Shimano Releases New $160 Drivetrain – With 8 Gears

Shimano has a new drivetrain on the market, but it’s not exactly what we’d been expecting from them. It’s not wireless, 13-speed, or AI-controlled – it’s an 1×8-speed drivetrain called Essa.

Essa is compatible with Shimano’s current 8-speed systems: Acera, Altus, and Tourney TX. With 409% gear range, it’s certainly less than their 12-speed variants’ 510%, but the gearing could still be optimized for mountain biking. The RD-U2000 derailleur’s short little cage can handle up to a 45-tooth sprocket, and the CS-HG400-8 cassette has a range of 11-45 teeth.

The gear range falls short of most 11-speed systems, which check in around 418% (Shimano) or 420% (SRAM). The range is larger than other 8-speed systems, like Microshift Acolyte.

This is not a CUES drivetrain, so it doesn’t utilize the newer Linkglide tech we’ve been a fan of. It instead relies on the Hyperglide tooth profile, and will use an 8-speed chain from that lineup. You can use a Revo grip shift, shifter/brake lever combo, or a standard Rapidfire shifter with the derailleur – I’d strongly recommend the third option.

Aftermarket pricing is available, though it’s hard to imagine the parts being regular stocked at every local bike shop. The breakdown is as follows though, in case you’re keen to put a groupset together.

CS-HG400-8 $34.99


Crankset (no BB)
FC-U2000-1 $39.99


Rear Shifter
SL-M315-8R $33.99

That means that for around $160 USD, you can have a robust little drivetrain with maybe just enough mechanical advantage to climb everything you want to.

This isn’t the only new product wrapped up in this little release, we also have some new shifters for the Cues family of drivetrains. These new shifters are focused at the smaller-handed members of the mountain bike world, with reduced reach and improved ergonomics.

It can be hard to set the controls up on a kid’s bike in a way that actually works for little hands, so it’s nice to see the effort made on the brand side to address the challenge.

There are three models available, suited to 9, 10, and 11-speed CUES drivetrains.

9 Speed

10 Speed

11 Speed

No news yet about any newfangled 12-speed offerings, electric shifting, or the like. We’ve been waiting for something new on that front, and it seems we’ll continue to do so for a little while yet.

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