Piaggio MP3 Hybrid: MCN rides the world’s first hybrid motorcycle

Published: 10 July 2009

Piaggio’s MP3 Hybrid is the first motorcycle in the world to combine a petrol engine with an electric motor to reduce emissions and increase economy – but our first ride shows the technology isn’t quite ready to replace conventional engines just yet.

Introducing the technology on a motorcycle (and the MP3 IS a motorcycle – it’s classified as such and rides like one, just with extra grip and stability) has taken a 10m Euro investment from Piaggio who are proud to be leading the world in hybrid bikes.   

The Hytech hybrid technology operates in three drive modes – Hybrid Charge, Hybrid Power and Electric, switchable on the move via a button on the handlebars, with an electric reverse also available at a standstill to help park the bulky machine. 

Hybrid Power works well giving extra acceleration, but the MP3 hybrid is heavy for a 125 (249kg), so it won’t match a 250 as Piaggio claim and it struggles to get much over 50mph. Piaggio claim a maximum battery range of 24 miles, so it’s effect is limited unless your daily miles are less than that, or you can recharge it for 3 hours at your destination.

Hybrid Charge gives a lesser boost effect and accelerates at the same rate as a conventional two-wheel 125, and gives more charge back to the battery at constant speed so range is improved.

Electric-only mode is intended for special zero-emission zones in European town centres – which don’t exist in the UK, so the 30km/h speed and 11 mile range means there’s not a practical use for it – maybe in a long queue of stationary traffic, but that’s it.

For the full test and technical expert Kevin Ash’s analysis of Piaggio’s claims, see the July 15 issue of MCN.

Piaggio MP3 125 Hybrid - £6999 (tbc)
Hybrid Power: 14.7bhp
Hybrid Torque: 11.8lb-ft
Electric motor power: 3.4bhp
Electric motor torque: 11lb-ft
C0² emissions (claimed): 40g/km
Weight: 249kg (estimate)
Available: October 2009