The Bottom Line
- Innovative design offers more stability, better handling
- Fun factor is high, thanks to loads of grip from two front tires
- Fuel economy in the mid-50 MPG range
- Electro-hydraulic suspension switch allows feet not to touch the ground at red lights
- A unique way to stand out in a crowd
- Wonky looks not for everybody
- Limited storage space in the 500cc model
- Cramped ergonomics for taller riders
- Unavailable with anti-lock brakes
- Expensive for a scooter
- MSRP: $8,899
- Single-cylinder, 4-valve fuel injected 492.7cc engine produces 40 horsepower at 7,250 rpm, and 31 ft-lbs at 5,000 rpm
- Automatic CVT transmission
- Top speed: 89 mph
- Front brakes: 240mm, two-piston floating calipers (on 120/70 12" wheels)
- Rear brakes: 280mm, two-piston floating calipers (on a 140/70 14" wheel)
- Running weight: 538 lbs
- 3.2 gallon fuel tank with 1/2 gallon reserve
- Available in black or red
- Warranty: 1 year factory coverage, 24 hour roadside assistance
Guide Review - 2008 Piaggio MP3 500cc Scooter
The modern scooter has been around for over sixty years, but Piaggio's MP3 offers a new twist, with two front that look clunky but offer numerous functional advantages.
The MP3 comes in 250cc ($7,199), 400cc ($8,699), and 500cc ($8,899) versions. Though the 500cc is the most radically styled, it's also got the least amount of storage space. Straddle its 31 inch high seat and you'll notice that the suspension stays stiff- that is, until you unlock the parallelogram suspension via a switch on the right handlebar. But be careful when you flip the switch, as the bike will flop to either side if weight isn't distributed evenly. The electro-hydraulic suspension can be locked at speeds below a few miles per hour, making it possible to keep your feet on the floorboards when approaching a red light or stop sign.
Ergonomics are somewhat cramped for taller riders, and at 5'11", I sometimes found comfort in actually resting my behind on the passenger seat; probably not recommended, but an effective way to stretch out on long rides. The MP3 is wider than most scooters, but still narrow enough for lane-splitting, and the 500cc's single-cylinder engine produces 40 horsepower at 7,250 rpm. Acceleration is strong enough for urban traffic, and its CVT transmission doesn't require shifting. But perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the MP3 is its ability to corner; once you get over your natural inclination to avoid high speed turns, those two front wheels create an exhilarating ride and allow lean angles of 40 degrees with excellent grip.
Though scooter rookies might find that its 538 lb weight takes some getting used to, the MP3 is an innovative reinterpretation of the trike concept that should make riding accessible to a whole new group of enthusiasts.