Shimano launched a new flagship ebike motor in the form of the EP8 and took to the trails of Massa Marritima to put it through its paces.
With more torque, lighter weight, lower volume, better range and an app to customise your settings, the Shimano EP8 ebike motor certainly promised a lot. Pete headed to Tuscany to see how that translated on the trail.
Shimano’s new EP8 aims to put it back at the sharp end when it comes to performance, having lost some ground in available power at least to the likes of Bosch, Yamaha and Brose in output. The new unit leap frogs the Yamaha, matches the Bosch and only falls behind the Brose by 5Nm. Power without control is nothing though, and the power delivery in Trail mode has been smoothed to reach towards Shimano’s goal of making the ebike feel more like a ‘normal’ bike.
Going hand in hand with that goal is a massive reduction in drag, thanks to a revised seal structure and gearing within the unit itself. Shimano claim a 36% reduction in drag, as well as a 2dB reduction in noise, all working towards that feel of a ‘normal’ bike. Range jumps 20% in Eco on a flat trail, or the same range as the E8000 in Trail, but with the ability to keep the 85Nm torque on tap for far longer.
The new motor also comes in 300g lighter and 10% smaller, leaving the bike lighter and providing more ground clearance, while the same mounting points mean you can swap any E8000 motor out with the new EP8. Pricing for the parts needed to do this swap have yet to be confirmed.
With the hardware seeing a serious upgrade in all departments, Shimano haven’t skimped on the software either. The EP8 bar display offers the ability to switch between profiles and adjust your display preferences.
The real update comes in the form of the E-Tube app, which gives you three different adjustments per mode, across two customisable profiles. The three adjustments essentially simplify the multiple motor factors to help you dial in your preferences. You get Assistance Character with ten settings; Maximum Torque, again with five adjustment settings ranging from from 20 Nm to 85 Nm, and Assistance Start with five adjustment settings.
Mating the app to your bike is simple, with the bike being visible on the app for 15 seconds after switching it on, and options in the app to go again should you miss that cut off, meaning you don’t need to turn the bike on and off again. Simply set up your two profiles on your phone, connect it to your bike and away you go.
My previous ebike experiences have all been with the E8000 Steps motor and certainly the drag was one of the main things I noticed once above the 25.5kmh threshold so I was looking foreward to seeing how Shimano had moved towards making the EP8 feel like closer to a ‘normal’ bike.
Three rides aboard a 2021 Merida eOneSixty in Massa Marritima in Tuscany on trails I’d sampled back in February at Bike Connection Winter meant that I could focus on paying attention to what the new EP8 unit could do.
The bar-mounted display will be familiar to anyone who’s used a Shimano Steps motor before, but the bonus of the new unit is that you can adjust between profiles and change your preferences. For everything else, the new e-Tube app allows full customisation of Eco, Trail and Boost modes over two profiles, amongst a range of other options.
With the focus on the Trail mode’s new smoother power transfer and the rides being relatively short, I would stick to this setting for the majority of the camp, only jumping to Boost when messing with the profile settings.
Immediately the smoothness of the new motor in Trail is obvious. There’s no lurching about, no loss of traction or panicking to find your other pedal from the off, just start going and away you go. Even stopping on a steep slope deliberately would see an impressive amount of traction and control.
One trail shot us through a dense forest tunnel at warp speed, trying to keep our guide Daniele in sight, with only punchy climbs bringing us back below the threshold for a moment. The massive reduction in drag on the motor become most obvious here as it felt like we were pedalling a normal bike, albeit a heavy one, rather than fighting against the motor. This in itself was somewhat of a revelation for me.
Having switched between the default profiles on day one, I opted to stick with Profile 1, a slightly less aggressive profile that really highlighted the smoothness of the new Trail mode and again, I’d stick with this into day two when we’d find ourselves venturing further afield. Even with some e-Tube app fettling, I found the default Profile 1 to be pretty much spot on for what suited me.
I made a point of not trying to be economical with the battery and only ever once found myself using three bars of battery in a full day’s riding, despite the temperature running into the low thirties and sticking to Boost mode on the climbs once I started to wilt late in the day on the ‘adventure’ ride.
Range, therefore, was impressive and it would be interesting to see just how much riding you could do before you were running on empty. Again, that’s where the lack of drag would come into its own.
The other step change that I noticed compared to the E8000 was the motor’s ability to work well across a range of gears. With the older motor, you needed to be in the right gear to eek the most from the motor, let’s say akin to driving a weak petrol car, whereas the EP8 definitely has a bit more turbo diesel about it.
That said, pick the right gear with the new motor and you’ll be rewarded with that 85Nm whisking you up the trail for another run and your base fitness will no doubt go through the roof. I don’t think I have ever pedalled as much in such a short space of time than on the eOneSixty with the EP8 motor.
Check out the Shimano EP8 motor on their website here.