Ride best of both worlds

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By CRAIG DUFF

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.

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