Piaggio has just launched what they reckon will sway all those London-luvvies who find the whole concept of two wheels a bit scary.
The MP3 LT is a 400cc scooter with one big difference, an extra wheel at the front. Yes this concept has been around for a while and you might have seen three wheeled scooters kicking around before, but not quite like this one. Because the axel distance between the front wheels is over 465mm this scooter classes as a trike, and can therefore be ridden on either a full car or a full bike licence, and without a crash helmet!
So anyone with a car licence can rock up, hand over their cash and wobble off down the road on it minus a crash helmet! Although at this point we should mention that Piaggio don’t recommend you ride it without a lid and offer a training course as part of the cost!
So what’s it like to ride? At first the MP3 feels like a very front-heavy scooter. It’s a bit odd to start with but as soon as you get moving the MP3 is brilliant fun. The extra wheel at the front makes losing the front end virtually impossible, so you simply charge over any bump or pothole in the road with complete confidence you won’t fall off. Where on a normal bike you might exercise a bit of caution, especially if it’s wet, on the MP3 you just plough on regardless of the condition of the road’s surface. It’s like riding a bike but with none of the skill or forward planning required!
When you eventually have to stop the MP3 is no harder to balance than a normal bike, and it comes with a neat button that locks the front wheels so they don’t lean over, meaning you can sit on the bike with both feet off the ground. This is, however, a bit of a mute point with us. The button only locks the wheels when the bike is at walking pace, and automatically unlocks them again when you start moving again, but the problem is that if you lock the wheels when they are slightly lent over (in a corner or on a camber in the road) when you come to pull away in the split second before the system unlocks itself you are forced to ride in the direction the wheels are pointing, which can get a bit scary. It’s a system that is best avoided until you get used to the bike’s quirks.
Although the front end has an extra wheel filtering on the MP3 is easy and it’s not actually that much wider than a normal big scooter, you just have to be slightly aware of the extra wheel when it comes to cutting into traffic or slipping past kerbs!
With the MP3 Piaggio has opened the door to a new type of commuter. The extra wheel makes riding it safer, the fact it does 80mph means long commutes are possible and, best of all, you don’t need to take the hugely complicated new bike test to rid it. The asking price of £6,499 plus OTR fees is a touch high, but compared to a years train ticket offers decent value for money.
What do you reckon, is this the future or a stupid idea designed to appeal to spoilt city types?