First things first… You have no doubt noticed by now the differences between Piaggio’s ground breaking MP3 model and conventional scooters.
That’s right; an extra wheel positioned at the front of the machine.
Your next questions would be does the machine lean like a conventional scooter?
And does it steer as well as a conventional scooter?
The answers are yes, and no.
Yes, the MP3 leans over in the corners, as much as you dare in fact.
But no, it doesn’t steer as well as a conventional scooter. In fact it steers much better!
The stability provided by that extra front tyre and sophisticated front suspension system enables the MP3 to shrug off the absolute worst of mid corner bumps with only a tiny waggle through the bars.
Even charging over the terribly bumpy inside lane on the heavily congested Mandurah and Safety Bay Road roundabout, the MP3 was unshakeable. Trucks have rippled the road up terribly at this busy intersection and at a particular point the dreadful surface even sends the back end of my Ford Ute stepping out sideways over the undulations so I knew this would be a litmus test for the MP3. It passed with flying colours.
The front end is simply amazing. It gave me so much confidence that I really wanted to push beyond the limits to see just how berserk you would have to ride in order for the front end to break away.
I must say I have never wanted to crash a bike before but such was my amazement at the front end grip that I desperately wanted to actually crash the MP3 to find out exactly how far it could go before putting me on my head. But somehow I don’t think that want would have washed as an explanation with management so I kept myself in check.
Of course with two tyres at the front of the machine the twin shock rear suspension would have its work cut out in trying to match the grip of the front. It does an admirable job of living up to that task however when speeds approach triple digits the rear damping can be overwhelmed.
In fairness, 100km/h corner carving is perhaps getting a little outside the design criteria of the MP3. However the machine has enough ground clearance to facilitate 45 degree lean angles so clearly the designers were keen to endow the MP3 with plenty of sporting potential.
Another side effect of the tremendous front grip afforded by the MP3 is astounding braking performance. A squeeze on the front brake lever has both front tyres scrabbling for grip and both front tyres easily lock up from virtually any speed. No doubt future generations of the MP3 will ship with an ABS system that will reduce braking distances even further but at $10,990 Piaggio can be forgiven for omitting this feature on this first model. There is no doubt that the MP3 would offer truly breathtaking braking performance with a well tuned ABS system at work.