- Powerful, versatile, gearless direct drive hub motor kit available in 16" to 28" wheel sizes (front or rear)
- Narrow design is disc brake compatible (140 mm or 160 mm) and works with cassettes, also offers regenerative braking and can be programmed to go in reverse
- Updated MagicPie 3 design runs cooler thanks to a heatsink fan and reduces wire clutter on the bike thanks to an integrated controller system
- Produces cogging drag when coasting, significantly heavier than most hub motors at ~19 lbs
Golden Motor is an Asian manufacturer (likely produced in China and managed from Singapore) that makes a range of DIY hub motor kits including batteries, control units and human control interface accessories like throttles. In 2009 a Canadian gentleman named Gary Salo ordered one of these kits for himself and after 7 weeks of waiting, it arrived and he built his first electric bike. Since that time, Gary has launched Golden Motor Canada which helps to serve North America. You can still order from Asia if you’d like but Gary has created a nice website with support forums and has made himself personally available to honor a comprehensive one year warranty that might be difficult to activate independently. In short, these kits (and specifically the MagicPie 3) enable you or your local shop to convert nearly any bike with wheels size 16″, 18″, 20″, 24″, 26″ and 700c or 28″ with a skewer size 100 mm to 135 mm into an electric bike. It works with the front or rear wheel, can go in forward and reverse, uses a throttle or pedal assist and can be powered by a wide range of battery types and sizes. While there are other Magic Pie kits available, the third edition that this review is focused on has a built in controller unit that reduces clutter (verses an external box and extra wires) as well as a heatsink to avoid overheating when climbing or running at higher speeds and the wiring exits the hub at a safer (closer in) location vs. the axle.
The actual motor unit for the MagicPie 3 is a gearless, direct drive front or rear mounting 1,000 watt design. The power output you get really depends on the battery you choose and can range from 250 to 1,500 according to the Golden Motors Canada website. With a peak torque output of 70 Newton meters, this thing can climb efficiently and during my ride tests it had no issue with grass and off-road terrain. While it isn’t as quite as some other gearless hub motors I’ve tested (namely the Specialized Turbo and IZIP E3 Dash) it is still smooth and durable because there aren’t any gears inside rubbing together. One drawback to this design however is the increased diameter (12″ inches across) and increased weight (motor with rim and tire attached weighed 20 lbs when I measured). I love that this system is compatible with disc brakes (can be purchased with a 140 mm or 180 mm rotor) and is narrow enough to work with a cassette (the bike I tested had seven sprockets in the rear). But compared with some newer purpose built electric bikes that offer quick release systems in the rear, the Magic Pie 3 isn’t quite as convenient (using traditional bolts and washers). There is however a quick disconnect cable for the power cable but you’ll likely have to zip tie it to the frame in order to keep things tidy and this might defeat the convenience of quickly disconnecting when servicing rims, tires and tubes.
The battery options for each Golden Motor drive system vary in terms of size but the one I tested offered 48 volts of power and 10 amp hours of capacity using Lithium-ion cells. This is a large, powerful pack with quality cells that should last ~1,000 cycles if cared for (stored in neutral temperatures and charged after each ride). As mentioned earlier, power output and speed achieved with the system really depend on what kind of pack you get and Golden Motor offers several to choose from, you can even use a Sealed Lead Acid pack if you want. In terms of mounting the battery pack to the bike frame, the rear rack configuration is one of the simplest choices but positions extra weight (13 pounds in this case) high up and in the rear. since most bikes will also have the motor mounted in the rear as well (for improved strength) you’ll ultimately be dealing with over 30 pounds of additional weight connected to a bicycle frame that might not have been designed to handle it properly. This can impact handling and in fact, it might even compromise the official Golden Motor carry rack that the battery pack slides onto (especially if you add panniers or a cargo bag as seen in the video review above). This happened to the gentleman who let me test his bikes for this review and he had ultimately chose to replace the standard rack a stronger 50 lb max load rack off of Amazon. In short, I personally prefer downtube style ebike batteries that keep weight low and center on ebikes (especially those with large, heave hub motors) but rear rack configurations do keep cost down and might allow you to carry more.
There are many ways to setup the Magic Pie 3 electric bike kit but the two most basic include a twist throttle or trigger throttle. The two bikes I test rode for this review used trigger throttles because they had grip twist shifters that were taking the spot that a twist throttle might otherwise use. I like the trigger system because it stays out of the way and is easy to use in combination with the cruise control activation. The plastic LED display panels that come with the standard MagicPie 3 kit show you an approximate battery level and include a light and horn switch which can be wired up separately. For users who want more information about how their bike is operating (including the speed, distance traveled, voltage and wattage being used) then a Grin Cycle Analyst computer can also be purchased for an additional ~$170 and wired in. Aside from throttle mode, there is also a pedal assist signal port built into the standard MagicPie 3 control system that works with a pedelec discs to activate your motor based on pedal crank arm rotation. The bikes I tested didn’t have this feature installed but it did have ebike brake levers setup and these served to cut power to the motor when activated and they also triggered regenerative braking! There’s a lot of controversy around the value of regen but in my opinion it’s cool. You reduce the wear on brake pads while simultaneously recouping some energy. This energy may only barely offset the cogging (magnetic resistance) of the motor or help to make up for the added weight of the system but it’s still fun and worked well enough on the two bikes I tested.
Here’s another picture of the cockpit area with the Golden Motors Magic Pie 3 kit installed on a more traditional cruiser style bike frame with horizontal handlebar. It’s easier to see the trigger throttle and LED display console on the right along with the red lights activation button. On the left is a red cruise control set button and green horn button which were not wired up on this bike.
When you get an electric bike kit and either work with a shop or install it yourself one of the foremost benefits is lower cost. The two kits I tested were purchased for ~$1,000 each including the battery and installation. That’s impressive for a high power, high torque, high speed system (capable of reaching ~25 mph). This price point is much lower than most fully built electric bikes but you still need a worthy platform and a traditional bike frame is usually not as integrated, sturdy or well balanced as a purpose built ebike frame. The gentleman who let me test ride his bikes explained that he carries around a wrench to tighten the nuts on his rear dropouts ever few rides because they start to come loose. As mentioned earlier, he also replaced his rear carry rack and had to spend quite a bit of time reconfiguring his cockpit area to fit the new button pads and dials as well as the wires coming from the battery and motor. It was fun riding his recumbent trike and the cruiser setup worked very well but felt less stable and stiff than a purpose built model. While I’m a fan of ebike technology in general and appreciate lower prices, I’m trying to be transparent about the trade offs that kits offer including balance, reliability, legality and aesthetics. It’s great if you can get help from a local shop to install and support something like this. Do be careful when riding and keep in mind the local laws and how your setup might be perceived in the event of an accident without license and insurance vs. lower speed systems that don’t require it.
- Solid one year warranty and friendly company culture, the founder Gary Salo has setup a support forum and made himself available via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (647) 982-1344
- Version 3 of the Magic Pie has an integrated controller which reduces the need for extra wires and clutter on the bike and can be programmed by connecting to a PC computer
- Extremely high torque output at 70 Newton meters, most electric bike hub motors I’ve tested output ~40 Nm
- Heatsink dissipation “fan system” allows the motor to do more work climbing without overheating but is still water resistant
- Gearless motor design is durable, no moving parts inside rubbing together over time, it also offers regenerative braking and can operate in reverse (programmable controller unit via connection to PC)
- System can be used with a twist throttle, trigger throttle and cadence sensing pedal assist – works with a basic LED power display or fancy Cycle Analyst LCD with speed, range and power level readouts
- Available in multiple wheel diameters through the International website including 16″ through 28″ – can be used as a front or rear wheel and fits 100 mm to 135 mm wide dropout sizes for bikes, tandems, recumbents and other (just usually not fat tire size)
- Disc brake compatible, can be purchased with 140 or 160 mm disc brake rotor attached
- Narrow motor design can accommodate a cassette if used in the rear, the bike I tested had an 8 speed cassette which enabled a wider range of pedaling cadence
- Compatible with a wide range of battery pack types and sizes ranging from 24 volts all the way up to 60 volts (maximum 35 amps continuous)
- Heavier than some other electric hub motors due to the gearless design and integrated controller, the kit I tested weighed 33 pounds including the motor, wheel and battery pack and all were located at the rear of the bike
- Since the motor can reach peak output of 1,000 or 1,500 watts depending on the battery pack used it blurs the line for what is legal in the US and may create a liability issue (in California the top legal wattage output is 1,000 but most states limit to 750)
- Lots of cables (of varying lengths) to organize and zip tie to the frame in order to keep the system looking good, may have to adjust the cockpit handlebar area of the bike to fit the throttle and display
- Increases unsprung weight if used on a bicycle frame that has suspension, may pose risk of catastrophic failure if used on a low quality front mounted suspension fork
- Because this system uses large electromagnets, offers regenerative braking and does not freewheel you may encounter increased drag when coasting due to “cogging” where the internal magnets repel the electromagnetic stater inside the hub
- Key has to be left in the battery pack while riding, can jingle around and also poke or wear on panniers and bags
- Official International Site: http://www.goldenmotor.com/magicpie/magicpie.html
- Official Canadian Site: http://www.goldenmotor.ca/products/26-Inch-Rear-Magic-Pie-3-Conversion-Kit.html
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/UsPBpDSq6rG98AaW6