Shimano Steps in the e-bike segment


Judging by its rate of growth, it’s hardly a surprise that more and more manufacturers are joining the e-bike/pedelec club. If up untill now, the bike manufacturers catered also for the components that were mounted on their bikes, Shimano is about to mark a first, more precisely the first e-bike dedicated groupset, called Steps. The new-comer includes from drive unit to battery, front gear set, cycle computer and chain.

Steps is developed with the idea of system component design. Which means that every individual component works better when the other Steps components are also integrated in the groupset. The new set is a pedelec system which engages when a rider is pedaling and cuts out once 25km/h is reached.

The Steps drive unit has a compact design and with weight of 3.1 kg, it is one of the lightest drive units in the market. Compact and lightweight, the design improves rider control in all conditions and is easier to handle by a wider range of riders, according to the manufacturer’s claims. Also, Steps will have three types of power support modes – eco, normal and high:

  • eco mode has a range up to 120km
  • normal mode 100km
  • high mode 80km

You’ll have to take into account, however, that yhese ranges are set by multiple tests at 23 km/h on flat roads. The actual range can be different depending on the speed, roads, weather conditions (wind), etc. In the same time, Steps cycling computer gives feedback about the selected mode, battery life, riding speed, distance, etc.

The Steps battery has a capacity of 418Wh and it takes four hours to completely charge it. There are two position types of batteries: a rear carrier type and a down tube type. The battery life is about 1.000 cycles, after which the battery still charges more than 250Wh, the manufacturer informs us.

Notewoethy is that 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.

Another advantage is the possibility to connect Steps to a PC via Shimano’s E-tube project. E-tube gives quick and easy access to the STEPS system for simple installation, set-up options and transmits interactive signals and power supply to Di2 components by a ‘plug and play’ connection. Shimano’s SM-PCE1 device connects a PC to the Di2 components for the set-up of the Di2 components, diagnostic analyses and firmware updates. For instance changing the function of the buttons on the switch, firmware updates and diagnostic analyses.

Special for the Steps system, Shimano made a reinforced chain dedicated for e-bike usage. It is treated with Sil-Tec coating and for front single gear only. All components are designed to be ridden all year round, Steps supporting usage from 10 degrees Celsius below zero to 50 degrees Celsius.

Pilot project with BIKE&CO and ZEG

From February to August 2014 SHIMANO will run a pilot project for Steps with dealer associations BIKE&CO and ZEG in the German market. 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 bikes to try (supported by Shimano) at their selected dealers where consumers can try the new e-bikes with the Steps drive unit.

Frank Peiffer, managing director Shimano Europe:”The e-bike market is a new segment for Shimano. Our service to the 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.

Down below you can read Steps’ full technical specifications

Drive unit (DU-E6000) and front gear set (FC-E6000)

  • Operating Temp : -10??+50? Storage Temp : -20??+70?
  • Nominal Voltage : 36V
  • Max Output : 500W
  • Nominal Output : 250W (EPAC EN15194)
  • Max Torque : 50Nm
  • IP Rating : >IPX6
  • Weight : < 3,100g (without Crank Arm , FC )
  • Front crank : 44T & 38T

Switch (SW-E6000)

  • Switch for assist mode (High / Normal / ECO / Off)
  • Switch for cycle computer contents

Cycle computer (SC-E6000)

  • Operated by switch
  • Easy to read
  • Sensors : Torque / Cadence / Crank Position / Speed

Battery (BT-E6000)

  • Capacity : 418Wh (36V, 11.6Ah)
  • Charging time : 4hours
  • 2 Battery positions : Rear carrier type & Down tube type
  • Weight : 2,550g (Battery) : 420g (Holder)
  • Temperature : 0??+40? (Charging) : -10??+50? (Operating)
  • IP Rating : >IPX4
  • Battery life : *1000 cycles

*After 1,000 cycles full charging still more than 250Wh=60% (Reference)

Chain (CN-E6070/CN-E6090)

  • Reinforced for E-bike use
  • More efficient and silent, less maintenance by SHIMANO “SIL-TEC”
  • Front single gear only