Many of the EP8's first impressions still hold true after testing it for a longer period of time. In some regards however, it's painting a somewhat different picture.
You hear it often with e-bikes that power is nothing without control, and Shimano sure delivered in that regard. Not only does the EP8 deliver more power than the E8000 in any situation, the new ride mode algorithms deliver a smooth and well-rounded power transfer, with torque smoothly progressing no matter how hard you stomp the pedals or what ride mode you choose.
Merida eONE-SIXTY 8000 2021
Battery: Shimano BT-E8036 630Wh
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF Exo+ MaxxTerra 29 x 2.6" front, Minion DHR II DD MaxxTerra 27.5 x 2.6" rear
Weight: 23.21kg/51.06 lbs. (w/o pedals)
Battery: Shimano BT-E8035 504Wh
Tires: Schwalbe Eddy Current Soft 29 x 2.6" front, 27.5 x 2.6" rear
Weight: 23.86kg/52.5 lbs. (w/o pedals)
Especially at lower cadences, the new motor can handle loads much better and propel you forward without a drop off in power, even in steep terrain. Speaking of steep terrain, it's much easier to get the bike going from a standstill in those kinds of situation, as the power added to the pedals smoothly transfers to the rear wheel. It's rather easy to control rider input and power delivery in general, even in Boost mode, where the power output used to be much harder to control in the past.
In direct comparison to Bosch's Performance Line XC Gen 4 or Specialized's 2.1 (Brose Drive S Mag), both those competitors still offer slightly more punch in their highest ride modes, although the difference is not nearly as big as it was compared to the E8000.
After having played around with each of the settings in the E-Tube Project app, I found Shimano's new setup for the Trail mode a great choice for various riding conditions. I used to avoid using the underpowered Trail mode on the previous version, but utilizing the full 85Nm of maximum torque when needed with a much more powerful base setup means that mode will see a lot more use. If you enjoyed it the way it was, you can simply detune the setup.
The only thing that could possibly be improved upon, with Shimano's factory setup for Profile 1 already being set to the highest setting for all options in Boost mode, would be to actually increase the possible output for all those variables as an option for riders looking for an even punchier feel from the motor. Even if maximum torque was carved into stone, higher options for assist character and assist start might elevate the EP8's power output to level equal to Bosch's Gen 4 or Brose's Drive S Mag.
Being able to change between two motor setup profiles from your display is a useful feature. You can even do so during your ride, although you have to stop to allow the system to switch over. It mainly allows you to create a more aggressive setup for your after-work-loop and one for those epic day's ride where you want to make sure that you make it out of the woods with energy to spare.
With the option to custom-tune those two profiles further, Shimano's E-Tube app is a smart tool for anyone interested in tweaking their motor's behavior to their ideas. In the end, many riders only predominantly use the Eco and Trail mode, so them detuning the Boost mode probably makes a lot of sense. Since Profile 2 of the stock setup does reduce the overall power and power transfer from all modes, they might be happier just by selecting that option.
Also, having these options allows bike manufacturers to create profiles according to what they think matches their bike's character best, or helps them to introduce new concepts with smaller batteries and lighter overall weight to the market, like what Rotwild is doing.
There is still a slight initial transition every time you start spinning the cranks from standstill and when abruptly stopping to pedal, although it's much less than before. It's a subtle double-clicking resistance that can slightly be felt through the pedals and, if you pay attention, even be heard. It really doesn’t affect the ride quality though, and at some point you just forget that it's even there. Plus, it's not that often that you start from standstill during a ride to begin with. Having said all that, I have found one situation where it bothered me slightly, which was during track stands where the constant cutting in and out make balancing a bit more undefined. Since doing track stands on your e-bike won't be a high priority, I'd say it's not an issue.
One of the greatest strengths of the EP8 is how quiet it is under load, even in Boost mode. Only at really high cadences does the motor noise increases slightly, but even then it stays composed. It's more a hum than a whine, and easy to forget about in seconds, especially in the flats or over rolling terrain. The motor is probably the quietest full-size motor on the market today, at least as long as you are not coasting over uneven terrain.