You probably won’t find any other electric scooter that matches the Unagi Model One’s design. Its beautiful finish, tactile refinement, and silken laminated frame stands out against your ‘Average Joe’ electric scooter. All the features have a bespoke feel to them that makes the Model One a real feast for the eyes, from the ultra-stylish command center to the lack of unsightly bolts and screws resident in so many scooters. It’s even been referred to as the ‘iPhone’ of electric scooters. But there’s one question going through my mind: is it style over substance? The short answer is yes.
- Lightest scooter
- Elegant design
- High quality build
- Smooth acceleration
- Lackluster acceleration
- Poor hill climbing
- No suspension
Now that I’ve covered the basics, it’s time to take a deep dive into my review where I have outlined 9 crucial things you need to know about the Unagi Model One.
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Who is it Best For?
Will the Unagi Be a Good Fit For You?
The Model One is ideal for adults who are searching for a sleek commuter scooter for shorter distances. It boasts comfort, style, and safety but for the adrenaline junkies out there, this probably isn’t the scooter for you.
The Model One doesn’t like being forced on or off curbs, and certainly isn’t a fan of off-roading or deep puddles, so if you’re looking for a thrill-seeking scooter then I wouldn’t recommend it for you.back to menu ↑
Is the Unagi Comfortable to Ride?
The Model One offers no suspension. There are some perks to this as this means that it makes the scooter incredibly light and reduces maintenance processes, but on rough roads, the ride quality is subpar in comparison to other scooters that have suspension.
The ribbed tires work as a decent shock absorber and so lessen some of the impact caused by the Model One’s lack of suspension. One of the key highlights is that they’re puncture-proof, which should bring you a big sigh of relief.
Despite the lackluster shock absorption, the Unagi performs well on smooth asphalt. Plus the ergonomic, rubberized handlebar grips are comfortable and don’t feel rough on the hands.
The rubberized throttle paddle, located below your right thumb, feels smooth when accelerating, unlike many other throttles that can feel jerky. This level of responsiveness is ideal for beginners, as well as advanced scooter riders.back to menu ↑
33% lighter than aluminum, the Unagi’s magnesium alloy handlebar is a thing of beauty. Sleek and sexy and milled from a single piece of magnesium alloy, the integrated top bar creates seamlessness found in few electric scooters.
With the throttle, brake, horn, and LED headlight, and command center integrated into the top bar, the elegance of the Unagi Model One is without question. No surprise, then, that more than thirty prototypes were required before the final handlebar design came together.
No expense is spared with the Unagi’s composition and so it makes sense that the carbon fiber frame is made by TORAY – the number-one carbon fiber producer in performance, quality, and volume. In layman’s terms, TORAY carbon fiber has unparalleled strength whilst also being incredibly lightweight.
The team at Unagi even used a specific process for strength optimization by layering the fiber in areas where the frame needs it most. Oh, and if you really want you can tell your mates that your scooter is made from the same stuff used on Elon Musk’s Space-X rockets.
The 5 inch-wide deck is ample for many, but if your feet are on the larger side then you may have to squeeze a tad. The relatively short footplate requires one foot to be perpendicular to the other. Whilst this can be slightly awkward the first few times you ride, it makes carrying/stowing the scooter a little easier. This won’t be a problem for smaller riders, but it’s worth considering how this could impact the scooter’s rideability if you’ve got a bigger frame.
The top of the deck is coated in a grippy rubber which means your feet feel glued on. Having this level of traction makes the Unagi Model One safe to ride. The embedded silicon, designed for grip, coupled with the singular piece of machined aluminum means that you get the rigidity you need but the comfort you want.
Different to other scooters and a real plus for those aesthetically-inclined riders, is that the deck’s design enables it to avoid the stitches, joints, and unsightly seams that come as standard with many other scooters.
Have you ever tried to change an inner tube on a punctured scooter tire? I have. I wouldn’t recommend it. So when I saw that the Unagi’s solid rubber tires are puncture-proof, I jumped for joy. Taking away the stress of a mid-commute puncture is something that many would welcome. Not only that, but there are also air pockets spread throughout the circumference of the tires that provide shock absorption whilst enabling the scooter to feel responsive to the road.
However, if you are looking for superior ride quality, these aren’t going to be right for you. They are only 7.5 inches in height and despite the cut-outs throughout the circumference, they can’t match the comfort of larger pneumatic or tubeless tires. They’ll do a good enough job on smooth asphalt but anything more challenging and you’re in for a bumpy ride.
Build Quality & Durability
You’ll already have an inkling by now that Unagi places high importance on quality standards throughout its design and manufacturing process. From the carbon fiber and magnesium alloy to the glossy finish, the Model One really is a refined specimen. Only the hard plastic latch release belies this Ferrari-style scooter.
The premium lithium-ion batteries maximize performance and are housed in an IP54 waterproof-rating, alongside an intelligent battery management system. Front and rear mudguards also mean that the Model One can be used on wet terrain, but it’s not advisable to go on a ride in torrential downpour…mainly because avoiding puddles that would submerge even just the bottom edge of the hub motors is pretty important.
The Model One’s low center of gravity, coupled with it running 8 centimeters off the floor, means that you feel stable and in control when riding around. Needless to say, the Unagi doesn’t take well to hopping on and off curbs, but looking slick and feeling safe whilst commuting around the city is a guarantee.
Whether you opt for the single-motor E250 or the dual-motor E450, both are built with a monitoring system to prevent overheating to ensure long battery life.
Weight & Load
Coming in at a cool 26 lbs (10.4 kg), the Model One is easily portable. But don’t let the fear of flimsiness put you off – the Model One doesn’t feel like it would break easily. This is largely because of its stem being made of carbon fiber, which not only helps reduce weight but also enables the stem to be narrow without forsaking durability.
In terms of load, the max rider weight is 125 kg (265 lbs) and undoubtedly, the Model One struggles to hit top speeds if the rider is on the upper end of the scale.
Folding & Portability
Simplicity is at the heart of the Model One. Without a doubt, it’s the nicest folding mechanism I’ve ever seen in a scooter, you simply push the button down at the base of the stem, fold it, and wait to hear the ‘click’. This is a welcome feature when compared to some of the more clunky folding systems of other scooters – the stainless-steel hinged system of the Model One makes it really easy.
Moving on foot with the Unagi folded is a piece of cake. Let’s not forget that it is one of the lightest electric scooters available, so maneuvering it around the city is almost seamless. The one thing Unagi possibly missed a trick on, though, is the lack of folding handlebars.
Like most electric scooters, the Model One arrives 90% assembled. All you need to do is unfold it and fit the handlebars.
It’s ready to run right out of the box, and you might be pleased to know that there’s no cumbersome signup/activation procedure. A streamlined, efficient, assembly process – what else would you expect from a scooter that resembles an iPhone.back to menu ↑
Performance & Safety
Speed & Acceleration
Three riding modes are included for a bespoke ride experience.
Mode one is suitable for beginner riders, or eco riding to maximize battery performance, with a top speed of 9 mph. Here, there is a gentle acceleration curve that enables you to feel in control.
Mode two is ideal for daily riding or commuting and has a top speed of 12 mph. Its balanced throttle means you can keep the scooter at a steady pace.
Finally, the third mode, which is classed as ‘sport’, gives you a more aggressive acceleration and has a top speed of around 17 mph.
I may refer to the acceleration as aggressive, which it is when in comparison to the performance of mode one, but, in reality, it is a far cry from higher performance scooters. In general, though, the acceleration and top speed will be ideal for anyone that wants to enjoy city cruising as opposed to thrill-seeking adventures.
The range is dependent on the weight of the rider, as you’d expect.
The team at Unagi claims that the Model One can reach 15.5 miles on a single charge but optimizing for this range relies on a few variables: a lightweight rider, riding in ‘eco’ mode, and a flat road with favorable weather conditions.
In reality, you’re more likely to get 10 miles if riding in ‘sport’ mode.
Is it style over substance?
I hate to say it, but yes. Quite simply, there are scooters half the price that deliver the same, if not more, mileage. For example, take the GoTrax Xr Elite, this budget scooter costs just $399.99 and delivers a maximum output of 18.6 miles.
For me, the mileage on offer would be the deciding factor. If you want a scooter that looks amazing but doesn’t pack a punch then the Unagi will serve you just fine. To be honest, it’s ideal for cruising around at the weekend or getting from A to B for short trips. On the other hand, if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of style for more power then you can opt for cheaper models that either match the Unagi or outperform it – you just won’t have a scooter that looks like it was forged in Silicon Valley.
In technical terms, the Model One’s motors can supply a maximum of 32 newton-meters of torque, which is enough to tackle hills up to 15-degrees. However, you’ll have to pay extra for it as this amount of torque only comes with the dual motor model. The single, less expensive model, can only master 6-degree inclines – which, to be frank, is pretty miserable. Other scooters, like the Segway Ninebot Max and Horizon 13, with similar price tags can tackle 15 to 20-degree inclines without breaking a sweat.
If you live anywhere that’s hilly you should avoid the single motor scooter.
It might not sound as sexy as when we talk about acceleration, but the Unagi’s braking power and speed at which it can come to a standstill is pretty decent.
There are both front and rear electric brakes, as well as a rear fender brake. There’s some conjecture about whether electronic brakes are as good as mechanical ones but the Model One’s brakes are a solid example of how good they can be.
The major benefit of the electronic brake? No maintenance is required. However, electronic brakes clearly won’t work if the power suddenly shuts off and so Unagi added the rear fender brake as a safety precaution.
It’s also worth noting that while going downhill the motors govern your speed so that the scooter doesn’t ‘run away’ from you, which is a great safety feature for the beginner rider who is still getting to grips with handling the scooter. This also ensures that the brakes can effectively bring the scooter to a standstill when needed.
Overall, the brakes are a slight notch down compared to other commuter scooters I’ve reviewed. My preference lies with mechanical brakes as I feel I have more control over them. Nevertheless, they are sufficient for the top speed.
It’s always wise to think ahead and fully charge your scooter before you ride.
Whilst it’s easy to sweep charge time under the rug when considering an electric scooter, it is an important factor that you should consider, especially since I’ve seen charge times up to 20 hours.
The Model One charges in a little under 5 hours from flat, with the small LED on the charging brick turning from red to green when fully charged. A 5 hour charge time feels somewhat sluggish, though, when compared to cheaper models, like the GoTrax Xr Elite that takes just 3-4 hours charge and delivers 3 miles more range.
This is a minor detail but the Model One would feel slightly more agile if it had a built-in charger whereby you didn’t have to remember to pack it each time. We’ve all left the house before armed with our laptop, only to realize we’ve forgotten its charger, right? Well, imagine doing that on your scooter. Annoying, huh?
Another downside is the lack of a companion smartphone app, meaning you’re unable to garner accurate battery capacity information. You can only really guess from the five-segmented battery readout on the display how much time you have left before you need to recharge. However, despite not always being in-the-know about how much battery specifically is remaining, the Model One does all it can to conserve its battery: after three minutes with no interaction from the rider, the scooter will emit a warning beep and power itself down to conserve its battery.back to menu ↑
It’s safe to say that the Model One boasts refinement and its command center is no different.
The perfectly placed display shows you your speed, dual/single motor status, odometer, how many ‘bars’ remain on your battery charge, and the riding mode. The panel is clear and there’s little need to squint because of screen glare when you’re riding on a bright, sunny day. Below the command center is the circular power button.
It looks like an iPhone but displays the same information found on cheaper scooters that have LED displays – albeit they have a far less futuristic design.
You’ll be glad to know that the Model One makes it more than easy to see and be seen, which is incredibly important when riding around busy cities during commuting hours. The flush-mounted 47 Lumen LED front headlight and rear blinking LED will make sure that passing vehicles see you, and you’ll certainly see them.
Despite the sleek sexiness of the Model One, the team at Unagi clearly put an onus on safety.
Because, actually, safety can be sexy, right? Abandoning the traditional bell associated with many scooters, the Model One has an electronic horn which is sure to make others aware of your presence. It’s a rather unpleasant, high pitched, sounding horn, but when deployed during emergencies you quickly forget about this.
It’s located just below the handlebars for ease of access.
The Model One’s kickstand is seamlessly integrated with the deck.
Situated on the left-hand side of the scooter, you can deploy it with a quick kick of your toe. True to fashion, this aluminum bar has the same level of detailing as the rest of the scooter and keeps your scooter standing to attention. Because of the integration with the deck, it’s almost invisible to the eye when you’re riding. Result.
Trust me, having a kickstand that works is priceless. It’s surprising how much you can take them for granted. I’ve been test riding the Turboant X7 for a few months and the kickstand was a centimeter too long, meaning every time someone in my flat slightly knocked it, the Turboant would topple over. It’s sometimes the smaller features that make the difference and Unagi’s eye for design detail shines through.
Water Resistance Rating
Equipped with an IP54 water-resistant rating, it is protected from water spray from any direction.
Getting caught out in the rain or suffering a couple of splashes is no problem, but don’t attempt to go white water rafting in it – the Model One isn’t a fan of being soaked or submerged.
Intelligent Battery Management System
The award-winning global electronics company, LG, provided the batteries for Unagi. It’s no surprise then that the batteries have been designed with a nod towards longevity and reliability and so replacing them should be of no concern, making the Model One a low-maintenance scooter.
One downside is that because the Model One opts for simplicity, the lack of a smartphone app means that as well as not having accurate information on battery life, future firmware revisions aren’t possible.
But don’t forget, the Model One’s custom-built monitoring system ensures that your scooter won’t overheat, which is great for peace of mind. Ultimately, the monitoring system ensures that your scooter is optimized to perform as efficiently as possible.
Specification: Unagi Scooter
Value for Money
Is it Worth the Price Tag?
Without a doubt, the Unagi Model One looks the part. It’s a beautiful scooter that exudes an aesthetic luxury hard to come by. So if you’re a true aesthete, this is the scooter for you. And the price tag warrants that.
Let’s face it, the Model One isn’t the cheapest of electric scooters (coming in at about twice the price of the average go-to scooter). Are good looks everything, though? When you put the Model One up against other similarly priced rival scooters, the value-for-money question becomes more pertinent. The Model One’s range isn’t as big as some of its competitors, and other scooters, such as the Ninebot Max, tend to be more comfortable to ride long distances.
Nevertheless, if style is what you’re after, the Model One takes the biscuit.
What Other Scooters Should You Consider?
Unagi offers one of the best warranties and post-purchase support services in the electric scooter business.
It lasts for twelve months and if in the first three months you experience a problem, Unagi will ship you a brand new scooter.
Within the remainder of the twelve months, if you encounter a problem then Unagi will ship you either a new or refurbished scooter at their discretion. And if you’re a beginner, don’t feel like you’re having to make a financial commitment you can’t go back on: Unagi also has a thirty-day money-back policy if you decide the Model One isn’t for you.
Unsurprisingly, the dual-motor E450 is twice as powerful as the Model One’s single motor E250.
One of the bonuses to having the dual motor is that you can switch between single and dual-motor mode, which can help to conserve battery depending on the distance you’re traveling. Slightly longer ride planned than usual? Switch to the single-motor. Need to nip somewhere quickly? Take advantage of twice-the-power dual-motor. The single-motor has a maximum power of 500 watts, whereas the dual-motor gets up to a staggering 900 watts.
The dual-motor also makes it easier to get up steeper inclines, which is something worth considering if you live in a hilly area and plan on making those ascents a regular part of your journey. You may experience some grumbling from the single-motor if trying to ascend too steep of an incline, and the weight of the rider will impact this too.
Specification: Unagi Scooter