Just in case the 2012 presidential election does not bring back $2-a-gallon gasoline, as one contender has promised, this might be a good time to start considering fuel-efficient two-wheel transportation. Or, in the case of the Piaggio MP3 400, fuel-efficient three-wheel transportation.
Though weather realities and cargo capacity will always limit their utility, motorcycles and scooters move millions of people, in cities from Kampala to Keokuk, every day. Still, a persistent drawback keeps them from being even more widely accepted: they can fall over at a stop, and sometimes even while at speed.
Piaggio, the Italian conglomerate that owns the Vespa, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi brands, might have a solution. In the MP3 scooter, this longstanding challenge has been addressed with a patented design that uses two front wheels. It leans through corners like a conventional scooter or motorcycle, but adds the cornering stability and braking power of two separate front tires and disc brakes.
Once under way, there is no clue that the MP3 has two wheels in front. The machine is just as narrow over all as a conventional scooter, with the same lighthearted maneuverability that makes scooters and small motorcycles so good at slaloming through traffic.
The MP3 400 arcs left and right like a big Vespa, but with a reassuring touch of roll resistance as its lean angle increases. It’s as if the MP3 is saying, “Go ahead, throw me into corners. I’ll be there to catch you if you overdo it.”
Braking hard into corners is suddenly child’s play.
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