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Written by Del Fuego    Monday, 07 April 2008 17:10     E-mail
Piaggio MP3 400ie
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Comparisons between dissimilar items always struck me as an odd concept. In theory comparing apples with oranges is a bit pointless… however what if these different items happen to achieve similar ends? Can you compare them then? I hope so because that is precisely what I am about to do:

What am I comparing? Ferrari’s all singing, all dancing “Enzo” supercar and Piaggio’s MP3 400ie. Why on earth would I do this… I mean they have nothing in common… or do they? Well on the face of it… NO. The Ferrari is a four wheeled supercar that accelerates from 0 –100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. While being designed as a formula one styled race car for the road it also manages to drain your bank account by somewhere approaching a million dollars. In comparison the MP3 is a 3 wheeled contraption that only manages the 0 – 100 sprint in around 13 seconds and will cost you around a hundredth the price.

However there are rather a lot of similarities between these two apparently unrelated vehicles. They are both Italian for a start, they both have an engine and they both are somewhat specialized in the way they achieve the aim of going from one place to another. The most important and initially perhaps less obvious way they are similar is the fact that they both have a magnetic personality… or to be more blunt; they get a LOT of attention. And everyone knows that the only reason a man (94% of Ferrari’s customers are men) will buy a Ferrari is to get noticed, I could have said get “laid”, but that would be impolite … childhood dreams aside, that is their only real purpose. So why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars when for a 100th the price you can attract as much attention as setting yourself aflame and running down the high street, without the pain inconvenience of 3rd degree burns.

I couldn’t actually believe it, I couldn’t park or even stop without at least a few people meandering over to have a chat… “what is that bloody thing?” “why has it got the training wheels at the front?” “how the hell does it work?” If you like to make friends and influence people just buy an MP3.

So how is it then? Well very similar to the 250 we tested earlier really. Piaggio have made some refinements to the MP3 by adding a more powerful engine, unfortunately they have also loaded on rather a bit more weight… and I thought the 250cc version was a bit of a tank. You get the usual high Piaggio build quality, along with more acceleration and noticeably better highway performance. The MP3 400 has a larger rear wheel than its 250cc sibling, which improves yet again on the already hugely stable 250. Most of the time I spent with the 400 was in torrential rain and slippery roads and it inspired great confidence…it was forgiving in a way a two-wheeled device would not be. I made the mistake of accelerating way too hard on a very slippery piece of tarmac, the rear wheel spun and stepped to the left however with the very stable front set-up on this bike a small amount of counter steer quickly rectified what could have been a costly error on a conventional bike.

I am not really sure what job the MP3 is best suited for. It would be a gem for regular motorway commuting,especially in high precipitation areas, so long as you didn’t have to do too much urban traffic warfare and had a good sized parking area available. Then again if you want to make some new friends the MP3 400ie may just be the perfect machine. One final distinct similarity between these two unusual Italians is that they attract very polar opinion; people either love or loath this futuristic looking alien/bug styled contraption. Unfortunately it would seem that the females seem to be opposed to it as a rule which didn’t help me too much… although one wonderful young lady (who I think I will marry) thought it was terribly “cute”. Perhaps that is where the Ferrari will work in your favor?

If you would like a more detailed description click here for the MP3 250 review, the bikes are very similar bar the changes noted above.

Price: United Kingdom £5,049.00: USA $8,699.00:, Europe €7,100.00:, NZ $13,990.00

0-50km/h4.8 Seconds
0-100km/h13.1 Seconds
50-80km/h4.8 Seconds
Fuel Economy 5.2L/100kms - 45MPG
Speedo Accuracy

50kph displayed = 45kph actual - 100kph diplayed = 90kph actual


Very stable, fantastic confidence in the wet, comfortable, excellent stopping, loads of storage space, remote unlocking of storage areas, gets tons of attention, totally unique

Cons:Heavy, hesitation off the line, gets tons of attention, expensive

Fuel Consumption
Value for money
Ease of use
Build quality

Overall Score


Manufacturer Specifications

Max power at shaft 34 bhp (25 Kw) at 7,500 rpm
Max torque37 Nm at 5000 rpm
Engine TypeSingle-cylinder, liquid-cooled fuel-injected four-valve 4-stroke
Cylinder Capacity398.9 cc
Seat height785mm
Dry weight ---
Kerb weight 244KG
Fuel tank capacity12 litres
Transmission‘Twist and go’ automatic CVT, torque server
Storage volumen/a
CoolingWater cooled
Bore X stroke85.8 x 69 mm
Compression ratio10.5 :1
ChassisTwin cradle: Tubes in high tensile steel
Front suspensionParallelogram composed of four aluminium arms supporting two steering tubes, cantilevered suspension – Travel: 85 (mm)
Rear SuspensionTwo dual effect hydraulic shock absorbers and adjustable spring preload – Travel: 110 (mm)
Front brakeTwo stainless steel disks, Ø 240 mm and floating calliper with two pistons, Ø 30 mmn
Rear brakeStainless steel disk, Ø 240 mm and calliper with opposite pistons, Ø 30 mm
Front tyreTubeless 120/70-12” 51P
Rear tyreTubeless 140/70-14” 62P
Length2180 mm
Width745 mm
Wheelbase1550 mm
Max speed (km/hr) 142 km/h
Type approvalEuro3
Consumption (ECE applicable text cycle)(ECE applicable text cycle) 18 km/l
Consumption @km/h - km/l---
Audible Indicatorno
Full helmet storageyes
Glove boxno
Fuel Guageyes
Trip Meteryes
Seat release (via remote control)yes
Seat release (remote, ignition/switch) yes
Comments (1)add
written by Warren Litsinger , June 30, 2009
I'm an experienced motorcyclist, but ten years ago I suffered a severe low back injury. Now I'm a sixty year old hobbled-up kid, who just bought a motorhome that has a heavy-duty scooter platform attached, and as I'm about to hit the road, I'd love to haul a two-wheeler piggyback, rather than tow a car. However, therein lies a conundrum; I would shun any smaller bike or scooter, because I'll need to do at least some occasional freeway riding, but I'm not physically capable of wrestling a bike weighing more than 400 lbs.

Enter the MP3. Here, finally, is a machine that can give me the fun of a mid-size motorcycle (OK, without blinding speed, but sure-footed and perfectly safe on the freeway) plus the comfort of a relatively smooth ride and the convenience of fairly copious locked storage. Better yet, the front wheel locking mechanism means I'll be able to park the trike without having to push off with my feet while trying to balance. I can just set the wheel lock and ease the beast into its space (since the wheel lock was thoughtfully designed so that the trike can still be steered while it keeps itself upright.) Best of all, I'll be able simply to ride the trike up onto the RV platform, and ride it back down, without worrying about it falling over, and without stressing my back.

Piaggio has a solid market here, considering the numbers of boomergeezers like me, and many others, who would love to ride but desire an extra measure of safety. The MP3 is more agile than a cruiser, as peppy as most any mid-size scooter, and as capable of touring as any bike in its class. The MP3 400 hits the sweet spot- fun, extremely stable yet not monstrous in size- it still weighs in at under 500 lbs and is shorter but no wider than a small cruiser. As a bonus, it will get around 60 mpg. And it has panache. What's not to love?
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 August 2008 15:11 )


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