The Shimano STEPS system has been gaining popularity, as their high-end e-bike components brand. Their latest update has a host of improvements – the most exciting being integration with Di2 shift buttons on drop handlebars, for toggling between e-bike drive unit modes (and eliminating the mountain bike-style e-bike switch). Other updates include new e-bike crank lengths, more 12-speed e-bike MTB options, and a new compact charger. Finally, Shimano released a second reach option for small hands on the Ultegra road line – plus wider rims and 650b options.
Shimano STEPS e-bike integration for road & gravel
E-bikes are seemingly everywhere these days, with more and more options in road and gravel. What’s not always pretty, however, is the integration with road bars and levers. Until now, the Shimano STEPS system didn’t have a road integration, and changing controls required a switch on your MTB or flat bars.
The new STEPS e-road and e-gravel drop bar functionality changes that, allowing the use of Di2 buttons for control. Translation: road, gravel, and touring e-bikes now have modern integration with STEPS, eliminating the need to remove your hands from the bars to change modes.
It just requires a firmware update (available April 8, 2019), and is compatible with Shimano’s E8000, E7000, E6100 and E5000 drive units and works with downtube or integrated batteries and E6100 or E7000 displays. As for compatible shifters, Shimano mentions Ultegra Di2 R8070 as the only option for now.
Mechanical shifting is possible with Shimano STEPS – just without the Di2 integration. In these cases, the 3rd button on the display unit can be used to toggle between support modes.
Shimano STEPS e-bike components and 12-speed updates
Other STEPS e-bike updates are coming later in 2019, in addition to the road and gravel integration above.
- A new 47t chainring (SM-CRE-R), which can be more easily mounted between the STEPS drive unit and the crank arm – at a higher gear ration than currently available.
- 160mm crank arm for its e-bike systems, complementing the existing 175mm,
170mm and 165mm e-bike crank arms (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 etrekking bikes (available May 2019).
- A new compact and ultra-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 unit, charging from
empty to 80% in 2.5 hours (available September 2019).
New Ergonomic reach options for Ultegra R8000
Shimano has traditionally offered some levers in specific small-hand versions, and today that expands to Ultegra ST-R8025 (mechanical shifting, 11-speed, with hydraulic disc brake internals). Featuring a redesigned lever shape and 4mm shorter reach positioning, these levers help with fast shifting and secure braking for those with small hands.
New wide-rim 650b & 700c disc brake road wheels and hubs
Shimano moves in a calculated manner – and relating to road and gravel – that has meant a relatively slow adoption of wide rims and 650b sizes. The new WH-RS171-CLF12/R12 are 11-speed compatible, available in both 700c and 650b, and features a 19c internal rim width. Compared to the previous WH-RS170 wheels, it also dropped 100 grams of weight. There are also new HB-RS470/FH-RS470 11-speed hubs, with 12mm e-thru axles.