BIKE TEST: 2018 MAGNUM METRO & METRO+
Two bikes, two styles, one result—two-up fun Photos by Pat Carrigan
Of the many segments of population that e-bikes make good sense for, it would be couples looking for a fun way to be outdoors to get some (always) needed exercise. This pair of Metro bikes from Magnum could be just the ticket for two people to get some his-and-her pedaling in without breaking the bank.
Both bikes are similar spec, but the Metro has a low step-through frame and 26-inch wheels with big, balloon-like Schwalbe Big Ben tires, whereas the Metro+ has a diamond frame and 700c (28-inch) wheels with narrower, sportier, 38mm Schwalbe Marathon tires.
There’s a nice, big display by Das-Kit that shows you everything easily and at a glance. You can see your assist level, speed, trip time, and the battery level in both a bar level and actual current voltage.
The rigid aluminum frame feels solid, but thanks to the SunTour NEX fork and Promax suspension seatpost, the ride is made smooth. The only adjustment for the fork is manual preload. With just 63mm of travel and the road tire spec, neither of these bikes is designed for much more than an occasional light off-road use.
“We were up for a workout, so assist mode is what we chose for our day in the desert sun.”
Das-Kit is a motor from BB-Leisger International GmbH, a manufacturer from Hanover, Germany. They’ve been making e-bike motors for 15 years. Their specialty is making kits to convert pedal bicycles into electric bikes. Magnum uses their patented D5 motor system for its reliability, power and cost-effectiveness. It’s a 500-watt, internally geared rear hub motor that provides plenty of zip.
The ample 13-watt-hour battery sits partly inside the downtube to keep it looking less bulky and also keep it securely locked in. The BMS is on the bottom of the downtube to allow cooling and integrates with the cadence sensor. The rest of the powertrain on both bikes is provided by a Shimano Acera 1×8 drivetrain powered by Prowheel Ounce cranks and Wellgo platform pedals. The front sprocket has a chainguide to keep the chain on the chainring and off your pants.
There is also a derailleur guard on the back to protect it from hitting things. Little details like these make the bike seem better than you’d expect at this price.
WHO THEY’RE MADE FOR?
Though it’s at an entry-level price point, there are some good features included, and the build quality should handle years of riding. The Magnums are great for someone who doesn’t have the pocketbook for a premium bike but wants a solid-performing bike with good power. The Metro+ is good for taller people because of the larger wheels and diamond frame, and the Metro is good for those who want a step-through frame for easier mounting and dismounting.
With both bikes charged up and ready to go, we headed south down the canyon towards downtown Sedona. The hills of Sedona proved to be the perfect testing ground for the two Magnums. Once we got into town, we ventured out in search of some fun, rolling, jeep fire roads. The suspension seatposts and suspension forks spec’d on both models helped take the edge off small ruts, rocks and bumps. Although we wouldn’t bomb down any super-rocky sections, the NEX fork performed well and soaked up small obstacles, making the ride more enjoyable.
Both are value-priced e-bikes that provide comfort, sportiness and ample power. They use a high-capacity, frame-integrated battery and high-powered, 500-watt rear hub motors that are very zippy and climbed steep hills with ease. Both are pedal assist and do have throttle mode if you don’t wish to pedal. We were up for a workout, so assist mode is what we chose for our day in the desert sun. The motor is rated at 28 mph, although we found a top speed of 26 mph more realistic. The assist on both bikes tops out at 20 mph with the throttle only.
There’s no torque sensor, so it works in cadence only. You can ghost-pedal and get the equivalent of a throttle. This is one way to save money on building the bike, as cadence sensors are merely magnets that measure if you are pedaling or not, not how hard you are pedaling. Because of this, you control speed by the power level. Level one goes to 15 mph, level two goes to 17–18 mph and so on, up to 26-ish mph. The more precise way of controlling speed is to use the throttle.
A built-in USB charge port turns your e-bike battery into a power supply for all mobile devices, a handy feature these days with power-gobbling smartphones. The leather seats and grips finish off the details nicely. Water-bottle braze-ons make for a quick and easy water-bottle reach, once you’ve installed a cage.
Both Magnum Metro models are equipped with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes that provide ample stopping power. The bikes are equipped with power cutoff switches, but instead of having a cutoff on both brake levers, it is inexplicably only on the front brake. Though you do get far more braking power from the front brake, when hand signaling or just scrubbing some speed, most people use the rear brake more often, and that’s when you’d want the motor to be cut off. This can be a little off-putting in traffic.
Rear racks and fenders are nice added features and great for making short trips to the store to grab a small list of grocery items. They’re also equipped with headlights and a quick-adjust handlebar stem that allow you to instantly modify your riding position via a spring-loaded slider switch on the side of the stem. It’s easy to select between an upright riding position, more forward and sporty, or anything in between. Although we both preferred the lower sportier stem position most of the time, a person with a bad back may prefer the more upright position. It’s also a handy option for loading into vehicles with tight cargo spaces.
The low step-through Metro makes it easy to mount and dismount. After riding bikes for many years, it takes some getting used to the fact you don’t have to swing a leg high over the back of the saddle.
The interesting effect of the differing wheel sizes is obvious when you have the bikes side by side and take off, either by throttle or cadence.
The Metro beats the Metro+ off the line because of the smaller-diameter wheels, offering the motor a torque advantage; however, for longer distances, the Metro+ will catch and pass the Metro because of the larger wheel size.
The lights require independent activation versus being integrated and controlled on the fly from a handlebar controller. The cockpit and controls are very well positioned and easy to figure out. Both models are nicely designed, purpose-built electric bikes that are well suited for urban riding and commuting.
Weighing in at 58 pounds, neither of these bikes would be considered light, but they look and feel sturdy. Both bikes offer good value for the price, with outstanding range and power for its class. For us, it came down to a choice between the frame styles. Which would you choose?
Motor: Das-Kit rear-mounted, geared 500W hub
Battery: 48V 13 Ah/624 Wh lithium nickel cobalt manganese
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 28 mph (with assist), 20mph (throttle-only)
Range: 20–40 miles
Drive: Shimano Altus M310 1×8
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm front/160mm rear
Fork: Suntour NEX, 63mm travel
Frame: 6061 aluminum alloy
Tires: Schwalbe Big Ben 26×2.15”, Kevlar-lined, reflective sidewall stripe (Metro); Schwalbe Marathon 700x38c, Kevlar-lined, reflective sidewall stripe (Metro+)
Weight: 58 lb.
Color choices: Glossy white or matte black (Metro); matte black (Metro+)
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