Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Demystifying the Piaggio MP3

Craig Kissell suggested I take the Piaggio MP3-250 for the weekend. He must sense what I am ready to ride. Or ready to accept. So far each motorcycle or scooter has been a sort of minor revelation. The only problem I see having developed is that the next time I visit Kissell Motorsports I am going to want to try the MP3-400 and 500. (Note to Craig: Please reserve one of those big MP3's for me please)

From the first time I read about the Piaggio MP3 I began collecting a series of misperceptions. Until I finally had a chance to take it for a long ride last weekend I didn't realize how completely I misunderstood this machine. I was wrong about how it worked, about why someone might choose one, and most of all about the stability of the MP3.

Stability. Looking at the extra front wheel I assumed the MP3 would have superior stability. It does. On the road the thing feels glued to the road. On rough pavement or gravel you almost don't notice any change with both wheels independently navigating what comes along. In turns the MP3 leans smoothly like a two-wheeled vehicle but has the advantage of an extra wheel and suspension system to keep things surprisingly surefooted. Riding along PA Route 45 at 60mph the MP3 didn't flinch in the air blast of passing trucks. Two-wheeled motorcycles and scooters can be buffeted about badly in situations like that but the MP3 was solid and did not seem inclined to be blown off it's chosen course. Nice. Very nice.

So where was I wrong about stability? I was wrong in my expectations of how stable the MP3 would be at slow speeds--I believed it would not easily fall over. I feel stupid admitting this but in my head the MP3 was going to be my ride of choice in old age when my legs were weak and balance fading because the MP3 would stand up by itself. After all you can lock the front wheels in the upright position and it won't fall over. To reinforce my perceptions I look to a trip by two gentleman in their 70s across America on MP3s sponsored by Piaggio. You can see the results on the Web site No Age Limit.

This idea of stability went so far in my head that I even considered the MP3 a suitable first ride for my wife rather than having her learn the more difficult process of riding on two wheels. What can I say? I was wrong. I'm an idiot. Just follow along a bit and I'll explain.

I planned to meet my friend Paul in town and ride to some exotic breakfast location as part of a ritualistic riding habit. Coming up Calder Alley on a Saturday morning means you will be faced with trucks blocking your progress as they unload their wares. The MP3 travels unimpeded past them and allows me to stop in the middle of the road for a picture. When you stop you can lock the front wheels with a touch of a button. A blinking yellow light becomes a constant yellow informing you that the wheels are now locked and the MP3 will stand up all by itself. As you slow down to stop the blinking light comes on the moment you are traveling slow enough to lock the wheels. With a bit of practice and coordination you can engage the lock without ever putting your feet down.

For an experienced rider used to balancing at slow speeds and manipulating a variety of controls it's a pretty simple process. But for a new or inexperienced rider it just gets confusing. Do it wrong and you are sitting there thinking the wheels are locked and they aren't and down you go. And even if you do have them locked don't touch the throttle. A little inadvertent twist automatically disengages the lock and if you are moving---down you go. I've read about lot's of new MP3 owners dropping their new machines. I could never understand this until I took one for a ride.

My advice--don't touch the wheel locking button at all until your are completely comfortable riding the MP3 without it. Then introduce the wheel lock.

Paul and I left and after a bit of waffling on my part in terms of route we headed south out of town with plans to travel over Pine Grove Mountain. Fog was heavy in part of the valley and one of the less traveled routes out of town was closed for construction. As I stopped at the Road Closed sign Paul swung past me on his BMW and disappeared in the fog on the other side of the sign. So I twisted the throttle on the MP3 and introduced it to life as a scofflaw. Fortunately there were no pits to fall into. Just a smoothly graded bed of gravel awaiting truckloads of asphalt. The MP3 was unfazed by the gravel.

By the time we were over the mountain and traveling along the backroads I was completely enamoured by the MP3. The 249cc engine had plenty of power for these roads. Choosing one of the bigger MP3s, the 400 or 500, would expand performance and make freeway riding simple.

Paul and I stopped for breakfast just east of Huntingdon along US Route 22 at the Side Street Cafe and Deli. It's hidden off the road and not easy to see. I caught it out of the corner of my eye as we rode by and made a point to turn around and see what fare the local eatery offered.

No surprises at breakfast other than the prices. Low. Paul wondered aloud how they could stay in business. I didn't care to have that question answered and focused on enjoying the bounty provided.

For me a big part of the enjoyment of riding is discovery. Sometimes things about myself but more often new places I've not visited before. We managed to find a narrow road running through gaps in the mountains that offered little traffic, mostly fresh pavement, and a chance to see a lot of natural scenery. The kind of things that can recharge my battery.

I suppose the search isn't the same for everyone. While I looked for new views and scenery Paul searched for a cell signal for his iPhone. Different strokes.

Looking at the picture above I'm not sure what I miss more as I write. Being out in the world or riding the MP3. Despite having a lot of ideas dispelled when it came to this Piaggio product I quickly became comfortable with this scooter and found myself imagining life with this being the only ride available. While I like a lot of things I wasn't finding myself upset at the prospect. There is a lot to like about the MP3 as a machine to support recreational rides and as a daily commuting and transportation ride. It's superior stability on the road is a big advantage in my mind as I think about gravel, manure, rain, snow and other elements working against traction on the road. And the locking front wheels I at first thought of as a safety hazard and then a novelty now seems useful in a variety of ways, not the least of which is how it affords quick dismounts for taking pictures.

The Piaggio MP3 is a completely functional machine. The instrument cluster shows a lot of information including a variety of digital displays available at a touch of a button. Add to that the generous built in storage capacity and my scooter hauling abilities suddenly seem anemic.

And it's styling and looks has started to grow on me. While it doesn't look like a motorcycle or scooter it embodies the best handling of them both. And it's definitely worth a look especially if you are looking for an all purpose machine.

48 comments:

Orin said...

Don't forget braking: with two front wheels, this thing will just about stop on a dime if you need it to. Two tire contact patches + two big disc brakes = stoppies, if you wish...

__Orin
Scootin' Old Skool

Honky-Tonk Dragon said...

Great post Steve!
Being the resident scooter-geek at a Vespa/Piaggio dealership now, I have tried to explain all of this to customers.
As you say, once realize what the MP3 really IS and DOES, you realize it is an awesome machine, just a different awesome machine from the one you may have expected.

Anonymous said...

Really great post!! Keep riding! ;)

Martin Cron said...

Well written and insightful, thanks. I have to admit the MP3 is growing on me. Perhaps if they made one a little smaller that looked a little bit less like an anime battle robot, I would be tempted to consider it, especially if the plug-in hybrid ever materializes.

Steve Williams said...

Orin: You are exactly right---the front brakes are extremely powerful. I didn't try any stoppies though. I'm just a boring old rider...

Hony-Tonk Dragon: So where are you peddling scooters? Don't want to miss any chances to stop by and pester a scooter-geek!

The MP3 is really a great machine. I could easily ride it year round.

Steve Williams said...

Anonymous: Thank you! I'll keep riding as long as I can. At least that's the plan.

Martin Cron: The looks take awhile to get used to. It does have a robot look to it or something like that. Depending on the angle and the light it seems to be happy one moment and mean the next.

A plug in hybrid would be nice but I think I would prefer natural gas or hydrogen.

Or one that runs on water...

Thumper said...

I have a 400...I really thought I would miss being on a motorcycle, but now? I'll ride this thing till it falls apart. I can take it anywhere, even in the Interstate (had it up to 80, and it felt like it had a whole lot more to give, but I'm not a speed demon anymore), it's awesome for running errands...

I understand the brakes on the 500 are not as great as they could be for the weight of the scooter, plus it has less storage...that's why I opted for the 400. pure fun on 3 wheels :)

Bryce said...

Breakfast near the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad, abandoned The MP3 here in Canada will suck the better part of $11,000 from your pocket before taxes are applied.
However it does look odd. Sort of a miniature three wheel Morgan whose front wheels didn't turn as the MP# does.
My biggest concern is the complexity of the front end and for how long would the front end continue to function without a
major repair? Two friends whose business is automotive design have commented that the engineering in the entire Piaggio line is beyond reproach. They too would like to see a Piaggio MP3 do 160,000
kilometres with a major failure.

We'll see, one of them purchased an MP3 earlier this year and absolutely no problems and it keeps up quite well with the super slab speeds. He has almost 9,000 kilometres on it and it will be going west to British Columbia
with him in late September on a four-week vacation. it could be very interesting.

Chuck Pefley said...

Steve, your thoughts and comments parallel my own experience with my 5 week ownership of an MP3-400.

I was intrigued by the concept when the scooter was announced, but it's taken me this long to wrap my head around the "evil" look of the darn thing. Riding, however, is quite another matter. My GTS actually feels very light and nimble by comparison every time I get back on it, and the very light front end takes a few moments to adjust to. So, the GTS is my sports car while my MP3 is my SUV.

An absolute delight to ride. I'm heading out next week for a 3,000 +/- trip around Vancouver Island (with Bobskoot, btw), and then east across BC and Alberta before dropping back into the States and heading back to Seattle. Needless to say, I'm very much looking forward to this adventure.

Chuck

bobskoot said...

Steve:

I have had many opportunities to test ride an MP3 but have never done so. But I think I too would choose the MP3-400 model. Here in BC the cut off for insurance category is 400cc. the 500ie would cost substantially more for not that more performance.
Chuck and myself are going to take a short tour on the southern end of Vancouver Island known as the Port Renfrew Loop. Hwy 14 is on the West coast of Vancouver Island with rugged coastline all the way northward to Port Renfrew. Needless to say, our plan will be to stop frequently for any photo ops. We are going to put Chuck's MP3-400 through its paces.

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Eric Almendral said...

Another great post, Steve.

I test rode the MP3 250 when it first appeared in dealers and my reaction was very similar to yours. Since then, I've encouraged just about every rider I know to try it out, particularly when I hear the oft-repeated criticisms of the MP3's appearance or misconceptions about how it performs. Others are just dismissive of the concept overall.

Now I can just point them to this post. :)

It's crazy fun, different than two wheels, but also the same. I think anyone who loves to ride who tries the MP3, even for a short time, will quickly appreciate just how well-designed and engineered it is.

My only complaint about the MP3 at the time was that the 250 felt a little underpowered to me. I haven't had a chance to ride the 400 or 500 but certainly wouldn't pass on the opportunity.

Justin Watt said...

Funny story. I first saw the MP3 back in Paris 2+ years back, so when I came home to San Francisco, I headed to the local Vespa dealership to check it out---after I had heard they'd arrived.

Apparently even the clerks there were not quite used to the wheel locking/unlocking mechanism, because the dude decided to show us how you could just ride it up a curb with one wheel on the curb and the other on the road, and then he locked the wheels in place.

If you can believe it, down he went. Brand new MP3 on the sidewalk. And the wheels were locked off-kilter, so hell if he could get it back up. It was kind of funny actually.

I ended up getting an LX150.

cpa3485 said...

Thanks for this very informative review. I have admired this vehicle from afar for awhile for it's apparent uniqueness, utility and stability features. Very innovative! I haven't seen one in person yet, no dealer here for Piaggio.
The ability to lock the front wheels is very interesting and you explained very well how it works and the best uses and potential pitfalls of this feature.
Just last night I rode home at about 10:00 after teaching a class. It had rained just a little bit but was not raining as I rode. However the streets were wet and I was a little timid as I rode because of concern over the potentially slick streets. As I came up to one intersection the light turned red and I had to stop quickly. As I did I skidded just a little bit on the slick street. No problem, but had to steady myself with my feet a bit on the ground. It was really slick at that intersection. I assume that the MP3would heve been much more stable in that same situation. Something to think about.

hrw115 said...

Though not a motorcycle/scooter rider personally, I have really been enjoying these posts. It is interesting to see someone else ride a machine that is entirely new to them and see what they think. I like the idea of this Piaggio MP3 - perhaps because it has a more car-like appearance than a typical motorcycle (though it does not handle like a car). I think of all of the machines you have posted about - this is the first one I could actually imagine contemplating riding. ;)

Steve Williams said...

Thumper: The 400 seems like a perfect choice for me as well. And like you I like to think of riding something until it comes apart. The MP3 looked like it was put together well and I have heard of some high mileage riders on the Modern Vespa forum.

Good luck with your MP3!

Bryce: I've photographed a few times on Broad Top mountain and there is a narrow gauge railroad still running in Orbisonia.

You'll need to keep us updated on your friend's progress with his MP3. I want to believe it will run like a Toyota forever and ever...

Steve Williams said...

Chuck: Between you and bobskoot I expect to see some amazing photos. And not just tourist pictures either. All of us are going to be looking for rare works of creative photographic endeavor highlighting the MP3.

Seriously though I like your comparison of the MP3 with an SUV. When I was riding it I felt somehow "safer" that on the Vespa. It is related to the positive stability of that extra tire. But like 4 wheel drive if you don't know what to do with it disaster looms.

Good luck on the adventure!

Steve Williams said...

bobskoot: Never thought about the insurance cutoff and cost. Interesting.

You should try and talk Chuck into letting you ride the MP3 for a bit. Promise him you'll not use the front wheel lock and not drop it more than once.

Good luck on the trip. Take lots of pictures.

Steve Williams said...

Eric: There are some unique features to the MP3 and I can see now how easy it would be to mess things up if you don't understand them.

The MP3-250 was fine for the trip I made on the kind of roads and traffic I face here in central PA. For a longer trip that included a lot of freeway and interstate work I would definitely opt for the bigger machines.

Thanks for you kind words about the post too!

Steve Williams said...

Justin: The LX150 is a great scooter. I rode one until I killed it with do-it-yourself maintenance.

But the MP3, despite the mishaps I've heard, still seems like a great, great machine.

I need to go check my lottery ticket...

Steve Williams said...

cpa3485: Since I haven't ridden myself with the MP3 on wet roads I can't say for sure how it would react. But judging from it's performance on gravel I would say it will be far more stable in slippery conditions.

A quick visit to the MP3 forum at modernvespa.com would probably support that notion.

Steve Williams said...

hrw115: I can't believe you said you could picture yourself riding an MP3. Are you ok? Is everything ok at work and at home??

Geez.

If you do get one let me know and we can ride to breakfast!

*grin*

Mark1qhorsey said...

I bought an indigo blue MP3-400 in June from Centaur Scoots in Santa Fe NM. The MP3 is a superior motorcycle / scooter that's a leader in both technology and design details. I love its looks. Its ride is very stable, maneuverable and peppy for commuting or some off the beaten track recreation. But, it is a road bike. Don't blast through big potholes or dirtbike territory with it as the suspension can be totalled. I know of one Brit who has gone through two of 'em doing just that... Given the MP3-400 functional joys (and limitations), I would recommend it to any experienced street rider. It is a revelation but not a toy or a starter scoot.

Pvino said...

Steve,

The write up was informative and now I am understanding its particular suspension. Now its a toss between these bikes - 2009 BMW F650gs, Majesty, MP3-400, and a Bonneville. Darn hard choice. So many bikes...of them all - I believe the tire life on the MP3 will be costly feature.

Phil

bobskoot said...

Steve:

I ride to relieve the daily pressures and stress of living in this modern age. Now I have the additional stress of having to come up with award winning photos of our bikes in exotic locales. I'm glad to be accompanying Chuck, and will try my best to accommodate by stepping into his "footprints" and aim my camera in the same direction as he does. When he isn't looking I could also download his images into my netbook, hahaha

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

scgt said...

Always great, Steve!

Just a few thought from a daily MP3 500-rider:
*Don't let "people" borrow it! Don't cave in to "Hey, man, let me ride your scooter?"
*Those years of perfecting slow-race skills really come in handy!
*Never put your foot down again (without looking) because you might step on a big wad of gum.
**(For you Chuck) Be ready to lean in hard after passing an 18-wheeler doing 75+mph because of the 2X gyroscopic force (in front)just wants to keep the thing going absolutely straight (not mentioned in the owner's manual).

Cheers! MP3's are great!_Lorenzo

irondad said...

As I mentioned on another blog, we've had a few come through our skills clinics. Riders often have a hard time knowing exactly where the wide front end is aligned during swerving. They end up running over the inside cones. In real life, they might clip the corner of the obstacle.

I notice you often have the wheels locked while turned. Just an observation. I'd probably always want to straighten them out.

Once, during an ART class, the director of the program rode an MP-3 for the first time. He tried that thing with locking the wheels and gliding to a stop. If you're going to do that, as he found out, you need to make sure the wheels are actually straight.

Turns out, the wheels were slightly turned. It took the scooter off to the side where he almost hit a line of parked bikes!

Like you say, get competent before you try to be cool!

Sojourner rides said...

Very informative post. Rich pictures. I've always thought the MP3 was a nice looking machine. Does it lean into turns? How is its ascent? Is it brisk and devoid of resistance or slowing down? What does it weight?

Steve Williams said...

Mark1qhorsey: Your comments on your experience with the MP3-400 are helpful when thinking about the machine.

The looks of the MP3 are so different than conventional motorcycles and scooters that anyone looking for a classic or vintage look will be disappointed. But if you want function and stability the MP3 is it.

I agree about it not being a dirt bike but I suspect it would run all day long on the improved gravel roads in our state forest. Aside from chipping up paint with flying stones I think the suspension would be fine.

And I never go too fast....

Steve Williams said...

Phil: I understand your dilemma of choices and I have a solution.

But all four of the machines you indicated. Any fiscal unhappiness will be rewarded in other manners.

bobskoot: I forgot to add that you should really be shooting black and white film on the trip. And then mail out gelatin silver prints to Jack Riepe and myself for extended critique.

It seems the only real choice....

Steve Williams said...

scgt: Excellent points! Especially in regard to the resistance to turning inputs on the bars. It is what makes it so stable but also makes if feel different than the Vespa.

Steve Williams said...

irondad: I did notice some discrepancies in how the MP3 handled during turns and swerves based on what I expected to happen from experience on the Vespa. My lines were not as tight and I needed to leave slightly more time (fraction of a second) to execute things.

I suspect that the wider front would also show up some gaps than would require practice as well.

As far as those front wheels go---I always locked them in the straight ahead position for the exact reasons you indicated. But once stopped with the parking brake on I would turn them for photographic purposes. I like the looks of those sharply turned wheels.

I did make sure the MP3 was steady though and would not fall over while I was fiddling with the camera. That would be a sad, sad thing...

Not having the wheels straight when you are still moving and hit the lock button, even at the slow speed, is disconcerting. The MP3 will still turn but it feels as if it won't.

Practice takes care of that. But woe to those who assume incorrectly how it works.

Steve Williams said...

Sojourner rides: The MP3 definitely will lean into turns. I think it will go to 40 degrees but don't hold me to that. It doesn't feel as quick to lean as my Vespa but a scooter flicks around pretty fast. It seems to respond more like a bigger cruiser bike but with the smaller wheels you can still turn pretty sharply.

All in all I had not complaints or concerns related to turning and cornering. Different than what I was used to but no problems adapting.

You should try one!

American Scooterist Blog said...

I'm glad to read you're making people aware that there's a specific learning curve with this machine. I think people are still wrestling with the idea that an MP3 might be able to mitigate just about any handling characteristic difference it has versus an ordinary two wheeled motorcycle. Its definitely got its advantages, but its also, for lack of a better term, a crossover vehicle.

Thanks for the very infomative read Steve.

Harv

Steve Williams said...

Hello Harv, good to hear from you. Hope all goes well up in Minnesota!

The MP3 is definitely different and it is too bad that there is so much confusion surrounding it. But in spite of that situation as a riding machine it has a lot of advantages.

I will keep it on my short list.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

This post was better than most of the articles I read in motorcycle magazines thi month. What more can I say? Exotoc machine, fascinating perspective.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Anonymous said...

What model of jacket is that your wearing.The yellow and black one.I want one.

Steve Williams said...

anonymous: The jacket is part of the Triumph Motorcycle clothing lineup. I only saw one back in 2005 and have seen one since. Not sure if they are available anymore or not.

My winter jacket is a First Gear Kilimanjaro IV yellow and black jacket. It is as close as I have seen to my favorite colors.

Charlene said...

I googled Piaggio MP3 and found your blog what a happy accident!

I have my motorcycle license and my husband keeps pushing me to buy a motorcycle (he has a Honda VTX 1300) but I am really facinated by the MP3. When I can find one used reasonably price enough this will be my first vehicle with less than four wheels (i.e my car and ATV)! I appreciated the comment about the 400cc vs. the 500cc as far as power and insurance cost - I was leaning towards the 500cc to assist in keeping up with the hubby but now I think maybe a 400 might fit the bill. I am a little concerned about the posts that say this machine is for an experienced rider only - really? I am very disappointed to hear that.

Anyhow, great blog and I enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

Steve Williams said...

Charlene: The MP3 400 or 500 would easily keep pace with the VTX1300 (unless the VTX rider travels at triple digit speeds).

The trouble with the MP3 and inexperienced riders is that they perceive those two wheels like training wheels. While the stability is enhances greatly by the extra traction spread out in front it does not mean it can't fall over.

The MP3 will fall over like any two wheeled machine. That's where the trouble is. Misperception. And the locked front wheels only work at a near stop. The moment you touch the throttle they release. It's a tricky sort of mind thing that an inexperienced rider can get into trouble.

That said if you trained carefully on the MP3 from the start and did not buy into any misguided notions of not being able to fall over then you could learn to ride this.

Take the MSF class first, then move to this or some other big machine slowly and you'll be ok unless you find yourself just nervous about riding in general.

The MSF classes are better training than wife or hubby led training in my opinion. No reason to acquire anyone else's bad habits! *grin*

R said...

Fantastic post and comments. A newbie question/admission:

I put money down on an MP3 250 sight unseen because of trouble getting to a dealership. I saw it yesterday. To my untrained eyes, it looks intimidating--I know they're heavy, and it's big.

I'm a female rider with no two-wheeled experienced. Any recommendations for avoiding/ dealing with tip-overs since I lack "typical" male upper body strength? Any other safety recommendations? I will be learning with the help of a careful, motorcycle-owning neighbor, but I work on weekends so cannot take the usual safety class. All comments appreciated!

Thanks, REM

R said...

p.s.
I read all the posts and understand I will not be using the wheel locking mechanism until I am well along. Nor should I cut too close to obstacles.

Basically, I would welcome recommendations (none of which I would consider too elementary) for how to avoid doing harm to myself, the bike, or others.

Steve Williams said...

R: Upper body strength really isn't as much a issue as most people think. Manipulating the machine is more a matter of balance than brute force. If you take your time with the MP3 and get used to how it balances before you start to ride it will pay off. It's how the MSF courses start here with everyone paddling their bikes around a lot with the engine off, just feet power, to begin to sense how the machine feels when it is balanced.

Once you are comfortable that you can keep the bike upright when you are pushing it around without power it isn't so intimidating under power because you will know what to expect and what to do with your body to keep the bike balanced at low speed which is where most new riders have the most problems.

Good luck!

You should check out the MP3 forum at Modern Vespa. You can get a lot of information directly from other MP3 riders that will be helpful.

Click HERE to visit that site.

R said...

Steve,

Thanks so much for your post. This makes sense...and I appreciate having a good first step to pursue.

I realized I'm entertaining fears of going fast since I've only been a bicyclist (and long-haul driver, but those go fast and seem to go slow). I'm worried about turning in "fast" turns--e.g anything over 20 mph. But I anticipate I will look back and see this as much ado about nothing.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I love this bike. Recently purchased one for trip up to Alaska. Completely tricked it out with an emphasis on safety. Unfortunately, need to sell it. Check it out here:
http://piaggiomp3500.tumblr.com/

Anonymous said...

HI

Ive owened my mp3 400 for about 6 weeks now. It's a great bike, but because I'm a 9st weekling I am having problems holding it up. I have dropped it twice. Once in the car park and just two days ago on the road. I love the MP3, but at the same time I am now nervouse of it

Anonymous said...

I have been riding an MP3 250 for over six months now (used to ride a BM 1150 GS and Honda VFR 800) and it really is a great commute.

It handles and counter-steers just like a 'normal' bike would, except you have far less chance of dropping the bike due to the front wheel hitting a slippery patch or accidently locking up the front wheel. I did that once on my F650 and you only know you have done it when your helmet hits the ground, that is how fast it happens.

That is one of the main reasons I have purchased the MP3 as I live in NZ with high rainfall rates and I commute daily rain or shine.

The front breaks are pretty impressive but old habits die hard and I still use my rear break a lot initially and then apply the front as the weight moves forward.

Very stable in the wind but you still get blown around a bit.

The steering locking mechanism is great for parking the scoot on hills and inclines (even sideways) and combined with the handbrake make this my favourite feature of the bike. Parking is a cinch - stop, lock the steering, dismount and handle the bike into position - handbrake up, and off you go.

Playing around with the steering locking mechanism when you are new to the bike can be disastrous if you do not know what you are doing - especially if the wheels are not pointing straight ahead - I almost ran into the pavement twice doing this when I first got the scoot, so I left it alone for a month or two until I was used to the controls and then slowly got into it. Now I can glide to a stop with the steering locked and can pretty much ride home or to work without ever putting my feet down.

Playing with the throttle of course will disengage the lock, so you need to be very disciplined with the controls and not touch the throttle until you are ready for take off, and even then be sure you are at the right angle so you take off straight.

Having owned a few bikes over the last 12 years I am happy as with the MP3 250.

Elite PhotoArt said...

Steve, can you tell me a good place to buy a service manual for the MP3 250? I am having problems with the locking mechanism. The bike doesn't want to stay up. Thanks, William

Steve Williams said...

Elite Photo Art (William): You can find all the Piaggio manuals -- workshop, owners, wiring, parts, etc, online as free downloadable PDF files. The link below will take you to the site:

Piaggio Workshop Manuals.

Or if you want to buy an official printed copy you can get them from scooterwest.com.

Good luck with the mechanical problems!