Shimano will combine Di2 technology and road technology with the release of new firmware that allows e-bikes with Di2 electronic shift buttons on drop handlebars to be used for toggling between the SHIMANO STEPS e-bike drive unit modes.
This expands the range of possibilities with SHIMANO STEPS to include a wide variety of bikes including touring, gravel and fast commuting e-bikes, as well as providing more freedom to bike manufacturers to use different drive unit grades to create bikes with different performance characteristics.
For e-bike riders the biggest advantage of this comes from not having to take your hands off the handlebars to change modes, meaning that you can be in control of your bike at all times. This has an added benefit in gravel riding where rocky or bumpy terrain can throw unbalanced riders off their line. It also means that riders can ride on drop handlebars without having to use a mountain bike style e-bike switch, making for a cleaner, neater looking e-bike.
This new technological advancement is achieved by the new E-TUBE firmware making the connection between the lever’s Di2 electronic shift buttons and the drive unit. The firmware to do this will be available for bike manufacturers on Monday 8th April.
The new SHIMANO STEPS compatibility works with Shimano’s existing Ultegra Di2 levers (R8070) and is best suited to the dedicated e-road and e-gravel bikes that will hit the market in the coming season.
Pieter Vincent SHIMANO STEPS brand manager: “With e-bikes rapidly gaining popularity with mountain bikers as well as city/trekking riders, the next logical step for e-bikes is the drop handlebar market. Whilst these might be new segments for many riders, they have an obvious attraction for riders who want e-power to ride trails, gravel paths or roads with the racier position that drop handlebars provide.”
“The new compatibility between our performance drive units and Ultegra Di2 disc levers allows riders, who often face miles and miles of energy sapping terrain, to now not only get the benefit of drive unit assistance, but also to safely change support modes, allowing them to experience amazing natural environments at a keen lick, away from hostile traffic on our roads.”
The SHIMANO STEPS e-road and e-gravel drop handle bar functionality is compatible with Shimano’s E8000, E7000, E6100 and E5000 drive units and works with downtube or integrated batteries and E6100 or E7000 displays.
The Ultegra Di2 shifters in combination with SHIMANO STEPS drive units are compatible with Ultegra (RD-R8050) and Ultegra RX (RD-RX805), and even XT (RD-M8050) or XTR (RD-M9050) derailleurs. The shifting function will be customizable via the E-TUBE project application.
For riders who choose to use the mechanical shifting version of SHIMANO STEPS, and therefore lack the Di2 button, it is still possible to ride with drop handlebars because the 3rd button of the display unit can also be used to toggle between support modes.
Completing the suitability for touring, gravel and fast commuting e-bikes a new 47T chain ring (SM-CRE-R) will be introduced which can be easily mounted between the SHIMANO STEPS drive unit and the crank arm. This gives a higher gear ratio than the current SHIMANO STEPS MTB and Trekking chainrings and allows riders to put more power down, generating higher speeds. This product will be available by June 2019.
MORE E-BIKE COMPONENTS COMING IN 2019:
As well as the new firmware, Shimano will also introduce the following e-bike hardware later this summer:
- a 160mm crank arm for its e-bike systems, complementing its 175mm, 170mm and 165mm e-bike crank arms. The 160mm version has better ground clearance and less chance of pedal strike, and is naturally better for shorter riders (available April 2019).
- 12-speed components for e-bikes including MTB-specific 34T, 36T, 38T chain rings with Dynamic Chain Engagement technology and a 42T 12-speed chain ring for e-trekking bikes (availability starting from May 2019).
- A new compact and portable SHIMANO STEPS 4-amp battery charger with an IPX5 high level waterproof rating for outdoor performance. The EC-8004 charger charges twice as fast as the SHIMANO STEPS EC-E6002 charger, charging from empty to 80% in 2.5 hours (full charge: 4.5h), and with its light weight it is perfect for stashing in your rucksack and charging your battery at the coffee stop (available September 2019).