The $990 Unagi e-scooter is sleek, powerful, and light

X Scalper

E-scooters have a bit of a bad rep. In some cities you’re likely to hear grumbling over rentalscooters strewn about streets like trash or discarded in rivers. These shared scooters are seen as a dorkier, less safe alternative to bicycles that aren’t actually all that good for the environment. I’m grateful to the tech gods that dockless e-scooters have not been allowed in NYC.

It’s a shame, because personal scooters are a different story. They allow you to get from A to B in a compact package. They’re easy to use and can save you significant money on cabs and public transit, but are also small enough to fit in a car or train if need be. And they come in all sorts of sizes and performance levels to suit the needs of various users.

The Unagi Model One sets out to be a scooter you’re proud to own. Its sleek, flowing design is like nothing else on the market — less dorky than rental scooters and less intimidating than some enthusiast scooters. It’s prompted more questions and compliments than any other personal electric vehicle I’ve tried. It feels built to last. And despite a fewnotable caveats, it strikes a unique balance of price, weight, size, and power that make it one of the easiest scooters to recommend.

It comes in two versions, an $840 250W single-motor model, and a $990 450W dual-motor model. I’ll admit that when Unagi offered to let me try an early version of the dual-motor version, I was skeptical. I’d never been particularly impressed by the low-end and rental escooters I’d tried before, and as a heavy guy (270lb/122kg), they’ve felt rather flimsy or underpowered. Not so with the Unagi.

(Note: the Unagi is technically rated for 220lb/100kg, so use at a higher weight at your own risk).

I got to try the higher-end configuration with dual motors and 450W of power. We’ll get to its scooting performance in a bit, but unboxing the scooter makes it immediately clear it’s put together with care.

The first thing you notice: it’s really pretty. Aesthetics are subjective and all, but I’ll be darned if the Unagi isn’t at least trying to be the best-looking scooter on the market. I like my white model, but I find the metallic blue particularly snazzy.

More importantly, its design and build quality is on a different level from most of the scooters I’ve tried. There are no exposed screws other than the ones used to attach the handlebar (the single step in the assembly process) and the ones below the base. Despite my being well over the scooter’s weight limit, and despite the fact the 450W Model One only weighs 24 lb/11kg (most scooters in this price range cross the 40lb/18kg mark) it never felt like it would give or break over several hundred miles.