The Unagi Model One E-Scooter Review: Your Perfect Travel Buddy
The Unagi Model One is a powerful electric scooter with an out-of-the-ordinary futuristic design. It’s a great means of transport for short trips downtown, casual day-off rides in a park, as well as reaching your workplace on a busy day. It’s light, it’s portable, but the main highlight of this scooter is its style. When riding an Unagi Model One you’re bound to turn heads no matter where you go.
Does this mean we found the perfect electric scooter of this generation? As always, the answer to that depends on your goals and needs. Let’s find out if the Unagi Model One is the perfect e-scooter for you.
Unagi Mode One E500 Specs
Size: 43.3 x 37.8 x 16.5 inches (folded), 37.8 x 16.5 x 15 inches (unfolded)
Weight: 26.5 lbs
Max Speed: 15 mph (both claimed by the manufacturers and proved in our performance tests)
Max Range: 15.5 miles (stated by the manufacturers, in reality, this heavily depends on your conditions and rider’s weight)
Max Load or Rider Weight: 275 lbs
Motor: dual 250 Watt, all-wheel drive
Battery: 33.6 V, 9.0 Ah
Charging time: 4.5-5 hours
Lights: two white LED lights on the front and a rear-facing red LED for safe night riding
Folding mechanism: one-click, fast-folding mechanism
- The outstanding design
- Light weight
- Portable thanks to the fast-folding mechanism
- Large clear LCD display
- Equipped with bright LED lights for night riding
- No laggy app that you need to install to activate use your scooter
- Doesn’t have a typical scooter “rugged” look, yet also doesn’t look like a kid’s toy
- High price tag (790 to 890)
- Not as smooth of a ride as you’d expect
- Short-range on a single charge
Unagi Model One: The Style
What makes the Unagi Model One stand out is its look. This is a scooter that will get you noticed on the road and in a good way. The Model One’s sleek design and futuristic shape straight away let everyone around know that it’s a premium micro-mobility vehicle they’re looking at.
Unlike other e-scooters that go for a rugged look, Unagi with the light carbon fiber tubes, three coats of high-tech paint, and the silicon-surface deck looks extremely smooth. The deck has a good grip, which ensures your feet will never slip. Although be aware that the embedded silicon on top of the deck gets dirty easily, and that can ruin the overall appearance of your scooter.
There are no wires dangling around the scooter’s body, and the ergonomic handlebar with the rubberized grips is just pleasant to hold on to. This Unagi Model One style is flawless, and you can see that they thought of every little detail here.
Unagi Model One E500 Dual Motor e-scooter review: Urban luxury
There are plenty of competent e-scooters from companies such as Bird, Xiaomi, and Razor at half the price or less than Unagi Model One E500. No other models, however, combine the Unagi‘s refined design, build quality, and rider features. When you sell a personal transportation device for just under 450,000 against a strong line-up of competitors that go out the door for 350 to 500, you’d better deliver on all counts and over-deliver where it matters. And that’s exactly what Unagi does with the Model One.
Let’s start at the bottom. The Model One’s deck is a single piece of machined aluminum for light weight with no compromise in rigidity, and covered with embedded silicon for traction.
The Unagi’s custom-designed 7.5-inch solid rubber wheels can’t go flat, because you don’t fill these tires with air. Instead, thin cutouts in the wheel deform when you roll over obstacles, smoothing out the ride just like a conventional tire.
Bowing to both technology and tradition, the Model One has two braking systems. Both wheels have electronic anti-lock brakes with variable force controls. Traditionalists can activate a friction brake on the rear wheel by stepping a heel on the rear fender.
Every part of the Model One is a bragging point.
The E500’s 250-watt front and rear wheel motors combine for 500 watts operation with a 1,000-watt peak. They also deliver plenty of torque for typical flat urban streets. The motors’ neodymium magnets are protected from overheating with a continuous monitoring system. There are three operational modes: Eco, recommended for novices, limits the top speed to 9-to-11 miles per hour; Standard ups the max to 11-to-13 mph; and Pro lets you take the Model One to its rated 15-to 17 mph top end. Single and dual motor Model One versions have the same top speed, but the doubled torque with the E500 gets you there faster and handles inclines better. Those speeds work well for urban commuting, though you might want a faster top end if you’re riding in suburbs or rural areas. You may notice the 20 mph maximum speed rating on the Unagi website — there is a rumored handlebar button code that removes the speed governor. I left it stock, and hit up to 16 mph maximum during my test rides.
As with all e-scooters and e-bikes, the Unagi’s top speed will vary due to many factors, including incline, temperature, and rider weight. While typical e-scooters state 225-pound weight limits for rider and cargo, the Model One can carry up to 275 pounds, a tribute to the e-scooter’s deck strength and motor torque.
A 9,000mAh lithium-ion battery delivers on the stated range of 15.5 miles per charge, which varies mostly by speed, incline, and rider weight. Again, it’s sufficient for typical urban use, and at 26.5 pounds, the Unagi is light enough to lug into a building and recharge during the workday — it only takes four to five hours.
Exotic materials help keep that weight down; Unagi claims the TORAY carbon fiber used in the Unagi’s lightweight tube is the same used to build Elon Musk’s Space-X rockets, and the handlebars are made of magnesium alloy. When it’s time to fold it up, the patented single-button folding mechanism works smoothly and holds securely.
In addition to side reflectors on both wheels, the Model One has a 47-lumen LED front light and a rear red LED. In the photos above, you can see the Unagi Model One E500’s front and rear LEDs very early one morning on my street, for comparison, parked between a Juiced Bikes Scorpion and a Super 73 S1.
Unlike some of the fat-tire e-bikes I’ve tested, I wasn’t interested in taking the Unagi off-road or on the beaches where we live in North Carolina. Instead, I sought experience riding around town and in our neighborhood to see how the E500 measured up as convenient city transportation.
You can choose to drive the E500 with only one motor or with both motors engaged, which delivers an extra dose of torque, that twisty power that scoots you up to speed and up hills. Battery range and top speed are the same regardless of the selected drive configuration, so there’s not much incentive to cruise at half power.
Eco mode is a nice option for beginners to stay under 11 mph, but I quickly became addicted to the pull of Pro mode. With both motors in play, you need to be ready for this machine to take off. It’s also a mini wake-up-call the first couple of times.
The Unagi Model One is a classy ride with elegant looks and design features.
The E500 speeds right up to about 13 to 14 mph quickly, then builds to its maximum speed of 17 mph at a more leisurely pace. Fifteen miles per hour feels faster on a scooter than on an e-bike, but it isn’t all that fast, and I found it easy to maintain in comfort. The super smooth throttle and brake inspire confidence and set the Unagi apart. Many e-bikes have choppy throttles and brakes that seem to slam between all on and all off, which can lead to unexpectedly abrupt speed changes. I also was pleased to find that the solid-rubber-with-air-vents tires did indeed smooth the ride.
As with all lightweight two-wheelers, direction changes are easy — sometimes too easy. Riding in our neighborhood early in my testing, I saw our mail carrier stopped in her vehicle on the opposite side of the road. I smiled and waved, and when I did, I quickly found myself thankful for the Unagi’s antilock electronic brakes because I almost ran into her door. The Model One is perfect as a look-to-steer vehicle, but you have to be ready for it to shift direction with even small body weight shifts. Again, once I was used to the e-scooter’s responsiveness, the Unagi’s solid component structure helped with carving turns and staying precisely on the desired line of travel.
Should you buy one?
Yes. If you want a high-quality e-scooter that’s easy to transport and exudes build quality and design elegance (even if you’re the only one who notices), the Unagi Model One E500 is an excellent investment that will take you around town and look good doing it.
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses Smart devices…
Like a lot of remote workers, I know I’m lucky to be able to work from home. I have a home office with a comfy leather chair, a skylight, and an oversized doofus of a dog, Marty, who reclines adorably on the couch behind me for Zoom meetings. But I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit I go a little stir crazy from time to time, yearning to work from somewhere other than the same place I eat, sleep, and relax.
How about a van? I bought my 1990 Mitsubishi Delica for camping, but it always seemed like it could serve as a mobile office with a view, if not for one critical shortcoming: For nine months out of the year in Portland, it’s too cold, and for the other three, it’s too hot. Without adding thousands of dollars for a battery power system, my best bet was heavy socks and gloves. But EcoFlow gave me a glimmer of hope at CES 2023 when I spotted the EcoFlow Wave 2. With an onboard battery, it promised to heat or cool anywhere, no external power system needed.
Every cooler operates on borrowed time. It leaves for your camping trip brimming over with crisp produce and ice-encrusted beer that looks straight out of a Super Bowl commercial, and returns with a soggy block of foil-wrapped cheddar cheese floating in a pool of mustard water. Mother Nature always wins.
Perhaps that’s why I was so enamored when I saw the EcoFlow Glacier at CES 2023. Less a cooler than a mobile battery-powered fridge on wheels, the sleek electric Glacier not only obviated the need for ice, it would make ice for me in 18 minutes. My home fridge can’t even do that, and I didn’t even know I wanted it to until just now. When EcoFlow offered to let me try the Glacier, I envisioned sipping a perspiring glass of whiskey in the tropics and accepted the occupational hazards of my job.
Confession: Despite loving both bikes and gadgets, e-bikes never excited me. Compared to my bicycle, e-bikes seemed unfair. Compared to my motorcycle, they seemed slow. Compared to my car, they seemed impractical.
But with 450,500 federal e-bike rebates potentially on the horizon at part of E-Bike Act, I decided it was past time to reconsider. Not just because 30% off would make them way more accessible, but because the entire idea that e-bikes could be worthy of a rebate changed the way I looked at them: less as toys, more as transit. Had I written off an entire way of getting around because I was looking at it the wrong way?
Upgrade your lifestyleDigital Trends helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.
A BEAUTIFUL FINISH
The design of the UNAGI Model One E500 electric scooter is not revolutionary, but it is in the choice of materials and details that it stands out from entry-level products.
The stem is made of carbon fiber which for the record is of the same nature as that of Elon Musk’s Space-X rockets. Something to give you a topic of conversation.
Its shape is extremely worked because it evolves from triangular at its top to circular at its base.
The folding system is innovative. The handlebar breaks in half by lowering a simple slider. This mechanism is extremely solid to the point where it does not require any attachment system on the rear part unlike most models on the market. The handlebars are like levitating.
The scooter is quite easy to carry because it is well balanced and with these new generation materials, the manufacturer has managed to reduce the weight of the machine to only 12 Kg. It is little to consider the second wheel motor which alone weighs around 1.5 Kg.
The scooter measures 92 cm long by 42 cm wide and 38 cm high when folded.
A discreet kickstand is located on the side.
The UNAGI Model One E500 combines aesthetics and functionality. The board is made from a single piece of aluminum. The “Unagi” branded coating on the top is made of silicone.
It is not very fragile and adheres well under the feet to limit the risk of falling.
This same coating is placed above the rear mudguard for use as a mechanical brake.
I take this opportunity to indicate that the rear lighting is active as soon as the power is turned on and flashes when you brake via the trigger, not with the foot.
IT SWALLOWS THE RIBS UNAGI Model One E500
In the world of electric scooters, there is always the dilemma of comfort vs the risk of punctures. If the inflatable tires absorb shocks well, they have the risk of puncturing with great difficulty to change them.
Unagi chose reliability by installing solid tires on each of the wheels. A reasonable choice to consider is that each wheel is here equipped with a motor which would have complicated the dismantling.
These are 7.5-inch solid tires called honeycomb. This special structure makes it possible to absorb road defects to a minimum. They do not require maintenance.
You will have to be vigilant in case of rain, not for the scooter itself which is IP54 waterproof, but for the risk of skidding and longer braking distances.
The first question that always comes up is that of knowing the “autonomy” or at least the number of km you can travel with a full charge. Unagi equips its One E500 with a 9000 mAh Lithium Ion battery. This is above what equips electric scooters like the Xiaomi M365 (7000 mAh) but less than most products in this price range.
It is therefore not necessary to expect records in terms of mileage. It will be up to 25 km in mode 1. In mode 2 count between 15 and 20 km and at full power it is likely that you will be around 12 km. In addition to the mode, like any scooter or electric bike, the number of km varies according to your weight, the roads traveled and even the outside temperature.
The battery gauge on the 5-segment screen is progressive and appears just in its estimates, which is reassuring when you hit the road.
As indicated above, there is therefore the possibility of activating one or two motors. This happens at a standstill for safety reasons. It is also for safety that the scooter starts at the foot (“kick to start”).
It takes 4-5 hours for a full charge. The supplied CE charger outputs 33.6V/2Ah. The charging port is located at the back of the scooter, properly protected against water infiltration.
The battery is protected against overvoltages and the risk of overheating during use. The battery packs are original Sony or premium quality. This battery is listed as replaceable just like the tires.
The UNAGI Model One E500 is a beautiful object whose first objective must not be forgotten, that of being able to transport you in the best possible way between two points.
In maximum performance mode, the UNAGI Model One E500 is amazing, very responsive. It only takes a few seconds to get up to 25km/h if you wish.
The motors use the same type of neodymium magnet technology that TESLA mounts in its cars. Another anecdote that explains the quality and therefore price positioning in the end.
The ONE E500 model can handle slopes of 15°, i.e. 9° more than the single-motor E250 model. I know this very important aspect for some of you who have it on your journeys and they can be reassured.
Comfort will really depend on the quality of the pavement. It is median because of the solid tires. These scooters are not off-road vehicles.
The machine brakes excellently on dry roads.
A PREMIUM SCOOTER
The UNAGI ONE E500 is without question a model that must be described as premium. The manufacturer has put a lot of care into the design of its product, both in terms of materials and general design.
It is unlike any scooter on the market.
This would only be of relative interest if the UNAGI Model One E500 was not efficient, in particular because of its two wheels equipped with motors.
I would have liked even more modernity like a mobile application to lock the scooter and prevent its illegitimate use. A possibility of going beyond 25 Km without restrictions would also be a real plus compared to the competition.
The UNAGI Model One E500 is sold through a network of specialist retailers in France. Its retail price is €990 on the official online store unagiscooters.com. It is guaranteed for one year with a 30-day risk-free trial period.
It is a beautiful machine to consider from all angles but will not be within the reach of the greatest number. In any case, I had the pleasure of making you discover it. Thank you for reading this review, I also suggest watching the video review below. You can use English subtitles.
Unagi Model One: Design
The Unagi Model One is one of the sleekest scooters I’ve ridden. The front steering tube tapers elegantly from the bottom to the handlebars and goes from a circle to a triangular shape.
There’s a minimum of fuss about the deck, which has clean, minimalist lines. The top of the deck is coated in a grippy rubber; my feet never slipped.
I also liked the hinge mechanism for the steering tube, which is among the cleverest designs I’ve seen from a scooter. Pull down on two tabs at the base to fold the tube down; in the folded position, it also locks the front wheel in place. Where other scooters require you to lock the handlebar to the rear fender, the Unagi’s handlebar floats above.
The Unagi is controlled using two thumb paddles. The one by the right handlebar is for acceleration, and the left paddle is for braking. Above each paddle is a small button; the one on the right lets you switch between its three riding modes (which limit its top speed). The left button sounds the scooter’s horn, which is loud and high pitched; it’s as if Unagi stole the siren from a smoke detector.
In between is a large, bright LCD panel that displays your speed, distance traveled and estimated battery life remaining. You can switch among three riding modes, which limit the top speed of the scooter.
Two LEDS in the front provide a clear view of what’s ahead when you’re riding in the dark. While not as bright as the Glion, it was more than effective. The Unagi also has a large red taillight, which remains on, but flashes when you apply the brakes.
The only real criticism I have with the Unagi’s design is that the handlebars themselves don’t collapse, so it’s not as compact for commuters as the Glion Dolly.
Unagi Model One: Performance
With dual 250-watt motors, the Unagi Model One delivered a ton of power. It was most evident on one hill near my house; where other scooters would slow down to about 5-6 mph, the Unagi roared up it at around 12 mph. While it’s limited to 15 mph, I could feel that it was ready and willing to go much faster.
Unagi uses rubber, rather than inflatable wheels for its scooter, but instead of a solid mass, they have slots around the circumference, which in theory offers a smoother ride without the danger of getting a flat. Riding around on the Unagi’s 7.5-inch tires was definitely smoother than the Glion Dolly (which also has rubber wheels), but nowhere near as pleasant as the Levy, which uses larger, 8.5-inch inflatable tires.
One other nice feature that the Levy scooter has that the Unagi lacks is cruise control; on the Levy, it was nice to be able to set a speed and not have to keep my thumb on the accelerator.
Unagi Model One: Battery life
Unagi advertises the Model One as having a 15.5-mile range, but as with all electric scooters, it’s a figure based on the most optimistic of circumstances. In my riding, which involved using both motors and going up and down hills, I was able to get about 10 miles out of the Model One’s battery. If you’re looking for longer range, check out our Segway Ninebot Kickscooter Max review.
At nearly 450,000, the Unagi Model One is not cheap, but it’s the best electric scooter, especially for those who need to get up steep hills. It has powerful motors, a bright and clear display, and it has an awesome sense of style, too.