Depending where you live, an electric scooter can be an easier and cheaper way to get around than a car. Unagi’s next-generation e-scooter makes a strong case for buying your own instead of picking a rental literally up off the sidewalk. The new Unagi sports upgrades like a speaker for turn-by-turn Google Maps directions and a smart sensor that scans for impending dangers and warns the rider through audible alerts.
Three years ago we reviewed the original Unagi and were not only impressed by its performance and range, but its looks too. With no visible wires and a very clean design, it looked like a scooter for adults hoping to dodge the responsibilities of a car. But it wasn’t perfect. Its single piece deck (where the rider stands) featured a design that prevented the battery from being replaced, which limited the life of the scooter because its power source would inevitably lose its ability to hold a charge over the years. The Unagi Model One also used airless tires which would never go flat and never needed replacing, but they weren’t the most forgiving, and you’d definitely feel the bumps while out for a ride.
The Unagi Model Eleven (yes, its name was inspired by Spinal Tap) addresses both of those issues, but also adds features we haven’t seen on an e-scooter before. It features a new design created by industrial designer Yves Behar, who took advantage of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced composites to create a body with no visible screws or exposed wiring. Lift the top of the scooter’s deck and you’ll find a 67.7-watt battery that can be easily removed and swapped with a spare that Unagi will be selling alongside the Model Eleven, which also potentially expands the 15+ mile range of the scooter considerably—assuming you’re willing to carry a few extra with you.
The Model One’s rough ride has also been addressed. The Model Eleven trades the rigid airless tires of its predecessor with softer foam tires that are still puncture proof and durable, but will be better at absorbing smaller bumps on the road, even when cruising at the e-scooter’s top speed of 19 miles per hour. This time around the tires are as easy to swap and replace as the new battery is, should they get damaged or wear down over time. (They’re not made of vibranium, after all.) The Model Eleven’s wheels are also attached to shock-absorbing arms on the front and back that promise to take the brunt of larger obstacles like uneven sidewalks or when hopping off shallower curbs—but you probably still don’t want to take one of these off-roading.
Quite possibly the most over-the-top upgrade on the Unagi Model Eleven is the addition of an ADAS (advanced driver-assistance system) sensor that leverages object recognition AI to actually warn riders of potential collision hazards up ahead. It’s easy to get distracted when cruising on an electric scooter, and even with a top speed of just 19 mph, you might miss a hazard like a car turning or a pedestrian stepping off a curb. Using a bright red LED on the handlebars and audible alerts through a loud speaker, the Model Eleven can warn the rider when they need to pay attention or be more aware of their surroundings.
That built-in speaker offers other functionality, too. You can, of course, be the person who cruises the neighborhood with their music blaring by streaming it to the scooter’s speaker over Bluetooth from your phone, but it can also be used to deliver turn-by-turn navigation directions from Google Maps on an iPhone or Android device while you ride.
And finally, because scooters aren’t cheap, the Unagi Model Eleven includes a motion-sensing alarm to ward off would be thieves if you have it locked up outside, GPS tracking through a built-in LTE data connection, and even remote kill capabilities through a mobile app, so should your Model Eleven go missing, you can completely disable it from afar.
The Unagi Model Eleven is available to preorder starting today through Indiegogo. While it can potentially replace the need for a car, it’s also priced similarly to a used one. If you don’t think you need the ADAS hazard monitoring, the Model Eleven will set you back $2,440, but if you’re bad at paying attention to the road, you’ll want to opt for the pricier $2,860 model that includes all of the bells and whistles. That’s almost three times the price of the most expensive Unagi Model One model, but with the swappable battery, swappable tires, and theft-deterrent, you can potentially be riding the Model Eleven for years and years before needing to upgrade again.