REVIEW: Piaggio MP3 Three-Wheel Scooter
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Addicted
GTV250 GTS 300!! MP3 500, Lambretta TV200 S3 77 07 Aprilia Tuono 1000R 64 Vespa Vbb150
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Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:34 pm quote
I too am a sucker for vintage motorcycles and scoots, but the bottom line is you can not beat how easy it is to drive a modern bike. Best of all it's new!!
I wonder when the P 200 first came out was there this same attitude?

Leave the attitude at home and ride

Jon
Molto Verboso
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:14 am quote
If only I had the money...
I like the Gilera-looks better Imust say.
Addicted
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:25 am quote
jess wrote:
While there are many scooter commuters here on Modern Vespa, I think in the US the idea of riding a scooter for everyday transportation is much less prevalent than it is in many other areas of the world. I think that's changing, but scootering is often viewed here as a recreational activity.
The shop manager at my local dealership told me that he has to remind several of his customers to bring their scooters in at least once a year. Otherwise, as slowly as they rack up the miles, they'd be going four years or more between scheduled services.

*headdesk*
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:31 am quote
Jess,

Do you have any guesses as to how someone shy of two-wheelers, who has always wanted a HD trike(*), might take to the MP3?

I think it would be so cool if my mom (who qualifies for the senior discount, btw) got one.

* - Probably due more to knowing that they exist, than any particular affinity to Harleys. Also, wtf? It was totally news to me that she wants one!
Hooked
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:32 am quote
CatMoran wrote:
jess wrote:
While there are many scooter commuters here on Modern Vespa, I think in the US the idea of riding a scooter for everyday transportation is much less prevalent than it is in many other areas of the world. I think that's changing, but scootering is often viewed here as a recreational activity.
The shop manager at my local dealership told me that he has to remind several of his customers to bring their scooters in at least once a year. Otherwise, as slowly as they rack up the miles, they'd be going four years or more between scheduled services.

*headdesk*
Exactly. Let's face it, this was once a country of big, 2 ton cars. Now it's a country of 2-3 ton SUV's. It'll take something dramatic to change that and something truly catastrophic to force people onto 2 wheels. There are a lot of reasons for this, some good, some not so good. But, it is what it is. And the MP3 won't change anything, at least not overnight.

That's partly what makes the 2 wheeler community so appealing, we can be a somewhat obsessive bunch of enthusiasts. There are a bunch of reasons for me being back on 2 wheels after a long time off, but I probably wouldn't be if we were still living in the suburbs with a big garage. Now I'd like a small house with a big garage so I can buy more motorcycles and at least one vintage scooter. Probably won't happen.

Anyway, I share a huge underground garage where I live downtown and there are lots of scooters scattered about. Most of them NEVER MOVE. They were purchased on a whim and they're more style statements than transportation or recreation. Average mileage on the odos is 19. There's a pretty red Stella a couple of spaces over from me that hasn't moved in well over a year and a bunch of ET's and LX's. The only people riding everyday are the same few folks who do it either because they have to or because they love it. Or both. And that's just fine with me.
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:52 am quote
CatMoran wrote:
Do you have any guesses as to how someone shy of two-wheelers, who has always wanted a HD trike(*), might take to the MP3?
I can't tell you whether she would like it or not, but I can say that I think the MP3 and the HD Trike are very different beasts. The MP3 rides, for all intents and purposes, like a scooter (or motorcycle). The HD Trike, I am told, steers like a car, with no real lean. So while both will give you the sensation of riding down the open road with the wind in your face (or on your visor, as the case may be) only the MP3 can come close to that Je-ne-sais-quoi feeling one gets from zipping around a curve.

But maybe that's not what she wants. You should ask her.
Molto Verboso
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:12 am quote
Re: question
jess wrote:
RScott wrote:
What did "pothole avoidance" feel like with two front wheels?

Seattle is strewn with potholes (other cities may have far fewer potholes but some do offer deeply set manhole covers which provide a similarly annoying obstacle) and you get very used to doing the slight weave to avoid them. I was guessing that having two wheels upfront would make it harder to avoid these with both front wheels. What does "one-in-the-pothole" and one on the road feel like?
Another excellent question. I don't think I was conscious of it at the time, but in a fit a joie de vivre I believe I gave up on going around manhole covers altogether. I didn't hit any large potholes, so I can't fully answer your question, but I hit enough small ones to know that they didn't present any significant hazard.

This brings up another excellent point, though, which I failed to mention in the original post: The suspension was very stiff. Not the newfangled lean-side-to-side part of the suspension, but the traditional up-and-down part. I really felt every bump in the road, especially in San Francisco where the roads aren't so much paved as built up by a process of accretion.

There were a couple of occasions when I had to do a sudden small swerve to avoid an obstacle that I didn't see until the last minute, and the MP3 felt... different. I can't really put my finger on exactly what was strange about it, and it wasn't bad, it just didn't feel like a sudden controlled swerve on my GTS.
I believe what you felt as being different in swerving was probably a different center of gravity. The fore/aft weight of one of those things has got to be something the rider has to get used to feeling. That's my best guess anyway.

Roadbum
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:22 am quote
Re: question
roadbum wrote:
I believe what you felt as being different in swerving was probably a different center of gravity. The fore/aft weight of one of those things has got to be something the rider has to get used to feeling. That's my best guess anyway.
Sounds like as good a guess (or better) than anything I could come up with.
Molto Verboso
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:31 am quote
FOr some reason I just posted kudos to you and it didn't take? Weird...

Anyway, Jess you deserve a lot of credit for giving as unbiased a review as anyone can expect for any product. You pointed out the kinds of details people want to know without being told they can't possibly live with or without some new or redesigned function. You left it up to the reader to make up his or her own mind. I think you did one helluva job.

Credit goes to ya, bud.

Roadbum
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Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:50 pm quote
First of all, Jes, thanks for that awesome review.
Secondly just wanna throw my 2 cents in on some the debates raised in this thread.
Sure, a lot of purists will poo-poo this one, but the purists are in my mind a dying breed. It really seems that the days of the manual two-stroke (or even four-stroke) are coming to an end. Maybe we'll see something new come out of India... but right now it looks like CV four strokes are all that will be available new in most of the world soon. As those vintage geared bikes get longer and longer in the tooth, a lot of them will be ridden less and less, like classic cars they will trotted out for rallies and such. I don't relish this fact, and feel fortunate that our household's geared bikes have really low mileage and have years of daily use ahead.
I'm definitely not a purist. I just love scoots. I plan on riding my P into the ground. Driving a car to me is like a chore. I'm not a purist, but I am a scooterist. I only drive a cage when there is no other safe option. I think there are others out there like me, who might see in the MP3, that other safe option. I can't afford one now, but can see adding one of these to my stable in future, before any other scoot regardless of how much prettier or stylish it might be.
And when you throw in the possibility of a 400 or the Gilera... man!
I definitely understand the qualms about viewing this as a starter scooter. But I think the real potential market here is the daily rider, and I do think that market is growing. Plus Piaggio really seems to be throwing some weight behind this design, as seen with the Gilera and licensing the EV rights to Vectrix. Plus, the US is not the scooter world. I'm curious what the reaction to this is gonna be in Japan...

On another note, the three wheel design is going to face some legal snags. Here in Washington State, our laws are about the opposite of California, you need a trike/sidecar endorsement in addition to your MC for a three-wheeler, and the manager at Vespa Olympia believes that will apply to the MP3. I don't see how it wouldn't, unless Piaggio brought a lot of force to bear to educate legislators here on the facts of it's different handling. Doubt that will happen. I don't know if there are any other states where this will be a problem.

All that being said .... I think this baby is SCHWEEET!
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:27 am quote
jess wrote:
The HD Trike, I am told, steers like a car, with no real lean. So while both will give you the sensation of riding down the open road with the wind in your face (or on your visor, as the case may be) only the MP3 can come close to that Je-ne-sais-quoi feeling one gets from zipping around a curve.

But maybe that's not what she wants. You should ask her.
Ah, good point on the handling of the trike. Though I doubt she really knows what she wants in that regard, or has any idea what to expect.

The real concern would be the sense of stability. Any attempt to get mom on any two-wheeler begins and ends with her belief that the thing is just waiting to fall over and drop her on the ground. That it's entirely possible while stopped doesn't help.

With the suspension locked, I'm sure the MP3 feels completely secure. But how does it feel at a stop with the suspension unlocked? Does it feel like a regular scooter, just waiting to fall over? Or does it feel as if it might stay upright on its own, even if just for a second or two?
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:36 am quote
CatMoran wrote:
With the suspension locked, I'm sure the MP3 feels completely secure. But how does it feel at a stop with the suspension unlocked? Does it feel like a regular scooter, just waiting to fall over? Or does it feel as if it might stay upright on its own, even if just for a second or two?
As you're rolling to a stop, it feels balanced for longer than an equivalently-sized scooter. Deceptively so. You can believe for a moment that it will keep on balancing itself forever, and this is pretty useful for those pause-at-the-stop-sign-without-putting-a-foot-down moments.

Once stopped, it feels almost like a regular scooter -- it will lean side to side, but the weight is kept somewhat in check by the dampened suspension. This actually hides the weight of the scooter until you lean it past a certain point, at which point you will feel how heavy the beast actually is.
Addicted
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:55 am quote
jess wrote:
As you're rolling to a stop, it feels balanced for longer than an equivalently-sized scooter. Deceptively so. You can believe for a moment that it will keep on balancing itself forever, and this is pretty useful for those pause-at-the-stop-sign-without-putting-a-foot-down moments.

Once stopped, it feels almost like a regular scooter -- it will lean side to side, but the weight is kept somewhat in check by the dampened suspension. This actually hides the weight of the scooter until you lean it past a certain point, at which point you will feel how heavy the beast actually is.
Thanks! I think that could actually get her past her fear. Now I just have to wait until the dealership has a unit on the floor for test rides. That should only take until next fall, right?
Hooked
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:36 am quote
Great, great write-up.

I suspect, Jess, that your point about the seat having a step that forces the driver to sit in one spot is true of most if not all big scooters.

Big riders should pay particular attention to this aspect of big scooters -- lots of them force you into a bit of a cruiser posture with your feet out front --"Out front" means very different things to different people -- and the big scooters are primarily designed for Asians and Europeans.

I'm in the process of moving from a Yamaha Majesty (see the For Sale section of MV) to a Suzuki V-strom because the Majesty and my morphology do not get along well.

I'd love my feet to be a foot further out front than the bulhead of the Majesty will allow. Combine the lack of foot room with a single cyclinder thumping it's way front to back, and I can almost hear the discs in my lumbar region screaming for relief. My chiropractor and orthopedist like that screaming sound, but I certainly don't.
Hooked
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:02 pm quote
Jess, what i want to know : do you prefer the GTS over the MP3 or not ?

I mean, if you really had to make a choice ?
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Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:05 pm quote
Sir John Luke wrote:
Jess, what i want to know : do you prefer the GTS over the MP3 or not ?

I mean, if you really had to make a choice ?
Essentially, but they're different. In the 250cc incarnation of each, I prefer the GTS. If they bring the 400cc MP3 to the US, I would seriously consider it as a long-distance touring vehicle. But I wouldn't give up my GTS.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:10 am quote
Moved to the Review section for permanent storage.
Hooked
the Piaggio trike
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Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:07 pm quote
Hey Jess,

One more question regarding the MP3's power. You've indicated quite clearly that the 3-wheeler is nowhere nearly as fast compared to a regular GTS. But how does it compare against the GT200? Or the LX150 / Fly 150? Surly it has to be quicker off the line compared to the LEADER 150-powered scoots?

-Rick
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Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:15 am quote
Traum wrote:
One more question regarding the MP3's power. You've indicated quite clearly that the 3-wheeler is nowhere nearly as fast compared to a regular GTS. But how does it compare against the GT200? Or the LX150 / Fly 150? Surly it has to be quicker off the line compared to the LEADER 150-powered scoots?
It's kind of a weird acceleration response. Off the line, it's a pig. Once it's moving, it has quick mid-range acceleration and can get up to speed in a hurry. Then it tops out kind of early, below the level of the GTS. It's really not directly comparable to any of the other scooters, because they don't behave quite the same way. The LX tops out early, but is fairly quick off the line. The GTS has great top speed but is a little slow off the line. The MP3 is both slow off the line (moreso than the GTS) and tops out early. In between, though, it feels very much like the GTS.

At least, that's how my demo unit behaved. Your mileage (and speed) may vary.
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ADDICT/PUSHER
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Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:39 pm quote
My Opinions
While at the Piaggio Dealer meeting in October we were treated to a ride on the new 3 Wheeled Scooter...at the time they were telling us not to get used to calling it the MP3 because of potential copyright infringements.

I railed the thing as hard as I could and I could NOT make the front end let go. I was able to make the back wheel brake loose under hard cornering which felt exactly like drifting the back end while driving a sidecar rig. No loss of control, just a loss of grip.

The brakes were amazing, it was hard to judge the accelleration because we were all riding the same scooters.

As far as bumps and potholes go...the area we were starting and finishing from was a parking lot, so there were loads of those brand new speed bumps. My favorite trick was to let one side go through on the smooth while letting the other side hit the bump at full force. Because the front wheels are completely independent you could feel the bump, but it didn't upset your line. I'm a big fan. Just found out that the MP3's, GTV's and LXV's that were supposed to ship in early January won't be arriving in time. So, that means more damn waiting.
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Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:41 pm quote
As soon as I read, “….like a flaming meteor streaking across the sky and hitting the ground with a thunderous crash...", I figured this should be an interesting review, and I was not disappointed. I was riding right along with you.

Just one question: if you were now scooterless, would you buy a GTS or MP3 (or something else)?

MsGTS (a fellow Vancouverite, I see) made a point I agree with fully: "In a way I view 400cc as an odd displacement - I'd need more to seriously tour on a freeway...", and I think that holds for scooters generally. In town, 250 is enough, and going higher brings the disadvantages MsGST cited (plus reduced storage), and 400 is at best marginal for freeway commuting or touring.

Cary
Hooked
the Piaggio trike
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Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:22 am quote
Hello Cary,

400cc may seem like an odd displacement to some, but IMO, it is the best possible engine size for BC insurance rates as well as overall practicality. Given that the MP3 250ie can already maintain 110kph - 120kph on flat ground, there is no way the extra displacement cannot propel the MP3 400ie to a steady 130kph, if not more, on flat ground. For high speed mountain passes, that may not be enough. But for cruising and touring purposes, being able to sustain 110-ish with extra power to spare ought to be enough. We're not talking sportsbike here. How fast do you want to go?

And let's not forget that here in BC, the sub-400cc class enjoys cheaper base insurance rates. The moment you move up to the Master 500 engine (460cc?), you have just moved up an insurance scale and will have to pay (quite a bit?) more.

-Rick
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Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:17 am quote
Cary in Vancouver wrote:
Just one question: if you were now scooterless, would you buy a GTS or MP3 (or something else)?
That's an excellent question. I think I, personally, would get something like the GTS if I didn't currently have a scooter. My GTS is by far my favorite vehicle, and in any case the owner of modernvespa.com should probably have a Vespa. That said, I think the MP3 will appeal to a reasonable number of people who would gladly trade style for additional stability. For me, it'll make a great second scooter.
Cary in Vancouver wrote:
MsGTS (a fellow Vancouverite, I see) made a point I agree with fully: "In a way I view 400cc as an odd displacement - I'd need more to seriously tour on a freeway..."
I don't really agree with this. Obviously, everyone has their own comfort level where the freeway is involved, but I would be quite willing to tour on the GTS. Add 150cc to that and I'm even happier. I think it's probably easy to get caught up in CC comparisons, and even to start thinking in terms of how fast a motorcycle with 40ccs might be, but I'm not sure that's a valid way to think about it. Sure, I would probably be unhappy with a motorcycle that clocked in at 400cc, but I'm perfectly happy with my scooter at 250cc. I only want the 400cc MP3 because the extra weight of the front suspension taxes the 250cc powerplant quite a bit.
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Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:09 am quote
MP3 Review
Jess,

Great review on the MP3. We are a new dealer in San Luis Obispo and will receive our demo today for a week and look forward to riding this lovely piece of machinery. Hope the rain holds out for a few days. we are having our monthly ride on Sunday, so it will be great to have the MP3 riding along with us.

Take Care
Jim Wilmore
Wilmore AutoWorks
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Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:58 am quote
Jess and others who have ridden the MP3,

Another question that came up in my mind is the MP3's behaviour when being ridden to the limit. Obviously, I can't expect any of us to have a precise idea of how the scooter will react when most of those who have tried the scooter has only ridden it in a test ride, but I'm gonna ask anyway.

Ridden at the limit during a turn, does the scooter feel like it is going to understeer, remain neutral, or oversteer? Given the greater traction in front and the fact that the MP3 is technically a RWD, I would *guess* that the tail might kick out.

Is there any evidence to suggest this at all?

-Rick
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Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:46 pm quote
Traum wrote:
Ridden at the limit during a turn, does the scooter feel like it is going to understeer, remain neutral, or oversteer? Given the greater traction in front and the fact that the MP3 is technically a RWD, I would *guess* that the tail might kick out.

Is there any evidence to suggest this at all?
I don't remember feeling any of this, although there were a very few times that the bike let me know I was going into a turn too fast. This was on a very twisty freeway, as it happens, and it had just started to rain. It didn't slip or anything, but I got the subtle indication that the bike was going to go in my trajectory direction instead of following the road. I can't explain it, exactly, it's just a subtle weight shift that tells you something is wrong. Had I leaned harder, it might not have been an issue.
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:59 am quote
The MP3 felt more like it was willing to understeer than oversteer. Like Jess, I cannot fully explain why I felt that way, but I did. It's a safer setup for the general public though. Most new riders will want to lean more or steer more to correct when the front end seems to go a bit wide. That only happened to me once though when I really pushed the MP3 hard.
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Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:49 am quote
Piaggio MP3 Review
Hi Jess

Interesting and comprehensive review. Hope you were well paid!!

I took a demonstrator MP3 out for a spin on damp roads recently for 2 hours or so and was very impressed with the handling compared to my current Vespa GT125. I raced it around the streets of North London and ventured into the twisty bits north of our city. WHAT FUN!! What it lacks in acceleration and top speed is easily made up by outmanoevering other scoots on the curly bits and rough edges of roads. This scooter inspires bundles of confidence and also feels supremely comfortable after the stiffer suspension of my GT. The 250cc injected engine also has less flat spots and a seemingly smoother torque curve than the normally aspirated 125cc dinosaur.

Now for the interesting bit. I arrived back at the dealer with a big grin on my face, rode up the camber to park on the pavement and lost it! 200 kgs of heavy scoot dropped on my right leg. Feeling sick with pain and having split the side casing of the MP3 I hobbled in to the dealer apologised profusely and requested a large dose of painkillers pronto!! My second request was to place an order there and then, which I did. Later my wife took me in to A&E to get x-rayed. Thankfully no bones broken but still sore and stiff 2 weeks later.

I have to say to all you traditionalists out there. Stop whingeing and get out and try this machine before you make your minds up. It's a step in the modern direction! Your only problem will be the current 2-3 month wait to get your grubby hands on one.

Cheers
Mark.
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Thu Feb 15, 2007 6:52 am quote
Re: Piaggio MP3 Review
kramneerg wrote:
Interesting and comprehensive review. Hope you were well paid!!
I wish. Nobody paid me for that review, though.
kramneerg wrote:
I arrived back at the dealer with a big grin on my face, rode up the camber to park on the pavement and lost it! 200 kgs of heavy scoot dropped on my right leg.
Youch! Sorry to hear that. I knew these things could be dropped (my demo unit had been dropped before I got it) but I'd like to hear more about the exact circumstances, so I have some idea of where the weakness lies.
Banned
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Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:27 am quote
I get to ride one this Saturday, please do tell what exactly caused the drop, yikes.
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:03 am quote
H everyone, I'm a new user on this forum. First of all a big thanks to Jess for one of the best reviews ever - if only all other reviewers were as thorough as yourself!

I purchased an MP3 250 over a month ago and have been riding it almost every day to and from work. It definitely grows on you and I am finding that I like it more each day. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has regarding any aspect of the scooter. Happy riding!
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:23 am quote
Welcome to the forum! Glad to hear from a real-live MP3 owner.

Given that you're riding the MP3 in the dead of winter, can you give us some idea of how well it handles slippery road conditions?
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:49 am quote
Mp3 Review
Hi Jess

Me again.

It's good to hear that there is an mp3 rider in London willing to share his opinions on your excellent forum. There has been some talk of slow take off and somewhat slow top speed on the mp3 compared to other scoots. Obviously there has to be some trade off as a result of the extra weight on the suspension etc. This is a very heavy scoot for the engine capacity and current power output.

My intention, when I get hold of the machine, is to ride it for a while then de-restrict the exhaust or look for something that adds a few extra hp... then we will see what the engine is capable of. Has anyone out there on our planet any experience of attempting this on an mp3?

Cheers
Mark (awaiting delivery)
London.
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:04 am quote
Regarding slippery conditions, I have been out a few times when it has been very wet and have been amazed at the handling. To be honest i wasn't pushing it as hard as i would in the dry due my own cowardice but it felt totally stable and confidence-inspiring.

As far as slow take off is concerned, I havent really found it to be a problem. Yes, it is slower than a GTS but in London, I beat all the cars off the lights every time and it's still being run in so i'm not using full throttle. When I read the reviews about it being 'a bit of a pig' i was slightly concerned but have found that it goes quick enough for me (at the moment!).
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:46 pm quote
Good to hear on both points (handling and takeoff). My demo unit was a bit of a pig, and there were a couple times I thought the cars were going to beat me off the line. It was close, anyway, and a little disconcerting.

It could have just been my demo unit, though.
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:19 pm quote
You're also in the bay area, which is not known for being flat. It's hills are not even known as "rolling".
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:14 pm quote
Bryce-O-Rama wrote:
You're also in the bay area, which is not known for being flat. It's hills are not even known as "rolling".
Heh. It was in San Francisco, but even I know better than to lane split going up one of the SF monster hills.
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Location: Denver, CO
Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:16 am quote
Jess, just came across your review. Thanks for doing this. I've been enamored with the MP3 since day one and know it will be a definite addition to my scooter herd. Now I just need to see if the 400cc engine will make it to the US. I'd rather hold out for the larger engine if I am going to spend the money on one.
Banned
Piaggio BV 500
Joined: 18 Jan 2007
Posts: 73
Location: Worcester,ma
Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:41 am quote
Jess

Thanks for the first true "SKINNY" on the MP3..

Russ
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Aprilia Scarabeo 500 (Heavy)
Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 578
Location: Clearwater, FL
Fri Apr 06, 2007 1:38 pm quote
Just a thought regarding MP3's and the surface they might be
I have had this bridge picture" in my minds eye for about two to three months. I never was able to find an actual picture until today. I really like the MP3 but I have some concerns about it's handling under certain conditions. The picture I am attaching is an "example" as most riders would never have the need to traverse one. I think I would be hard pressed driving over this style bridge on an MP3. Experienced MP3 riders might not be concerned but I am since I do not have MP3 experience but really like the design / concept. When I saw the photo of the MP3s "off-roading" in the Piaggio Literature, my minds eye teered. Well anyway, this style bridge or perhaps Trolley Car Tracks like those in San Francisco might be a challenge. EXPERIENCED opinions are welcome!

Best regards,

Mike Lynch
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