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New developments on the Shimano STePS e-Road drive system

Thanks to the latest development of the Shimano E-road pedelec electric drive system, we do not have to take our hands off the handlebar when switching drive modes, we can do this with the buttons on the Di2 shift lever!

Previously, e-Road and e-Gravel bikes equipped with Shimano drive system could only be set to a different mode or function by taking the hand off the shift/brake lever, and pressing the buttons on the unit mounted to the top of the handlebar. This is certainly not most practical or safe method, since modes often need to be altered on the most difficult terrain: a bumpy road surface, or a steep climb.

Shimano solved this problem in the easiest and most elegant manner by reprogramming the buttons found on the Di2 shift/brake lever units to carry out the mode change on the electric drive system. The modification will be available from the 8th of April with the most recent E-Tube software update. (Mind you, only the Ultegra (R8070) units will be compatible.) This will allow the rider to switch to maximum assist mode while standing out of the saddle on steep climbs. This new development will surely be of interest to e-Gravel riders as off-road conditions often require fast switching between drive assist intensities.

The following Shimano STePS models are compatible with the new software update: Shimano E8000, E7000, E6100 and E5000 drive systems, with both battery types. Concerning the display unit, the E6100 as well as the E7000 are fully compatible with the update. The Ultegra R8070 Di2 brake/shift unit must be used. Concerning rear derailleurs within the STePS system, the Ultegra (RD-R8050) and the Ultegra RX (RD-RX805), or alternatively the XT (RD-M8050) and the XTR (RD-M9050) units are the only ones compatible. The system must be E-TUBE app compatible as well, which enables modifications of the buttons and the corresponding functions.

Another STePS-related novelty from Shimano is the 47T chainwheel, which slightly increases the gear range towards the higher end, permitting faster progress for one pedal revolution. The new unit can be installed easily on an existing Shimano STePS crankset. The chainwheel is expected to arrive in shops in June 2019.

This year will also see some more STePS product introductions. Crankarm selection will expand to 160mm in addition to the presently available 175, 170, 165 mm lengths to allow shorter riders to pedal comfortably and efficiently. Moreover, installing the shortest crankarm on e-MTB bikes will improve ground clearance, so the rider may pedal over rock gardens with confidence.

Also aimed at the e-MTB crowd are the new 12-speed compatible 34T, 36T, 38T chainrings using Dynamic Chain Engagement technology. (We wrote about this new technical development in the new XTR article) For e-trekking riders a 42T option will also be available.

There will also be a new 4A charger available later this year with IPX5 water protection. The EC-8004 unit will charge the battery twice as fast as the EC-E6002 model, it’s capable of reaching 0-80% charge in 2.5 hours. A complete battery charge will take 4.5 hours. As a bonus, the new unit is smaller, so it can easily be transported in a rucksack, allowing for quick recharging while having a coffee or lunch break.

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