Rider Guide’s Editor-in-Chief is a seasoned expert in the electric scooter industry. With a wide-ranging background that includes managing scooter warehouses, selling thousands of motorcycles, and restoring high value (+1M) European sports cars, his expertise is unmatched. Having personally tested more than 100 electric scooters, he offers invaluable insights and recommendations to our readers. We are fortunate to have him as part of our team, as his diverse skill set and extensive experience ensure top-notch reviews.
Unagi Model One Summary
It's a futuristic scooter made from lightweight exotic materials including aluminum, magnesium carbon fiber, and aluminum. It is designed with ease-of-use in mind, with a fast folding mechanism, pleasing aesthetics, zero-maintenance tires and brakes, and the most service and pricing options of any company to date via well-known warranties and the only-one-like-it monthly subscription option.
If you hate the design of the average scooter, want something that is low maintenance, quick, with excellent build quality and a long warranty — this might be the one for you.
Unagi Model One Review
It's also a scooter much more easy to carry inside with you or allow to exist as a statement piece in your living room (instead of your garage or closet). You'll get more double-takes than judgy looks.
Criticism of the Model One E500 as overpriced should be silenced, in any case, by Unagi's recent reductions: they've slashed $400 off all their 2022 models, bringing the price down to only $590, making them a competitor in the field of high-quality Xiaomi M365 alternatives.
The 2022 E500 has improved performance. The motors, which were noisy and sluggish, are now fast and quiet — thanks to a redesign. At 28.6 lb (tested weight), the E500 version is heavier than before, but on par with other lightweight scooters.
The teardrop-shaped stem is made from exotic materials. Its ultra-fast folding mechanism is easy to use and sturdy. These subtle touches — and a variety of industry-leading care-free maintenance, pricing options, and insurance guarantees — are what the Unagi delivers at every one of its price points.
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 seconds), M365 Pro (5.3 seconds), and even the very quick 38.6 lb Horizon (4.7 seconds).
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.
This is faster than the very quick Horizon (12.5 seconds) and just a bit slower than the EMOVE Cruiser (12.2 seconds).
The Model One now only comes with dual motors, but during our tests, we simulated the performance of the earlier single motor version and put the Unagi in single motor mode, something you can still do with the dual motor version.
In single motor mode, the Unagi is slower. Hill climbing capability goes away, and frankly it's not that much fun. But with both motors running, the Model One tops our list, pun intended, of ultra-lightweight scooters when it comes to climbing.
It's good, however, to switch the scooter to single motor mode operation in the rain to reduce front wheel slippage and improve rear traction.
How to Unlock the Unagi Model One for Higher Top Speed
1. Hold down accelerator and brake.
2. Push down power rapidly button 10 times.
3. You will hear an audible beep when it unlocks.
4. 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.
Otherwise, the scooter comes with three riding modes. Toggle between them with a small button above the right throttle:
• Beginner (eco mode): 9 mph / 11 mph mph for a soft and smooth riding experience.
• Intermediate (standard mode): 12 mph / 13 mph for a balanced ride.
• Pro (sport mode): 15 mph / 17 mph for extra speed and power.
During our latest braking tests, the Unagi came to a halt in 16.9 ft using both the electronic and foot brake. This is on par with the mechanic disc system of the M365 (16.8 ft).
Using only the electronic brake, it took 25 ft. 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.
On smooth roads, the Unagi feels great. On rough terrain, the ride quality is poor. The Model One is a scooter primarily designed for urban travel, however, and its solid rubber tires do the job fine on a ride through a well-paved city center, for example, or from the office to the coffee shop or subway stop.
Unagi works best as a short commuter vehicle with sleek design and great portability. The air pockets in its tires do a decent job but they’re no substitute for pneumatic tires or a suspension system.
The folded dimensions of the Unagi are: 37 in by 16 in by 15 in.
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.
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 thumb throttle is positioned perfectly below your right thumb and has a rubberized action pad. 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.
For extra safety, we always recommend using additional lights.
• Reduce tire weight
• Provide shock absorption
• Prevent flats
No airless tire will perform as well as a pneumatic tire (air-filled) in terms of shock absorption. However, these are a pretty good compromise if you do not want to deal with the risk of 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 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
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
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 IPX4 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.
• 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.
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.