PIAGGIO MP3 400 (2008 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £420
Power: 34 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 784 mm)
Weight: High (538 lbs / 244 kg)

Prices

New £5,349
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The largest incarnation of the Piaggio MP3 retains the same reassuring all-weather grip and stability afforded by the third wheel, but with more power for motorway cruising. It’s no Goldwing, but if your daily commute mixes town work with high-speed open roads, this could be the motorcycle you’re looking for.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Like smaller MP3s, the 400 has unflappable stability and grip. It clatters through potholes due to having crude suspension, but it never changes course or loses grip. To crash it you’d have to ride it far to hard in to a corner and understeer it off the road – for normal riding the wheels grip tenaciously. Even if they do slip on diesel for a moment, they quickly refind grip before you have chance to crash. Ground clearance is limited by the centre stand and exhaust though, which stick quite far out to clear the wide engine.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

As with all twist-and-go engines, the MP3’s 400cc single has flat and featureless power, but it picks up quickly away from traffic lights and cruises happily at 70-80mph. Flat out, you’ll just about see 100mph on the clock, which is likely to be a real 90mph. It’s never going to the thrill you, but it’s got enough power for every situation you’ll realistically put it in.  

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Piaggios suffer if they’re not looked after – the engine, exhaust and suspension riders corrode at the hands of owners expecting the enclosed machines to survive like a car. Reliability seems OK, but Piaggio machinery in general can be subject to occasional foibles typical of any Italian machine.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

£5349 is a lot of money for a bike that’s only really useful for commuting, but if you’re serious about commuting and only need it as a form of transport, the safety and practicality of the MP3 makes it seriously worth considering – especially given that the 400 will cruise on a motorway happily enough. Find a Piaggio MP3 400 for sale.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The dash gives a comprehensive selection of information, there’s a vast amount of underseat storage, a pillion seat big enough for two medium sized adults and a protective fairing. New for 2009 is a sensor in the seat which won’t allow the bike to move forward or disengage the suspension lock without someone sitting in the saddle – previously it was possible to send the bike flying forward riderless by opening the throttle accidentally. Compare and buy parts and gear for the MP3 in the MCN Shop.

Specs

Engine size 398cc
Engine type 4v liquid-cooled single cylinder four-stroke, constantly variable transmission
Frame type Twin tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Seat height 784mm
Bike weight 244kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension None
Front brake 2x 240mm disc, twin-piston floating calipers
Rear brake 240mm disc, twin opposed-piston calliper with cable-actuated parking brake
Front tyre size 120/70-12
Rear tyre size 140/70-12

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Annual road tax £45
Annual service cost £420
New price £5,349
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 34 bhp
Max torque 27.3 ft-lb
Top speed 95 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 147 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2008: New model, using a modified version of the 250 chassis with a larger engine.
2009: New colours, plus sensor in the seat to prevent bike moving without a rider on board.

Other versions

Piaggio MP3 250ie – Same principle as the 400, but cheaper with a less powerful engine. Will handle A-road and dual carriageway riding, but longer high-speed rides are cruel to the town-orientated engine.
Piaggio MP3 125ie – The learner legal MP3 variant offers safe handling and grip for first time riders, but is sluggish due to the modest power output trying to propel the heavy dual front wheels and suspension mechanism. Worth a look as a first bike, but be aware it still needs some confidence and strength to handle it and a standstill or low speed until you get the hang of locking the suspension.

Owners' reviews for the PIAGGIO MP3 400 (2008 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their PIAGGIO MP3 400 (2008 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your PIAGGIO MP3 400 (2008 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £420
4 out of 5 MP3 a brilliant introduction to motorcycling for car drivers
30 October 2020 by Flying Doctor

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £700

This motorcycle is a brilliant commuter and introduction to someone who would not buy a 2 wheeler normally. I first tried one when I was sick of traffic queues in Madrid. In Spain (& many EU countries) there is no such thing as a CBT, you either do MOD 1 & 2 tests before they let you ride on the road, OR if you have a B license for 3 years and are over 21 you can ride upto a 125cc on your B license without taking a test(UK govt take note). I needed a car replacement and a 125cc is not fast enough for a European motorway whereas a 3 wheeler like the MP3, particularly the 500cc one, will do about 95mph which is more than enough to compete on a motorway with reserve, something that a 125 cannot. Also even at the mid to higher range the MP3 is as fast or faster than the cars so it is safe enough to ride. It also has much more road presence. In the UK scenario doing a CBT gets you a 125 and an L plate. You cannot ride on a motorway. No car driver is going to swap their car for that if they need a Gen purpose machine and their commute is around the M25 or the M42 or M60 If you consider this as a bike & use blinkers then you will be disappointed but if you consider what it can do that a bike cant then you will be amazed. Try for instance driving on ice, greasy roads or snow and suddenly the stability you have for an all round commuter is amazing and inspiring. Try throwing it around on a mountain road and enjoy the fact that if you hit gravel or manure you dont end up in the ditch or on your back end It is not as fast accelerating as a regular bike, but as a commuter it has much more than the car and once you adapt to the transmission you find the delay goes away because you adapt your driving style. I admit it takes a bit of getting used to the fuel filler and I spent a frustrating time first time riding it but it comes easier with time. I would recommend this motorcycle to anyone, it is a lot of fun and very safe and confidence inspiring and it is a great introduction to an already experience driver who does not want to go back to school to learn to ride a motorcycle.You can drive it on your car license and abuse it without paying a high price for doing so. On a commuter run if you have a lapse of attention it does not pay you back when you stamp on the brakes or are clumsy with the throttle, like a 2 wheeler might. I made the conversion and now have a KTM 790. Without a halfway house like teh MP3 I would never have gone to a CBT or a motorcycle training school ever, nor made teh transition to bikes. So critics swallow your prejudice & bile and accept this is a very capable all season machine despite the fact it has ...... gulp an extra wheel..... PS I still have mine for going to work......Think on.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Ride is great and the breaks brilliant and stable. It helps having 2 tyres up front. Same is true of the suspension the 2 tyres iron out bumps much better than one solitary wheel. You can do ling rides, I found that 2 hours was about the limit in one stretch, but these machines do not have touring tanks so you probably need to think about refueling and having a coffee every 2 hours anyway.

Engine 4 out of 5

For a CVT twist and go it is great, once you treat it like a turbo engine and ride the "boost curve". With a CVT you have to preload the transmission then back off to get the best out of it. If you just bang it on to full it does not give better performance. In this respect it is not exactly like a gear and clutch machine. For example so long as you drive it right, the MP3 does not feel slow once moving and not even after driving the KTM 790! it just delivers it differently and it has all the punch where it counts for cut and thrust of commuter driving. The absence of a clutch and gears makes cutting through traffic a pleasure and you can exploit the constant power on tap, knowing you will never be in the wrong gear to blast away from a unexpected hazard or situation or accidentally stall it. (and yes I do like gears, I have a KTM 790 which I tour on) but yes even very experienced drivers occasionally find themselves in a sub-optimal gear for blasting away from a problem and yes we can even admit we sometimes stall our engines regardless of experience.!

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

I didnt have it for long enough for anything to break or go wrong so cannot comment

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

The bike is thirsty compared to a 2 wheeler, courtesy of the weight and higher rolling resistance of 3 wheels, but safety usually has a price. Servicing is more because you have to pay for 3 tyres & brake pads not 2, but in all other respects comparable to a maxi scooter. The Variator (CVT) does increase the costs as the belt has to be changed and can be a more expensive replacement item at 10,000 Km due to the manufacturing cost.

Equipment 4 out of 5

the remote opening of the luggage compartment was good and the idea of having a lockable luggage and fuel cap integrated is a great idea. You can fit 2 helmets into the underseat compartment. There is a hook for bags in between your legs so if you have to go for a packet of tea to the local shop you can just hook a bag there quickly for the return journey. Having a proper fuel gauge and indicators which make a slight click like on a car so you dont leave them on in town (I still find myself driving along on the KTM with the indicators going much longer than is advisable because it lacks this really simple feature! Which apparently true blue bikers hate judging by the remarks of other reviewers I have heard on this subject in relation to 3 wheelers.

Buying experience: Er actually I didnt buy the MP3. I rented it for 4 days to see if I could live with a motorcycle before buying one. I did not buy it, not because i didnt want to but my wife was very scared of motorbikes, and I saw the Quadro 4, which MCN have not reviewed, which was even cooler in Ferrari red. It has Leaning Multiwheel technology and has 4 wheels so I persuaded my wife it was a stable as a car. It draws looks wherever I go and will stand upright at a traffic lights without having to put your feet down ever (great if it is raining) if you press the brake pedal or use the combined left brake lever. It is absolutely fabulous but if it had not been available I would have bought the 500cc Piaggio MP3 or Gilera Fuoco as they are a bit faster than the 400.

4 out of 5
31 May 2020 by Kimo

Year: 2009

Comfortable bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 Good commuter / Light Tourer
25 October 2019 by Nemesis101

Year: 2009

Annual servicing cost: £150

Great commuter or light tourer. Suspension not exactly 'cushioning' but VERY stable.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Suspension a bit harsh, brakes excellent (even without ABS which later models have)

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Some 'soft' plastics but generally fit and finish fine

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Fine. Purchased used in 2018 for $2k

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