Shimano is moving further into the e-bike market with the introduction of two new drive unit models designed with features to power heavy cargo bikes.
The two models, Shimano’s EP8 and E6100 drive units, will now come in specific cargo variations known as DU-EP800-CRG and DU-E6100-CRG. Using Shimano’s principles of system engineering, they are also compatible with Shimano gearing systems such as Nexus Internal Hub Gears or derailleur/cassettes. They can be complemented by Shimano braking systems, approved for cargo bikes.
Aside from coming with a yellow CARGO sticker on the casing, these drive units are Shimano’s regular DU-EP800 and DU-E6100 models, but are different inside. The Shimano engineers who studied the handling characteristics of e-cargo bikes have created new specific firmware settings optimised for propelling heavy loads (up to 250 kg).
Like all Shimano’s urban e-bike drive units, the DU-EP800-CRG and DU-E6100-CRG models still come with eco, normal (or trail) and high (or boost) modes but both cargo drive units reach their maximum output torque at much lower rider pedalling torque inputs. Those modes are also fully customisable on the fly with Shimano’s E-TUBE app.
The main difference comes in the EP8 drive unit being higher performance with a powerful yet quieter motor, whereas the E6100 version offers more gradual acceleration with a lower output torque.
The more advanced DU-EP800-CRG model comes with many of the same functions and features as Shimano’s EP8 mountain biking drive unit. It’s a lightweight and compact model with a design that integrates into bicycle frames. Heat management is a particular advantage of the DU-EP800-CRG – cooling fins on the outer shell allow for heat dissipation and optimised internal gear mechanisms also help to reduce heat, especially on long climbs.
The DU-EP800-CRG has a maximum output torque of 85Nm, which is achievable in both boost and trail modes, and also has a battery-saving eco mode and a built-in smart walk assist mode to power over obstacles (eg curbs, ramps, etc) in a non-riding situation. The DU-E6100-CRG is slightly bigger than the EP800-CRG version but has many of the same features, including smooth pedalling under load or without battery assistance, walk assistance, start mode and full automatic shifting. The big difference is in the maximum output assistance with the DU-E6100-CRG providing 60Nm.
Whether you use the EP8 or the E6100 version, there are two features that can be used when the drive unit is combined with a Di2 internal hub gear: start mode, which drops you down to your preferred gear to push off it, and full automatic shifting, which takes away the stress of shifting by changing gear when you reach an optimum pedal pressure (input torque) and speed.
Both drive units are compatible with Shimano’s 630Wh, 514Wh or 408Wh batteries, or they can be combined with third-party batteries from Shimano partners such as Trend Power or Darfon. The drive units are also compatible with many other Shimano drivetrain and braking components.
The two new models, DU-EP800-CRG and DU-E6100-CRG, will be available during summer 2021.