In 2006, Piaggio started the three-wheeler revolution creating its MP3, a scooter that was aimed at conquering the attention of a whole new flock of potential newcomers to the freedom of bike riding: women, seniors, and motorists who cannot take sitting in traffic any longer.

The immediate appeal of the MP3 came from its highly sophisticated, patented front suspension that allowed the paired front wheels to tilt, thus ensuring a motorcycle-like riding style combined with total surefootedness on any surface and in riding condition including rain and snow.

MP3 front suspension
The front suspension of the MP3 allows the wheels to tilt to allow a motorcycle-like riding experience.Courtesy of Piaggio

In 2006, the Piaggio MP3 came powered by the then most refined generation of Piaggio four-stroke singles, the 125 and the 250cc units. Since then, Piaggio kept evolving the MP3, not only to counter (the few) potential competitors, but mainly to expand the efficiency and the appeal of its very smart three-wheeler. The new edition of the MP3 has gone a long way into efficiency, comfort, performance, security, and riding pleasure.

The 2019 MP3 comes in three versions and two displacements: 350 and 500cc globally, but only the 500 MP3 Sport is available in North America. The 500cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC four-valver has undergone a complete redesign to both meet the Euro 4 homologation standards and generate a substantial (14 percent) power increase. Thanks to a higher compression ratio (11.5:1 from 10.9:1), new cam profiles, and improved flow dynamics, the unit now generates a solid 44.2 hp at 7,750 rpm and 35 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm. The MP3 delivers power to the rear wheel via a rather efficient CVT transmission.

MP3 500 Sport
In North America only the MP3 500 Sport will be available.Courtesy of Piaggio

The new MP3 is a massive vehicle that offers very comfortable accommodation to two adults plus an under-seat cargo compartment that holds two full-face helmets. The massive chassis spans a 60.8-inch wheelbase and rolls on two 3.00-13-inch front and 4.00-14-inch rear aluminum wheels shod with 110/70-13 and 140/70-14 cross-ply tires, respectively. The MP3 is substantial—there is a lot of machinery under the smartly styled body and that means it cannot be light: MP3 500 tips the scale at 573 pounds.

The front independent suspension is a real stroke of genius, working perfectly with its leading-link geometry that effectively absorbs the roughness of downtown Paris cobblestone boulevards. The front end has precisely set toe-in, caster, and camber to return a perfect feedback through the handlebar. It is firm yet very neutral in spite of the weight and the general size; it is immensely surefooted.

The adoption of the new 13-inch front wheels and related 110/70 tires generates a more agile steering response in comparison with the previous 12-inch wheels and 120/70 tires.

13-inch wheels
New 13-inch wheels replace the previous 12-inch units.Courtesy of Piaggio

The seat, set at 31 inches above the ground, is very comfortable in combination with ergonomically well-sorted riding posture and, most importantly, a new windscreen that features an aerodynamic design that delivers total protection, hands included, with no buffeting or turbulence. Complete with optional heated grips the MP3 can be a great all-year-round, hassle-free urban commuter.

MP3 seat
The seat is very comfortable with a well-sorted posture for the rider and passenger.Courtesy of Piaggio

The only flaw is the brake pedal’s location. The brake pedal is there only because of requests by the homologation bureaucrats. Both brakes are much more conveniently operated via the handlebar levers, so in practical terms the pedal is worth nothing. Its position is awkward as it traps the right foot and makes braking modulation difficult.

The positioning of the rear brake pedal is awkward.Courtesy of Piaggio

Despite the mass of the MP3 500, the engine delivers acceleration adequate to zoom off the lights and keep the traffic at bay. The vastly revamped 500cc is now really energetic all the way to redline, while in its previous edition did grant good torque but also tended to breathe hard at higher rpm. Now it soars to past 7,000 rpm with a sense of urgency. Great fun.

The MP3 500 comes in two versions globally as mentioned: Business and Sport. Sport is the only offering in available in the States. Main differences are in finishing, like black wheels on the Sport and silver on the Business. But the Sport also features Kayaba gas-charged rear shock absorbers and wave-style front disc brake rotors.

Kayaba gas-charged rear shock
The MP3 500 Sport is fitted with a Kayaba gas-charged rear shock.Courtesy of Piaggio

The braking system is super, with twin 258mm rotors front and 240mm rear, plus ABS. The electronic suite includes ASR traction control and the Piaggio Multimedia Platform for multifunction connectivity to a smartphone that delivers a host of information at the touch of the smartphone screen. The MP3 500 Sport proved very comfortable in the chaotic traffic and cobblestone paved roads of Paris, and its surefootedness and powerful braking system meant a number of saves in critical traffic situations.