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Shimano E8000 Vs 2020 Bosch CX Gen 4: Which compact mid-motor is top dog?

Shimano’s compact Steps system has long been the go-to for motors, but with the introduction of the 4th Generation 2020 Bosch CX motor, the tides are changing.

For the past couple of years the Shimano Steps E8000 motor system, and the budget-friendly E7000, have been the mid-motor systems of choice for many brands. The Shimano Steps had many benefits over rival motors, like the narrow Q factor and super-compact shape of the system.

kids emtb Commencal Meta Power Kids
Shimano’s motor is so small it fits on kids ebikes.

Ebike designers preferred the Shimano motor because it allowed them to design bikes with shorter chainstays, more aesthetically pleasing form factors, and it gave more room to adjust suspension kinematics and overall frame design.

So for the past 2 years, the Shimano Steps motor has ruled the roost, but this year with the arrival of the 4th Generation 2020 Bosch CX motor, things are changing.

Below we’ll talk about the features, benefits, and foibles of each motor to determine which is the best mid-motor, Shimano E8000 or 2020 Bosch CX.

Shimano Steps E8000: About the motor

2020 eBike: Patrol E-Six E-Enduro 630Wh first look
The E8000 is compact and lightweight.

Compared to what Shimano’s rivals were doing at the time, the Shimano Steps E8000 motor and accompanying battery units and accessories were light years ahead at a launch. And they remained ahead of the competition for years.

As well as the compact design, which allowed bike designers to build the bikes they wanted rather than machines that were compromised, Shimano was also one of the first brands to allow manufacturers to use custom battery packs. YT, Patrol, and Norco have all used the E8000 with 3rd party battery systems. Good news as Shimano’s own 504Wh battery packs doesn’t provide enough range for many users.

2020 eBike: Patrol E-Six E-Enduro 630Wh first look
Some brands choose to use E7000 screens with E8000 motors.

The mix and match nature of all the Steps systems also give the Shimano motor system a lot of customization and we see many brands choose to spec an E7000 control unit instead of the E8000 one as it’s more compatible with an underbar dropper remote.

The motor system itself provides 70Nm of torque which doesn’t sound like a whole lot when you see what other motors produce, but the E8000 still manages to hold its own.

2020 eBike: Patrol E-Six E-Enduro 630Wh first look
The Shimano motor is an open system and can use 3rd party batteries.

Shimano’s own ETube application for Android and iOS devices lets riders connect to the Steps system to tune the drive modes. Those modes are Eco, Trail, and Boost, there’s also a Walk mode for when the trail becomes too tricky too.

Shimano Steps E8000: Features

  • Torque 70 Nm
  • Motor Weight: 2.89kg
  • Modes: 3

For the Steps E8000

  • Compact, lightweight.
  • Compatible with 3rd party batteries.
  • Proven reliability and plenty of Shimano service centers.

Against the Steps E8000

  • Poor battery life with a Shimano 504Wh battery.
  • While Trail mode is adaptive it isn’t as good as eMTB mode on Bosch.
  • Just 70Nm torque

2020 Bosch Gen 4 CX: About the motor

bike check custom built cannondale habit neo
The new CX is a huge improvement on the old one.

The 4th Generation Bosch motor is a significant improvement over the previous Bosch mid-drive unit. Visually the new motor is much smaller, more compact and better for everyone involved from the designers to the owners.

Lapierre Overvolt GLP2 leak
Bosch produces batteries from 400-625Wh to suit all eMTB designs.

In use, the 2020 Bosch CX motor is simply incredible. The motor produces 75 Nm of torque, but what’s most impressive is the progressive eMTB mode that cleverly modulates power levels from Tour to Turbo. Riding in eMTB mode gives you a natural riding feel and as you power along the trail, the motor automatically adds extra support as you need it. The system manages this all very smoothly with a very gentle power off once you hit the 25Km/h speed limit.

Bosch isn’t as open as Shimano with its system so only Bosch accessories and batteries will work with the 2020 Bosch CX. The good news is that Bosch offers battery sizes from 400Wh to 625Wh, and it will also accept piggyback battery packs to extend the range.

2020 bosch cx
Bosch displays still look dated.

On the other hand, Bosch’s displays and controls aren’t as ergonomic as Shimano’s. They’re quite bulky and not so easy to set up with brake levers and dropper remote. Another issue with the 2020 Bosch Gen 4 motor is the noise. The unit uses a freewheel clutch that causes rattling on rough trails and downhills.

Bosch Gen 4 CX: Features

  • Torque: 75 Nm
  • Weight: 2.79kg
  • Modes: 4

For the Bosch Gen 4 CX

  • Natural assist and ride feel.
  • Large service network.
  • High torque

Against Bosch Gen 4 CX

  • Noisey.
  • Not compatible with 3rd party batteries.
  • Controls and displays are bulky.

Shimano Steps E8000 Vs 2020 Bosch Gen 4 CX: Which would we choose?

commencal meta power 10 sexy ebikes
Shimano motors are still on 2020 bikes but more brands are using Bosch.

The Shimano E8000 motor is still a great unit, it is reliable easy to tune at home and has great compatibility with 3rd party batteries, and there is a great range of controls and displays to customize the system with.

As good as the Shimano E8000 is though, the 2020 Bosch CX motor is better in every way but 2. The CX offers more torque, has a more natural and progressive power curve, and many of the 2020 Bosch CX equipped bikes are also set up for using extra range-extending battery packs.

2020 moustache samedi 29 game
The 2020 Moustache Samedi 29 makes great use of the new Bosch motor.

If you can put up with the rattling noise the 2020 Bosch CX produces and you don’t mind the bulky screen and control then the CX is by far the better motor.

For Shimano fans, keep a lookout for Shimano E9000 and Shimano EP8 news.