Shimano has launched two new electric bike drive units specifically designed for e-cargo bikes. The brand has also opened up its Steps motor system to be powered by third-party battery packs.
In designing these motors, Shimano looked at how electric cargo bikes handle and are used, and then developed a new set of firmware settings for the existing EP8 and E6100 to better deal with heavy loads of up to 250kg.
Electric cargo bikes are a burgeoning category – ideal for pollution-free deliveries around towns and cities, and transporting children or pets – and these new units have been optimised to power them.
Key to the cargo-specific setup is the motor’s ability to now push maximum torque when the rider is putting out much lower pedalling torque.
There’s a yellow Cargo logo on the side of the motor to differentiate the cargo bike-specific version, but the guts of the motors are the same as a standard Steps motor. You still get the option of Eco, Normal and High modes and can use the Shimano e-Tube app to customise the settings to suit the rider.
The cargo-specific variants of the two Shimano Steps motors are the DU-EP800-CRG and DU-E6100-CRG. Both are compatible with Shimano Nexus hub gears and cassette gearing options.
The EP8 is a higher performance model than the E6100, so offers more support. Shimano says that it’s quieter too and has better cooling due to the finned casing and more efficient internal gearing.
It pushes out up to 85Nm of peak torque in Normal and High modes, while Eco mode will help reduce battery usage. There’s also a Walk Assist mode to help move the cargo bike around when it’s not being ridden.
In contrast, the E6100 provides 60Nm of peak torque from a slightly larger motor.
Both units can be paired with Di2 internal hub gears to give you a ‘start’ mode, which drops down to a pre-set lower gear when you set off. This setup can also be configured to offer automatic shifting, which changes gear based on a rider’s input torque and speed.
You can run the new cargo bike motors with Shimano’s own 630Wh, 514Wh or 408Wh batteries or third-party batteries from Shimano partners (more on this below), along with compatible Shimano drivetrain and braking components.
The technical standard for use on cargo bikes is DIN 79010 and Shimano says that its e-cargo drive units, gearing and brakes are fully compliant.
Shimano Steps opens up to third-party battery options for extra range
Alongside its announcement of the new motors, Shimano has also opened up compatibility for batteries supplied by third parties, allowing for extra battery capacity.
Although the newly-approved, large-capacity third-party batteries are not limited to use on just electric cargo bikes, they are particularly useful here because heavier loads invariably run down batteries quicker.
This means electric cargo bike makers will now be able to fit batteries with up to 750Wh capacities from partner manufacturers such as Trendpower and Darfon when they are released later this year.
Shimano is also planning to allow up to four batteries to be linked to its Steps system, which would potentially give a huge 3,000Wh capacity and allow for intensive all-day cargo bike use.