- A beautifully designed, purpose built, affordable electric bike well suited to urban riding or commuting
- Step-thru frame is easy to mount but relatively stiff thanks to a double tube mid-section, integrated battery pack keeps weight low and centered - it seems well protected in case of tips and is easy to remove
- The charging port and USB power outlet can be tricky to reach, the throttle is limited in power by the pedal assist level you choose
- Solid one year warranty, quality Samsung battery cells, longstanding international presence with good performance (this is a fifth generation build even though it's new to the US)
Magnum electric bikes are relatively new to the US but they’ve been successful in Israel and parts of Europe for several years. The Ui5 is an “urban” model with “integrated battery” offering “5th generation” technology… It’s one of my favorite ebikes from their line because it looks great, is well suited to city riding or commuting with an average sized motor and battery and has a relatively clean cockpit that’s easy to use. There are a few issues with the bike including limited access to the charging port and USB outlet (when the battery mounted), only one brake lever with a motor cutoff switch, an independent rear light that requires AA batteries vs. being wired in and limited throttle control (you can only get as much power as the level of assist you’re in so it’s not really an override). Still, given the very reasonable ~$1,699 price point, purpose built frame, balanced weight distribution, clean wire integration, disc brakes, suspension fork, cheap fender and rack upgrades and the solid one year warranty this is definitely a winner in my book.
The motor 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 on value priced electric bikes because it’s produced in such large quantities by Bafang in China. I like that for the Ui5 they chose a black version to match the spokes, rims 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 with entry-level Shimano Tourney TX derailleur there 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. Seven speeds is decent for neighborhood or city riding and if you keep the chain lubed and drop in for an occasional tuneup everything should last. I especially like the aluminum alloy bash guard on the front chainring because it protects your pants or dress from getting greasy or snagged.
Powering the Magnum Ui5 electric bike is a beautifully integrated Lithium-ion battery pack. The downtube is partially cut away in order to sink the pack “inside” which provides more security and strength while simultaneously lowering the center of mass. It’s not quite as clean as the pack 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” on the battery 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 chainring and crank arms.
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 concern is that it makes forgetting to switch the pack “off” much easier once you park the bike. The display panel is one I’ve seen on other brands including Pedego and features four buttons. 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. I do like that you’ve got a throttle and pedal assist option with the Ui5 but the throttle isn’t as useful as it could be. 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 set the bike in assist level two (for improved efficiency when pedaling) and then be able to override this using the throttle for short periods in order to climb a hill or pass a fellow cyclist on the trail. I also found that the pedal assist sensor on this model was a bit delayed. I’d call it average… and I do like the design of the sensor because it’s so small and well sealed against dirt and water 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.
To sum everything up… the price really makes this bike shine but even if it weren’t so affordable the matching paint, integrated wires, upgraded batteries and other extras like the lights really set it apart. Sure, you have to manually activate those lights but they are actually fairly high quality coming from Spanninga. The suspension fork adds a lot of comfort but you don’t get lockout or any kind of rebound adjust. For me, that’s completely fine and at 51 pounds I’d actually consider the bike light given the larger tires and that fork. I love the color and the adjustable stem, this ebike will fit a wider range of riders and for those who want to commute or run errands the rack was very impressive for just $40. It attaches to the top of the seat stays while many similar racks come in on the sides which adds clutter to the derailleur and disc brake mounting points. I do like the disc brakes on the Ui5 but was a little surprised that they only include one lever with a motor inhibitor. I’m not sure how much money that saves, it probably decreases clutter up front but I’d opt for two and then upgrade to a 12 magnet cadence sensor if I could change anything here. Overall it’s an impressive product and clearly refined (being a fifth generation design) even if it’s new to the United States.
- The battery secures to the frame well, looks good and is easy to take on and off even though it’s fairly snug beneath the top tube (since it slides out to the side), seems well protected by the frame in case of tips
- The frame is fairly stiff due to the double tube top tube + down tube design and oversized tapered head tube, 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
- Offers throttle and pedal assist, the controls are fairly compact and reachable in the cockpit, moreso than the Mi5 which has two shifter units
- Optional carry rack and fender set are sturdy and very well priced, the addition of LED lights here adds great utility for commuting
- Comfortable ride given the larger Schwalbe Big Ben tires, Suntour suspension fork and Selle Royale saddle
- Nice colors, 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 USB charging port is located at the lowest end of the battery pack very near where the downtube intersects with the seat tube, it is difficult to reach for use while riding and any wires extending out here may get snagged in pedaling or come into contact with the chainring
- Only available in one standard size with one color option but the adjustable angle stem helps to broaden support for people of different heights
- 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
- The LED lights are great but it would be nice if both were integrated (the rear light requires two AA batteries), each one also has to be manually turned on vs. using the display to do it
- 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 and the top tube
- 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-ui5/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/KapMC3jsfMLtoz2z5