Pulling in on three wheels

Sebastian Conran tests the Piaggio MP3

After my deathwish 1000cc KTM Superduke was mysteriously pinched, I opted to give scooters a try, as Dick Powell had assured me that they were far more nimble around town. And sure enough, despite being designed for people in skirts, my much-admired ‘Classic’ red Vespa GTS250 is wonderfully nippy. But its front-end is undeniably dicey when braking in wet or gravelly conditions and swerves alarmingly on uneven road surfaces – and London’s potholes. The new Piaggio MP3 is a scooter with two front wheels designed to overcome this. Styled in the Smart Car vernacular, it seems a little awkward-looking. Perhaps it could be uncharitably described as Star Wars-meets-an-invalid-conveyance? However, it does work well, and I found myself practically looking for potholes to experience its unerring stability. Braking, especially in the wet, was far more surefooted and powerful. After more than 30 years of riding ‘proper’ willie-waving motorcycles, the feeling of leaning over on two front wheels is a little weird, but I have to admit it does feel impressive. A handlebar-mounted suspension lock keeps you upright when stationary, and interior storage capacity is a cavernous 65 litres and over a metre long, with easily enough room for two full-face helmets plus shopping. But would I swap my Roman Holiday Vespa for it? I guess the answer would rather imply that I prefer style over function.

The Piaggio MP3 retails for between £3999 and £4299 depending on engine size

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