The bike show Eurobike is just around the corner and the novelties of the manufacturers are just coming in. Shimano makes no exception — on the contrary, the amount of new products is huge and has also the segment of electric urban bikes in focus!
Electric shifting with comfort thanks to AUTO SHIFT and FREE SHIFT
The most exciting new features are certainly two new technologies called AUTO SHIFT and FREE SHIFT. These are available in combination with the also new shifters and motors and provide more comfort when using the derailleur.
AUTO SHIFT refers to a function for automatic shifting, similar to an automatic transmission. When braking or coasting, AUTO SHIFT automatically shifts to a lower gear so that you can start up again comfortably. While driving, on the other hand, the software uses the values from the speed, cadence and torque sensors to calculate the ideal time to shift. But if you want, you can still intervene manually and change gears yourself.
The second technology, FREE SHIFT, is intended to counteract a fundamental disadvantage of derailleur gears — namely that can not shift when not in motion. With FREE SHIFT, however, this is now possible: if the bike is standing or the crank is not moved, a shifting operation can still be performed. For this purpose, the motor continues to move the chainring until the shifting process is completed. The crank can remain at a standstill during this time.
New hardware: DEORE XT Di2 and CUES Di2 shifting …
For the two new technologies there are also updates in the derailleurs — and of these Shimano offers two novelties. On the one hand, the already known DEORE XT Di2, Shimano’s top derailleur model with 11 or 12 gears. On the other hand, the CUES Di2 is completely new. A gearshift for urban city and commuter bikes with 10 or 11 gears, which will also be priced below the XT series.
… and EP6 and EP8: new and updated motors
The bike drive is then completed by its core, the motor. With the EP8, Shimano already has a compact and lightweight mid-mounted motor on offer, which is one of the top models with its torque of 85 Nm. Even though the powerful unit is primarily used in mountain bikes, the motor can now also be found in urban bikes — for example, in the Rose Backroad+, Orbea’s new SUV bikes or the compact cargo bike from Yoonit.
For the new season, this drive is now given the internal designation EP800 — and with the new EP801, it is joined by a model that is ready for the new AUTO SHIFT and FREE SHIFT technologies.
A real newcomer, however, is the EP6, internally called EP600. It is on par with the EP8 in terms of performance, so it also offers 85 Nm of torque at 250 watts. However, the weight of the EP6 is reduced, as it is 300g heavier and weighs a total of 2.9 kg. But this new motor is priced below the EP8 and should thus find its way into many lower-priced bikes.
Shimano ABS by Blubrake
While competitor Bosch has been working on an ABS system for e-bikes with its own drivetrain for quite some time, little has been heard from Shimano on this subject so far. The fact that this is now changing abruptly is due to the Italian company Blubrake. So the Japanese have unceremoniously joined forces with Blubrake and implement their market-ready ABS in the product world of Shimano. Who wants to know more about the ABS of Blubrake, can look at this article — there we have already tried the system!
Electric shifting is not necessarily new — but its previous advantage was primarily fast shifting times, which appealed more to users with sporting ambitions. With the new AUTO SHIFT and FREE SHIFT technologies, however, Shimano now offers two new comfort features from which every cyclist should potentially benefit – on every ride, whether to the bakery or on the weekend tour. If the system actually works in everyday use as described here, then the demand for these electric gears in the mass market should increase significantly. And the fact that Shimano is also launching two lower-cost alternatives, the new CUES Di2 shifter and the EP6 motor, will give further impetus to the spread of the Shimano system. So the chances of some exciting new urban bikes with Shimano drivetrains are not bad!