Shimano has released two cargo-specific drive units designed to cater for the heavy loads commonly associated with these utility bikes.
Cargo e-bikes allow riders to carry loads that otherwise might be transported by car or even a small van - with the option particularly popular for those making deliveries around cities - be that for trade or taking children to school.
Two of Shimano's drive units - EP8 and E6100 - will now come with cargo ready variations (identified by the code DU-EP800-CRG and DU-E6100-CRG). Engineers at Shimano tested the units by propelling loads up to 250 kilograms.
The units will still use the standard Steps motor, which offers Eco, Normal and High modes.
The key difference in the cargo variant, identified via a yellow sticker, is that the drive units reach their maximum output torque at a lower pedalling torque input. In other words, riders won't need to push the pedals quite so hard to get a return on their input.
There's also an 'E-TUBE' app that allows for customisation on the ride.
As per the standard models, the EP8 drive unit is a higher performance version, and akin to the high torque models used for mountain bike set-ups, it comes with a max output torque of 85Nm.
The EP8 model also offers cooling find on the outer shell, to better allow for heat dissipation.
The E6100 is lower torque, at 60Nm, which can mean it feels more natural on the road, but the support is more gradual and you don't get quite so much help when accelerating from a stop, for example at traffic lights.
Both options come with three different modes, and offer 'walk assistane' to help you out when you're on foot next to the bike. If you're using a Di2 hub gear, 'Start Mode' will drop you down to the ideal gear for the push-off and Automatic Shifting makes for carefree riding.
The drive units are compatible with Shimano's existing gear systems, such as Nexus Internal Hub Gears or standard derailleur/cassettes. Shimano's braking systems are already approved for use on cargo bikes. A full list of compatible components can be found here.
Both of the drive units can pair with Shimano's own 630Wh, 514Wh or 408Wh batteries. However, in a new development, Shimano has also allowed for third party compatibility with batteries from Trend Power and Darfon, who are set to offer batteries with higher capacities that will suit those making longer journeys or carrying large loads.
Both of the drive units will be available come this summer.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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