Revisiting the Piaggio MP3 scooter

Consumer Reports News: December 10, 2009 03:50 PM

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Photo: Mike Leung

Since our last ride on the Piaggio MP3 three-wheeled scooter,  we got a chance to get better acquainted with this unique “reverse tricycle.”

After riding it extensively around our stomping grounds here in rural Connecticut in bright autumn weather, I’m still scratching my helmet trying to figure out the MP3’s raison d'être. Just what does this odd arrangement get you? Having two front wheels doesn’t necessarily improve on a two-wheeler’s riding experience. You still need to get comfortable leaning the thing into corners. And you still need to have a sense of balance at low speeds, since the front suspension lock mode disengages rather quickly. So, what’s the real advantage?

Piaggio claims that it rides better because each wheel takes a different path. That they might, but we still found the ride rather stiff. Piaggio also says that braking is better because there’s a third tire-contact patch. We didn’t put that claim to the test, but the relatively large mass of this scooter is another part of the braking-distance equation that can’t weigh in this bike’s favor.

And speaking of mass: When you think it is in its locked position and it isn’t, which sometimes happens, you’ll find it pretty darn heavy when you have to catch it to keep from falling over. We also found that maneuvering the MP3 in and out of tight spaces was cumbersome if not downright awkward.

On the bright side, the MP3 does bring a couple of welcome novelties. You never have to put your shoe on the road when waiting at a traffic light. You are also freed forever from having to hoist the scooter onto a center stand: Just flick the control to the front-suspension-locked position and it stays upright. That’s something. Whether it’s $9,000 worth of something is something else again.

See our motorcycle and scooter buying advice and ratings.

Gabe Shenhar

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