E-scooters have a little bit of a foul rep. In some cities, you’re more likely to hear grumbling about rental scooters strewn about streets like trash or discarded in rivers. These shared scooters are seen as a dorkier, much less secure various to bicycles that aren’t actually all that good for the environment. I’m grateful to the tech gods that dockless e-scooters haven’t been allowed in NYC.
This public notion is a disgrace, as a result of private scooters are a special story. They will let you get from A to B in a compact bundle. They’re straightforward to make use of and may prevent vital cash on cabs and public transit, however are additionally sufficiently small to slot in a automotive or prepare if want be. And so they are available in all types of sizes and efficiency ranges to swimsuit the wants of assorted customers.
The Unagi Model One units out to be a scooter you’re proud to personal. Its smooth, flowing design is like nothing else available on the market — much less dorky than rental scooters and fewer intimidating than some fanatic scooters. It’s prompted extra questions and compliments than every other private electrical automobile I’ve tried. It feels constructed to final. And regardless of a couple of notable caveats, it strikes a singular steadiness of value, weight, dimension, and energy that make it one of many best scooters to advocate.
It is available in two variations, an $840 250W single-motor mannequin, and a $990 450W dual-motor mannequin. I’ll admit that when Unagi supplied to let me strive an early model of the dual-motor model, I used to be skeptical. I’d by no means been notably impressed by the low-end and rental e-scooters I’d tried earlier than, and as a heavy man (270lb/122kg), they’ve felt slightly flimsy or underpowered. Not so with the Unagi.
(Observe: the Unagi is technically rated for 220lb/100kg, so use at the next weight at your personal threat).
I received to strive the higher-end configuration with twin motors and 450W of energy. We’ll get to its scooting efficiency in a bit, however unboxing the scooter makes it instantly clear it’s put along with care.
The very first thing you discover: it’s actually fairly. Aesthetics are subjective and all, however I’ll be darned if the Unagi isn’t at the least attempting to be the best-looking scooter available on the market. I like my white mannequin, however I discover the metallic blue notably snazzy.
Extra importantly, its design and construct high quality are on a special stage from a lot of the scooters I’ve tried. There are not any uncovered screws aside from those used to connect the handlebar (the one step within the meeting course of) and those beneath the bottom. Regardless of my being effectively over the scooter’s weight restrict, and regardless of the very fact the 450W Mannequin One solely weighs 24 lb/11kg (most scooters on this value vary cross the 40lb/18kg mark) it by no means felt like it will give or break over a number of hundred miles.
Unagi has made a number of commendable design selections. First is a folding mechanism that’s simply the perfect on any scooter I’ve but tried. Merely pull down on a latch on the backside of the stem and fold. It takes all of three seconds to do, and I actually respect that velocity when popping right into a retailer for a fast errand or folding it earlier than getting on the subway.
Regardless of its simplicity, the stem has much less play than another high-end scooter designs, reminiscent of that on the WideWheel and Mantis bought by FluidFreeRide. That mentioned, throughout my first few days with the scooter, it typically turned caught within the folded place. Fortunately, I haven’t had an issue after a fast spray of WD-40.
You wouldn’t be capable of inform from the seamless paint job, however that stem additionally occurs to be made carbon fiber. This helps scale back weight, but it surely permits the stem to taper into a skinny heart with out compromising sturdiness. Aesthetics apart, it makes for a comfier grip when selecting up the scooter with one hand. Different scooters of comparable weight are inclined to have thicker stems that make them uncomfortable to hold for lengthy stretches.
Then there are the aluminum-and-rubber handlebars. I considerably lament the very fact the handlebars don’t fold (I’ve hit my shin on them a few instances once I’ve left the scooter in my hallway), but it surely additionally means they really feel extraordinarily stable. I can confidently drape a 20 kilos of groceries over them, and there’s not the slightest trace of flex whereas using.
Between the handlebars, you’ll discover a good huge, seamlessly built-in show with all the knowledge you want – a lot classier than the exterior panels you discover on different scooters. With a mixture of some button presses, you may swap between velocity mode or flip the twin motor off to save lots of battery. As a nice shock, the headlight is vivid sufficient to truly be helpful for using at evening (this isn’t the case with many scooters, which have lights which can be solely vivid sufficient to be seen).
There are a few areas of the construct that might be a possible trigger for concern although. For one, I respect that the scooter comes with reflective stickers – which I’ve not seen elsewhere, however two of them have already fallen off. I’d prefer to see them higher built-in into the body.
Extra pressingly, my early unit had a plastic rear fender that feels at odds with all of the metallic and carbon fiber used elsewhere. I say ‘had’ as a result of as I used to be taking product images for this evaluate, my pants snagged on the rear fender, I tripped, and the fender snapped off. Nevertheless, as could be seen within the picture above, Unagi has been transport an up to date mannequin with a fender that doubles as a footbrake to again up the digital brakes. This model would presumably be extra sturdy because it’s truly meant for use repeatedly, however I can’t make certain with out testing it myself.
Oh, and yet another grievance: The horn is completely annoying. It’s just like the ungodly beep your microwave makes, solely a sustained sound that’s 10 instances louder. Worse, it appears to only startle folks slightly than get them to truly transfer out the best way. I’d a lot favor a daily bell or horn.
Okay, however how good is it as at truly getting you round city? That is dependent upon how you intend to make use of it.
Should you plan to take the Unagi for brief journeys and/or are a multimodal commuter – that’s, you intend to mix the Unagi with public transit or a automotive – it’s onerous to discover a higher mixture of weight, dimension, energy, and value. There are a handful of different scooters able to outputting ~500W that weight lower than 30lb, however none I’m conscious of with twin motors (which have a tendency to offer higher traction and hill-climbing) — and none that look this good.
When carrying my digital camera bag, a heavy-duty U-lock, and a few groceries, I’ve loaded the scooter effectively over its rated weight restrict, but it surely nonetheless managed to get me as much as to the max velocity of round 16 miles per hour on flat terrain. It additionally had sufficient energy to drag me up slight hills at decrease speeds.
Granted, it takes me a couple of seconds to succeed in that prime velocity, and when you evaluate it in opposition to the similarly-priced however overpowered WideWheel (1000W), the Unagi will really feel positively wimpy. However my benchmark is whether or not I can sustain with cyclists within the bike lane, and on common, I stayed forward of them.
In any case, my case is an excessive one. Should you weigh much less and aren’t a velocity demon, the Unagi ought to have greater than sufficient energy for on a regular basis metropolis commuting. With some lighter riders who tried the scooter, it was positively zippy.
Nevertheless it’s not nearly uncooked acceleration – it’s about management over acceleration. The Unagi has the smoothest, silkiest throttles and brakes of any scooter or bike I’ve tried.
Different scooters appear to have discrete steps of their acceleration curves. Something above a light-weight contact would possibly ship you into warp velocity; these throttles are finest described as ‘jerky.’ The Unagi’s acceleration, however, provides me exact management. Notably, I can scoot alongside pedestrian mates on the sidewalk and regulate my velocity virtually as simply as if I had been strolling myself. Even within the most energy mode, the throttle is delicate sufficient to account for small adjustments in strolling tempo. It’s a small element, but it surely lends a way of high quality and management I seldom discover elsewhere. It makes the Unagi a pleasure to journey in bike lanes and one of many solely scooters I really feel comfy using on sidewalks with low foot site visitors (at a sluggish tempo, in fact).
When the bike lanes disappear, the expertise is much less reassuring. There’s no getting round it: small, skinny, airless tires with out correct suspension place you at a better threat than a plushier journey. The Unagi’s wheels do present a little bit of cushioning because of their distinctive airless design, however you must be extra vigilant than with a motorcycle or a scooter with higher suspension. You’ll need to swerve round each pothole or massive little bit of particles. The scooter’s physique feels like it will possibly deal with it the bumps, particularly given the electronically restricted prime velocity, however makes for a tough journey on unkempt roads. And extra importantly, you don’t need to lose traction when using alongside big metallic dying machines, AKA automobiles.
Don’t get me fallacious – I’ve executed tons of of miles with the Unagi on tough NYC pavement with out incident. I’ve handed by a couple of shock potholes and emerged unscathed. And I respect the Unagi’s low-maintenance design and by no means having to fret about flats. If I hadn’t tried scooters with higher cushioning, I may not have minded. However for lengthy, scooter-only journeys, there are merely higher choices.
For comparability, the similarly-priced WideWheel additionally has airless tires, however its chunky wheels and twin suspension make for a safer-feeling journey on the streets. The Mantis, which has super-fluffy suspension and 10-inch air-filled tires, is in a very totally different class of journey consolation – almost as secure as and extra comfy than some bikes.
So possibly it’s factor the Unagi isn’t a variety champion. Unagi claims as much as 15.5 miles of vary, a determine possible examined underneath managed circumstances with a light-weight rider.
My vary was about 7-9 9 miles, which is definitely higher than I anticipated given my weight and using habits. For the reason that battery costs in about 4 hours, you may simply prime it off at work. And as a bonus, the Unagi’s minimal weight and pretty low base peak make it simpler to truly kick than larger scooters ought to the battery run out on throughout your previous couple of blocks. Nonetheless, it’s not meant for marathon commutes.
As an alternative, the Unagi excels at brief journeys across the neighborhood and multimodal commutes. It’s a improbable last-mile resolution to enrich current public transportation infrastructure.
I reckon it’s one of many best scooters to hold with one hand. It matches underneath a subway seat and could be rolled round vertically for a smaller footprint when standing. It matches within the cargo area of each automotive I’ve tried, even a Sensible ForTwo.
And since it’s so compact, I can convey it with me inside most venues with out being obnoxious; I favor to lock up bigger scooters exterior. That saves me valuable time for brief journeys, as I don’t must search for an honest spot to lock up in theft-prone NYC and keep in mind to convey my U-lock. And it means I find yourself working a variety of small errands I might need in any other case procrastinated. It’s had the impact of creating my neighborhood really feel larger – the realm inside which I run my on a regular basis errands has expanded from a couple of blocks to a few miles.
Maybe the perfect factor I can say in regards to the Unagi Mannequin One is that this: I’m fortunate sufficient to have a number of e-scooters and e-bikes at house by advantage of my job, however I most likely find yourself selecting leaving on the Unagi extra typically than the rest.
Granted, I don’t have an on a regular basis work commute. Once I plan to scoot for everything of a prolonged journey, I’ll decide one thing beefy with twin suspension, just like the aforementioned Mantis. I’d like to see an Unagi Mannequin Two with suspension and a much bigger battery down the street – even when it had been 10 kilos heavier, it’d nonetheless be lighter than a lot of the competitors.
However as issues stand, once I simply must run fast errands to the grocery store or pet retailer, it’s the Unagi I take with me. If my journey entails a subway leg, I decide the Unagi. If I want to select up a carshare automobile, I journey there on the Unagi. If I must go up a couple of flights of stairs… you get the image.
At $990 for the dual-motor model – the one one I’d advocate – the Unagi is costly, but it surely does lots to justify that value. You will get a scooter with extra energy and/or suspension for comparable cash, however you aren’t going to seek out this mix of energy, weight, and design wherever else. The sweetness is greater than pores and skin deep.
Revealed September 17, 2019 — 20:26 UTC