eBikes might be good for commuters who don't want to arrive at work trailing a river of sweat, but the technology can also provide a helping hand – or foot – to cyclists who want to get down and dirty. Shimano has recognized this with the new STePS MTB, a rugged eBike motor designed for off-road performance.
Just like the STePS system it launched last year, Shimano's MTB motor is a pedal assist system that augments the power put into the pedals by the rider. Once you reach a certain speed, the assistance cuts out.
That means the electric assistance isn't designed to create a new generation of rider hitting incredible speeds on mountain bike trails. Instead, it's designed to give a gentle boost to enthusiasts who aren't quite in peak physical condition.
Power by compact 500 Wh battery, the electric motor delivers 70-Nm (52-ft.lb) of torque and is impact-, vibration- and water-resistant to handle the rigors of off-road riding. Riders are able to control the system through a handlebar-mounted computer similar to the Di2's display, and there are three different drive modes available: Eco, Trail and Boost.
The motor is coupled with a dedicated 34T or 38T chainring, but beyond that it's up to you whether you pair it with Shimano's high-end XT and XTR electric components or the brand's mechanical 10 and 11 speed drivetrains.
According to Shimano, the distance between the outside of STePS MTB's crank arms (or Q-factor) is the same 175 mm (6.9 in) as on regular chainsets, which means it should feel natural to ride on tight trails.
The system launches in October 2016.