Saturday, November 03, 2007

Around the block on a three wheel scooter

Piaggio MP3 three-wheeled scooter and Tom WorthingtonHad a ride around the block on the back of a Piaggio MP3 three wheel motor scooter. This was the largest version currently available with a 250 cc engine. From the side or back it looks like a large modern motor scooter, but from the front it looks like two scooters joined together, as it has two front wheels.

The two front wheels hinge so that the rider can lean over around corners. There is a lock to keep the bike upright when stationary, without the need for the stand, using the "Electro-hydraulic Suspension Locking System". The mechanism works very well is supposed to improve handling, but this was not noticeable around the suburban block at low speed.

The scooter is large, even in comparison to a motorcycle, and offers the feeling of more protection due to the wider front than a normal scooter. A new rider will feel much more comfortable in traffic on the MP3 than on a regular bike or scooter. The 125cc and 250cc versions could also be very useful for professional riders, such as couriers who have to get on and off a lot and carry gear. With three wheels the MP3 would be more manageable when loaded than a two wheel bike.

The catch, apart from the increased weight over a regular scooter and the worry of the repair cost if the complex front mechanism fails, is the price. The one I was on was $10,900 (plus on the road costs) from The Scooter Store. That is a lot to pay for a scooter, but not a lot for something which would be better than a motorcycle or a car in many situations.

A larger 400cc model and a sportier 500 cc "Gilera Fuoco 500 " are due in late 2007 and would be superior to many road bikes. They might be suitable for emergency workers, such as police, fire and ambulance use. I would not be surprised if the Carabinieri (Italian Military police) buy some and add ballistic and blast protection to the font shield and floor boards. This would providing much better bullet and land mine protection than the minimal protection offered on a motorcycle.

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