- A value priced hardtail electric bike that's trail ready with a basic suspension fork, knobby tires and 21 speeds
- Average sized 350 watt motor paired with slightly larger 36 volt 13 amp hour battery pack, offers pedal assist and throttle mode but throttle is limited in power to whichever assist level you choose
- The cockpit is a bit crowded, only one brake lever includes a motor inhibitor, battery is difficult to charge on-bike due to the port location at the base of the pack
- Beautiful purpose built frame with integrated battery design, only one color and size, one year warranty
Magnum electric bikes are relatively new to the US but they’ve been successful in Israel and parts of Europe for several years. The Mi5 is an “mountain” model with “integrated battery” offering “5th generation” technology… to call it a true mountain bike is a bit of a stretch in my mind because many of the components are entry level (Tektro mechanical disc brakes, Shimano Tourney drivetrain, Suntour XCT fork). It works great for light trails and zipping around town… thanks to the seat stay bosses you could easily add a carry rack and commute with this thing. You’re not getting a super powerful motor or battery here but it’s kept relatively light weight, similar in size and power to the very popular line of 2015 trail and mountain models from Easy Motion but for half the price. There are a few issues with the bike including limited access to the charging port and USB outlet (specifically when the battery is mounted), only one brake lever with a motor cutoff switch (the left lever), and a crowded cockpit that limits the viewing angle of the LCD display and forces you to reach pretty far to press the trigger throttle. Also, the control systems on this e-bike cap power output in throttle mode based on the level of assist you choose. Still, given the very reasonable ~$1,699 price point, purpose built frame, balanced weight distribution, clean wire integration and solid one year warranty this could be a great fit.
The motor powering the Magnum Mi5 is a 350 watt internally geared hub mounted in the rear wheel. It’s extremely normal, a piece of hardware I see more and more frequently on value priced electric bikes because it’s produced in such large quantities by Bafang in China. I like that for the Mi5 they chose a black version to match the rims, crankset and battery. The motor whirs a bit depending on the level of power you’re applying but it’s not super loud, nor is it very heavy. I like that this e-bike has a quick release on the front wheel but you’ll need tools to access the rear. There’s a seven speed cassette there with entry-level Shimano Tourney TX derailleur and a quick-disconnect in the power cable so you can completely remove the wheel and motor together without any loose wires getting in the way. With 21 speeds total this bike is very capable around town and even going off road where climbing may become more rigorous. Even though you’re dealing with some lower end parts, if you keep the chain lubed and drop in for an occasional tuneup at the local bike shop everything should last. Because the motor is a hub drive and the wheels are 27.5″ vs. 26″ or smaller you’re just not getting the same kind of torque and low end power so I’d recommend pedaling into hills and shifting down so you can help out. Mid-drives are better for this kind of thing but they aren’t as immediately satisfying or smooth as internally geared hubs and they tend to wear chains, sprockets and derailleurs more quickly.
Powering the Magnum Mi5 electric bike is a beautifully integrated Lithium-ion battery pack. The downtube is cut away in order to sink the pack “inside” part way which provides more security and strength while simultaneously lowering the center of mass. It’s not quite as clean as the packs on Easy Motion or Stromer models but for a “value” offering it’s one of the best I’ve seen to date. Inside the pack are 18650 sized cells manufactured by Samsung. They are known for being long lasting, light weight and efficient in transferring power and I usually see them on mid to high-end models. Not only are you getting quality cells here, you also get more of them… I usually see 36 volt 10 amp hour ebikes at this price level but this one offers 13 amp hours for increased range. A few other “extras” with this battery design include an integrated LED power level indicator (that isn’t especially useful when mounted to the frame because it’s not very bright and is blocked by the downtube) and a USB charging port. I know I’ve stressed this earlier and in the video review above but it would be nice if the outlet was placed at the top of the pack instead of the bottom so it could be reached and used more safely while riding. As it stands, the port is precariously close to the front three chainrings and crank arms. I’m not sure you can even charge the pack on the bike based on how close the port is to the seat tube.
Activating this ebike is a two step process once the battery is charged and securely locked to the frame. First, you press a rubber power button at the top end of the pack and then you press a second power button on the display panel. It takes an extra second or two to do but the big drawback is that it makes forgetting to switch the pack “off” after completing a ride much easier. The display panel is one I’ve seen on other brands including Pedego and features four buttons. Just below power, set allows you to change from odometer to trip distance and trip time while up and down allow you to select different power levels for pedal assist. The higher you go (up to 6) the faster the bike will ride but the more juice you’ll use in the process. To easily go from zero to six you can keep arrowing up and that’s kind of neat because it saves time going from high to low or vice versa. I do like that you’ve got a throttle and pedal assist option with the Mi5 but the throttle just isn’t as useful as it could be. Firstly, it’s difficult to reach because the shifter window on the right bar pushes it in towards the stem. Second, you can only activate power up to the level of assist you’re in which means that level zero is very slow, one is a bit faster, two is decent and so on. It would be nice to be able to set the bike in assist level two (for improved efficiency when pedaling) and then quickly override with extra juice using the throttle for short periods. This sort of control is one of the big benefits of having an ebike and I often use it to climb short hills or pass a fellow cyclist on the trail and with the Mi5 it’s more difficult and time consuming because you have to click up, up, up, up and then throttle. I also found that the pedal assist sensor on this model was a bit delayed. I’d call it average… I do like the design of the sensor because it’s so small and well sealed against dirt and water (great for trail riding) but there must be fewer magnets inside because it just didn’t start or stop as quickly as some 12 magnet designs I’ve demoed recently. It sort of depends on which gear you’re in because your cranks tend to turn slower in high gears at low speed than they would if you were in a lower gear starting out.
I love the matching paint, integrated wires and upgraded batteries on this bike but if it wasn’t so cheap the score would be lower. It works and it looks good but it’s not as easy to use or as enjoyable to ride due to the pedal assist throttle interaction and far reach and view angle drawbacks discussed earlier. I much prefer the urban Ui5 from Magnum because it includes lights and isn’t trying to be an off-road machine like this. In truth, it’s probably just a style play (and I do like this style) but the Mi5 will be best suited to urban rides with some packed dirt trails here and there. The frame is only available in one size at ~19 inches but I like the sloped top tube and unique tube designs. The suspension fork adds a lot of comfort but isn’t especially adjustable, a lockout for city riding would be nice here. At 52 pounds the Mi5 is about average in terms of weight and the removable battery and front wheel help if you’re taking it to a trail or using it to commute with busses or trains. I do like that disc brakes were included but feel that a second motor inhibitor is warranted and if they upgraded the cadence sensor to a 12 magnet unit it would be a little tighter in terms of drive performance. This is the first year that Magnum electric bikes are available in the US and I’m sure they will optimize some of their features over time.
- The battery secures to the frame well, looks good and is easy to take on and off, secure and protected by the frame in case of tips
- Oversized tapered head tube adds strength, it looks beautiful with the internally routed cables and color matched fork
- Very affordable for a purpose built electric bike with a one year warranty, upgraded battery size and brand name Samsung cells
- Optional carry rack and fender set are sturdy and very well priced, the rack mounts to the top of the seat stays to keep the rear dropout area clean
- Basic suspension fork adds comfort and the rebound adjust could be handy but requires extra effort to setup correctly (two dials should be adjusted similarly for even response)
- Nice color, even the suspension fork and grips match, this is not always the case with lower priced electric bikes
- The motor and battery offer “average” power for a US electric bike but the battery is actually slightly larger than standard with 13 amp hours vs. just 10 on most models
- The battery charging port and USB charging port are located at the lowest end of the battery pack very near where the downtube intersects with the seat tube, it is difficult to plug anything in here while the battery is on the frame, basically you have to take it off to charge and can use it as a backup battery for portable electronics but they would not connect easily while riding and the wires would be dangerously close to the crankset
- The throttle can be difficult to reach while riding due to the shifter placement, it pushes the throttle ring out but Magnum is working to improve this design
- Only available in one standard size with one color option, it fit me alright and I’m ~5’9″
- Throttle mode can work in tandem with pedal assist but does not fully override assist because power output is still limited by the assist level you select, in zero the throttle is very weak and slow
- No bottle cage bosses, you can add storage by purchasing the fitted rear carry rack for $39 and getting a trunk bag or panniers
- Because there are two sets of trigger shifters (for a total of 21 speeds) the cockpit gets a bit more crowded, the display panel was tipped forward on the demo model because its mounting bracket was colliding with the shifter window
- The battery pack has to be switched on before the bike is turned on, this takes extra time and makes it easy to forget to tun off the battery which can slowly drain the battery due to an LED indicator built in, this LED indicator isn’t visible when riding due to a dark filter cover
- Only the left brake lever features an integrated motor inhibitor, if you squeeze the right lever to stop it will still activate the rear disc brake but the motor may continue because pedal assist is a bit delayed
- Official Site: http://www.magnumbikes.com/portfolio-item/magnum-Mi5/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/sqLfj6S5BxGWprwJA