The Magellan step-through model
Photo from Walmart.com
But what if $500 is still too much? If this is the case, you might consider visiting your local Wal*Mart and investing $200 in a Huffy Magellan. That’s right, the Huffy Magellan looks like a real bicycle for the real world. From five feet away, even a hard-core bicycle enthusiast would have a hard time finding major differences between this bicycle and similar offerings from companies such as Specialized and Trek.
Good Things About the Magellan:
There are plenty of things to like about the Magellan. The bike has an aluminum frame with what appear to be very good welds. Plastic fenders are included in the purchase price. These look similar to products from Planet Bike. The Magellan also comes with a rear rack which looks like it came right out of the Blackburn catalog. The low-end Shimano and SRAM drivetrain components in the 21-speed setup look perfectly functional The wheels are composed of sturdy-looking 700C aluminum rims, aluminum hubs, tires that remind me of the tires on roadster-style bicycles from
The Magellan comes equipped with a rear rack and fenders
Debatable Component Choices:
Some folks will like the adjustable handlebar stem, others will not. There is a steel kickstand mounted to a kickstand plate near the bottom bracket, where many frames have a chainstay bridge. The kickstand will be convenient, but it is not as nice as an alloy model from
The clear plastic chain guard that covers all three chainrings is intriguing. If it works well, it would provide a huge benefit to people who want to keep their pants clean. If it gets in the way of the chain, on the other hand, it could be worse than useless.
I was disappointed by the suspension-style fork by Zoom. I would have preferred to see a rigid steel fork, preferably cro-moly. A nice unicrown fork would be far cheaper than the suspension fork on the bicycle, and it would improve the performance as well. However, I understand that I am not the “target customer” for this bicycle and that some market research team told those responsible for specifying components on the Magellan that they must include a suspension fork. This is unfortunate, but not the end of the world. The suspension fork will probably be viewed as a benefit to most of the people who consider buying this bicycle. If it gets them out of their cars and onto a bike, then it is ultimately a good thing.
The Bad News:
This bike has some design elements and components which scream “Cheap!” Most importantly, this is a “one size fits all” model,” and that size is “SMALL.” Both the diamond (“men’s”) and step-through (“women’s”) frames measure 16” (41cm) from the center of the bottom bracket (BB) to the top of the top tube. The measurement from the center of the BB to the top of the seat collar is 18” (46cm). The effective top tube length on both models measured out at roughly 21.7” (55cm). The adjustable stem will allow for a bit of flexibility in terms of both vertical and horizontal handlebar position, and the sloping top tube could make somewhat taller people a bit more comfortable, but the Magellan will not be a good fit for anyone over 6 feet tall.
Frame size and geometry on the step-through and diamond frames seem to be identical
Typical of bicycles sold in “big box” stores, this model comes with cheap, old-fashioned headsets and bottom brackets. The crankset had a coat of silver paint on it, making me think it was probably steel. But all the other components seemed decent.
Another real issue for consumers who are not mechanically inclined is the lack of professional assembly, and I do not consider a seventeen-year-old Wal*Mart employee with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to be a bicycle professional. As is the case for all bicycles, if the Magellan is not assembled properly, it will not work properly. If you are intrigued by the bicycle but you do not have experience putting bicycles together, make sure to call a few of your local bicycle shops to find out how much they would charge for assembly. In all likelihood, buying a new bicycle from your local bike shop will cost about as much as buying the Magellan at Wal*Mart and having it assembled by someone who knows what he/she is doing. Plus, if you buy a bicycle from your local shop, it will come with a good warranty and one or more free tune-ups. So, if you are not familiar with bicycle mechanics, I strongly recommend you visit a reputable bicycle store and look at your alternatives.
My Discussion with a Magellan Owner:
I met a gentleman riding a Magellan outside of Trader Joe’s one day. I asked him how he liked the bicycle. He replied that he thought it was great, although a bit hard to get on and off due to the top tube on the diamond frame. When I asked him why he did not buy the step-through frame, he told me that he would be too embarrassed to ride a “woman’s” bike.
The Magellan diamond frame model
Photo from Walmart.com
He also told me that the salesperson at Wal*Mart had said that the Magellan was being discontinued. I contacted Huffy corporate headquarters multiple times to find out if this is the case, but I got no response. I noticed that the Magellan is not listed on Huffy’s website, so I fear that the gentleman I talked to might be correct. If that is the case, let us all hope that Huffy has other “urban bike” models in the pipeline.
I did not ride a Magellan. If I did, my 6’6” frame would not have been able to get a good feel for how this small bike performs. Given the “down sides” I listed above, buying a Magellan would certainly involve risk, but the risk would be low. After all, the full purchase price of a Magellan is less than millions of Americans spend on gasoline in a month. Yes, the cheap headset and bottom bracket might wear out quickly, but the frame looks to be well-built, so the heart of the bicycle is likely to be sound. I do not know which factory in
The bottom line: If you have some mechanical skills and you fit the smallish frame, the Huffy Magellan could be a great bike for you at a very low cost.