Piaggio MP3
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Piaggio Three-wheel Scooter Review

History is littered with vehicles mounted on 3 wheels and promising to mix the benefits of both motorcycle and sports car. Trouble is, it usually meant losing the one quality that makes a motorcycle so attractive, its ability to lean into corners.

Until now!

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The Piaggio MP3 is not a music box you listen to with headphones, although you could still wrap it around your ears if you aren’t careful. The MP3 is a scooter that quite possibly points the direction to the future of motorcycling. It combines all the advantages of both a motorcycle and a tricycle. On the one hand you can stay sitting with feet up while waiting at traffic lights etc. then zoom away to the nearest corner and tip it in confidently and safely like a professional bike racer.
I have to admit to basically ignoring the MP3 as it sat at the Coffs AGM, it didn’t seem any more than an oddity with a gimmick, but, now that I have ridden one and spent time with it, I have to say “impressive”.

Quite frankly, I doubt that any of us have ridden any motorcycle or scooter with as much front end grip. There are literally double the tyre contact patches holding you to the road!
Apart from the oddly shaped front, there is little to distinguish it from the company’s X8-250 scooter, same engine (400cc also), transmission, brakes etc. However, those 2 front wheels make it look like a narrow Quad from front on.

Piaggio have created, developed, refined (whatever!) a twin wheeled front end to perform in exactly the same fashion as a single wheel. They have achieved a scooter/motorcycle that can be pushed into a corner with a level of stability far beyond anything I have previously encountered. To test my theory, I rode the MP3 onto a dirt track and pushed it hard into a turn, to the point where I was spinning the back wheel plus pushing the front-end, but, in complete control. Imagine how well this will handle in the rain. Another advantage over a standard bike is that the MP3 is unaffected by ‘tram-tracking’, I was able to easily ride it along a spoon drain at the side of a freeway.

The MP3 has a handbrake to go along with its ability to ‘stand’ on its own at rest. A 2 way switch next to the throttle toggles between the front wheels being locked vertical or released for cornering. As you cruise to a stop a flick of said switch will allow you to keep feet up, then as you power away the front will automatically release itself and life returns to normal for motorcycling.

As I said before, there is little difference from the MP3 to the X8-250, however the amount of carrying capacity is for whatever reason slightly less. At a pinch I got my full-face flip-up helmet in the rear storage compartment of the bike, but the front under-seat section will only accommodate an open face jobbie.

Comfort is excellent for both rider and pillion (better pillion foot placement then X8) while there is an instrumentation layout a GoldWing owner would be proud of (even has an outside temp readout).
The suspension settings allow for large loads, headlight is great, brakes excellent, there’s a shopping bag holder, the mirrors are widely spaced and easily viewed. There’s an anti-theft coded key immobiliser, engine side-stand cut-out, remote boot/seat release and wet weather seat cover. The key immobiliser is affected by close proximity to radio/phone transmission towers, but then so are most other motorcycle brand units.

Economy runs to a best of 23klm/litre but you can bring that figure down by ‘hooning’, which is something easily done.

The windscreen could do with being a bit taller, my 6 foot frame copped a fair bit of air from the chest up. There’s a good loud horn but I’d prefer self-cancelling blinkers to make the ride even less complicated.

OK, this is fairly expensive at $11,500* on road, but as more are sold the price should come down. It’s innovative, very stable, easy to ride and depending on your view, stylish.

Awesome, I’d have one in my garage!

Gilera are poised to market a similar 500cc version plus an 800cc V-twin for 2008.

Test vehicle supplied by Graeme Morris Motorcycles of Broadmeadow NSW, phone 02 49570674.

May your lid never skid, 

Ian Parks

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General Specifications:-
Piaggio MP3

Engine = Single cylinder, liquid cooled, fuel injected 4 valve 4 stroke.
Engine Capacity = 244cc
Transmission = CVT with “automatic clutch”.
Seat Height = 780mm
Length = 2130mm
Wheel Base = 1490mm
Width = 760mm
Fuel Capacity = 12 litres including 1.8 reserve.
Fuel Economy = 23 km per litre (claimed)
Dry Weight = 204kg
Torque = 20.2Nm @ 6500rpm
Braking = Twin piston twin 240mm diameter stainless steel disks front
Opposing pistons single 240mm diameter stainless steel disk rear

* Price in Australian dollars 2008

Article by Ian Parks