This review is an in-depth look at Unagi’s first electric scooter: the Model One. With its lightweight carbon fiber body, futuristic looks, and cleanly designed cockpit, the Unagi Model One strives to be the Tesla of electric scooters. We put the Model One through its paces to see whether this scooter lives up to the hype or if it’s just another overpriced M365 clone.
Unagi Review: Highlights
The Unagi Model One is a beautifully designed electric scooter in a familiar, Xiaomi-sized form factor.
At first glance, the Model One looks like an ordinary electric scooter: two wheels, folding stem, deck, handlebars, etc. However, once you start using it, you begin to notice that some thought has gone into the scooter. Many aspects — from the deck shape to the throttle control to the folding mechanism — has been thought out and purposefully designed.
The specs (range, top speed, acceleration) are nothing extraordinary, though the 22 lb (single motor version) and 24 lb weights (dual motor version) are good for a scooter that will support a 220 lb rider. This scooter weighs only a few pounds less than other popular models of the same size, but this makes a difference if you’re frequently folding and carrying it.
Overall, the Unagi is a sleek scooter with some interesting design features yet it is somewhat lacking in the performance department. Given its relatively high price for no better range, acceleration or top speed than the single motor Xiaomi Mi M365, it may be a unattractive purchase for some.
- Tested Real-world Range: 9.1 miles
- Top speed: 16 mph (26 kmh)
- Weight 24 lbs (11 kg)
- Max rider weight: 220 lbs (100 kgs)
- Brakes: Dual electronic + Rear foot brake
- Tire: Dual 7.5″ Honeycomb
- Motor: Dual (200 W front, 250 W rear)
Unagi Model One Review
The Unagi 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 somewhat when it comes to electronic brakes. It actually stops quite fast from any speed and might be the was the best electronic brake we had tested until the Rev.
Keep an eye on our electric scooter braking distance tests page, which we’ll update once we’ve crunched the Unagi braking data.
The latest version of this scooter has a foot (friction) brake that adds redundancy to the system. Electronic brakes will not work if the power suddenly shuts off, so the foot brake is good for emergencies, but we don’t expect many riders will need this.
The dual motor version is speedy yet we were a little surprised it wasn’t punchier given the combined 200 + 250 watt electric motors. You cannot spin the wheels at max throttle.
Acceleration on dual motor mode (you can switch between dual and single motors) was adequate. It is not a racing scooter, but it gets up to top speed quickly. Under stress, the motor seems to make a high pitched whine. Although no one on the street seems to notice, it is louder than most scooters.
The throttle is responsive and feels more linear, less jerky, than nearly any other scooter out there. Most scooters have a step-wise style acceleration curve that feels like all-or-nothing while you expect to get a gradual increase in power when pushing the throttle harder. The Unagi nails this.
The manufacturer-claimed range for the Unagi Model One, under ideal conditions, is 16 miles. However, we were only able to achieve 9.1 miles in our electric scooter range tests, which simulate realistic urban commuting conditions. This is very poor performance for a scooter that isn’t particularly fast or powerful.
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. This is a good thing — however it is a policy of the Electric Scooter Guide to abuse all test scooters just a little bit
The Model One has no suspension. For weight savings and reduced maintenance, Unagi relies entirely on the ribbed tires that provide extra damping.
On smooth roads and moderate roads, the Unagi feels great. On really rough roads, you’ll notice both lack of pneumatic tires and suspension. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but something to consider if your commute includes a lot of really bad roads.
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 safel 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. It’s low position isn’t optimal, but this is a limitation in the design of all electric scooters.
For extra safety we always recommend using an additional rear light mounted on your helmet.
Check out our guide for staying visible while riding at night.
The handlebars, power button and control levers — the area we like to call the “cockpit” — are a stand-out feature on the Model One. This is the part of scooter that you most directly interact with. Unagi has invested a proportionate amount of thought into making it, perhaps, the best cockpit on any electric scooter.
Key cockpit features:
- Super bright display
- Ergonomic throttle and brake controls
- Quality rubberized handlebar grips
First things first: the cockpit looks space-aged and amazing. 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 rubber and have an tapered, eliptical shape that feels ergonomic. The grips are firmly fused to the handlebars and don’t shift or spin around when holding on to them.
Throttle control paddle
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 three speed modes (double tap).
Just like the throttle, the brake lever, activated by your left thumb, is graduated as well, so it is not jerky. If you want to slow down just a little, you can just press the bake lever/paddle a little. Likewise, if you push it all the way down, you will stop quickly.
The button just above the brake paddle is electronic horn, which is an added safety feature, though not too loud.
The Unagi is a superbly portable scooter. It is designed with a daily commute in that uses multiple forms of transit (train, car, subway) in mind. It will help you get to your destination quickly. and you won’t have trouble bringing it with you into coffee shops, taking it up an elevator into your office, or storing in your apartment.
Coming in at 22 lbs (10 kgs) for the single motor version and 24 lbs (11 kgs) for the dual motor version, we give the Unagi top marks for weight. Though just a few pounds lighter than scooters with similar form factor, this makes all the difference for daily use.
The stem, which folds for carrying, is ergonomicaly shaped and has a smaller diameter, and allows for people with smaller hands to more easily carry this scooter.
Stem folding mechanism
Folding the stem up and down is a breeze with their locking mechanism, which is also very sturdy. The handlebars do not fold up so expect them to stick out about 16.5 inches when folded.
The folding mechanism is a simple thumb slider that is easily and quickly activated, requiring no weird or difficult motions. When the folding mechanism is locked into place, the handlebars and stem feel solid.
Another thing we really love about the folding mechanics: every other scooter required the handlebar to engages with the rear fender to lock it into place. When you go to unfolded the scooter you have to fiddle with the fender which can get pretty dirty because it’s so low to the road. For the Unagi, you just have to operate one slider that is mounted fairly high and won’t have to deal with the dirtier parts of the scooter (and get your nice clothe dirty).
In a sea of electric scooters with poorly designed interfaces that harken back to a 90’s VCR, the Unagi Model One clearly stands out.
The accelerator and brakes both use thumb-activated electronic controls that allow easy and intuitive control of the Unagi.
The information display is bright and clean.
The rubberized deck with the Unagi logo emblazoned on it is amazing. Its just a bit larger than the typical deck size on a compact scooter like this and the slight taper in the front makes a huge difference for riding comfort, especially if you have larger feet.
The final touch is that the kickstand is all but fully concealed when retracted. Is this necessary? Absolutely not. Does it add value to the scooter? No. Does it have some slight cool factor? Absolutely.
Packaging / Contents
Unagi has strived for, and achieved an Apple-quality packaging and unboxing experience. Packing is best in class, even surpassing the Red Dot Award Xiaomi Mi M365.
Unboxing the scooter is a real pleasure. All the packaging is beautiful and everything is laid out well. Unagi clearly invested great thought and effort into packaging — there is even a custom-made foam insert for all extra parts including separate holes for each of the 4 screws you need to assemble.
This is in stark contrast to the industry standard which is: a beat-up brown box, poorly fit foam inserts that litter all over your carpet, and a plastic bag jingling with tools.
Most scooters have instruction manuals that were clearly a last minute thought — in broken English. The Unagi instruction manual is in clearly written English and has clear illustrations.
Overall, the build quality is good considering it is a sub 25 lb (12 kg) weight scooter that can carry a 220 lb (100 kg) adult at 16 mph. However, it is not remarkable, though some exotic materials including carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium are sprinkled throughout.
The Unagi ride feels ultra solid and nothing rattles or shakes. The stem has zero wobble and is easy to fold up and down.
The motors are a more whinny than other scooters at speed or when putting the scooter under stress during a steep hill climb. This is somewhat surprising given that the motors are not particularly powerful and detracts from the premium designation of the scooter.
We inadvertently crash tested this scooter at top speed (our fault) and it survived with only some minor scratches (our bruises were worse).
Unagi Model One: Review Conclusions
If you are spending a lot of time looking at specs, computing dollars per battery watt hour or anything else like that, then move along. The Unagi isn’t for you.
This scooter is for the person that wants a light, sleek scooter. They appreciate the subtle features — ergonomic controls, high-tech cockpit, incredible folding mechanism — and get real value and enjoyment from them. They have a shorter commute – no more than a few miles each way — over fairly smooth roads and not too many steep hills. For these use cases the scooter will excel. It looks great and performs acceptably on easy commutes.
Unagi Dual Motor vs Single Motor
The Model one comes in both a single and dual motor version. Compared to the dual motor version, the single motor version has:
- Less motor power (250 watts vs 450 watts)
- Less weight (22 lbs vs 24 lbs)
- Lower max weight capacity (198 lbs vs 220 lbs)
- Of course, lower price (about $150 USD less)
- Lower max incline (4 degrees vs. 15 degrees)
Unagi Single vs Dual Motor Performance
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 even 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
|Weight||24 lb||10.9 kg|
|Folded dimensions||38 x 17 x 15 in||97 x 43 x 38 cm|
|Motor power, continuous (front/rear)||200 watts||250 watts|
|Top speed||16 mph||25 kmh|
|Range||16 mi||25 km|
|Battery capacity||282 Wh|
|Battery recharge time||4 hours|
|Max rider weight||220 lbs||100 kg|
|Brake type (front / rear)||Electronic||Electronic + Foot|
|Tire type (front / rear)||7.5″ Honeycomb||7.5″ Honeycomb|
|Built-in lights (front / rear)||Yes||Yes|