Shimano unveil new STEPS E6100 city motor
It’s been a while coming, but Shimano has unveiled its new city and trekking motor. The dependable but slightly boxy E6000 motor is on its way out, after six years, and is replaced by a new unit, the E6100. It’s lighter, more powerful, and shares a mount with Shimano’s mountain-bike-oriented E8000 unit. And it’s not just a motor, either: there’s a bunch of other new stuff including new display options and a five-speed hub.
The motor itself bears more than a passing similarity to the E8000 motor, which isn’t much of a surprise; that unit was certainly a step forward in terms of performance, and was also smaller and a good deal lighter than Shimano’s original city motor. The E6100 is 210g lighter than the E6000 at just 2.8kg, and the smaller size means that the Q-factor (the distance between the crank arms and pedals) is reduced too, giving it a more natural feel when pedalling and increasing the ground clearance when cornering.
Shimano claims that the motor is more powerful and more efficient, too. It doesn’t give a specific maximum torque, but claims a 500W peak power (the motor is an EU-standard 250W nominal power, so road legal in the UK), and say that the lower friction in the redesigned motor unit and the more responsive mode characteristics could mean an increase of battery life of un to 20%. The E6100 is available with the current 504Wh downtube-mounted battery, and a new 412Wh battery is an option too.
Shimano is offering the new motor in trekking and city builds, with the city motors getting a fully enclosed chain guard. You can also use the motors with a Gates carbon belt drive. The motor still has three assistance modes – Eco, Normal and High – although it sounds like Shimano have remapped the assistance to make the Normal mode a bit more responsive to rider input and more like the Trail mode on their E8000 motor. You can adjust the motor response using Shimano’s E-TUBE software on a laptop.
New Bluetooth compatibility
The current Shimano LCD display is one option for controlling the system – and it works well – but Shimano has also embraced the smartphone with theis redesign, offering a Bluetooth junction box which can be added to the system so you can control the motor from a third party unit such as a Garmin, or your smartphone.
“With your smart phone and easy-to-use E-TUBE RIDE app you can still view and customize the display of all the important riding metrics like speed, cadence, remaining battery capacity, support mode, gear choice and more”, says Shimano. “As well as this, all system messages can be displayed on 3rd party display units and, for smart phone users, system warnings are linked to a web address for on-the-go additional explanations.”
New five-speed hub gear designed for e-bike use
Shimano has also unveiled a new hub gear option for e-bikes, the Nexus Inter-5E. It’s a five-speed hub with a range of 263% from low to high; that’s not as much as the Alfine 8-speed (307%) or 11-speed (409%) hubs, but it should be plenty for an e-bike that has plenty of assistance at the low end and isn’t designed to go especially fast.
The hub has been designed to cope with the extra load that a mid motor adds, and it’s capable of being electronically controlled by the STEPS system. Electronic shifts allow the controller to back off the motor power for more efficient shifting, and the STEPS system can also take over shifting entirely, moving up and down the gears based on what the rider is doing. In the past we’ve found that STEPS shifts a lot, and that it’s a bit intrusive. Reducing the number of gears the controller has to play with will probably help there.
We haven’t seen the new motor in the flesh yet but we hope to catch up with Shimano at the Eurobike Show next month for a first look and hopefully a first ride.