Piaggio MP3 review- 250cc and 400cc versions
April 19, 2010 at 1:50 am #3885Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
I think the 250cc version is much better for beginning riders- no manual clutch and no shifting, easier braking, and harder to do a low speed drop than a 2-wheeler:April 19, 2010 at 6:33 am #25828
I want to point out that a lot of the discussion points in that video are around the LT version which is not available in the States. The LT was specifically designed to get around European motorcycle licensing laws so that you could ride it with a car license, something I would strongly discourage anyone from doing. So the versions available over here have the original distance between the front wheels (closer than the LT) and no foot brake. As far as licensing in the USA goes most States require a regular motorcycle license and a few require a 3 wheel endorsement (such as my own WA). Only California gets away with a regular car license but that is more of an accident than by design (and it’s kind of a gray area). There is also a 500cc version available (which is what I have). In Europe it’s branded as the Gilera Fuoco but here they just called it the Piaggio MP3 500.
Just to clarify, there is no manual clutch or shifting in any of the models. I know what Jeff meant but his comment could be misinterpreted. My take on it is the 250 model is fine for in town use. If you think you will be doing longer journeys you will be happier with the 400 or 500. If you do go for a 250 be aware only the newer models have a 14″ rear wheel. Earlier models had a 12″ wheel and folks were only getting 2 to 3 thousand miles on that. A 14″ (which the 400 & 500 have) is good for at least 6k.
This I think is a better review.
April 19, 2010 at 11:25 am #25826TrialsRiderParticipant
has anyone ridden a can-am Spyder ? …looks more snowmobile with wheels than motorcycle with extras.April 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm #25827
We treat the Piaggio as a motorcycle in the ERC, but use slightly different criteria for the u-turn exercise because of the dual track feature.
I have riddent the Spyder, but only on a limited basis in a parking lot. We coach the 3W BRC in Texas and have a Spyder. It’s completely different than anything I’ve ever ridden! It’s much closer to some sort of “sports car/trike” type machine…a lot like an old Morgan, but with bars instead of a steering wheel. It IS a little weird (like any trike, or hack for that matter) because it leans the wrong way! The front end sticks like no tomorrow. The electronics won’t let things get too out of hand though. No slipping, no sliding..April 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm #25833
I have not ridden a Spyder but have ridden with those who do. Those things look like a lot of fun but not in a motorcycle kind of way. I would happily own one if I had the spare cash lying around. On one of my rides I had one behind me in the twisties. On this road there is one bend that is twice as sharp as the others and it can catch you out. After going around it I looked in my mirrors to see the Spyder come whipping round that bend at speed. The front wheels were planted but there may have been the tiniest rear wheel slide. Still, it took that corner much faster than I would want to on a bike. I think they are tiring to ride though. Where we counteract the centrifugal force by leaning into the corner those guys just have to hang on.
I took my ERC on my MP3 in order to get my 3 wheel license (a workaround arranged by the WA DOL). I was the only one who had to do the u-turn in the 20′ box as I was the only <500cc bike there. That seemed like an arbitrary distinction but all those hours of practice paid off and I can do it within that space with feet to spare. The hardest part I found was the swerve. I couldn't help but notice everyone else was already leaning into the swerve before they were through the gate. I didn't have that luxury as the gate was not much wider than my wheels. I made it okay but I certainly had to watch my speed, much faster than the minimum allowed would have been hard. Interestingly the instructor told us the cops practice this with large cones (ie. 2' tall cones). This means the back end of the bike has to clear the cone as well, not just the 2" width of the tire.
Other interesting part was on the emergency stop in front of the instructors assistant where I had the following conversation.
IA: Are you in first gear?
ME: ?….It’s a scooter.
IA: Yes, but are you in first gear?
ME: ?……….It’s….a….scooter. It doesn’t have gears.
IA: Oh, well I guess you have it easy then.
And I know some older scooters have gears but come on.April 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm #25840
Amazingly enough, we don’t get a LOT of instruction on what each bike and/or scooter has for equipment. Throw that on top of the fact we see basically the same stuff…and I can totally see me asking you that same thing…and looking like a total boob!
Some the cop exercises are very similar, and the cones on some are full sized as well. Consider though that the obstacle you are avoiding…in the case of this exercise, we like to refer to it as a “bus” or “truck trailer”, is verticle from ground to sky. Crossing the verticle plane of the small cone is just like hitting the obstacle, but obviously we don’t score it that way…
I’ve GOT to get out and ride a Piaggio 3 wheeler! They look like a total blast! The local dealer has invited me, so I just need to get out and try it. FWIW…and I think I may have posted this before; I saw one with what looked like an Arrow exhaust on it several months ago. Man, that thing sounded angry! Pretty cool looking machine, to be sure!April 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm #25842
I would love to hear your opinion on the MP3. People are always asking me how does it compare but outside training classes it’s the only thing I’ve ridden so it’s hard for me to do a direct comparison. I think once you get past the initial weird feeling it’s much the same but maybe needs a touch more force to start the counter steer.April 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm #25848
I’ll share with the group what I learn! I can tell you that I’ve heard nothing but positive things about them. They are a little quirkey, but so what? I ride BMW’s, Ducati’s….and I’ve got a Land Rover. Seems like a Piaggio is right up my alley!April 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm #25875AParticipant
I test rode a MP3 250 when I was shopping for a scooter.
I don’t particularly see much advantage over regular two-wheel scooters. MP3 weighs significantly more, cost more when you need to replace tires, brake pads and suspension. No advantage to fuel economy, even conpared to similar displacement motorcycles. Niche product, yes.. handles that much better than a 250cc two-wheel scooter? debatable.April 28, 2010 at 12:45 am #25957Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
That extra front wheel is useful when you need twice the front tire traction, to stop or turn faster, especially when the pavement is slippery.
Also, a 3-wheeler is more stable at slow speeds, when it is common for a beginner to not use the clutch well and drop their bike. If you lean a 2-wheeler over just a little too far at slow speeds, you quickly learn how much heavier it is compared to a bicycle, and it becomes almost impossible to hold up instead of falling over.
A 250cc engine is fine for 1 person on 55 mph speed limit roads, which is what a beginner should limit themselves to. This model is quite expensive, but also quite a bit safer for a beginner or anyone else, especially for someone who wants to ride in below freezing temperatures. The web site states the top speed for the 250cc version is 77 mph:
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