Unagi Model One Review: Overview
This Unagi review is an in-depth look at the latest version of Unagi’s electric scooter: the Model One (E500). The scooter is beautifully designed, low maintenance, and has an industry-leading warranty.
|Tested top speed: 20.0 mph*|
|Tested range: 8.5 mi*|
|Weight: 26 lb|
|Max rider weight: 280 lb|
|Water resistance: IP54|
* Based on our performance tests which may differ from the manufacturer’s claims.
|Fast (since E500 update)|
|Quality materials and LG batteries|
|Not good for rough terrain|
The Unagi Model One is a futuristic scooter made from lightweight exotic materials including aluminum, magnesium carbon fiber, and aluminum. It is designed with ease-of-use in mind and has a fast folding mechanism, pleasing aesthetics, and zero-maintenance tires and brakes.
If you hate the design of the average scooter, want something that is low maintenance, quick, with a long warranty — this might be the one for you.
Other Scooters to Consider
- The Xiaomi Mi M365 is less expensive but has the typical scooter “look”.
- Read more: Mi M365 vs Unagi Model One.
- The Zero 9 has a longer range and a full suspension, which is better for rough roads.
- The UScooters Booster V is lighter and folds much smaller for bringing onto public transit.
Unagi Model One Review
When we launched our review of the first version a while back, many complained it was too expensive for its specifications. We aren’t Unagi apologists — but this misses the point. Though some have called it the Tesla/Apple of scooters, it is more apt to think of the Unagi as a designed scooter.
The recent update (the E500 currently shipping) has improved performance. The motors, which were noisy and sluggish, are now fast and quiet — thanks to a redesign. At 26 lbs, the E500 version is heavier than before, but on par with other lightweight scooters.
Some thoughtful design has gone into the scooter. The whole scooter looks good — unlike anything else. It is meant to attract those buyers who aren’t into the look of the average scooter. The futuristic cockpit is clean and has a bright display. The teardrop-shaped stem is made from exotic materials. Its ultra-fast folding mechanism is easy to use and sturdy. These subtle touches — and others like it — are what the Unagi delivers for its premium price.
Performance Tests (E500)
Results below are based on our independent testing and not data provided by the manufacturer. Read about our testing methodology or compare with other scooters on our electric scooter performance testing page.
|Acceleration (0 to 15 mph)||4.4 seconds|
|Top speed||20.0 mph|
|Braking distance (15 to 0 mph)||16.9 feet|
|Hill climb||12.5 seconds|
Acceleration has significantly improved since the last version.
The Model One (E500 version) now sports dual 250-watt motors and is quite fast — reaching 15 mph in 4.4 seconds. It is faster than most 26 lb scooters, including the beloved M365 (6.3 s), M365 Pro (5.3 s), and even the very quick 42 lb Horizon (4.7 s).
The throttle control is responsive and smoother than nearly any scooter out there. Most scooters have a step-like acceleration curve that feels like all-or-nothing. The Unagi nails this and delivers a gradual increase in power when pushing the throttle harder.
The Mode One is a deft hill climber, and even the steepest hills in your city should pose no problems. It conquered our hill climb test (200 ft, 10% average grade, 165 lb rider) in 12.5 seconds with an average speed of 10.9 mph.
The Model One is electronically limited to 16 mph. However — you can unlock it using a sequence of inputs — to achieve speeds up to 20 mph.
How to Unlock the Unagi Model One for Higher Top Speed
To unlock the Model One:
- Hold down accelerator and brake.
- Push down power rapidly button 10 times.
- You will hear an audible beep when it unlocks.
- Repeat the process to lock the scooter.
Be aware that unlocking the scooter may be prohibited in your locale.
One of the Chinese component suppliers leaked the unlock sequence to us — one intended for other locales. We confirmed it after testing on the latest E500 version of the scooter (shipping since October 2019). We are not sure if it will work on previous generations of the scooter.
The Unagi Model One has a claimed range of 16 miles under ideal conditions.
We got 8.5 miles during our range test with a 165 lb rider. The test simulates realistic urban commuting conditions (16 mph top speed, frequent stops, hills).
The model one packs a 500 w battery pack composed of very premium LG HG2 18650 lithium-ion cells, contenders for the best 18650 batteries.
The Model One has dual electronic brakes plus a rear foot brake that we imagine was put there just in case. This scooter may have changed our minds when it comes to electronic brakes.
During our latest braking tests, the Unagi came to a halt in 16.9 feet using both the electronic and foot brake. This is on par with the mechanic disc system of the M365 (16.8 feet).
Using only the electronic brake, it took 25 feet. One big benefit of the electronic brake is no maintenance is needed.
Because electronic brakes will not work if the power suddenly shuts off, this scooter has a foot brake for redundancy and added safety.
The Model One has no suspension. For weight savings and reduced maintenance, it relies entirely on the ribbed tires that provide extra damping.
On smooth roads, the Unagi feels great. On rough terrain, the ride quality is poor.
Unagi Model One Features
The Unagi has good portability thanks to its modest 26-lb weight and folding mechanism. When locked into the unfolded riding position, the handlebars and stem are fairly solid; there is the slightest bit of wobble in them as you ride the scooter. During testing we noticed that our stem required periodically re-tightening.
A simple thumb slider unlocks the stem for folding into a ninety-degree carrying angle. The stem’s small diameter and tapered shape make it easy to carry — even for those with smaller hands. The 90-degree angle of the stem also makes a huge difference for ease of carrying.
The folded dimensions of the Unagi are: 37 inches by 16 inches by 15 inches.
Overall, the scooter is adept at being part of your daily commute that could involve other forms of transit (train, car, subway). It folds quickly, is light enough for frequent lifting, and is compact enough to most places. The main drawback to the Unagi is the lack of folding handlebars.
In a sea of electric scooters with poorly designed interfaces that harken back to a 90’s VCR, the Unagi Model One excels. The cockpit — handlebars, power button, and control levers — are a stand-out feature on the Model One. The accelerator and brakes both use thumb-activated electronic controls that are intuitive.
Key cockpit features:
- Super bright display
- Ergonomic throttle and brake controls
- Quality rubberized handlebar grips
The shape of the handlebars reminds us of the Starship Enterprise. Everything is well laid out and easy to navigate, giving this scooter a very premium look and feel.
Handlebar grips are made of quality silicon rubber and have a tapered, elliptical shape that feels ergonomic. The grips are firmly fused to the handlebars and don’t shift when holding onto them.
The throttle, a rubberized paddle, is positioned perfectly below your right thumb. It provides just the right amount of resistance — a bit on the stronger side — and also feels solid and well-constructed.
Just above the throttle is a small button that you can use to switch between odometer and trip (single tap) and to change between the speed modes (double tap).
Just like the throttle, the brake lever is linear and not jerky. If you want to slow down just a little, you press the brake paddle a little. Likewise, if you push it completely down, you will stop quickly.
The button just above the brake paddle is horn, an added safety feature, though not too loud.
Unagi has two forward-facing LEDs that burn a combined 1.8 watts and throw 47 lumens of white light in front of you. At night they will provide decent illumination of the road in front of you. But for reference, the light we recommend for riding safely at night throws a whopping 750 lumens — nearly 16X more than the built-in one.
The rear-facing red LED provides ample brightness when riding at night. Its low position isn’t optimal, but this is a limitation in the design of scooters.
For extra safety, we always recommend using additional lights. Check out our guide for staying visible while riding at night.
The Model One has unique airless, ventilated tires that serve multiple purposes:
- Reduce tire weight
- Provide shock absorption
- Prevent flats
Traction on these tires is good, though we weren’t able to push them to their limits during braking. The eABS electronic braking system prevents the user from locking them under maximum braking. A final thing to note: in wet conditions, these will have worse traction than pneumatic tires.
The scooter has a rubberized deck emblazoned with the Unagi logo. It is just a bit larger than the typical deck, but its taper makes a difference for riding comfort, especially if you have larger feet.
The final touch is the kickstand is all but fully concealed when retracted. Is this necessary? No, but it does add some cool factor.
Packaging / Contents
The Model One arrives in quality packaging and is quick to set up. The included instructions are well-written and have clear illustrations.
Unboxing the scooter was a real pleasure — Unagi invested some effort into packaging. There is even a custom-made foam insert for each part, including separate holes for the four screws needed to assemble.
This is in stark contrast to the industry standard: a beat-up brown box, poorly fit styrofoam inserts that litter all over your carpet, and a plastic bag jingling with tools.
Warranty / Post-Purchase Support
Unagi is typically offered with a one year warranty, though this may depend on where you purchase from.
Overall, the build quality is as good as the best 26-lb scooters, but not overwhelmingly superior.
The scooter does have excellent materials. It employs some high-quality exotics that have a tremendous strength-weight profile. These include carbon fiber, aluminum, and magnesium.
The Unagi has an IP54 water-resistance rating — a standout feature lacking in many scooters. This means that it is tolerant of splashes and getting caught in the rain isn’t a problem. However, you won’t want the scooter to get soaked or submerged.
Unagi Model One: Review Conclusions
The Model One is really about three things:
- Beautiful design
- Ease of use
- Customer support / warranty
It is for the buyer who likes the rental scooters but wants something nicer that they own. They want something that looks better than the average scooter, is easy to use, and requires no maintenance. They want something quicker and will do better on hills. They have a shorter commute – no more than a few miles each way — over fairly smooth roads.
At just under $1,000, the price for this feature set may be too steep for some buyers. If this package doesn’t appeal to you or you need something with longer range, look at our alternatives to the Unagi. You can also check out our Editor’s pick of best electric scooters.
Model One Compared to Other Scooters
Unagi Dual Motor vs Single Motor
To simulate the performance of the more affordable single motor version, we put the test the Unagi in single motor mode.
In single motor mode, the Unagi is slower. Hill climbing capability goes away, and frankly it’s not that much fun. We suspect that the true single motor version isn’t quite this bad, but if it is don’t go there.
If you’re trying to decide between the dual and single mode version, do yourself a favor and go with the dual motor version — the marginal cost savings is not worth the usability you’ll be giving up.
Unagi Model One Technical Specifications From Manufacturer
Note: This may differ from our tested specifications.
|Model||Model One (E500)|
|Folded dimensions||37 by 16 by 15 in|
|Motor power, continuous||500 W|
|Top speed||20 mph|
|Battery capacity||282 Wh|
|Battery recharge time||5 hrs|
|Max rider weight||280 lb|
|Brake type||Electronic + Electronic|
|Tire type||7.5 in Solid + Solid|
|Built-in lights||Front + Rear|