This is one of the nicest looking commuter style ebikes in the NZ market, and along with its good manners and good entry-level price at $2499 it is reportedly selling like hotcakes.

The Magnum UI5 (Urban, 5th Generation) is a geared rear hub bike rated at 300W [there is some discussion about what this really means, so ride a bike before you judge performance based on numbers]. It is available in white and black – the black looking a little more masculine. Power is by 8Fun (a reputable Chinese motor manufacturer), down-tube integrated battery by Samsung at 468Wh. I can’t tell you exactly what range this amounts to, suffice to say it is ‘good’ (probably 40-60km). Putting the battery in the downtube gives the bike a natural regular-bike-like balance that you simply don’t get if the battery is mounted on the rear rack.

Brakes are the typical Tektro mechanical disks and are effective. There is a Suntour NXT suspension fork upfront – it can’t be locked out but is effective. What differentiates this bike from the competition is the Schwalbe Big Ben balloon tyres…they give the bike a sure-footed feel (in the dry anyway) and gobble up all the little bumps and chatter along the way without sending them to your hands and butt. Thanks Magnum! Another benefit is that you never feel uneasy crossing onto driveways at an acute angle – something that would have you kissing the ground on a skinny-tyred bike.

I tried riding on all sorts of terrain including a gravel path and it kept its sure-footed and comfortable ways. Riding with ElectricMeg to scout tours has seen us riding on grass and steep banks, the Magnum never complained or felt sketchy.

The semi-step through design does make it easier to get on and off, and easier to handle for shorter-legged people when stationary. ElectricMeg likes this.

The motor zips you along without too much fuss, and as long as you aren’t in a great hurry it will take you up most hills and on the flat will cruise along up to 32kph. I’ve gone 50kph downhill with no drama.

It has a wide plush saddle and good adjustability of handlebar height and reach with a quick release. It did feel a bit small for my long-legged frame but didn’t really matter.

Throttles are a contentious talking point among cyclists, but they are a great aid for any ebike. A rear hub motor doesn’t care what gear you are in but if you stop in the wrong gear, you will unless you have a throttle to get you off the mark. They also help you to give a little boost of power if you aren’t already in the highest power setting but in my experience it didn’t really do that on the Magnum. It was useful for starts and for when you simply didn’t feel like pedalling – oddly this is often useful in shared path situations as you have good speed control under throttle.

There are a few things that I am not crazy about. The controller up-down buttons aren’t especially easy to operate while riding and with a cadence-sensor bike you find yourself pressing + and – fairly often around town. Having said that, it’s a design similar to many bikes in this price range. I found that the tyres lost grip in the wet and had a minor off in my driveway when the bike slipped out from me under power. I chatted to a lady commuting on one who had a similar incident in the wet. The lights are not very bright and need to be turned on manually and independently – and the rear light needs its own battery. So if riding at night is a requirement, you might want to add another more powerful light up front and a red flasher on the back. There was no bell on the bike I tested and not much space on the bars to fit one. I liked the integrated bell that a competitor’s bike has. A commuter bike needs a bell…

Despite some fairly minor niggles, this is a great bike for a commuter or errand-runner who wants an ebike that looks nice and is a comfortable ride. At the price point it represents good quality which is why they are popular. For more info and where to buy, contact your ebike retailer or the importer.

Electric Bicycle Hub in Auckland is selling a ‘Deluxe’ version of this bike with upgraded brakes and Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres.

Links:
http://electrify.nz/electric-bikes/electric-commuter-bikes/magnum-ui5-white
http://www.magnumbikes.com/portfolio-item/magnum-ui5/
http://www.magnumbikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Ui5-Manual2.pdf

Other bikes in this price range to consider include:
Smartmotion e-City or e-Urban ($2499)
Onya F-19 (folding) ($2350)