The Piaggio company is a major production company in Italy, making a wide range of vehicles from scooters up through business aircraft. As a scooter manufacturer, Piaggio is the fourth-largest in the world and includes brands like Ligier and the legendary Vespa. The Piaggio brand itself is not particularly well known in the scooter world, but produces some of the more innovative scooters. The 2011 Piaggio MP3 is one of these innovative scooters, a tilting three-wheel design whose stability and somewhat carlike mannerisms have led to it being popular in commercial applications and even seeing use by police departments.
The look of the 2011 Piaggio MP3 is somewhat odd, with the rear having the appearance of a conventional scooter and the front being quite bulky. The bulk of the front end is to make room for the second wheel as well as the complicated suspension assembly that allows for the scooter to lean the front two wheels into the turn and provide incredibly tight turning. It is covered over with a large plastic front end and metal tube framing. It looks industrial and exotic, and holds some additional features like cellphone storage and an under-seat power supply. It is available in a limited number of colors, those being black, red, or blue. Unfortunately, what it all adds up to is a rather front-heavy, not particularly handsome design.
The 2011 Piaggio MP3 variants have differing amounts of power due to the different engines. The 250 has 22.5 horsepower at the ready and is able to hit a top speed of 77 mph, which is fairly decent for a scooter, but is the low end for the MP3 line. The 400 puts out 34 horsepower and can make it up to 88 mph, while the 500 gets up to 40 horsepower but only hits 89 mph. All of these come courtesy of a sturdy four-stroke, water-cooled engine. Power is useless unless it can be put to the ground, and the Piaggio MP3 does this through a steady continuously variable transmission that links down to the unique tricycle layout. As a so-called tadpole trike, meaning the two wheels are in the front, the power goes to the single rear wheel. The front does the turning, and the unique parallelogram suspension that is composed of four aluminum arms connected to two steering tubes allows for travel of 85 millimeters, allowing for a very deep lean of the front end while keeping the dual 12-inch wheels in contact with the road. These front wheels can also be locked in the straight position so that the MP3 can be parked like a car or on a hill, without a center stand.
The 2011 Piaggio MP3 is, when it is boiled down, a reliable, unique scooter that is a bit on the expensive side, but has a great history of reliability behind it. It is great for urban commutes while also usable for suburban commuting, and the 400 or 500 models could even be used on longer trips in good weather if properly equipped with luggage carriers, as the engine in the 500 is on par with engines found in smaller motorcycles.