While staying in Munich for a week to attend the IAA Mobility Show, I took the opportunity to check out Unu’s electric scooters as a way to navigate the city. Unu is kind enough to borrow our own 4 kW matte black Uno scooters. Together on our electric steeds we toured the city and together we created Electrek’s first and only short-lived, mild-mannered biker gang.
Unu’s cute and friendly electric scooter
There is no shortage of electric scooters in Europe, high-end brands like Piaggio’s Vespa and low-cost models from any weekly entry in the imported Asian scooter space.
But Unu carved its spot into a cute, friendly and affordable L1e scooter that does not ding the wallet like the fancier models.
As an L1e-class scooter, you are limited to the scooter’s 50-ish km / h (30 mph) top speed, but instead of an extra motorcycle or moped endorsement, riders only need a valid driver’s licence.
I’m a proponent of getting that motorcycle endorsement somehow to get some good riding skills, but medium-power and simple-to-use scooters like the Unu make it easy to ride a scooter relatively safely.
The three of us quickly picked up the scooters, and we spent several days wandering around the city in Unu style. My mind is thrilled to explain how we have experienced scooters.
Unu Electric Scooter Tech Specs
Motor: four kW (5.three hp) rear hub motor
Maximum speed: 50 km / h (31 mph)
Maximum range: 100 km (60 mph) with 2 batteries at city speed.
Battery: 48V 35Ah (1.sixty eight kWh) x 2
Storage Space: forty three L (or 33L with batteries)
Curb Weight: 92 kg (202 lb) with a battery.
Maximum load: 186 kg (410 lb)
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes on both front and rear
Suspension: telescopic fork, a rear shock
Extras: 4G connectivity, massive underside storage area, fancy dock chargers, automatic steering column lock
Rolling attractive on our e-scooters
Unu has some power levels, but we cranked the volume up to 11 with a maximum of 4 kW models. To be fair, those 4 kW aren’t much more powerful, but they gave us a good start in cars with plenty of city and red lights. You can save a few bucks by going with 3 kW scooters, but I thoroughly enjoyed the 4 kW model because it matches what I own on my own personal electric scooter.
The scooter has cushty throttle ramping in which you get considerable electricity this is responsive however now no longer overwhelming. Some scooters emit all the power at once, while others keep it slow, ramping up for several seconds.
Unu strikes a fine Goldilocks balance where the throttle response is powerful but not jerky. That’s a good way to go and the company seems to have done it well.
Seating and batteries
The large seating on Unu means enough space for a rider or two. It also creates a long and large downstream storage area. There is a total of 43 litres of space, though some of it is taken up by single or double batteries. You can nevertheless match three/four helmets beneath the seat, even the simplest one full-face helmet.
Even if you have two batteries, only one uses an interesting system that powers the scooter. When that battery runs out, you can pop up the seat and swap the two battery positions to start draining the second battery. Even though the second battery does not have a power connection, the scooter uses near field communication (NFC) to wirelessly measure the second battery’s power and display it on the screen. NFC is likewise used to begin the scooter and flip it off. The smooth black keycard tapped on the screen changes the physical key and helps reduce keychain clutter – I am suffering but I am learning to live.
Speaking of those batteries, they have plenty of power at 1.68 kWh. Each is rated for the 50km (31 miles) range, although we found that the real-world range is closer to 30-35km (20-22 miles) when riding fast, especially if you’re a big rider or carrying passengers. So two batteries will give you a fast riding range of about 70 km or 40 mph, though you can go further if you spend more time in slow-moving traffic.
Since these are city scooters, so be it. We travelled a lot to the Munich Convention Centre, which had us out of the city and in need of full speed needles, which contributed to our bottom line.
And like all electric vehicles, the fuel is quite cheap compared to a gas-powered alternative. The full charge of the two batteries is about US $ 0.40 – not bad for a speed range of 40 miles or more at a reasonable speed of 50+ miles. With a starting price of € 3,299, the reasonably priced Yun will definitely save on fuel costs, though I could have enjoyed a bit more range from those batteries if I could.
I want to take a quick second and talk about chargers. This is a commonly overlooked gear piece, but Yunu has the best chargers I’ve seen for an electric scooter.
They are in solid condition with no fan, meaning they don’t sound like a small helicopter preparing to take off in your office or living room.
They look very slick as a futuristic docking station. And the batteries have this cool pulsing light on the top that gives them an idea of how much they charge at a quick glance. The light bar is illuminated in front, making them close to charge.
Because the chargers do not have a fan and the batteries are high enough, the charge takes a while to complete. When completely exhausted, charging takes about seven hours. That means overnight charge is very common. Most power chargers resolve that, but then you come back to the cooling fan conundrum. Similarly, we have never had a problem with two batteries and charged at night or rode with a battery while on another charger.
Automatically engageable lock
There is also a neat steering column lock that automatically engages when the scooter is locked and deactivated when unlocked. There is nothing extra to confuse – you turn off the scooter with the handlebars left and the scooter locks them automatically. Although a couple of people can still operate the scooter as a truck, this can be very difficult as the scooter only wants to roll in a circle with the steering column locked.
When riding, thanks to a seat formed with scooter leg dimples and suspension. The single-sided rear swingarm has a single monoshock that does its job well. It’s not an Ohlin suspension, but it still sucks potholes and other urban obstacles for a moderately priced scooter.
Another aspect I really liked was the light. The Halo headlights are nothing new, but Unu does a great job of combining a neat looking rear LED light strip for an attractive and bright headlight and tail light.
The cherry on top is the battery lighting. When you open the lower seat compartment, the batteries will light up depending on their charge. It looks amazing and gives some light to your storage compartment so you can see what you’re doing at night.
Another screen of interest is the screen of Unu. When the company first announced its new, cute Unu scooter with its rounded edges and bubbly shape, I must say I was bored to see the classic, retro-style analog dash.
As far as I know, the Unu Classic market, which came before this scooter, only had analog speedometers and battery metres and I am a sucker for old school needles.
But giving up the analogue display on behalf of the digital one is a compromise with some serious upside. For one, you get more accurate battery performance with a real percentage metre. One hundred steps is the most accurate way to measure battery percentage. There is also greater freedom to incorporate new features. Unu’s CEO Pascal Leonard Blum explained to us that new features are at work, such as the possibility of GPS-based directions displayed on the screen. Try to do it with needle scales!
So while I have lost some of the retro charm of the previous Unu classic scooter, the new capabilities of the updated scooter are worth the upgrade.
Eventually we found Unu scooters to be the fastest and fun way to navigate the city and I personally found them to be the most effective. As much as I like electric bicycles, Europe’s 25km / h speed limit is not the fastest commuter option in the US. Depending on the city and its unique traffic, bike lanes can sometimes help e-bikes zip. But as soon as the lane begins to move, Unu’s maximum speed of about 50 km / h (30 mph) helps to overcome any e-bikers that might have jump started.
And for anyone who decides to split the lane (which is technically illegal in Munich), they find that electric scooters offer the benefits of motorcycles and bicycles when they make their way through stop-and-go traffic, such as e-bikes or cars.
Sure, there are disadvantages to scooter travel. We fortunately have good weather, but I admit that scooting in the rain is less than fun. But a decent raincoat and trousers can make all-weather riding much easier. As an alternative to cars and trains, Unu’s electric scooters gave us the freedom we were looking for to quickly and conveniently navigate the city, park enough where we wanted, and spend coins for fuel.
Unu scooters are attractive, nicely designed and smooth to use. And most of all, they are simply fun to ride! With so many scooters to choose from, I can confidently say that Unu has a good product in their hands. And after hearing some of the improvements they intend to push for their riders, I can say that the scooters keep getting better.