The introduction of the MP3 300 for 2017 may have gone largely unnoticed, but after riding it I must admit to being suitably impressed.
Great performance, all the useful attributes of an MP3 500 and it ‘only’ costs roughly the same as an MP3 500 did back in 2016 at £7499. Not cheap for a mid-capacity scooter but prices have gone up considerably in the last year. The MP3 300 nicely bridges the gap between the entry-level Yourban Sport 300 at £6499 and the MP3 500 Sport at £8699.
Prices have risen for pretty much all scooters though since Brexit caused turmoil in the foreign markets. Bringing the not-so-Great British Pound crashing to an all-time low and giving manufacturers an excuse to overinflate prices (depending on how cynical you are).
I ride a Vespa GTS 300 (amongst other scooters) and know that it’s quite a heavy scooter for its capacity. The MP3 300 shares the same 278cc MASTER engine but carries a bit of extra weight (although Piaggio like to keep scooter weights a secret for some reason), so I wasn’t expecting too much in the performance department. Thankfully I was proved wrong…
The MP3 300 is no slower off the mark than a GTS; it accelerates from a standing start just as well and tops out at close to 80mph on my GPS. Add a couple of mph extra on a long run once you get it wound on a bit and you’ll live with a mate on his (or her) GTS on the way to a rally, no bother. That performance suddenly makes a 300 capacity MP3 seem much more appealing, like all MP3s, you can enjoy riding this scooter for sure. It is just as capable as its bigger capacity brother but servicing costs aren’t quite as hefty. It costs £1200 less to buy one, won’t use as much fuel and it’s a bit easier to handle. Win-win. Until you’ve spent a day on an MP3, don’t dismiss them, they’re outstanding.
VIDEO | The joy of MP3 explained
Safety built in
If you’re familiar with an MP3 you’ll know just how good they are in comparison to a two-wheeled scooter. With an extra wheel on the front corner the MP3 has added safety built in, better grip, better braking, they’re much safer in wet weather and they can be ridden over potholes and gravel without the fear of binning it. Every time I ride an MP3 it reminds me just how good they are, they certainly aren’t a mobility scooter, or machine for the lesser rider (although a complete novice car licence holder can happily jump on one and ride it after a little familiarisation). Give an MP3 a wet corner and a confident rider and it’ll obliterate everything else.
This latest version also comes equipped with ABS braking and ASR – Anti Slip Regulation – a form of traction control (you can disable it though if you prefer by pressing a button on the dash).
It’s not all about going fast though; the MP3 is also great at filtering. Once you get used to the feel of things it can nip through traffic with the best of them and the good thing is that slow speed riding is less wobbly thanks to that extra front wheel (filtering on a GTS can be much less stable over cats eyes and bumps, especially if twos up). You can also press the button near to your right thumb to lock the MP3 upright once you get to the front of the traffic so you don’t even need to dab a foot to the floor when you stop.
Storage is another big plus point for the MP3, its cavernous underseat space puts most scooters to shame. The original MP3 used to have a boot for storage but the newer models have a regular underseat space, it’s much more practical to use. You can stow a weekend’s worth of gear beneath there (providing you’re not taking the other half). It’s also possible to add a top box to increase storage by a further 48-litres. Piaggio also make a dedicated leg cover (as do Tucano Urbano), there’s a Scorpion exhaust to suit and a fair few other accessories and styling parts.
Midland Scooter Centre kindly loaned us their demo MP3 for a few days, most Piaggio dealers should have one on their fleet for you to test ride. If you’re a GTS rider in particular it’s worth asking to borrow one the next time your scooter goes in for a service, or visit your dealer and just take one for a spin to see how the two compare. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Can I drive it on a car licence?
The strange anomaly with the LT, or Large Track versions of the Piaggio MP3/Yourban/Gilera Fuoco/Quadro is that you can ride them on either a bike or car licence. If you’re a commuter who gets sick of battling through traffic everyday but you either can’t be bothered, or haven’t got the time/cash to spend on gaining a full bike licence then an MP3 is another serious option worth considering. As long as you gained a full car licence before January 19th 2013 then you can ride one without any bike training whatsoever. Although to be fair it’s worth at least doing a CBT, or practicing on a quiet industrial estate before heading out on the road for the first time if you’re a complete novice. If you want to ride on a car licence, make sure you buy an LT version though, if you’re buying an older model because the orginal narrow track versions do not qualify.
The models that you can ride on a car licence have a foot brake pedal which is linked to each wheel for effortless stopping with familiar controls. Those who are used to riding modern scooters will probably be happier to simply use the two brake levers on the handlebar.
The MP3 300 makes a very useable alternative to a conventional mid capacity scooter. It’s pretty quick, handles exceptionally well, stops and goes as well as you’d expect and also has all the features you’d expect on what is essentially a premium machine. There’s no getting away from the fact that it ain’t cheap, almost £7500 for a 300cc scooter is hardly a bargain but if this gives you a better way of getting around, a safer way to ride in less than perfect conditions and in some cases a way to ride without the need for formal bike training then it’s a great investment. Of course you could argue that you could still buy a brand new Vespa GTS and take your bike test for £1500 less than the asking price, but with an MP3 you’re buying a product with a little more to offer than a conventional scooter.
You’ll be able to pick up an early (2011 onwards) model MP3 300, used Yourban 300, or MP3 500 quite easily and save a few grand (the latest 300 is still too new). Beware though of buying one without either a full service history or warranty unless you’re able to check the steering bearings have been changed, or are in fine order. It’s around £500 to get them swapped. Check out our article and video on steering bearings here.
Photos and video: Iggy
Piaggio MP3 300 Business Specifications
Overall Length 2,225 mm
Overall width 800mm
Seat height 790mm
Engine type 4-stroke MASTER engine, single cylinder liquid-cooled, 4-valve, SOHC
Bore x stroke 94mm x 71 mm
Engine capacity 278cc
Fuel system Fuel injection
Starter system Electric
Lubrication system Wet sump
Suspension Front Dual parralelagram
Rear Dual hydraulic shockers – 4-position preload
Brakes Front Twin 258mm discs
Rear 240mm disc
Tyre sizes Front 110/70-13″
Fuel tank capacity 12 litres
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