MAGNUM PATHFINDER 500W

A compact but capable cargo bike

Magnum Bikes was founded in 2010 and makes a wide variety of e-bikes. They’re on the lower end of the price range but not on the quality end. We were excited when the Pathfinder compact cargo bike showed up at our office, because it’s the type of bike we think has a lot of room for growth and popularity as people look towards ways to use their gas-powered cars a little less. 

A cargo bike offers tons of utility and can get you out of your car and into the fresh air, if even to ride to the grocery story for some frozen dinners! And while we won’t comment on what the frozen dinner might do for you, we can guarantee that getting out of the car and pedaling instead is better for both you and the environment.

THE BIKE

For maximum utility, Magnum designed this bike as a step-through frame with one single, beefy downtube that houses the battery. Thanks to some serious gusseting at the top and bottom, the aluminum frame is very rigid. The bike can carry up to 265 pounds of rider and passenger and/or cargo. 

THE PARTS

The bike comes with some nice components. The grips are comfortable and is only a half grip on the right side to accommodate the throttle. Cabling is a bit messy up front, as there are a ton of cables coming from the brakes, throttle, display, electronic horn, etc. There are no brake cutoff switches, so that does save having two added cables. Cables are internally routed behind the head tube. 

There are a lot of wires going on here, but it’s an overall simple set of controls. The mirror is a really nice touch to keep an eye on traffic. The horn will annoy anyone out of your way!

The 7-speed Shimano drivetrain consists of a Shimano Deore cassette and derailleur, Shimano SIS shifter and a KMC Z chain. Braking is done via Tektro hydraulic discs.

THE MOTOR 

The Pathfinder has a 500W rear-hub motor on a 48-volt system, which gives it incredible torque. There are three variations on the Pathfinder. This one, with the 625Wh battery and 500W motor; another with a bigger 840Wh battery (called the Pathfinder T); and one with a 468Wh battery and a 350W motor. 

“We actually found it the best to use the throttle gently to start up from a stop, then start pedaling, which offered smoother acceleration.”

The battery is made to fit this frame using LG cells, and it sits flush in the top of the frame. There’s a USB-A port in the bottom of the battery to charge your phone or other devices. We think it would be better if the port was at the top to keep dangling wires shorter.

The 624Wh battery sits flush in the frame. Note the USB-A port at the bottom to allow you to charge your phone or other devices from the battery.

The display is from a company called Bigstone. It’s a small, elegant blue monochrome display with an on/off button that also toggles the integrated head and taillights on, and one button to increase the power assist level and one to lower it. It’s very simple and easy to read in the shade.

The unbranded 500W, geared rear-hub motor is almost quiet and unobtrusive.

The bike ships as a Class 3 e-bike, which means it provides assistance in the top assist level to 28 mph. Using only the throttle will take you up to the Class 1 limit of 20 mph. If your state or local laws disallow throttles, it can be removed. 

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

Obviously, this is a small cargo bike. As such, it can be good for carrying your stuff to work, getting groceries, running errands, etc. It might even work well for some bikepacking, perhaps with different tires. What impressed us is the fact that it’s small enough to comfortably fit a rider under 5 feet tall yet can be adjusted via the seatpost and the stem to fit someone over 6 feet tall. 

THE RIDE

This is a compact cargo bike, and the rack is welded on the back with industry-standard rails that make it easy to accessorize. You could attach a baby seat, a seat pad for passengers, panniers and more. The fork has bosses to carry more gear if needed. 

Climbing aboard the bike is easy with the low step-thru frame. The adjustable stem is a nice touch, as the upright riding position is very comfortable, and you can set it the way it’s most comfortable to you. You will need an Allen wrench to adjust the stem, but it’s included in the box.

There are five different levels of assist—well, six if you count “off.” Since this is run by a cadence sensor, once you start pedaling, the motor kicks in rather abruptly. Each power level has a maximum speed, and the bike will automatically take you quickly up to that speed. The reaction is the same whether you’re in level 1 or level 5, the difference is how fast it goes at that assist level. We actually found it the best to use the throttle gently to start up from a stop, then start pedaling, which offered smoother acceleration.

The integrated lighting, both fore and aft, help you be seen at night and can help with visibility in daylight.

The display isn’t bright enough in bright sunlight to easily see all the information, but if you’re in the shade or ride during sunrise or sunset, it’s plenty bright.

We thought the Shimano 7-speed gearing would be enough to maintain pedaling speed, but it turned out that it wasn’t. Once we got going, the tallest gear left us with too high of a cadence to keep up with the motor speed, so we either used the throttle at that point or turned the power level down. Once we were at speed, the Magnum offered a fun and controllable ride with no surprises in handling, even over some really bad roads. The fenders came in handy, because what city street doesn’t have some level of water running across it?

The 7-speed Shimano Altus drivetrain works well with this bike, but with the 20-inch wheels, the derailleur does sit close to the ground. Be careful near curbs.

The tires have a very motorcycle-like street tread, and they’re conical like a motorcycle tire for good grip and optimal rolling resistance. They do not have a reflective strip on the side, something to consider changing if you ride at night. 

The big tires do help calm the bumps in the road, but the aluminum frame transfers the energy from potholes and gum wrappers up to you directly. The seat is very wide and comfortable, but if it was us, we might add a suspension seatpost to help smooth the bumps a bit more. 

The sturdy rear rack is welded directly to the frame, so you’ll never have to worry about it coming loose.

THE VERDICT

Overall, this bike is a good value, with brand-name components, nice touches like hydraulic brakes, plenty of power and the ability to carry a fair amount of baggage. Oh yeah, it’s also available in a variety of colors. You can have fun configuring the rack area to suit your needs. In our experience, Magnum is a reliable brand with bikes with good ride quality and fit and finish.

You can buy directly from Magnum or buy one from a certified dealer. They highly recommend buying through a dealer when possible to build a good relationship for service and support. They have a dealer finder on their website. If you’re in or near Salt Lake City, you can visit their flagship store.

SPECS

MAGNUM PATHFINDER

Price: $1999

Frame: 6061 aluminum

Fork: Aluminum

Motor: 48V 500W geared rear hub motor

Battery: 624Wh Li-NCM

Controls: Bigstone H102

Charge time: 6.5 hours

Top speed: 28 mph

Range: 30–50 miles (claimed)

Rear derailleur: Shimano Altus, 7-speed

Chain: KMC Z chain

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc

Saddle: Velo

Rims: Double-wall aluminum, 20×3.0”

Hubs: Magnum

Tires: Innova 20×3.0”

Weight: 62 lb.

Color choice: Forest Green, Ocean Blue, Sand Tan, Snow White

Sizes: One size

www.magnumbikes.com