Shimano finally announced today the release of a new firmware update for e-bikes running their STePS system and the Di2 Nexus hubs. Shimano had introduced us to the possibility of automatic, electronic gear shifting on their drivetrains almost a year ago, but when we talked to STePS users and industry insiders who were spec’ing the systems, no one really had heard anything suggesting real world availability of the automatic transmission setup. That has changed now with public v2.11.1 firmware available from Shimano. Let your mouse automatically take you across the break to see how it works and self-learns when it should shift based on your riding style…
First off the functionality is simply a firmware update, and is available for any existing Steps-equipped e-bike (DU-E6001 & DU-E6010) that uses a 8 speed Nexus Di2 hub (SG-C6060). Electronic Di2 shifting goes a step more high-tech by automatically picking the ideal gear based on cadence and speed, and shifting on its own. That means no worrying about ever shifting, yet still getting the full gear range, something that will be excellent for new e-cyclists or say for people using Steps on things like cargo bikes. Alternatively, riders have the option to take back control via the standard handlebar shift switch for manual gear shifts.
The automatic shift system works by telling the e-bike motor to temporarily reduce chain tension while you are still pedaling, and then signals the Di2 hub to make the shift. Shimano has been testing it on all types of road surfaces and up and down some sizable hills to perfect how it works in real-world situations at any cadence, any speed, and with lots of stop-and-go riding. Presumably this was harder than expected, which is why we are seeing the new firmware just now. The update also adds a self-learning advantage with the ability to improve over time based on each rider’s style and cadence preferences. Over time it is said to adjust the RPM it shifts at, based on how you have been riding previously.
The new firmware is available to download directly from the Service section of a new Steps website, launched today, but they recommend visiting a dealer for the update. Dealers should make sure that they have the proper SM-PCE1 diagnostic tool on hand to upgrade their customers and can head over to the Steps site to get the upgraded firmware ready.