All Tests – The maxi scooter for everyone? – Used PIAGGIO

The maxi scooter for everyone ?

All Tests - The maxi scooter for everyone? - Used PIAGGIO

Two years after the launch of its revolutionary MP3, Piaggio is once again creating controversy with the new version of its three-wheeled scooter, the MP3 LT: available in 250 or 400 cc, motorists have the right to drive it! Test…

"In two years, the MP3 has sold 24,000 copies in Europe, including a third in France.", notes Danièle Re, CEO of Piaggio France, in the introduction to the press presentation of MP3 LT made in Paris last Friday.

In France, there are therefore nearly 8,600 three-wheelers (but indeed considered two-wheelers, read our) which found takers: "the clientele is 80% male and 60% reside in the Paris region, "CSP +" whose average age exceeds 35 years"observes Jean-Philippe Dauviau, Marketing Director of Piaggio in France, who also notes that"25% of registrations are made in the name of companies".

The MP3 is therefore a real success for the Pontedera brand, which must nevertheless face an erosion of its French sales in 125 cc since the replacement of its two best sellers: the X9 and X8, replaced by a Xevo a hair long at the starting and a shunned X7 (read)…

"Our sales in 125 are going down? Let’s sell 250 and 400 to these same non-biker customers!", Seems to respond promptly Piaggio, who cleverly takes advantage of the legislation to launch on the market from this October two new MP3s.

But this time, the MP3 LT – "LT" for Large Tread, or "large track" in French "- falls into the category of motor tricycles of more than 50 cc, since it meets the L5E homologation characteristics. (see box).

Accessible to B permits

However, the Germans and the French, the main MP3 enthusiasts, had been quick to flush out the "loophole" that MP3 could take advantage of and for nearly a year and a half, the two countries have expressly asked Piaggio to react: "some German dealers offered the homologation of 250 and 400 in tricycles, which allowed motorists without a motorcycle license to drive them, at an additional cost of 1000 €", specifies Jean-Philippe Dauviau.

L5E approval

To enter this category of "motor tricycles over 50 cc" and less than one tonne, the vehicle must in particular:

  • have two wheels arranged on the same axis and spaced at least 460 mm apart

  • integrate a braking device activating all the wheels

  • have other elements such as a position light, a double license plate light, etc..
    Before the MP3 LT, another vehicle had hit the headlines by integrating this strange family – to which sidecars do not belong -: the Can-Am Spider from BRP !
  • But Italian officials preferred to focus on launching the first version before working on this second version, "which asked to reinvest in the homologation, the tests, and results in an increase of the tariff", specifies Piaggio.

    To meet the L5E standard, the manufacturer has therefore moved the front wheels of its MP3 apart by a few centimeters, so that the "track width" goes from 420 mm to 465 mm … A modification that goes almost unnoticed, except with the two different models under the eyes.

    Likewise, the presence of a second regulatory light to illuminate the number plate requires an extraordinary sense of observation: thank you for the press kit! The adoption of a 14-inch rear wheel on the 250 – it was already fitted to the "classic" 400 – is also noteworthy..

    On the other hand, other modifications – compulsory or not – are more striking, like that of the new "automotive-inspired grille at the bottom of which is also placed the position light, but also new finishes, blue headlights and windshield and a new rear grab handle", lists the constructor.

    Bikers – or scooters – will quickly notice the appearance of a pedal on the right foot. "what ?", will not fail to launch the holders of the B license and other neophytes … This is however a whole new element on a scooter – except for old Vespas -: a command which, like on cars, sets off "full braking" !

    In use, this pedal continues to leave two-wheeler regulars perplexed … The attack is quite late – like Twingo, although Site is not an auto specialist … -, but the bite is still there. Appointment. In the event of a hard kick, it was even quick to block the rear wheel, without making the most of the potential up front….

    With a little practice, however, you end up taking the fold and you manage to manage the braking with one foot. But it seems so unnatural (while the presence of two wheels at the front is almost imperceptible, reread our), that we quickly take back the levers !

    Brake pedal

    Suddenly, the pedal becomes more annoying than anything else. Already on the MP3 "1st generation", the comfort of the legs was limited by the impossibility of adopting a "custom" position: the two front wheels prevent the apron from extending further forward, as on classic scooters.

    On the LT version, therefore, the driver’s right foot must be moved back so as not to interact with the pedal. The passenger’s comfort also takes a hit: in order not to interfere with his "driver", he will in turn have to move his foot back..

    For those who would adopt however the braking with – and not "of" – pedal, Piaggio envisaged a booster coming to be fixed on the floor. It avoids having to excessively twist the ankle to get the brake.

    Question comfort, the MP3 LT is nevertheless strong! The scooter is vibration-free and the saddle – which overlooks a 65-liter, 1m-long trunk – is still just as comfortable. According to Piaggio, the rear part of this redesigned saddle would be even better for the passenger, who also benefits from a backrest! The message is clear: the MP3 LT is powerful and welcoming enough to lead the way for two !

    We especially appreciate the new larger and higher bubble: it manages to protect the shoulders and a good part of the user’s helmet. A good point for those who wish "enlarge their horizon", as Piaggio proposes !

    And this improvement complements – ideally? – the increase in cubic capacity, therefore in power, of the MP3 … Because the feedback – customers, dealers, press, etc. – were unanimous: "in version 125, the MP3 was great in town but it had to improve in peri-urban area", summarizes Jean-Philippe Dauviau.

    However, we must admit that in 250, the MP3 LT is shown to be much more homogeneous: confident in the front axle (read once again our, since the behavior and handling of the LT are the same as that of the 125), we have it. is now also towards motorization, when tumbling down on the ring road or other expressways.

    The MP3 LT 250 hangs on the 100 km / h counter without any problem – for an estimated top speed of 130 -, while the 125 required some patience before landing the 110 … Overtaking is much easier and you can only agree with Piaggio’s speech: "the development of the displacement goes in the direction of safety". Thus, the 22.5 horsepower of the MP3 LT 250 is a real guarantee of safety !

    Respectable fathers

    "Anyway, the key to MP3 is security.", underlines Jean-Philippe Dauviau,"we address ourselves to responsible fathers of families, eager for reassuring performance to manage their position in traffic".

    In its 400 cc version (ie 34 horsepower and a good extension, read our), the MP3 LT will be able to circulate without problem on the motorway. Here too, the fact of no longer being at the mercy of other road users – trucks, in particular – considerably increases driver safety..

    And anyway, 34 horsepower for a vehicle of about 250 kg all full, that does not exceed the weight / power ratio of a sedan of a good father! And in terms of safety, the fact of not riding a donkey – or driving – takes precedence over the number of horsepower in the engine, no ?

    "Indeed, the MP3 LT are accessible without a motorcycle license … But they still require the possession of a license !", recalls the marketing manager of Piaggio, relayed by its general manager:"if you’ve never practiced motorized two-wheelers, leaving like that with an MP3 is a bit of a gamble", insists Danièle Re who cannot force her future clients to train, but nevertheless wishes to present her training program.

    "It is a program in partnership with experts (motorcycle schools Monneret and CER, NDLR) that we want to develop and expand to all our customers in order to retain them", reveals Piaggio France.

    On the program, therefore, three three-hour modules will be offered: an "initiation" for beginners, "improvement" for others, and finally "circulation" for those who have already taken part in one of the two previous modules. The indicative price will be 135 € per module or 390 € for all three.

    Optional training

    Will these sessions be enough for motorists to manage such a beast? Admittedly, the size of the MP3 LT (250 like 400) is identical to that of other GT scooters and its stability at high and at very low speed exceeds that of these competitors..

    But some are already worried that novices have to manage a two-wheeler with a consequent weight … A weight above the average of scooters, which affects its agility in traffic and may surprise beginners in certain situations – maneuvering at l ” stopping, emergency braking or avoidance maneuvers … It will therefore be necessary to practice seriously before taking the road !

    Delivered as standard, the electro-hydraulic front suspension locking system called "Roll Lock" still simplifies the user’s life: no need to jack up the scooter! Firmly mounted on its three wheels, the MP3 LT will always remain vertical – as long as it is placed there correctly when activating the system – regardless of the gradient of the road..

    The Roll Lock also makes it possible to partially erase the overweight of the MP3: at a red light for example, you quickly get into the habit of blocking the front axle. It will therefore remain to work on the evolutions at very low speed and emergency situations … With a biker buddy ?

    In the end, the MP3 LT is very attractive: in appearance, this new MP3 is more classy and driving, it retains the feeling of the 125 while offering performance finally at the height of its front end. Only the presence of the pedal – mandatory – tarnishes the picture…

    Bikers will therefore prefer the "classic" 250 or 400 version, especially since its price is slightly lower than that of the LT: € 6,299 for the 250 and € 7,199 for the 400, against € 6,799 for the "250 LT "and € 7,799 for the" 400 LT "…

    Except that the MP3 250 and 400 could soon disappear: "we keep them in the catalog and we will see how the sales evolve", specifies Piaggio France, when asked about the cannibalization of the two versions."On resale, however, an MP3 LT will go much faster than a standard since it is aimed at a much larger clientele.", notes Danièle Re mischievously…

    Soon a hybrid version

    In fact, in addition to the 6,600 potential customers identified among owners of MP3 125s, Piaggio establishes that "91,000 people already driving GT 125 scooters could be interested"! As for the number of motorists, Piaggio does not even calculate !

    "We plan to double our MP3 sales", all the same Danièle Re table, which corresponds to registering a little less than 9000 MP3 in France next year. The answer at the beginning of 2010 in the 2009 market report of Site !

    By then, Piaggio will have lifted the veil on another highly anticipated MP3 model: the hybrid MP3! With its dual gasoline / electric motorization, the three-wheeler from Pontedara will add a new arrow to its bow…

    Accessible to B licenses, MP3s would also access "in city centers which could eventually be closed to combustion engine vehicles", notes Jean-Philippe Dauviau, who speaks of a presentation to the public of this new version"early 2009".

    In addition, with its phenomenal torque instantly available – faculties specific to the electric motor – the MP3 would definitely erase its lack of liveliness at the start of red lights. All that remained would be to equip it with ABS and Italy would hold a product close to perfection with regard to its specifications … Because on precarious surface, the two wheels at the front n ‘not prevent the fall.

    "We could put the ABS", assure us the managers of the brand."Customers ask us for it but we observe that when they buy, they don’t take it! In addition, ABS on MP3 would lead to a prohibitive price increase.", they argue.

    A speech which is in perfect opposition to that of other manufacturers, Honda in the lead: in front of the proportion become too low of motorcycles sold without ABS – Deauville in particular -, the Japanese giant does not even leave the choice any more on some of these models between ABS and standard !

    "The MP3 already offers a good level of safety and we must not forget that with the ABS, we are sure to stop but the braking distance is increased", concludes Danièle Re. Perhaps the arrival of competition on the tricycles market will make the Italians change their minds. ?

    The HYmotion 3 Compressor prototype is already on the Peugeot stand at the Paris Motor Show today. War is declared !

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