The Unagi Model One is a scooter that is tailor-made for people who like a modern, futuristic design but don’t want to compromise on features to achieve that sleek look. In this scooter, design and appearance were top priorities and it is clearly meant to appeal to those who choose a scooter as much on looks as on function.
The scooter incorporates high quality materials that both maximize the modern look while minimizing the overall weight. Because of its light weight (25 pounds), the Model One is one of the most portable scooters on the market. In addition to this sleek, light design, this scooter also offers a powerful dual motor to get you around quickly and in style. The triple threat combination of power, portability and light weight make this scooter an ideal last mile solution for your commuting needs.
The Unagi Model One comes in both a single motor and dual motor version. The dual motor version has a motor in each wheel. A button on the handlebars gives the rider the option to run on both motors or drop down to a single motor. Switching to single motor can preserve battery life on long rides, and also diminishes the power a bit for more beginner riders.
When running both motors, the scooter has a max power output of 900 watts and can quickly reach its top speed of 15.5 mph. While that doesn’t sound fast compared to some of the more extreme scooters on the market, this scooter isn’t really competing with those scooters. Each has its market and the Model One is designed for an audience that is more interested in function (and form) than extreme speed. It is also important to remember that most municipalities limit how fast a scooter can go on city streets and sidewalks, so extra speed is a waste for a scooter like this one, that is designed primarily for street riding. The Model One also offers three different speed levels to accommodate beginners to expert riders.
The dual motors are made more powerful thanks to 28 newton meters of torque, which helps with acceleration and motor longevity. The motors and the torque also provide the ability to easily tackle hills with up to a 15% incline without feeling a power lag.
The Unagi Model One designers have clearly designed this scooter to appeal to riders who like a little luxury in their lives. They did not skimp on the materials. This scooter is made of carbon fiber, magnesium and aluminum, which give it a sleek look that will appeal to a wide variety of riders. The paint job consists of three layers of luxury car quality paint which make it super shiny (except in the matte black finish) and eye catching. However, on closer inspection you can see small imperfections in the paint job.
One of the most appealing things about this scooter is its portability. It has been designed to be very convenient to fold and to carry. The scooter has a stainless steel hinge and can fold with the touch of a single button located near the hinge. Unlike some scooters on the market, the neck of the Model One doesn’t have to be clipped to the rear fender in “carry” mode. The hinge locks in place allowing it to be folded and carried quickly and easily.
The deck on the scooter is a solid piece of aluminum and is 5 inches wide. It is also equipped with anti-slip grips. The aluminum deck and the carbon fiber neck on this scooter both maintain strength without adding weight. Details like these make the Unagi Model One among the lightest dual motor scooters on the market today.
The handling on this scooter is all a function of a unique tire design. From a distance the 7 ½ inch tires appear to be no different from the tires of most scooters in its size and weight class. But on closer inspection, it becomes clear that these tires are different than other scooter tires in a variety of ways. First, the tires feature open air pockets that give the tires a look unlike any other scooter tire. The air pockets are most likely designed to shave more pounds from the overall weight of the scooter.
Second, these tires are not air tires (probably obvious considering the tires are full of holes). They are solid rubber and marketed to be puncture proof. They also act as both front and rear suspension for the scooter, as the air pockets are designed to absorb some of the shock from uneven pavement. The peace of mind that comes from not having to worry about dealing with a flat tire is nice, but unfortunately it comes at the price of ride comfort in this scooter. Compared to air tires, the ride on these solid rubber tires can be rougher and the rider can feel more of the bumps on the road as they ride.
The brakes on the Model One are different than the brakes on most scooters as well. The scooter comes with both an electric hand brake and a rear fender foot brake. The hand brake is a lever that only requires your thumb to operate, unlike most brakes that require you to squeeze with your whole hand. With this brake design the rider can keep both hands on the handlebars and still operate the brakes.
Another unique feature of these brakes is the ability to increase the brake action by putting more pressure on the brake lever. Unlike some brakes that are either on or off, the Model One’s electric brakes are variable, which makes them strong and responsive and allows for smoother stopping. The brakes are cable brakes, which are preferred by most experienced scooter riders. The rear brake light flashes when the brakes are applied, which provides maximum visibility and increases rider safety when riding after dark.
The battery is a LG lithium battery that can get you up to 15.5 miles of ride time between charges when you ride in single motor mode. Running the scooter in dual motor mode will drain the battery more quickly, as will running it up hills. The max distance between charges claimed by Unagi is on a perfectly flat and smooth riding environment. Since no one ever really rides on a perfectly flat and smooth road all the time, the actual battery range has been observed by actual riders to be less than half the advertised range. Using the single motor coupled with the lowest speed level will extend the battery life even further.
Luckily, the battery on the Model One charges quickly to get you back on the road without having to wait too long. From fully drained to fully charged takes a mere four hours. This quick charge means you could theoretically drain the battery on the way to work and have a fully charged scooter in time to make a burger run for lunch.
The Unagi Model One has some features that make it attractive to commuters, but it is also missing some features that experienced rider have come to expect in a scooter, especially at this price point. It comes in four colors: blue, white, gray or black. The black is matte black, while the other colors provide a subdued sheen. The folding neck is really simple and, coupled with the light weight of this scooter, makes is really easy to carry and to use as a last mile solution. However, the fact that the scooter does not feature an electronic lock means that you will be carrying it everywhere by necessity rather than by choice.
The three different speed modes make this an attractive option for both beginner and experienced riders. The beginner level caps the speed at 9 mph, the advanced level goes to 12 mph, and the professional level maxes the speed out at 15.5 mph. Most riders, regardless of their experience level, will never take the scooter out of professional mode, since you can always go slower than 15.5 mph in professional mode, but you can’t exceed the set limits in the other two modes. The beginner mode can also be used to extend the battery life, as the lower speeds put less strain on the battery. Another battery saving option is to operate the scooter in single motor mode rather than dual motor mode.
The kickstand and the horn are both designs that are unique to the Model One. The kickstand has been designed to integrate seamlessly into the deck. When folded, it practically disappears with only a small section visible to allow the rider to pull the kickstand down to engage it. The kickstand is a nice, thick kickstand that holds the scooter solidly when engaged and is easy put up or down with your foot. The horn on the scooter does not have the traditional honk of a horn. Instead it emits a sharp beep. Most people have been conditioned to respond to the sound of a honking horn without much thought. The beep of this horn might make it less recognizable as a horn and, as a result, mean that people might not respond quickly when the horn is used. On the bright side, the beeping horn will be unusual enough to get attention from pedestrians and other riders simply due to the unique sound.
With all of these features, the Model One is missing a few features that are currently available on other scooters in this weight, speed and price point. Besides the lack of ability to electronically lock the scooter, there is also no app available. There is also no cruise control available, which requires the rider to maintain pressure on the throttle. These features seem easy enough to include and this scooter would benefit from having them in order to better compete with other scooter manufacturers.
The controls and accessories on the Model One maintain the sleek look and feel of the rest of the scooter. The magnesium alloy handlebars are 33% lighter than aluminum and, along with the carbon fiber neck and the aluminum deck, help to make this scooter light enough to carry with ease. The handlebars integrate a variety of controls and displays with no visible wires, in keeping with the sleek, clean look of this scooter. The brake and throttle levers are designed to be operated by the thumbs and are placed to maximize ergonomics. The horn button is right above the brake and is easy to hit while riding so that the rider can maintain control and keep their eyes on the road.
The display is integrated into the handlebars to maintain the uncluttered look. The display is well lit and easy to read. Unagi didn’t try to cram too much information into the display. They pared it down to the most important information. The display allows the rider to keep tabs on their current speed, odometer reading, the battery charge level and the chosen speed control level (1, 2 or 3). Below the speed control indicator is the power button. In front of the display is a flush mounted (of course) LED headlight that provides a bright 47 lumens of brightness to keep the rider visible to traffic.
To sum the Unagi Model One up in one word, it would have to be “beautiful.” If you want the best-looking scooter on the market, this is the scooter for you. It is pricey at just shy of $1000, but there is a single motor version for $150 less. Additionally, Unagi offers payment plans for as little as $83 per month. There is also a no questions asked return policy if you determine that the Model One doesn’t fit your needs or your wallet.
There is no question that the Unagi Model One wins the design battle. It is the clear choice for appearance minded buyers. But if beauty and sleek design are not high on your bucket list, you might want to consider saving some money and getting the Xiaomi M365 instead. The M365 matches the Model One’s speed and is only about a pound heavier for less than half the price.