Shimano-STePS-MTB_eMTB-electric-assist-mountain-bike-drivetrain_Explore-New-Grounds

Shimano is making the jump to electrify mountain bikes as they have now developed a new trail-specific version of their STePS e-bike drivetrain that they are calling STePS MTB. The all new e-MTB components are designed to deliver XT-level fit and finish to get to riders serious about riding off-road, but who are looking to extend their range to explore farther from the trailhead. The new group is sure to spark some heated debate, especially in the states where trail access could potentially be at risk, but in Europe where e-bikes are seeing steady growth Shimano seems to have needed to get in the game, lest they risk being left behind. Take a closer look at the system after the break to see what it entails…

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Like the urban STePS system, and the other systems from the likes of Bosch, Yamaha, Specialized, and other that came before them, the new STePS e-MTB group is simply a pedal-assist that adds to the power the rider puts into the pedals, and has an upper speed limit where it ceases to supply power. Shimano and others see this solution that will help riders travel farther without creating motor bikes that will be ripping down the trails at significantly higher speeds. The marketing hype goal is to somewhat level the playing field between riders at different fitness levels, so that they can enjoy a ride together.

The XT 8000-level spec means there will be a hollow forged crankset (above), with dual color finish to match an otherwise XT group out back. At the same time, a solid Deore level crank (below) will also be available to match a lower level spec. Both arms use the same electronics and a Hollowtech II bottom bracket setup. Chain rings will get XT profiles (in 34T or 38T) and an optional chainguide will be part of the overall kit that can either mount to a direct mount or to the drive unit itself.

Shimano-STePS-MTB_eMTB-electric-assist-mountain-bike-drivetrain_non-driveside-render

The new relatively light E8000 drive unit (yes, that’s a motor) was designed to be more compact that the E6000 urban version with the goal of producing bikes with shorter chainstays for better trail handling. It has an output of 70Nm or torque, and also claims to have a narrow 175mm Q-factor so you get the feeling of pedaling a normal mountain bike.

Powering the motor is an impact, vibration, and water-resistant 500Wh battery that has been specifically designed for off-road riding. The new downtube-mounted battery will be backwards compatible with the E6000 systems as well.

Shimano-STePS-MTB_eMTB-electric-assist-mountain-bike-drivetrain_shifter-computer

The entire system is then controlled by the left hand-mounted shifter that bears some similarities to Di2 shifters, and a computer/display that together let you cycle through its three assist modes: Eco, Trail, and Boost, plus the addition of a walking assist mode when even the e-MTB can get up the hills under your own power. A speed sensor attached to the rear wheel shuts power down at its speed limit.

The rest of the drivetrain components (rear derailleur, shifter, and chain) can be mixed with either 10 or 11 speed bits and either Di2 or mechanical shifting. STePS MTB itself is designed to communicate by Bluetooth with the Di2 E-tube setup to let the user customize settings and setup.

STePS MTB is projected to be available to consumers from October 2016, so we expect to see it get spec’ed on a number of e-bikes that we will seen debuted at the autumn tradeshows.

Shimano-STePS.com/MTB

71 COMMENTS

  1. well, I guess we know what another one of the 4 drivetrains they’re releasing this year is… so we’ve got 11 speed SLX, XT Di2, XT STePS. I’m still guessing a new Saint is the last one, but I’m less confident now that it will be in both mechanical and Di2 flavors.

    • I doubt they’re releasing new Saint. They’ve already said Saint didn’t need 10s, and they only released it as such for shift lever compatibility. Maybe a 7s Saint with symmetric hub, but that’s a huge maybe. That’s actually how they intended Saint to be run in the first place, 7 cogs and a spacer.

  2. We are going to lose every single mile of singletrack trail in America because of this and other e-bike developments. We might even lose the ability to imagine future trails in a future world (without e-bikes).

  3. EFF E-MTBS! This $hit makes me so mad. This needs to stop! There is no place for these motor powered vehicles on our singletrack trails. This is going to hurt mountain biking as a sport, and hurt trail advocacy efforts. There is no need for it. E-bikes need to stay on the pavement to provide transportation solutions, not powering fat-a$$ tourist and dentist where they don’t belong, where they don’t have the skills and strength to safely travel.

    I guess now we know who in the bike industry has been putting pressure on IMBA to promote eMTB’s. I love Shimano’s quality, and I was looking at building two new bikes in the next two years with shimano parts, but now I think I’m going to boycott them.

    How do we start and anti-E-MTB advocacy group? I am sure we could get mountain biker, hikers, horsebackriders, land managers and other stakeholders together to shut these electric motorcycles out.

      • This is a really stupid comment. When you ride an e-bike on an offroad trail, you’re not the only person affected. Your actions affect others. Now if you want to argue that everyone or even most people using e-bikes will be responsible, go ahead and make and suport that argument.

    • tbh theres some good use of emtbs, thought in the real world most people want to use it as a motor bike on bike trails, it possible at high speed.

      for ex my dad is still quite capable but too old to follow us on long ascents (or we have to wait forever, 1-2h longer than it takes us). with an emtb he can follow just fine without risking his health in the process and enjoy the descend with us as well.

    • What’s your problem? I am a 55 year old fat dentist who recently had a heart attack. Built my own emtb and lost 15 lbs in three months. My doctor is stocked.

      When I was young and thin I put more miles on my mtb than most anyone I know and I really don’t know what the mtb community’s problem is with emtb’s. This really reminds me of the bullshit issue in surfing between short boards, long boards and SUP surfers. Or the early battles between regular skiers and snow boarders. They all hate each other and for no good reason.

      We are hear to stay and get over it.

  4. So these things have the advantage that they can sidestep the usual restrictions on motorcycles and ride on bike trails, is that the deal? I already see them blazing through bike paths in the city, which seems remarkably dangerous and foolish.

  5. You guys can kick and scream and throw all the tantrums you want, but this stuff is coming. It’s going to only get better (like everything else) and someday when you lose the ability to turn the cranks on your own, all of you will start learning everything you can about e-bikes because if it will help you get back out there, you’re all going to do it.

    • That’s a BS justification. When I’m too old to ride under my own power I’m probably too old to safely be out with a motor pushing me around either. That’s how they’re justifying it, but really its being marketed towards out-of-shape dentists.

      • Dentists have every right to spend their hard earned money on whatever they want don’t they? Do you really begrudge a doctor or dentist for an expensive purchase? Those guys are awesome, and without them your life would kind of blow. Plus, when a shop sells a $8K electric bike you do understand that it helps keep their doors open and “real” cyclists get to keep hanging out at their LBS for a little while longer and their buddy who owns the shop gets to continue to provide for his family.

      • I’m a “real” rider (and not, for the record, an out-of-shape dentist) who’s recently been diagnosed with a medical condition that may very well limit my power output. Though I’m not in a rush to go out and purchase an e-mtb, should I automatically be expected to forego them as an option? I’m not talking about racing, since I’m very likely done with that, but regular, recreational riding.

        I have the skills, including some very long rides, but at the tender age of 47, I may no longer have the steam.

        How do I, or others like me, fit into this?

        • Michael I could have written the exact same post (swap my 45 for your 47). So many fortunate MTBR’s here who think their health will be with them forever. I envy them, as I wished I was healthy enough to think I won’t have to worry about this stuff for a few more decades so I could pout about e-bikes to.

    • Its not about us, its about the environment. Some trails already cause too much erosion as is and this is basically opening MTB trails to motocross bikes without the smell. These things need to be banned from mostly any MTB trail for the sake of everyone and the ecosystem. We all get older, we need to accept that. That’s what 50t cogs are for and eventually, when that’s not enough, you just stop riding in places that are too hilly. When you can’t do that either, you’re probably having too much trouble getting out of bed anyway and its time to change your activities to leisurely bike rides on the road. That’s 100% ok and human. You can’t be 18 forever, and you won’t be able to even function like a 60 year old forever. That’s part of growing up.

  6. I love comments on eMTB articles. That said… do we know top assisted speed?

    I wonder if there is room for a system where the assist stops around 10mph. That would be about half the speed most road systems are calibrated for, but might address some of the concerns over trail usage.

    10mph could be a big assist on steeper sections, but wouldn’t boost you beyond what a relatively fit rider would be doing in most places, and it wouldn’t help you burn up flat sections.

    Generally speaking I agree that eMTBs clearly fall into “motorized vehicles” and should be treated as such for trail access. They key will be educating the buyers if eMTBs really take off. If the dealers are making it clear, buyers (who are likely less “hardcore cyclist”) may unknowingly use eMTBs on trails where they’re not allowed.

    • Don’t forget about the poaching factor. You know mopeds will be poaching non motorized trails. It’s a given. Some moped riders will be ignorant, others will know exactly what they are doing. It won’t matter to other user groups. The end result is something we shouldn’t take lightly. Here in California the MTB scene is nuts with constant trail closers and multi use issues. Just wait for mopeds to entry the fray!

    • This reads as the most rational comment in the whole thread. I believe there’s a distinction to be made between e-assist and throttled designs, but the internets do love their hyperbole.

  7. The problem in the USA isn’t E-bikes on the trails, it’s the government and it’s laws that seem affected by corrupt officials getting paid off by their wealthy cronies. Europe doesn’t have an issue….

  8. The over-reaction to eBikes out on the trail is beyond comical. The same people that are trying to say that mountain bikes don’t erode trails, are losing their minds over how trail erosion is this huge issue.

    Get a grip. It’s coming. Spend less time complaining, and more time thinking about ways to better approach the incoming situation.

  9. The only reason e-bikes make people mad is that young(er) and/or fit(ter) riders can’t stand the thought of someone who is old(er) and/or less fit them passing them on a climb.

    It’s an ego-, not evidence-, based argument.

    • Its really not about that. I live in Montana and more and more of public land here is getting classified as wilderness land. as such “Mechanized vehicles” aren’t allowed. Bicycles are in that category. and people are working hard to to fix this. This E-bike thing is just one more obstacle in the way of allowing the public access to the land out our back door by bicycle, because they are one step closer to Identifying bicycles and motorcycles as one.

    • Flatbiller: Who would have their ego hurt when someone passes them on a moped while they are riding mountain bike? That’s like saying a kayaker’s ego would be hurt when they are passed by a motorboat.

      The funny flip side of your statement is there will be more ego hurt E-bikers because most people these days aren’t concerned with getting to the top super fast, rather it’s about ripping it up on the downs. No way a piggish moped is going to hang with a mountain bike when gravity takes over.

  10. We need to nip this in the bud. Trail owners around the world need to specifically ban motorbikes, petrol and electric from using their land before non motorised pedal cycles are tarred with the same brush.
    These motorbikes belong on designated off road trails, roads and should require a rider to have a licence and insurance, maybe even be of a certain age too.
    Not anti e-bike but they are potentially dangerous if a 6 year old was to ride one which presumably he/she could.

  11. The bike industry is gambling with the long term stability of mountain biking for short term profits. E-bikes pose a large danger to the sport and people shouldn’t underestimate this. It’s pissing me off that media outlets play both sides rather than come out firmly in defense of 100% human powered bikes.

  12. All you anti E-MTB folks out there need to cool your jets. First if you have never ridden an E-MTB you have no idea what you are talking about. Your just speculating what you THINK they do and don’t have any basis for your argument. Secondly if you’re not studied in environmental science or build trails you don’t really know how erosion works and how it would be affected by an E-MTB, again your speculating. I understand that trail access and trust was difficult to gain. However I really don’t see this as a threat. Are you worried about weight? Ive seen 45 lbs downhill bikes and they don’t ruin trails. Are you worried about speed? If your doing an hour climb to do a 20 min decent, The E-MTB would take you from 10 MPH to maybe 15/16 MPH, how is that any different than a really good climber. Lets say you do that technical decent at 20mph are people really going use the assist on decent and how is that different than a DH rider pushing the limits? In my estimation these aren’t going to affect the trails, yes I am speculating. However I have ridden E bike on bike paths and they really only reward you more so for the efforts you put in. When you account for the weight its really not going that much faster than my road bike at all out sprint. If it doesn’t have a throttle its not a motorcycle and shouldn’t threaten access.

    • Finally starting to see some intelligent discussion on this matter instead of the instant hate that has been spewing almost automatically. This entire issue is a perception issue. These bikes have been super popular in Europe without any problems. You’re going up hill maybe 20% faster overall. and like I started in my post, you mostly don’t pedal on the downs. You’ll probably be smoked by a regular bike when gravity takes over.

    • This is the most rational comment here. So great to have an intelligent conversation vs the instant automatic hate that seems to spew in every eMTB post. The throttle is a very distinct distinction. At best you go up faster 25% overall. But going down, you don’t pedal so if anything you’re probably slower than the non-eMTB rig going down.

      The Trek product manager has a video on Youtube that does a great job of explaining the issue and it’s 100% an education issue. I think if education is done correctly, the sport can grow further and we might have more trails vs less.

      I too understand the concern, but this is all speculation on everyone’s part. Reviews seem to not support the hate that this technology deserves. Or the doom’s day it brings with it.

  13. If an e-MTBer poaches an MTB trail, has a boatload of fun, doesn’t win any strava KOM records and enjoys a local craft beer after his/her ride, BUT NOBODY OTHER THAN THIS RIDER KNOWS HE/SHE DID THIS RIDE ON AN E-BIKE, will the sky still fall?

    I’m old enough to remember the remarkable protestations of hikers, birders and parents of children who thought the sky would fall when those horrible mountain bikes reached a level of popularity where we were suddenly deemed a “threat.” All kinds of fabricated reasons were given to ban mountain bikes. Ironic that it’s now some MTBers who are sounding a very familiar alarm.

    Got news for you, the sky won’t fall. 99.9% of the pedaling public won’t have a clue when they’re riding near people with e-assist. And the REAL problems of the bike industry will still be there to complain about, like a new BB standard.

  14. Nothing exiting to add, but here is another voice saying no to eBikes produced specifically to look like a normal mountain bike and lawful or not access the same trails. Guess I am naive but shocked at people excited/happy to see this. Are those that want this in cycling the people who only shuttle to downhill runs currently? The motor assist is the polar opposite of cycling mountain or road as we have known it. If it’s coming and can’t be stopped then at least don’t call it cycling coin some another term.

  15. No to ebikes. Sure there may be some responsible users. It takes but one dirt bike on my local trails to ruin things for months. You can’t tell me ebikes won’t be modded for more grunt by some. Ebikes belong on paths and justified for some as commuting transport.

    And if to old/disabled to pedal then not enough upper body strength to handle the trails either.

    No to ebikes – when will bikerumor learn!

  16. We bought new Specialized Levos today. All I can say is WOW! This is going to revolutionize mountain biking as a sport. I have been mtb’ing and racing for years. You haters have never been so wrong. Again, sorry, but you are just wrong.

  17. e-bikes will do what jet skis have done for the beautiful, safe, quite places we visit. They will end them. Drunk rednecks hitting trail walkers, ripping up trails, scaring horses. As has been mentioned, we will have even less access to the trails.

    The reason the industry is into e-bikes is they like the big fat profit margins and the sites that carry the press releases just want the advertising dollars and review opportunities.

    Hopefully soon there will be a cycling website that takes a stand and just doesn’t cover them.

  18. Everyone keeps assuming that “old age” is the only reason you would buy one of these and all of you claim that you will voluntarily turn in your mtn. biking card when you can’t turn the pedals under your own power. Of course all of you also think you are decades away from being in that position so it’s really easy to proclaim now. All of you think you’re going to be healthy for a long time and let me tell you, life can toss you a curve ball at any time. I hope everyone is healthy until the age of (insert what you think is old here), but it doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. What I do know is this, people who make predictions that they think are decades away, aren’t really making a prediction, they are making a case for what benefits them, at the time they made it. Big difference.

  19. One more before I begin my day, many “real” mtb’rs have ridden trails they knew were off limits at one time or another, probably some of you even commenting here, so be careful using the “losing trail access” card because if you’ve been guilty of riding an off limits trail in the past, you don’t get to vote or opine on that issue anymore.

    • Haromania: As you said, many riders including some commenting here have poached trails. That’s why it will happen with E-bikes. No doubt about it. The difference is when a bike with a motor poaches it will raise a lot more eyebrows.

      It’s scary how many people are blowing off trail access issues. Mountain biking is nothing without trails. Have you ever rode in a high multi use conflict area like the Bay area, or the Front Range? I’m assuming commenters blowing off trail access issues have never rode those areas.

      E-bikes are nothing but trouble for the sport of mountain biking. Good thing Moab Banned them last year. I’m just crossing my fingers they will be banned across the country very soon. If not for trail access I could care less if someone wants to ride mopeds rather than mountain bikes. When your moped threatens my ability to ride my mountain bike, I’m going to speak up.

      • Translation; “Yes, many “normal” MTBR’s have poached trails which put everyone’s access in jeopardy, but they did it on a normal mountain bike so it’s sort of OK”. Gotcha.

        • Haromania: You are lost in translation. I never said it was ok, I’m saying that poaching has existed since day one with negative consequences for all mountain bikers. Poaching on mopeds will only exacerbate this. I have a feeling riders attracted to mopeds will be more likely to poach than mountain bikers generally speaking who already poach. Regardless the end result if bad for mountain biking as a whole.

  20. To the haters – Try one. They’re bicycles, 100%. All of the same limits apply (traction, terrain, trees, space) so you won’t see an e-bike go any faster than a well ridden trail bike anywhere but up a wide-open climb. Cost is also an obstacle and since it’s still a “bike”, you’re not likely going to see the delinquents you’re worried about- they’re just not interested.

    You’re worried about your hard fought trail access without realizing how little land we actually have access to. E-bikes can interest more riders who didn’t accept cycling the way “we” do it and more voices mean more advocacy & access.

    This will turn out well if it becomes popular. The doomsday scenarios are simply unrealistic.

    • I’d sort of agree, but there’s a distinction to be made between the assistive system described in this article and other e-bikes on the market that use a throttle and really are just electrified motorcycles. I think it would be challenging to allow the former on trails without the latter.

    • Too funny! You’er saying we shouldn’t worry about trail access because we already have very little access as is.

      Trail access aside, I’m surprised how many mountain bikers are interested in mopeds. I guess I’m in the minority which is fine but this isn’t a case of each to their own.

      • No, that’s really not what I’m saying. These aren’t mopeds. There are exceedingly few electric MTB’s in the marketplace that make more than 500 watts (just over 1hp) of power. It will be very easy to govern what is/isn’t an e-assist bike, based on behavior (just like is done on public roadways, where every car can exceed every speed limit).

        The MTB community is not growing and hasn’t for some time. Without growth, there will be apathy and with it, loss of trail access. Better to grow and deal with some growing pains, than to shrink.

        • They are mopeds by definition. Moped according to Mac dictionary: A low powered, light weight motorized bicycle.

          (deleted)

  21. This is a total gamechanger for the adaptive mountain biking community. Let’s not forget, not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to use our legs anymore and need to ride handcycles. These e-assists will totally open up the trails we can ride on and let us be able to keep up with able bodied mountain bikers again. Try and keep an open mind.

  22. Why is everyone going nuts saying that people on these bikes are going to blaze through trails? I don’t get it. It doesn’t have a throttle. You’re not going to be climbing any faster. Just similar speeds but with less effort. Climbing doesn’t really damage trails. These things aren’t roosting dirt.

    As for when you’re going downhill, how often do you pedal? Almost none right? So when you’re not pedaling these things aren’t applying any power. You’re just coasting and pumping down just like everyone else. In a way you’ll probably go slower because of more weight and larger tires. Watch the Matt Hunter video that Specialized put out. Matt Hunter is going slower than his usual self.

    I understand the fear, but logically all this crazy hate doesn’t make sense. Maybe we should have an open mind and ride these things before judging that its the end of the world? Every media publication has reviewed the LEVO and said it’s fair more bicycle then you think.

    I will reserve judgement until I experience one for myself. This happens every time we have a technological change in our sport.

  23. IF have ridden a 250W Bosch or Yamaha middrive you will known they are not going to be tearing tracks up like a motorbike. The illegal 1000W+ ebikes are a different story and can be classed as motorbikes. It just comes down enforcement.

  24. I have seen plenty of people riding regular road bikes blazing along tarmac trails intended for casual cyclists, families out walking with strollers and little kids on bikes. These guys think they can hammer along on tri bars and yell “left” at everybody without ever slowing down, this to me seems far worse than the potential for the odd guy to ride an e bike irresponsibly on single track.

  25. I agree with Bike Ninja. I’ve been riding mostly trails for over 30 years.
    I’m average in my skills and physical ability. I love being in nature enjoying the single track and getting exercise. It’s euphoric. I own 8 bikes and my newest one is a Cube ebike 29,ht. I can say it’s a lot of fun and isn’t that what it’s all about? I consider myself cautious and courteous to others on the trails. I ride more often because it helps you save energy and I can enjoy it after a long day of work without being too burnt out. It’s pedal assist, (No throttle). The assist is why it’s great. If it was throttle it would be a poor moped.
    It hasn’t replaced my mtbs it’s another flavour in my quiver of rides. I love it and recommend people try it before condemning it.
    Riding in control is always recommend no matter where or who you are. If it was assisting me with the help of 30 hamsters maybe nobody would be upset that it’s not a 100% human powered. My opinion is, it looks like a bike, rides like a bike, pedals like a bike to move. It is a bike. Sorry it’s easier than a traditional bike. Does it really matter if someone has a easier climb up the hill? We’re all pedelic people. Some of us just have more human power and health as their assistance. Bottom line, everyone should stop worrying about what everyone else is riding on and enjoy your own ride time.

  26. As an avid MTB er for many yr, now I’m 70 yr YOUNG and with A-Fib, I would love to have one of this to hang with my Crew.
    We all getting older, but the love of the MTB riding is going strong, and I belie could go much longer.

  27. I am 48 and im in the bike industry. I raced BMX in the 80’s, rode mountain in the 90’s and road in the 00’s – I still ride all three at varying times. I rode an eMTB for the first time this year. It was amazing. I have the bike handling skills from BMX and MTB riding but ive got a busy life so could be fitter. I rode eMTB with people much younger, fitter and faster than me who were on regular bikes – it was amazing, I was able to keep up and we flew down the hill. The bike I rode handled just as well as their non e bike downhill. Fact is that the boom years of MTB started in 1989 so there are a lot of people in their forties who will enjoy the assist. Don’t knock it until you have tried it because its fantastic.

  28. I blame dropper seatposts. How dare people buy them. The advantage of dropping your post at the flick of a switch. Just not fare on folk that dismount, to manually adjust seat height. Piff! (What a dis-advantage).

    Come on people, get real all or most development’s in the Mtb world add an advantage to your riding style and pleasure. It’s up to you if you want to take a bite out of the apple.

    I for one still ride non-assisted (with a dropper). At that age where the old knees are starting to creak but with still plenty of years and miles in the tank, to enjoy this fine sport. So it’s something to look at to keep involved and carry on.

    So if you don’t like it, then carry on non-assisted and if people want to take a bite, then let them. Personal choice. Move on. Enjoy your ride.

  29. Those of you here with knee-jerk “NO” responses aren’t thinking things through. The people who buy these have money. They may not have their former health for a variety of reasons. If this allows them to get back out there and ride, and enjoy WE ALL get another advocate that can donate to helping keep trails open. If these folks can no longer ride at all WE ALL risk them becoming apathetic and “out of the loop” on trail closures.

    If this helps keep people involved in the sport for a few more years it will be a positive for all of us.

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