As you may have already noticed, electric bikes can be complicated. Between thinking about pedal assistance and throttle systems, hub and mid-drive motors, and the rest...it can be pretty confusing. We decided to provide the basics on one of the motor systems featured on select bike models: Shimano STEPS. This information was found through Shimano's STEPS training program and the system's user manual. As always, we are always happy to chat with you about questions regarding this system.
Understanding the Shimano STEPS System
What is Shimano STEPS?
Shimano STEPS, an acronym for Shimano Total Electric Power System, is a pedal-assist system for electric bikes.
What makes bikes with Shimano STEPS different?
Bike companies have sourced parts for their electric bicycles from many different manufacturers for a long time. The bicycle could have a motor from one company and cranks from another.
Shimano STEPS bikes are the first to use motorized drive systems entirely from the same company. That means that every component is optimized for electric assistance. For example, the power from the motor is carried through a Shimano-approved chain that is specifically designed for increased assistance provided by electric bikes. Electric bikes are designed specifically for Shimano STEPS. Manufacturers craft the bike around the system, not the other way around.
In some cases, having a bike that is tuned properly to one system makes servicing easier and more streamlined.
Shimano STEPS Mid-Drive
Bicycles with Shimano STEPS are mid-drive systems, meaning that the motor is located near the pedals and not in a wheel hub. The motor is seven pounds and is incredibly compact, giving you a more balanced ride.
Shimano STEPS bikes have a torque sensor, which senses the amount of power you are putting onto the pedals. This allows the motor to assist you as much or little as you need.
Speed & Longevity
All bikes with Shimano STEPS have a top speed of 20 miles per hour, making it a motor for Class 1 electric bikes.
At the highest level of assistance, you can expect up to 30 miles on a battery’s charge. As with other drive systems, riding at a lower assistance can elongate your battery’s life. On ECO mode, you can expect about 50 miles on a single charge.
Batteries on Shimano STEPS bikes take about four hours to fully charge and can last up to 1,000 charges before having significant power loss.
Shimano STEPS Batteries
You are able to charge a Shimano STEPS battery either on or off the bike. Batteries have an adapter included to charge off the bike. If you charge your battery on the bike, you can plug in to the port. Just like any other bike, you can use your charger on any standard wall outlet.
As with all batteries, you will need to charge them within a specific temperature range. Luckily, any errors in charging the battery will be shown by a blinking LED light.
Many bikes are beginning to introduce Walk Assist on electric bikes, and the Shimano STEPS system is no different. Walk Assist is great for walking a bike around or guiding it up a ramp to a rack. To activate this feature, turn off the motor’s assistance and press the down button. You’ll start to feel your bike moving at two miles per hour.
Using a Bike With Shimano STEPS
You may believe that all electric bikes are the same - just turn on the battery and go! Shimano STEPS systems are similar with one difference. When turning on your bike (which can be done by pressing the power button on the display or battery), you want to make sure you don’t have your feel on the pedals.
It sounds crazy, we know. The added pressure on the pedals or chain at start-up can affect the torque sensor. When this happens, the display shows an error code (either E012 or W013), and you won’t be able to use the motor.
If this happens, simply turn off the bike, take your feet off the pedals, make sure the bike is upright and stationary, and turn the system on.
Understanding STEPS Status Display
(A) Battery level indicator
(B) Maintenance alert: Indicates that maintenance is required. Contact your place of purchase or a bicycle dealer if this icon is displayed.
(C) Gear position display
Current gear position
Start mode gear position*1
This notifies you of the recommended timing at which to shift based on the bicycle's riding conditions
(D) Travel data display
(E) Gear shifting mode*1*3: Displays current gear shifting mode as [Auto] or [Manual]
(F) Assist gauge: Displays assistance level
(G) Current assist mode
(H) Current speed*4
(I) Current time
(J) Light icon: Indicates that the light connected to the drive unit is lit.
(K) Bluetooth LE icon: Display when connected over Bluetooth LE.