2008 Motorcycle Of The Year

Taking stock of a changing landscape


Yes, it's a scooter. A three-wheeled one at that. But Piaggio's highly innovative, double-front-wheel architecture makes the MP3 more fun than any step-through has a right to be, able to make sportbike-mounted squids bleed through the ears in a tight, downhill canyon blast.
The MP3--available in 250, 400 and 500cc flavors--leans just like a Desmosedici, giving you all the flying-above-the-road thrills of a conventional motorcycle. But its two-wheeled, independently sprung, double-disc-brake front end delivers unprecedented cornering confidence. You can brake like a madman, then slam the thing over like Ben Spies, all without untoward risk to life, limb or skin.
Great though this front end is on a scooter, we believe its true potential lies in bigger, butcher, more-mainstream motorcycles. On a tourer, sport-tourer or even urban-naked bike, this ingeniously engineered setup might just help make motorcycling safer--and more socially acceptable.

Alternative Take

It's smooth, it's quiet, it's clean and it's all-electric. It's also a fully realized, beautifully engineered way to laugh past every gas station, with its penny-a-mile energy costs, 60-mph top speed and 25- to 40-mile range. There's even a three-wheeled, MP3-like version in the wings, for those who think Futurama is a documentary.


Place a soft, flexible Forcefield Sport back protector alongside the stiff, hard-shelled competition and you'd never imagine it achieves the highest-possible Level 2 CE protection rating. Though its product might look less substantial, Forcefield claims its exclusive combination of Armorflex outer skin and Nitrex internal foam actually absorbs impact more evenly and disperses shock more uniformly than the conventional plastic/EPS/aluminum-honeycomb competition. The protection we demand is there, but what really earns this product this honor is the fit--this is the most comfortable back protector we've ever worn. The low profile fits under the snuggest riding gear, venting through both layers of armor keeps you cool, and the flexible structure conforms exactly to your body so it doesn't shift or slide while you shimmy around the bike. Forcefield has expanded its product line to also cover your chest, arms and legs. With protection this comfortable, there's no excuse not to don it before every ride.

Alternative Take

Few things are more annoying--or dangerous--than a tinted faceshield after dark. Except, maybe, squinting due west through a clear visor at sunset. Wikishift isn't the first photochromatic shield, but it's the first that really works, transitioning from clear to full dark in as little as 20 seconds, with less temperature sensitivity and greater durability than other brands. Almost one year later, ours is still doing the job.

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