- An approachable fully-equipped electric bike available in four colors, sold direct and through a large network of dealers. The step-thru frame is approachable, but felt very stiff and capable. Large 3.0" wide plus-sized tires add comfort and stability to the smaller 20" wheel size. Impressive 180mm hydraulic disc brakes provide smooth and powerful stopping.
- While only available in one frame size, the extra long 390mm seat post and adjustable angle 0-90 degree stem provide a comfortable fit for a wide range of riders. The shorter 165mm crank arms and metal controller box protect against high centering and obstacle strikes given the lower frame. Frame has bottle cage bosses on the seat tube, rear rack has a bungee loop, and the pedals are pretty nice.
- Available with a 350 or 500 watt motor and 36 or 48 volt battery pack for different power, range, and price points. Excellent weight distribution, nice display panel with a good settings menu, great attention to detail on the rear rack, fenders, and integrated lights. Higher than average max weight rating at 265lbs.
- A bit heavy considering it does not have a suspension fork or seatpost. The battery lock, charging port, and USB charging port are all positioned low on the frame near the crank arms. The battery can be a little tricky to get off, the center-mount kickstand can create pedal lock. The tires aren't reflective, don't have a PSI range, and may not be puncture resistant. Basic 7-speed drivetrain with limited 14-28 tooth freewheel.
This in-depth review was not sponsored by Magnum or any other company, but I would like to thank Caps Electric Bike Shop for allowing me to use a test bike from their shop. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of Magnum products. I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below and the Magnum electric bike forums.
- Magnum has a large dealer network in the United States in addition to selling direct to consumer, this hybrid model blends affordable products with peace of mind and better support. Magnum has been selling electric bikes since 2010 with steady improvements to their products and service!
- Magnum sells several commuter-oriented models, the Pathfinder is commuting ready with its fenders, integrated lights, and rear rack, but it seems a bit more playful and could be fun off-road. The smaller wheel size lowers the frame positioning, and the deep step-thru makes it very easy to approach and stabilize. It’s a great bike for petite riders and those who want a playful look that almost seems like it’s meant for off road use.
- The Pathfinder comes in two versions, providing different price points and more or less battery capacity and motor power. I covered the more expensive $1,999 500w version with the 48 volt battery, but the $1,599 350w version with the 36 volt battery is very similar… and it even comes in the same four colors!
- The bike is extremely approachable due to the smaller wheel size and low step-thru frame. My height is 5’9″ and I have a 31″ inseam, but I was still able to raise the seat and configure the stem for a comfortable fit and full leg extension. The longer 390mm seatpost and adjustable angle stem make this possible.
- Despite being a low-step, the frame is very stiff and solid feeling. Notice the additional tubing that connects the downtube to the steer tube. Similar thing for where it connects to the seat tube, there’s extra material and a large interface. This reinforcement, along with the thicker 12 gauge spokes and smaller wheels, allowed Magnum to rate the bike up to 265lbs vs. 250lbs on most ebikes. I believe that the rear rack is rated to 55lbs.
- Magnum rated the bike as Class 1, 2, and 3 because you can remove the throttle and adjust the top speed to reach 25mph. This is nice for people who want to save time commuting and keep up with cars.
- The motor felt very zippy and capable, especially given the 48 volt power system. I suspect that Magnum is using a high amperage controller, and I appreciate that it’s separated from the battery to reduce heating and also lower the cost of additional or replacement battery packs.
- The display panel is compact, and may be a little tricky for some people to read with the small numbers for assist level, but I found it to be intuitive and have a nice settings menu (hold Power and Up to get into this menu).
- I like that the throttle overrides pedal assist, so you can be riding in a low level to feel natural and save energy, but twist the throttle to climb a hill or catch up with a friend easily. I also appreciate the sealed 12 magnet cadence sensor that they chose. It works well in combination with a variable speed twist throttle.
- The battery pack is positioned really well, low and center on the frame. I think the black cover was a good choice vs. color matched, because it makes batteries interchangeable and less expensive to replace. The charger is pretty generic, but has a special three prong interface that is less likely to arc than a barrel plug (from what I’m told). The charger is also pretty compact and lightweight, so easy to stow and take on longer rides.
- I appreciate that the battery can be charged on or off the bike using the same charger, and I love the little USB charging port built into the side. It’s not positioned super well for use while riding (low on the right side near the crank arm), but can work well as a battery backup for portable electronics when camping or at home.
- Very cool tire choice here, and I like the name! These are the CST Big Boat tires, offering 20″ x 3.0″ sizing. This is considered plus size, which brings higher air volume and width for improved comfort, stability, and traction off-road. They performed well during my ride test on soft loamy terrain in British Columbia Canada, and acted as basic suspension.
- I love that the hub motor, spokes, rims, and other hardware is all black. The color schemes and decals combine to look really fun and playful to me. It feels like they paid attention to the little details here.
- Excellent brakes! I love that Magnum specced hydraulic disc brakes for the more expensive model (you get mechanical for the 350w version of the Pathfinder). Hydraulic requires less hand effort and is more consistent over time, especially for the rear brake with the longer distance. The levers offer adjustable reach and have motor inhibitors for added safety given the twist throttle and cadence sensor setup. I feel that 180mm rotors on 20″ wheels is overkill, but it does dissipate heat and provide excellent power!
- The smaller wheel diameter provides a great mechanical advantage for the hub motor, and I found that the bike climbed very well. This is good news for people who want to load up the rear rack or who simply weigh more. The saddle was also very comfortable for me.
- Magnum was very detailed when designing the rear rack because it has an additional support rod with a rectangular hole for use with a bungee cord to secure gear on top! I love that they also squeezed in a bottle cage mounting point on the seat tube. Many times this is overlooked in the ebike space.
- Generally speaking, cable management is good and the bike looks clean… I was very impressed to see the motor power cable being routed to the left side of the motor and tucked between the frame and disc brake rotor for added protection vs. into the axle near the derailleur on the right side like many others. I also appreciate the metal threaded connectors used here vs. plastic press fit. They should protect against water and be less likely to get pulled apart.
- I care a lot about safety, especially for bikes that can go a bit faster and are setup for commuting (has a rear rack and fenders), so the bright integrated lights here are excellent. The headlight points where you steer and is aimable, the rear light has two LEDs vs. just one.
- Notice the additional mounting holes on the fork and steer tube. The bike is setup to handle additional racks and allows you to be creative in how you use it. I always appreciate these options.
- Magnum specced large comfortable pedals from VP. They aren’t as sturdy as aluminum alloy or magnesium, but they are much better than metal cages or narrow plastic, and they save money and weight. Note the shorter 165mm crank arms here, which reduce pedal strikes since the bike sits a bit lower on 20-inch wheels.
- Apparently, if you buy direct from Magnum, the bike comes 70% assembled and is easy to complete. I enjoy visiting shops and appreciate that they have a vast network in the US, Canada, and some other countries.
- I found the battery lock a bit difficult to operate because it’s spring loaded and must be twisted all the way to the right and held in position while lifting the battery pack out (starting at the bottom) and also when putting the pack back in. You cannot just push down and click the battery into position… The locking cylinder is just kind of low, and in the path of the left crank arm.
- Similar gripe with the charging port for the battery pack, it’s located low on the left side of the frame vs. up high on the right. And, it’s nice that the battery has a USB charging port built into the side, but it’s low on the right side of the pack, very close to the path of the crank arm. If you’re trying to charge a portable electronic device from this while riding, the cable could be pretty exposed (consider using stick-on cable organizers). It would be nice if the USB was up at the display panel to reach phones, speakers, and lights easier. The good news is that you can use the battery as a stand-alone battery back when it’s not mounted to the bike.
- The Magnum website mentions rear light brake activation, suggesting that it should switch on and go bright whenever you pull the brake levers. However, I was testing this and didn’t see it working during my ride tests. I was in Canada, perhaps the model is slightly different there vs. the United States?
- The bike felt fairly comfortable to me during the ride tests, in large part due to the wider 3.0″ tires. However, there’s no suspension fork or suspension seatpost, and adding one might be difficult to find due to the wider 34mm diameter and long 390mm length. The tires didn’t have a PSI range, just a maximum, so I’m a bit hesitant to recommend lowering the tire pressure to improve comfort, because it could lead to a pinch flat. The smaller wheel diameter results in a higher attack angle, so most compact ebikes can feel a bit jarring in general, at least this one has the plus sized tires and gel saddle to help. The adjustable stem can also be dialed in to provide a more upright body position and reduce back and neck strain when riding over bumps.
- The kickstand is pretty great, very long and sturdy with adjustable length, but it is positioned at the center of the frame. This means that the left crank arm can collide and lock up if you’re backing the bike up with the kickstand deployed. It’s a minor thing, and I see why the stand is at the center given the shorter length of the bike.
- For a compact electric bike with no suspension, this bike is a bit heavy at 59.9lbs. Their website said 50lbs… so maybe they just weighed it without the battery or copied the weight from the less expensive and less powerful 350w version (which has a 350 watt motor and lower capacity 36 volt battery pack). I’d definitely take the battery off to reduce weight when lifting the bike, despite it’s small and light appearance.
- I love that the Magnum Pathfinder has integrated lights and lots of reflectors, but the tires don’t have reflective stripes and didn’t say anything about puncture protection. Still CST is a brand that I recognize vs. generic or off-brand, so hopefully they do well over time and in different conditions. If you’re concerned about being seen, consider the Sand or Snow colors, which are more visible during low light conditions.
- The display is pretty small, and the assist level is written very small in the lower left corner. Your speed is listed the largest, at the center. If you hold up and down, the layout changes a bit, and holding up activates the lights. I found the display to be okay overall, but it is small. The shifter mechanism is fairly large and requires some reaching with the right hand vs. trigger shifters below the grip. The good news is that shifting with gloves is very easy and there’s a big optical readout of the selected gear, it’s fairly intuitive.
- The battery charger is pretty generic and takes about six hours to charge the 624 watt hour battery on the Pathfinder 500W model. I’m seeing some 3 amp and 4 amp chargers out there, but this one is 2 amps and may have been chosen to save costs.