Electric Bike Action Bike Test: Magnum Navigator Touring Bike
At least when measured on an e-bike history line, when it comes to making e-bikes, Magnum has been around for an eternity. Founded in 2010, they are known for their unique designs and affordable prices. They concentrate on five different bike categories: touring, trail, fat tire, cruiser and folding, as well as a line of electric scooters. The Navigator falls into that touring category.
The Navigator is based on an aluminum, low-step-through frame design that makes for easier mounting and dismounting. The battery is integrated into the downtube, and the seatstays loop around past the seat tube and join the downtube to provide added stiffness.
“The slightly steep geometry of the head angle makes the bike very responsive to steering input, but the bike felt controllable and planted in every corner we went through with it.”
With 100mm of travel, the SR Suntour XCT-ATB fork will help take out the major bumps, and it has a lockout switch and some degree of preload adjustment.
The Promax stem offers a range of adjustability that will allow riders to either sit in a more upright or more aggressive position by changing the angle of the stem without the need for any tools. The overall seating position is upright.
Touch points are nice, including faux leather grips and a gel saddle from Selle Royal. Under the saddle is a Promax aluminum suspension seatpost, which does also make for a very comfortable ride on poorly maintained roads. Pedals are black platforms from Wellgo, and they offer good grip on most shoes.
Full aluminum fenders are an attractive touch that will help keep you dry, and because they’re aluminum, they’re very rigid and don’t rattle around.
Magnum uses Das-Kit for their motor systems. Das-Kit has been around for 15 years and is part of BB-Leisger International GmbH, which is based in Hanover, Germany. In addition to motors, they also make e-bike conversion kits for non-electric bikes. The Magnum powerplant is a 48V, 500W geared rear-hub motor that offers plenty of power.
Instead of a more common lithium-ion battery, Magnum has chosen to go with a lithium nickel cobalt manganese battery, which can offer a longer lifespan. At 576Wh (12Ah), it has mid-level range, usually enough to get you at least to your office, and perhaps back (maybe several times), depending on your commute. The battery is lockable and removable for remote charging, or to swap out for longer range.
The LCD screen mounted atop the stem has great contrast and is very easy to read. It offers mode, trip distance, battery level, battery voltage and power level all on one screen.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This is a solid bike for commuters and anyone who likes to go for short- or medium-distance rides. The fact that it will go 28 mph with assist makes it safer and better for most commuters. Though it’s likely that most people won’t maintain a 28-mph speed for the whole ride, the Class 3-level speed will enable them to keep up with most traffic and allow better safety.
When we first got on the bike, we saw what looked like a dropper-post lever on the handlebars. It turns out that it was actually the throttle. It is the narrowest throttle lever we’ve ever seen. It works, though, even from a complete stop.
The Navigator has a cadence sensor only, so it will go whatever top speed the current assist mode is set on. If you want to go slower, choose a lower assist mode. If you want to go faster, choose a higher one. In level 6, it doesn’t go to 28 mph; it tops out at 23. That’s better than 20, but you have to put in a lot of work to see 28. Keeping it in level 1 gets you to around 10–12 miles an hour.
Brakes are more than adequate, easy to modulate and could stop us on the proverbial dime. The levers also have cutoff switches, which is really helpful on a bike with cadence sensors. If you need the motor to cut off, a light squeeze of either lever will work to do it and makes slowing down much easier.
The almost-generic CST tires have plenty of grip and some light knobs to keep you in contact with the ground. In a perfect world, we’d like these to have reflective side stripes for extra visibility. The slightly steep geometry of the head angle makes the bike very responsive to steering input, but the bike felt controllable and planted in every corner we went through with it.
The grips look like hand-stitched leather and are soft and comfortable, and all the controls are laid out ergonomically on the slightly swept-back handlebars. The saddle and suspension post combination was plush and kept us comfortable mile after mile. We did like being able to stop for a moment and adjust the handlebar height, especially on longer rides.
The gearing range was plenty for all our usual test hills. Because of the cadence sensor, even on steep hills we were hitting 20 mph in level 6. That may not have been good for battery life, but it sure was fun! The Acera trigger shifters got us into gear easily, one gear at a time.
On one ride, we took the bike over some really rough streets with huge root bumps to see how the bike would handle it. Not only did it handle it with stride, nothing on the bike made any noise. No creaks, no clangs, nothing. Fit and finish are excellent on this bike.
The Navigator makes a solid case for itself as a commuter bike, as a Class 3 bike with a low-step frame and a beefy rack, not to mention a good price in this class. We’d actually prefer a torque sensor to improve the ride and range at this price point. It certainly ticks a lot of boxes for commuters and those who want to run errands on an e-bike.
Motor: Das-Kit geared rear-hub motor, 500W, 48V
Battery: 576Wh lithium nickel cobalt manganese (Li-NCM)
Charge time: 6 hours
Top speed: 28-mph pedal-assist (Class 3), 20-mph throttle.
Range: 25-55 miles
Drive: Shimano Acera, 8-speed
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm front,
Fork: Suntour XCB-ATB 100mm travel
Frame: 6061 aluminum,
Rims: Double-wall aluminum
Tires: CST, 27.5×2.35
Weight: 60 lb.
Color choice: Black/blue, black/silver, white/blue, white/silver
Sizes: One size
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