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Shimano launches new ESSA entry-level, 8-speed drivetrain for commuter, touring and mountain bikes

Following the launch of the interchangeable Shimano CUES product line-up last year, there's another acronym to get familiar with if you're in need of a simple 8-speed drivetrain for your flat bar bike

Shimano has announced a new entry-level component system, Shimano ESSA, alongside an expansion of its CUES range to incorporate short reach shifters and brake levers. Targeted at entry-level cyclists using commuting, touring and mountain bikes, Shimano says ESSA will offer an affordable, single chainring 8-speed drivetrain that is compatible with the current flat-bar Acera, Altus and Tourney TX systems. It's just for flat bar bikes, so anything with drop bars need not apply. 

2024 Shimano Essa groupset on bike

Shimano ESSA 

Last year, Shimano launched its cross-compatible CUES groupsets to standardise compatibility across a wider range of categories, producing fewer product lines and reducing confusion; however, CUES is 9-, 10- and 11-speed only, so ESSA now covers everything flat bar and 8-speed.

Arguably this doesn't exactly tick the reducing product lines and reducing confusion boxes that Shimano purported to solve with CUES, but this does presumably mean you have an even more affordable option if you don't want or need what CUES has to offer. 

> Your complete guide to Shimano road bike groupsets

In case you were wondering, ESSA stands for 'the essence of active', and is aimed squarely at cyclists using fitness, city and mountain bikes. 

2024 Shimano Essa drivetrain

> Should you run a 1x set-up on your road bike?

ESSA-branded products only include the rear derailleur and front crank, and can integrate with existing Shimano branded products in the Acera, Altus and Tourney TX ranges. Shimano claims this will "simplify its product line-up for the next generation of cyclists". 

Rear derailleur 

There is one rear derailleur option, the RD-U2000, which incorporates Shimano's Shadow technology, meaning "the derailleur does not hit the chainstay in rough riding conditions". It is capable of handling cassettes with up to a 45T largest sprocket. 

Crankset
2024 Shimano Essa crankset

Two chainring options are available: 32T or 40T. The 32T chainring features Dynamic Chain Engagement+, which is a special gear teeth profile that Shimano designed for use in single-chainring configurations for XC, enduro and trail riding. 

"It gives more chain retention and smoother pedalling - even over bumpy terrain", says Shimano. 

Cassette 

ESSA is also compatible with Shimano's current 8-speed 11-45T Hyperglide cassettes.

What does this mean for you?

2024 Shimano ESSA FC U2000 1-40T chainring

So, where does ESSA fit into Shimano's product line-up? Currently anything with drop bars remains unaffected, while entry-level flat-bar hybrids, commuters and mountain bikes equipped with single-speed 8-speed drivetrains will (eventually) feature an ESSA crankset and rear mech. 

Bikes higher up the range that feature more gears will remain CUES-branded throughout, as Shimano CUES components are designed for 9-, 10-, and 11-speed bikes.

CUES Short Reach

> Opinion: Shimano CUES looks like a genuine game changer

Following the launch of Shimano CUES last year, Shimano is expanding this range to include short reach shifters and brake levers for flat-bar bikes that are designed for riders with smaller hands. 

"CUES expands diversity for every rider, offering a more readily accessible braking experience: bringing the brake lever 20% closer to the handlebar", says Shimano. 

Pricing and availability

Here are the current SRP's for the ESSA components if you were to buy them separately: 

  • ESSA rear derailleur £49.99
  • ESSA 32T chainset 170mm and 175mm £49.99
  • ESSA 40T chainset 170mm and 175mm £39.99

If last year's CUES launch is anything to go by, we're unsure when ESSA-branded products will actually start hitting the shelves. The current turmoil in the bike industry means there's still a lot of overstock with retailers and distributors, such that bikes with the new CUES components are only just starting to trickle through. 

While we wait for additional information, you can check out Shimano's website for more details on ESSA and CUES Short Reach. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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7 comments

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andystow | 1 week ago
1 like

There's US pricing for all components on bikepacking.com .

Avatar
a1white | 1 week ago
0 likes

Just 1x on an 8speed? Could you pair it with a 2x CUES front deraileur?

 

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NOtotheEU replied to a1white | 1 week ago
0 likes

Another website is saying it's compatible with anything 8 speed that's below CUES.

Rear derailleur – £49.99
Chainset 32T 170/175mm crank arms – £49.99
Chainset 40T 170/175mm crank arms – £39.99

Avatar
andystow replied to NOtotheEU | 1 week ago
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NOtotheEU wrote:

Another website is saying it's compatible with anything 8 speed that's below CUES. Rear derailleur – £49.99 Chainset 32T 170/175mm crank arms – £49.99 Chainset 40T 170/175mm crank arms – £39.99

Are shorter crank arms available?

Avatar
NOtotheEU replied to andystow | 1 week ago
0 likes

This is the only info they had but they did say this may be subject to change.

Avatar
cyclisto replied to NOtotheEU | 1 week ago
1 like

For £50 it is a bit pricey as an entry level. Chinese options like Sensah and Ltwoo seem more suited to low budget https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006435968684.html?spm=a2g0o.productl...

Avatar
NOtotheEU replied to cyclisto | 1 week ago
1 like

That's what I thought. MBR seem to think that this is basically a Hyperglide compatible 8 speed version of CUES for people wanting to upgrade from Acera/Altus etc. Maybe I won't need to search eBay for 8sp Deore or XT next time I wear out a rear mech.

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