brand’s existing 8-speed groupset lineup, including Acera, Altus, and Tourney TX. We had a guess that it would be below £30 for the derailleur, undercutting the likes of Microshift Advent X, but it looks like the SRP is just above – at £49.99.

Shimano Essa need to know:

  • Components will be compatible with existing 8-speed options
  • Essa stands for Essence of Active
  • Entire groupset (minus chain and brakes) costs under £200
  • New components include rear derailleur (£49.99) and crank arms (from £39.99)
  • 1 x setup only, 400% gear range
  • Max 45T cassette allowance


Shimano Essa

The rear derailleur will work with a cassette with a maximum 45T

Shimano Essa groupset

We’re struggling to want to use the term ‘groupset’ here as there are a few things left wanting with the Essa – namely brakes and shifters. But, that’s not what the Essa is claiming to be. Instead, Shimano looks to be filling a gap within their 8-speed systems and has brought out the RD-U2000 rear derailleur and the FC-U2000-1 crankset.

The rear derailleur uses a low-profile design, which Shimano says is optimised for rough terrain. It comes with a total capacity of 34T, and a maximum sprocket of 45T on the cassette. If we’re being honest, that’s not the most climbing friendly gear – particularly if you’re a beginner, which we’re guessing the Essa is aimed at.

That being said, you do get a choice of a 32T or 40T chainring, and the 32T chainring even comes with Shimano’s ‘dynamic chain engagement+’. This is essentially a slightly different gear tip shape which is claimed to help increase chain engagement.

The Essa is compatible with the Hyperglide platform, and with the CS-HG400-8 8-speed cassette (11-45T).

Another interesting thing to point out with the Essa is that it’s not set to be OEM only. Which means consumers will be able to buy it without having to wait for a bike to come fitted with it. The pricing is pretty competitive in the hierarchy of 8-speed groupsets, and looks like it’ll be presented as an upgrade from the likes of Acera and Altus.

Price list (note these may be subject to change):

  • Rear derailleur – £49.99
  • Chainset 32T 170/175mm crank arms – £49.99
  • Chainset 40T  170/175mm crank arms – £39.99

Not branded as Essa but required to complete the groupset:

  • CS-HG400 8-speed cassette – £39.99
  • ST-EF515 EZ shifter – £27.99

Total groupset price (excluding brakes and chain) = £157.96

Shimano Essa

The 32T chainring uses Shimano’s ‘dynamic chain engagement’ tech

More newness?

Shimano isn’t just enticing us all with the Essa. The brand is also introducing an ergonomic design to the Shimano Cues shifters, optimised for those of us with smaller hands. It claims to reduce thumb travel by 11%, with a push shifter and thumb accessible buttons closer to the grip.

In addition to the Cues updates, the Japanese brand has taken a look at its freehub range and worked to simplify it. The non-series front hubs and freehubs are being renewed across the 8,9,10 and 11-speed lineups.

Designed to endure more from trail riding, the TC600 and TC/QC500 series will now include labrynth and contact seal bearings. The QC400 series uses only seal bearings, while cup and cone is the order of the day for the QC300 series.

E-bikers haven’t been forgotten either, as the FH600 and FH500 freehubs with microspline will now be able to be upgraded to Hyperglide+ 12-speed hubs from 11-speed Linkglide options.