Model One Classic - $59/month
Paul Somerville
February 1, 2022
+ 23 More
Air 2022Air 2023

Summary

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.

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.
PROS
Gorgeous Design
Excellent Hill-Climbing
Premium Materials Like Carbon Fiber
Ultralightweight - Even With Dual Motor
CONS
Not for Longer Range Needs
Much Better Suited for Paved Roads

Technical Specifications

Tested Top Speed:
20.0 mph**
Water Resistance:
IP54**
Max Rider Weight:
220 lb**
Weight:
29 lb**
Tested Range:
8.5 mi**
Acceleration:
4.4 s**
**Based on our independent performance tests which may differ from manufacturer’s claims.
The Unagi Model One (E500) is available in United States from Unagi.
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Unagi Model One Review

Introduction

Even the folding mechanism is thoughtfully designed | Credit: Richard S. / ESG
When we launched our review of the first version of Unagi's Model One a while back, many complained it was too expensive for its modest specs. We aren't Unagi apologists — but this misses the point. Although some have called it the Tesla/Apple of scooters, it is more apt to think of the Unagi as a designed scooter.

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.
Some have compared the Unagi Model One's stem to modernist sculpture
Unagi has also been the only scooter manufacturer in existence able to offer a reliable subscription service, with a full warranty, which clears away barriers to entry for people who can't pay full price up front but who can afford to lease a scooter for $60/month.

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 29 lb (tested weight), the E500 version is heavier than before, but on par with other lightweight scooters.
Some thoughtful design has gone into the scooter. The whole package looks good — truly unlike anything else. It is meant to attract those buyers who aren't into the look of the average scooter. The attractive, futuristic cockpit is clean and has a bright, easy-to-read 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 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.

Acceleration

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 seconds), M365 Pro (5.3 seconds), and even the very quick 42 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.

Hill Climbing

The Model 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.

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.

Top Speed

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:

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.

Braking

Unagi Model One rear fender brake | Richard S. / ESG
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 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.

Ride Quality

The Model One has no suspension. For weight savings and reduced maintenance, it relies entirely on the vented tires that provide extra damping. The tire’s air pockets spread to cushion the wheel somewhat, a innovative design.

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.

Features

Portability

Folding the Model One is a quick and easy | Richard S. / ESG
The Unagi has good portability thanks to its modest 29 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 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.

Cockpit

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 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.

Lights

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.

Lights

The Model One has unique airless, ventilated tires that serve multiple purposes:

• 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.

Deck

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.

Build quality

Overall, the build quality is as good as the best 29 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 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.

Build quality

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.

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.
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Alternative Competitors
  • apollo
    City Pro
    Most Integrated Scooter of 2022
    ec best
  • uscooters
    Booster V
    Ultra-portable Tank
  • uscooters
    GT Sport
    30 MPH Electric Scooter You Can Bicep Curl 💪
    ec best
Technical Specs Comparison
Model
Unagi Model One (E500)
Apollo City Pro
UScooters Booster V
UScooters GT Sport
Top Speed**
20.0 mph
30.9 mph
23.9 mph
30.0 mph
Range**
8.5 mi
22.7 mi
12.6 mi
13.8 mi
Weight**
29 lb
65 lb
25 lb
29 lb
Price
$59/mo
$1699
$949
$1099
**Based on our independent performance tests which may differ from manufacturer’s claims.

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