Long Term Review of the Magnum Ui5

Discussion in 'Magnum Forum' started by Nirmala, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Nirmala

    Nirmala Active Member

    I have posted some impressions of my Magnum Ui5 on here in the past, but now that I have owned the bike for over a year, I thought it might be time for a review based on my long term experiences with the ebike. In the past year I have ridden over 2500 miles on my bike, and my wife has put over 700 miles on her identical Ui5, so I definitely have some real-world observations to share.
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    I will not cover all of the same ground as Court's excellent review, so for specifications, his insightful perspectives and the usual video, head on over to https://electricbikereview.com/magnum/ui5/ Suffice it to say that the bike arrived with all of the equipment and features described in Court's review.

    Unpacking and setting up the bikes: I had some definite difficulties with the set up of the bike when it arrived. I wish that there had been some more instructions either included in the box or available online. Magnum was very helpful in this process, and I bought one of the first Ui5s sold in the US, so maybe the company has started including some more info for online buyers. I do think anyone who does not have experience working on their own bike should seriously consider buying this or another ebike from a dealer, or at least have a bike shop set up the bike inititally. For more specific info, see my earlier post about my initial experiences with the bikes: https://electricbikereview.com/forum/threads/my-new-magnum-ui5-first-impressions.2844/

    Initial impressions: Part of what drew me to this bike was the attractive design, and it is a good looking ebike. The color scheme looks great, and I especially like the brown tires, which make for a somewhat unique touch. The frame only comes in one size, and I quickly discovered that it was a bit small for my 6'0" body, so one of the first improvements I made was to add a thudbuster with an extra long seat post (see upgrades below). Once the seat was at the correct height, the bike fit me fine. My wife who is 5' 8 " had no problem, and I have loaned the bike to women who were closer to 5'4 or so and it worked fine for them. I can't say what the shortest height would be that would still work.
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    The ride: The fatter tires and front shock make for a steady and easy to maneuver ride. The seat was a bit firm for my taste, so that got replaced also with a wider and cushier saddle. I prefer the more upright posture of this bike which the adjustable stem allows. It takes some of the strain off my wrists and arms. It is not a lightweight bike, but that just does not seem to matter much with a motor on the back. I have had many hours of joyful time spent on this bike and almost always have a big grin on my face when riding around here.
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    Motor Performance: I have not ridden a lot of ebikes, but as most readers of this forum know, there is nothing quite like the exhilaration of riding a bike with an electric motor. The 350 watt motor on this bike is plenty for my 140 pound wife, and is also plenty for me at 185 pounds, or at least plenty for me 99% of the time. Very occasionally on the hotter days in summer here in Arizona, the motor will overheat going up a long and somewhat steep hill. When this happens, the controller just shuts down the motor completely and I have to wait a few minutes on the side of the road for things to cool down. After that I take off down the road again and start enjoying myself again.

    Assist levels: I would estimate that about 80 % of the time, I have the bike in assist level 3 out of 6. This seems like a good compromise between getting some good exercise and having the bike take some of the load when climbing a hill or facing a headwind. Occasionally on an especially beautiful day, I will drop down to level 2 and pay more attention to the wonderful scenery here in Sedona. And if I am tired at the end of a longer ride, I have been known to bump it up to 5 or 6 in order to zip on home. One thing I have noticed about the different assist levels is that while they do affect the peppiness of the bike on the flats, and also affect the top speed at which the assist cuts out, they do not really affect how fast the bike climbs a steeper hill. So while on level 3 the motor cuts out at about 16 mph as compared to levels 6 where the motor keeps on kicking in up to about 22 mph, when I am climbing a steep hill and the bike slows down to say 8-10 mph even with me pedaling hard in the lowest derailleur gear, a higher setting on the assist level does not really make any difference. Once the bike has slowed that much the motor quickly reaches it's maximum output whether I am using assist level 3 or level 6. So, no matter what setting I am using the bike climbs the hills around here just fine, but there is no advantage to a higher assist level unless I am just trying to get up to a high speed in approaching the hill so that I have a bit more momentum at the start.

    Range: When I first got the bike, I found that maximum range to be about 30-35 miles. I have not tested this recently, so I don't know if the figure has dropped after a year of use. One nice discovery is that I can strap a second battery onto the frame and double my range. Of course since we own two Ui5s, we already have two batteries on hand. So I have had some nice 45-50 mile rides by myself. You can see this second battery strapped on the frame here: https://electricbikereview.com/forum/threads/my-new-magnum-ui5-first-impressions.2844/#post-37526

    I will share that the first two bars on the display for charge level last a lot longer than the last two bars. Once I get to 4 bars, I would guess I have about 50 % of the range remaining. At three bars, I better be well on my way home, and at two bars I am close to running out. Once I hit one bar, the battery is essentially drained.

    Durability and reliability: Our bikes had some problems at first and we even had to send back one bike and get a replacement bike as the controller which is inside the frame failed. And after that, we had to get a new rear wheel and motor when one of the motors also failed. I will say that Magnum was incredibly helpful and responsive in sorting out these issues under the one year warranty. Again, I will say that our experience is a very good argument for buying this or any ebike from a local shop unless you are willing and able to work on the bike yourself. I have worked on bikes my whole life and so was able to deal with the issues that came up.

    Further down the road, there have been a few other issues that have cropped up. While I like the adjustable handlebar stem for the riding position it allows, the screws under the stickers on either side of the stem tend to come loose and then the handlebars start to have some up and down play as I ride. One day, I lost the stikcer and then a couple of the screws actually came completely out of the stem and I barely made it home with the remaining two screws. I found some replacement screws at the hardware store and also ordered some of the heavy duty "Red" Loctite (which for some reason comes in a blue tube while the weaker blue Loctite comes in a red tube!), and that seems to keep the screws from loosening up while I ride. I have not had to tighten them for months now.

    More recently, my motor started getting pretty noisy. In general, it makes more noise than my wife's motor and also it would make a strange sound when the bike slowed down. I finally found someone nearby who has more skills than me with ebike motors. He opened up the motor and found that the grease inside was dried out into a cake-like substance. Fortunately, the gears were all still intact. So it is in the shop right now while he repacks it with some high quality aviation grease. It is kind of a case of the chicken or the egg as I do not know which came first: did my motor tend to overheat because the grease was dried out, or did the grease dry out when my motor occasionally overheated? I may know more next summer if I no longer have a problem with overheating now that the motor will have some higher quality grease inside. Note added: I got the bike back with the high quality grease installed and the noise is better, but still louder than my wife's bike. I guess some hub motors are louder than others, even of the same model. Also, I did experience the motor overheating and shutting down one time when I rode my wife's bike, so it appears to be a case of the motor just not having enough power to carry me up the longer and steeper hills around here. Sedona is pretty hilly, so again that might not ever be an issue for someone who lives where there are not many hills.
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    Other than these problems, the two bikes have worked very well. The lower priced Tourney derailluers have never given us a single problem and I tend to shift gears a lot as it is very hilly around here. The brakes have always stopped the bike well and only occasionally need a little adjusting as the cable stretches and the pads wear out. While my bike was in the shop for the motor, the repair person noticed that the front pads were 90% worn, so he is replacing them, but that is probably normal wear and tear after 2500 miles. I also recently had to replace my rear tire as it developed a slight bulge and I wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

    Upgrades: I posted some in my initial impressions linked to above about the accessories I like using on my ebike, but I wanted to stress two upgrades that I feel are especially useful. The first is a Thudbuster seat post. I needed a longer seatpost anyways, but I am glad I chose to add a suspension seatpost. Aluminum frames tend to ride a little harsh, but the Thudbuster takes out the big bumps. I started with a short travel ST model and quickly decided I wanted even more cushioning so I ended up with the longer travel LT model. The ST went onto my wife's bike and she also immediately noticed an improvement in comfort. Both of these seatposts limit how low you can set the saddle height, so if you are a shorter rider you may not be able to use them. The ST model takes up less space between the top of seat tube and the saddle than the LT.

    The second upgrade is when I swapped out the stock pedals for a pair of Wellgo platform pedals: http://amzn.to/1Suy5BJ I use them with some Five Ten bike shoes that have a sole that really grips the pegs on the pedals: http://amzn.to/1MvUfje I immediately noticed a big difference with these pedals compared to the stock pedals on the Ui5. It was like my feet were glued to the pedals, so I could easily and confidently apply much more torque to the pedals. I found I was often in a higher gear going up hills than before and of course this meant I was getting more exercise. Also I can spin much faster with these pedals, so instead of spinning out at about 28 mph in the top gear, I can effectively add speed up to about 34 mph just by spinning faster. Before my feet would feel like they were going to fly off the pedals at the higher spin speeds. This is a highly recommended upgrade for anyone who rides a lot.
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    Pros:
    1-Nice looking and comfortable upright riding position.

    2-Plenty of power for a lighter weight rider, or for someone heavier in an area with few hills.

    3-Battery is easy to remove for charging, and it is possible to double the range with a second (albeit expensive at $600) battery. The battery also is very firmly attached when it is on the frame and does not rattle. 13 amp-hour rating is above average.

    4-Display is easy to read and use, but is not removable.

    5-Optional rack is solid and secure.

    6- Wider stock tires give a secure feeling, and a smoother ride than if they were narrower. I've seen an article online that suggested fatter tires have fewer punctures. We have had a few flats, but Arizona has lots of plants with stickers and thorns, so it is a worst case scenario. I am experimenting with lower tire pressures after reading a lot online about the advantages of lower pressure (as long as you do not go so low as to start experiencing squirrely handling or pinch flats). So far I like the smoother ride when I have the front tire at about 40 psi and the rear at 45 psi.

    Cons:
    1- May not be quite enough power at 350 watts for a heavier rider or on really long hills.

    2-Fenders that came with the bike rubbed against the tires a little. It rarely rains here, so I just removed them.

    3-The throttle will only boost up to the assist level currently selected. I can really see how it would be nice if the throttle gave full power even in the lower assist settings, but I also have gotten used to quickly raising or lowering the assist level as needed with the buttons on the display, which is right next to the left hand handlebar grip. Mostly I only use the throttle for getting started from a full stop.

    4-Ride is a little harsh, but this is easily corrected with some upgrades. I tend to like a lot of comfort, so it might not be as much of an issue for others.

    5-Reliability for us has been a mixed bag, but fortunately Magnum has stood by their warranty.

    6-14 to 28 cogs on the rear give a fairly narrow gear range. I have sometimes wished for a higher high gear and a lower low gear. An 12-34 tooth cogset would have been a better choice.

    7-I remove the battery from the frame every time I charge up as it seems to me the plug is torqued a bit when plugging in with the battery still mounted on the bike. In my experience putting this kind of pressure on a male charging plug can eventually end up with a loose connection inside the female plug on the battery. So this is a bit of a design flaw with the Ui5, and while it is a bit more hassle to remove the battery to charge, it still seems like this is a case of better safe than sorry.

    8- Someone else pointed out that the stock white saddle gets dirty easily. I replaced mine with a black saddle for more comfort, so it has not been an issue for me.

    Summary: Overall we have both loved our Magnum Ui5s, and they have given us many hours of enjoyment. At the time we bought ours, I did a lot of research and they seemed to be one of the better options in terms of the features for the price. I have kept an eye on the more recent offerings, and I am not sure I could still say that. Prices have seemed to come down, while the quality of the components seems to keep going up. For example, I think that clearly the new RadCity commuter bike from Rad Power offers more features and better components currently than the Magnum Ui5. If Magnum is listening, maybe it is time for a new and improved Ui6 model :) But of course, Radpower only sells direct and Magnum has been building up a dealer network here in the USA, and so they need to account for the dealer markup. I think that for someone for whom this style of bike is a good fit and who lives near a Magnum dealer, it could still be a great choice. We wanted to keep the price reasonable on our first ebikes and the Magnum has been a great first bike that got us hooked on electric bikes. For my wife, it is probably all the bike she will ever want or need. I tend to have more of a roving eye and will probably upgrade sometime. In fact I already bought a recumbent bike on Craigslist that I am going to mount a ShareRoller friction drive motor on so I can try out an electric recumbent. But in the meantime, we continue to smile every time we get on our bikes and head out of the driveway.
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    SuperGoop and vincent like this.


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