Piaggio first launched the MP3 in 2007 to bring a new level of stability and safety to urban commuting. The scooter uses a clever parallelogram axle on the front that allows it to lean into corners despite having two front wheels.
Unlike the Yamaha Niken three-wheeler released in 2018, the Piaggio MP3 can lock its suspension at low speeds, allowing it to be free-standing. It was introduced to attract car drivers who wanted the freedom and practicality of a moped or scooter with less of the perceived risk inherent to life on two wheels.
When MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child first rode the Piaggio MP3 250 in 2007, he said it was "mind-bending – not because of its speed, but because of how much confidence an extra front wheel affords. It opens motorcycling up to a new, safety-conscious commuter audience who wouldn’t ride a motorcycle."
The MP3 has been available in several capacity variations over the years including, 125, 250, 300, 350, 400 and 500. There are also multiple specification levels across the range.
The original Piaggio MP3
Piaggio released the first MP3 models in 2006 with a 125 and 250 version, and followed this in 2007 with a 400. MCN first tested the 250 version in 2007, with Senior Road Tester, Adam Child saying: "Adding a second [front] wheel hasn’t given the Piaggio MP3 amazing corner speed, but the feeling of security is unparalleled.
"Even in the wet, the MP3 hangs in there without feeling like the wheels are skating, and the brakes can be used to their full – lockups are rare but easy to control."
The 400 aimed to provide this same stability to riders who needed to venture onto faster roads or motorways. With a top speed of 100mph it is more than capable of cruising at 70mph but the wider engine means sacrificing some ground clearance, impeding the machine’s handling.
In 2009, the 400ie (fuel injected) and 400 LT (large tread) models were released. The LT has wider spacing between its front wheels, meaning it can be ridden on a Class B car licence. This is also true for the 300 LT released in 2010 with a 298cc engine.
Piaggio MP3 2011 models
By 2011, Piaggio had five concurrent MP3 models in the range and set about updating the range. The defunct 125 was replaced by the 125ie and 125 Yourban, which were only made for a year before being dropped from the range completely in 2012.
The 300 LT became the 300 LT Touring (until it was discontinued in 2012) and the 300 Yourban LT. The 300 Yourban LT was made until 2017 and Piaggio also released a Business edition between 2013 and 2014.
The first MP3 500 appeared in 2012 as the MP3 500 LT Sport (although it had been released before as a Gilera Fuoco) and endured in various editions until 2018.
Piaggio MP3 Hybrid
The first Piaggio MP3 Hybrid appeared in 2009 with a 125 petrol engine alongside an electric motor. The MP3 could run fully petrol or fully electric modes, or a combination of the two.
Unfortunately, it weighed 249kg and when running solely on electricity could only manage a 19mph top speed with a range of 11 miles.
The 300 Hybrid was released in 2010, but both models were subsequently dropped from the range entirely.
The current Piaggio MP3 range
The MP3 range was overhauled in 2017/18 and the current range includes various spec levels of the 300 and 500 models, plus a new 350 version.
What are the Piaggio MP3’s rivals
There are slim pickings in the three-wheeler segment, but the Yamaha Tricity and Peugeot Metropolis are both viable options.
If the added stability of two front wheels is attractive to you and you have a full bike licence, there is also the Yamaha Niken, which is essentially a Yamaha MT-09 with a very clever dual front wheel arrangement.