Ride best of both worlds
SAFETY and stability are the key attributes of Piaggio’s three-wheeled MP3 scooter, which is why the unique machines are such a hit in Europe.
They haven’t taken off as quickly here, though, prompting the Australian importer to rationalise the range. The MP3 300 now replaces the 250 and 400cc machines previously sold and Piaggio marketing manager Simon Gloyne says it is the best of both worlds.
‘‘The 300 has such a sweet engine and it has better torque and fuel economy, so it was the logical choice for the range,’’ Gloyne said.
The Gilera Fuoco 500cc stays as the range-topper.
‘‘We’ve also upgraded the rear wheel from 12 inches to 14, which improves the ride and should extend tyre life,’’ Gloyne said.
There are the usual cosmetic changes, led by changing the front grille from horizontal bars to vertical stripes, but it’s the engine— and ride-by-wire throttle — that make the LAMScompliant 300 worth a ride.
It mightn’t look like it, but the MP3 is no wider than a maxi-scooter and far more stable in city riding.
The dual front wheels are linked to a unique suspension set-up. It looks funny— until you hammer it over the first set of potholes, cobblestones or tram tracks.
It takes a ridiculous amount to unsettle the little Piaggio — and then it’s the back end that will step out slightly. Roll off the throttle or pick it up — there’s a 40-degree lean angle — and it settles down instantly. Get used to it and that translates into a confidenceinspiring machine. For novice riders that’s a much better option than finding out first-hand how unforgiving bitumen can be.
The other highlight are the brakes— simple physics support the fact an extra contact patch means the MP3 will out-stop any scooter on the market.
Repeated grabs on the lever don’t affect the performance and if you do lock up, it won’t throw you down the road.
In short, it’s a seriously good alternative to a conventional scooter, especially if you’re an inner-city commuter riding on broken surfaces. It is also good for freeways and has a theoretical top speed of 130km/h.