With the introduction of a new firmware, SHIMANO enables the combination of road bike Di2 components and SHIMANO STEPS systems. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest update from SHIMANO.
Shimano’s new firmware allows e-bikes with Di2 electronic shift buttons mounted 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, giving bike manufacturers more freedom to use different drive unit grades in order to create bikes with different performance characteristics.
The biggest advantage of the new update for e-bike riders is 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 you off 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 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 to bike manufacturers on Monday 8th April.
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 SHIMANO STEPS e-road and e-gravel drop handlebar 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 app. For the moment, the new software cannot be combined with the STI levers of Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets.
For riders who choose to use mechanical shifting groupsets with 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.
“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.”
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 strikes, and is naturally better for shorter riders (available April 2019).
12-speed components for e-bikes including MTB-specific 34T, 36T, 38T chainrings with Dynamic Chain Engagement technology and a 42T 12-speed chainring 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).
SHIMANO is making an important step (excuse the pun) forward with the updated firmware and gives a clear signal: The Japanese company wants to be involved in the race for supremacy in the e-road market. We are curious to see what the engineers of SHIMANO still have up their sleeve, but in the meantime, we’ll enjoy the tidier cockpits and the sensible use of already existing hardware.
For more information head to www.shimano.com
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Words: Photos: SHIMANO