PIAGGIO MP3 250 / 400 / 500
The MP3 is perhaps the biggest innovation to come out of the scootering world in recent years. It’s tilting 3 wheeled design has been quite polarizing, with most people either loving the idea or being completely dis-interested.
While the MP3 isn’t the first three wheeled scooter (see Honda Gyro ), the MP3 is the first to locate that extra wheel up front. The idea of having dual wheels up front is definitely easier to ride in sketchy conditions (slippery roads, riding on bus rails etc), so it’s mostly a question of if you prefer that additional measure of safety, or would rather have a lighter, cheaper and simpler traditional setup. Even if you aren’t interested in the MP3, consider taking one for a test ride at your local dealer just to better understand the dramatic difference that three wheels makes.
The cornering sensation of the MP3 good, but it’s not like a two wheeled scooter so there is definitely a learning curve. The traction limits are different (ie. much higher) and the feeling of leaning into a corner is unique as it requires more initiation effort to get the lean started. The whole process has a nice smooth and dampened feeling to it,
that is quite reassuring while also being a little more disconnected from the road. As you can imagine, the braking ability of these scooters is unsurpassed and easy to achieve.
The tilting front end can be locked out for parking it via a button on the left handlebar. You can also use this at red lights if you’d rather not put your feet down. Either technique works, but locking it out at every stop feels more like a gimmick. The scooter can only lock at a slow speeds (
10 mph) and it unlocks automatically if you exceed this speed, so everything works very smoothly. The scooter can lock at an angle, so if you’re coming to stop and you start tipping over, consider suggest putting a foot down rather than hitting the lock button.
While the situation is more complex overseas, in North America the MP3 has been sold in a two main body styles. The more rounded style was the original style which went on sale here for 2007 as the MP3 250. Then the MP3 400 (same body style) and MP3 500 (aggressive body style) followed for 2008.
Overseas the original style and aggressive style are two different scooters are sold under different names and badges, with the original MP3 being sold as the Piaggio MP3 worldwide, while the more aggressive 500 model is sold as the Gilera Fuoco overseas.
In Canada, the same MP3 options were made available from 2007 to 2011, but for 2012 Piaggio Canada decided to delete the MP3 250 and 400 and instead make both styles available as 500 models. The more svelte original body style is called the MP3 Tourer 500 while the more aggressive look is dubbed the MP3 Sport 500 (above left in silver). 2012 was to be the final year for the MP3 in Canada, with both 500 models being dropped at the years end.
For 2013 Piaggio Global has added even more variations to their worldwide MP3 family, but none of the revised MP3’s are slated for North America. Internationally, Piaggio updated the style of the original MP3 into a new ‘Touring’ look and dropped the more aggressive (Gilera Fuoco) look. The new MP3 Touring is offered in two primary versions, the MP3 Touring and the MP3 Touring LT.
The ‘Touring’ MP3 comes in 125, 300, 400 and 500cc sizes, while the Touring LT gets 300, 400 and 500 sizes plus wider front wheels that allow it to fit the definition of a car in some markets and thus avoid the need for a motorcycle licence. The international MP3 Touring and Touring LT models also receive an adjustable split windscreen, improved ergonomics, more cubby hole storage and a few other tweaks.
The original MP3 250 used a 244cc version of Piaggio’s QUASAR motor. In the MP3, this motor provides good acceleration off the line, but it a bit flat on the top end due to the weight and wind drag of this scooter. This mid-sized motor has long been the heart of Vespa’s GT/GTS line and other larger Piaggio’s like the Atlantic 200 and BV Tourer.
The larger MP3 scooters (400 and 500 models) use 389cc and 492cc versions of Piaggio’s largest motor – the MASTER engine. The 400 model (34 hp) and 500 model (39hp) both do quite well on the top end as you’d expect. The 400 model reaches a top speed around 80 mph, while the MP3 500 manages 90 mph. While all of these motors are nice liquid cooled, 4-valve, fuel injected designs, the MASTER powered variants are more well rounded machines.
The original MP3 250 is easily the slowest of the bunch, and not well suited for highway travel.
Underneath the MP3’s large seat is a great storage area that can accommodate two full face helmets or lots of other gear. There’s also a glovebox for smaller items and the aggressive MP3 Sport 500 also has a ‘grab rail’ around the back end that can be quite handy for securing items behind the driver. Storage varies a bit from model to model, but generally it is quite generous with the large seat revealing a surprisingly generous cavern underneath.
The MP3 also offers good wind protection, with it’s large front fascia and integrated tinted windscreen diverting most of the breeze.
Overall, the MP3 appeals to a unique audience. These scooters aren’t cheap at $7-11K, but they accomplish their intended purpose quite well. They brake extremely well and offer unsurpassed safety over rough or slippery roads. They are also extremely fun to drive.
The 400 and 500 models provide an excellent all around combination of solid power, excellent brakes, stable and easy handling and a great amount of storage, while the MP3 250 provides a way to take the price down a notch for those not needing interstate capability. All of the MP3’s are a unique package that is very easy to live with. Anyone who can swing the initial purchase price will find these machines to be a joy to live with.
- Piaggio MP3 Yourban review – Motorcycle news: New bikes – Visordown
- Piaggio MP3 500 and MP3 Sport Scooter News and Reviews Scootersales
- Piaggio Mp3 300 Service Manual Owners Guide Books
- Piaggio MP3 250 Piaggio @ Authorized Piaggio MP3 Dealer USA 2009
- Piaggio MP3 Hybrid 300