Magnum UI5

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)

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10 comments

  • Have purchased the Magnum Peak and converted to urban settings with road tyres etc. I found that the Metro was too aggressive with engaging assist

    • Apparently there is an ‘Eco mode’ which the dealer can set that makes it a bit more user-approachable if this is the case.

  • Hi Bazza,
    I took a UI5 for a test ride around the hills of Wellington, and liked it very much. Before I go ahead and order one, do you have any thoughts about whether it’s worth considering a Metro step through? I’m very short at 5’2″ and the UI5 seemed like a good frame size. My main reason for considering the Metro was the increased power available.
    With many thanks for your great work
    Carol S.

    • Hi Carol, in my view the Metro is enough of an upgrade to justify it. It’s a really good buy and essentially the same frame as the ui5.

      • Thanks! In the end I went with the UI5; it just felt better and I’ve been very happy with it so far. My only slight gripe is that (as you noted) the up and down buttons aren’t super easy to use and in particular you have to be careful not to hit the up button when you’re on maximum power which then sets it to zero (not helpful when steaming up a hill). But I’ve gotten used to that.
        It does now have a bell.
        I spoke to a recent buyer of one of these who had had the brakes upgraded to hydraulic rather than cable disk brakes for added security when whizzing down Wellington’s hills. So far I’m OK with the cable disk brakes but we’ll keep that in mind.
        And I’ve also noted about the tyres in the rain as well.
        Many thanks again.

      • Thanks for closing the loop Carol, all the best with your cool new bike!

  • No doubt it ticks a lot of boxes but what people should be concerned about is the declared 300watt motor. 8fun as you describe is a popular and very reliable motor made by Bafang who make a range of e motors. Bafung only make and I quote from what I have been advised…… 220w. 250w 350w being 24 volt /36volt. Their other motors are 48 x500w, 750, and 1000w. NZLT have recently published a review and have noted the fact that some importers are advertising their Bikes are 300w where as they are 350w and some are even 500w?
    300w motors are not made by the mainstream manufacturers simply because NZ market is too small and not economic.
    As a Bike industry consultant and also a UE authorised manufacturer/assembler I have sourced e-bike kit manufacturer who has produced a genuine 36×300 hub motor for me but doesn’t have the capacity to bulk produce
    There is an attitude by some importers to fudge their e-motor specifications to sneak in bikes quoting 300w. One importers even gets the assembler to cover the factory specification with their own labels.

    Concerning is the mis-information dished out to get a sale which legally has a couple of implications. These quoted 36x300w bikes in fact should be registered and rider licence send as per current NZLTA Standards unless ridden off road.
    Also Consumer Affairs laws are blatantly broken with these importers fudging their specs. The majority of E-Bikes manufactured are 36v x 240w for the EU, UK and Australian Markets, in the US some states ban e- bikes and require registration being seen as a moped, but now the Industry is in the process of aligning at 36vx350w . So any US brand bike will be 36 x 350w or more.

    One of the conclusions NZLTA had was that the EU model as a template with 36v x 350w be considered. Which if and when adopted would put some form of credit ability on quoted specifications. Meantime the status quo remains and the misrepresentation continues for a miserly extra 4/6 kph.

    Those that want the speed simple register and licence as per mopeds your drivers licence will cover you and mix it up with the cars and congestion.

    • Hi Frank,
      A popular misconception is that the power of a bike is the power of the motor. In reality, it is the output of the controller. So for example a controller that can handle a constant 8A (like is in the Magnum) will consume 288W nominal power, and possibly produce somewhere between 200-250W of actual power.
      The real problem is that there isn’t a standard way of defining power (input or output, what does ‘nominal’ mean?). So I disagree with your premise that most bikes are illegal.
      NZTA is still discovering what all this means too, so I wouldn’t put their recent research as the definitive view either. They are probably going to relax the ‘power’ constraint and use speed as the main regulatory constraint. And even then, allow higher speeds if operators have a drivers licence. And use the speed constraints of the infrastructure (road or bike path) to limit to the conditions.
      The current regulations are vague and unsuitable for the real world so I can’t see much sense in getting too hooked up on what is and isn’t technically correct against current state.

  • Hi Bazza,
    We appreciate your reviews and information on this website – thanks, keep it up.
    I like the look and feel of the Magnum Ui5 but am interested in your lack of enthusiasm on any particular part of it. My wife & I (approaching 70) like doing formed trails – Otago, Hauraki, Northland etc, no roads or mountain bike trails, and are looking to an eBike to help care for our bodies ie give us some help on hills, in headwinds and extend (or should I say maintain!) our range. We hired some Volto Tui bikes and decided not for us primarily because of the weight and the 3 step PAS (despite the good price). The similarly structured SmartMotion eCity would suit us better. So could this Magnum. Whats your view on its suitability for our needs?

    • Hi Brian,
      I like the Magnum. It is powerful but it’s built to a price point. People who own them really like them. The eCity is nice too.
      My advice is to ride the bikes more than just around the parking lot and make choices from there.

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