NUNSPEET, The Netherlands – Shimano has announced the specifications of its new e-bike system that was presented at last week’s Taichung Bike Week. Outstanding features are a mid-motor combined with internal gear hubs that have electronic shifting.
Shimano's new components series for electric bikes carry the same label as the system which was launched in June 2010 as STEPS; Shimano Total Electric Power System. However, this second STEPS generation promises to be of an entirely different caliber.
With its new e-bike components series Shimano builds on the current trend in drive systems which primarily revolves around mid-motors. And, according to the STEPS specifications, it's the lightest mid-engine of all currently available drive systems with its weight of about 3.1 kg. Shimano's compact 36V mid-motor is capable of delivering 250 to 500 Watt and is with that suited for the use in regular e-bikes as well as speed pedelecs. Maximum torque stands at 50Nm.
The battery of Shimano's new STEPS e-bike components series can be integrated into the frame down tube or fitted in a rear carrier. It's a 11.6Ah Li-Ion battery that provides 418Wh and can be recharged in 4 hours. STEPS offers three types of power support modes; eco, normal and high. The preferred mode can be selected by an easy to operate switch. The eco mode has a range up to 120km. Normal mode 100km and the high mode 80km. The STEPS cycling computer gives feedback about the selected mode, battery life, riding speed, distance, etc. The STEPS e-bike groupset of course includes all other necessary e-bike parts such as sensors (torque/cadence/crank position/speed) and controller.
Di2 internal hub gears
E-bikes equipped with Shimano STEPS drive system will be the first city bikes that have electronic shifting. And according to the company's press release there's more to come in this area as Shimano states: "STEPS has the possibility to integrate with Shimano's Di2 internal hub gears. This integration gives STEPS a number of valuable advantages. First the Shimano Di2 internal hub gears maintain shifting performance under high chain tension by reducing motor power while shifting. Besides the shifting performance also the total integration is an important feature."
STEPS offers the possibility to connect to a PC via Shimano's E-tube project. E-tube gives quick and easy access to the STEPS system for simple installation and set-up options. For instance changing the function of the buttons on the switch, firmware updates and diagnostic analyses.
As for the introduction of STEPS to the market Shimano has planned a pilot project with the German dealer cooperatives BIKE&CO and ZEG. This will run from February to August 2014. Both companies will develop e-bikes with the STEPS drive unit which will be sold at their German dealers. Besides the production bikes, both BIKE&CO and ZEG will organize demo days (supported by Shimano) at their selected dealers where consumers can try the new e-bikes with the STEPS drive unit.
Shimano Europe MD Frank Peiffer says about this phased market introduction, "Our service to OEM's, dealers and consumers is key at the introduction of our STEPS system. That is why we chose for a phased approach. The pilot project is a limited quantity in a limited sales channel with a direct service access. If there we gain experience and are convinced the product works, we expand it further to other players in Germany and the rest of Europe." The initial delivery to OEM's is planned in August 2014.
Photos on the new STEPS drive system are not yet released by Shimano.