Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My New Scoot

Okay. That'd didn't take long. Actually, I've had my eye on one of these since they first introduced them a few years ago. I am the new proud owner of a 2009 Piaggio MP3 400.

Yes, it has 3 wheels.

Yes it weird looking.

Once you are on it, however, it rides just like a motorcycle -- or I should say a 400 scooter. You counter-steer just like on a bike, you can really lean the thing over in the twisties and it is smooth and fast.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this three wheeler compared to the Can-Am Spyders. The Can-Ams don't lean, which is kind of the fun part of riding motorcycles. I can't fly planes, so riding motorcycles is as close as I've been able to come in my daily life. It's the leaning that gives you that feeling of motion and speed. Sometimes when I'm driving, I'll even feel myself leaning in to the corner, trying to cut a little more off the apex before accelerating out.

So when people see it they say "oh, it's more stable, right?"

Not exactly. Motorcycles operate by the gyroscopic principle. If the wheels are rolling at speed, they are hard to knock over. They are very stable, even going around corners. In this regard, the MP3 does have a little extra gyroscope up front, (are two 12 inch gyros better than one 20 inch one?) but the real advantage is on slippery and uneven surfaces. That's where the MP3 is brilliant. That's why they've sold gobs of them in Paris -- wet cobblestone streets.

When leaning into a corner, the MP3 has an extra contact patch up front that stays on the ground even when leaned over 40 degrees. That outrigger wheel keeps contact with the road in the event that the other wheel loses grip or hits unstable ground. I found this out yesterday coming around a cover and finding the road covered in mud and pine needles from a recent storm. The Mp3 stayed planted to the road like it was attached with velcro. That's where the advantage is.

At low speeds, it is no more stable that my VStar 650. You can lock the front wheels when rolling to a stop so you don't have to put your foot down, but I'm still in the habit of putting my foot down. The turning radius is very tight and so it is easy getting into my driveway.

So far, my daughters do not like it. They think my old motorcycle was cooler and that dad isn't cool anymore. I'm surprised they thought there dad was ever cool. My wife likes it a lot. She loves the back seat and smooth nature of the CVT. Mama Bear is the opinion that matters most!