This is the third installment in a series of what it’s like to live with Piaggio’s revolutionary three-wheeled maxi-scooter.
Part 1, initial impressions, is here.
Part 2, erramds amd running around, is here.
Saturday arrives and it’s my daughter’s tenth birthday. It is absolutely beautiful outside as I get up bright and early. Sheila and I had spent the evening getting all the presents wrapped and ensuring that everything was in place for Kira’s 10 girlfriends to have a pool party and get a deep sugar infusion with ice cream, cake and pizza in our back yard.
Daughter walks into the room, and the first thing she asks is if I’ll take her on the scooter to the Panera bread around the corner for a cookie and some lemonade. I’m feeling coffee, so this is definitely a good thing. As she goes upstairs to put her jeans and boots on, I grab my jacket and walk outside. The great thing about the big Piaggio is that it holds two helmets, gloves and my daughter’s jacket easy. All I need to do is press two buttons and the seat latch and rear “trunk” latch pop open. By the time the kid is down in front of the house, we’re ready to put our gear on.
The next thing that is incredibly cool about this scoot is the ability to move it around before you fire it up. It is easier to push around than a shopping cart, since it balances itself and doesn’t need to be manhandled like a motorcycle or other maxi-scoot. You just take the parking brake off and just push it where you want it. Kira and I move the 400ie to the street and then gear up. I watch with pride as my daughter, with a serious face, correctly gets her gear on then jumps onto the back of the scoot. I get on and fire it up. two little arms grab my waist…
With such precious cargo on board, I only take the neighborhood streets and carefully weave my way to the Panera in Forest Park. It makes the ride long, and fills it with lots of turns as we change streets, point out early-morning squirrels and bunnies, and soak up the rays. I find myself settling into the controls of this scoot, stopping at signs and locking the suspension. I don’t remember putting my feet down at all. The lean angle capabilities of the MP3 Piaggio are amazing but not forced, and I can only describe riding around on this scoot as:
Extremely mellow. This scoot has plenty of power. It has gobs of handling. It has amazing brakes. The advanced suspension has capabilities that allow me to wear the chickens strips off the 14-inch tires quickly. But it doesn’t matter. What matters on the 400 is riding around in the moment. This thing is REALLY comfortable, really easy to ride around on and, even though you could ride it like some kind of squid, it is fun to just cruise around and be on it. I’m in absolutely no hurry to get where I’m going. I know that Kira and I will arrive at the coffee house and get our cookie and talk and enjoy the moment, but I’m enjoying this moment right now, laughing at bunnies and enjoying the morning air with my daughter on this magical scoot. This is a very good time, indeed.
Sunday Morning at the Full Moon Cafe
One of the Motoworks Chicago’s mechanics, Jon Costello, asked me if I wanted to meet up with him at the Full Moon Cafe on Sunday Morning. He rides a very nice black Moto Guzzi Griso (two of the four mechanics at Chicago Motoworks ride Moto Guzzi Products!). I meet up with him up there often on my Guzzi V7 Classic. There is usually a bevy of Ducatis, various metric and American cruisers, BMW Dual Sports and other assorted bikes, usually 50-60. I’ve never seen a scooter there, so I thought it would be fun to bop in on something completely different.
Riding up I decided to finally unleash the Piaggio 400ie onto the Freeways and Tollways of Chicago. As I accelerated up the on-ramp, my first realization was that there was plenty of power to do whatever I wanted to do on the road. The second thing I noticed was the demeanor of this three-wheeled wonder bridged the gap between car and bike. The stability was mesmerizing at 75mph. You’re just rolling along. I was much more “relaxed” than I was on a bike, where I tend to stay sharper, yet I didn’t feel like I was daydreaming by any stretch of the imagination. I found myself drawing comparisons to the motorway ride in a SMART car. Is it a one-seater SMART? The world’s fastest SegWay? I couldn’t ‘draw a comparison. I’ve been at speed on freeways for long distances on Maxi-scoots and scoots before, but this was wildly different. Relaxing, yet not the mind-numbing experience that I find in a car. it was, what’s the word?
Yes. Mellow, but with a dash of focus thrown in. Extremely enjoyable. I don’t see myself riding on this bad boy from Chicago to Des Moines, but for a 2 hour long scoot riding around the city and suburbs, the Piaggio MP3 400ie is more than up for the duty. Riding position and comfort are perfect, ergos are awesome, and the stability and power are plentiful. This is fun.
As I pulled up to the full moon, I braked hard, threw in plenty of lean and rolled slowly through the parking lot. Jon was already there talking to a fellow Guzzisti next to his Stelvio. I rolled up next to his bike, threw the suspension lock as I rolled to a stop, and began to take off my helmet on my seat, engine still running, my feet firmly planted in place on the bike. Nothing touching the ground. A crowd was formed. I shut the bike off, pushed it back next to Jon’s Griso and set the parking brake. Eyes got big, Some got skeptic. I heard murmurs in the back from those that “knew” about the bike…
There were a “few” misconceptions, but most were genuinely interested. A couple of questions about what it was like when the bike was “up on one wheel” (it doesn’t DO THAT!!!). The intelligence of the questions were great. Space under the seat? Bag hook? How is it on the Tollways? Weather protection? How about those brakes with the extra contact patch?
In order here were my answers:
- 2 helmets and gear or 3-4 bags of groceries or 4 full racks of take-out ribs with all the fixin’s and one helmet…
- I can put my laptop bag there with no interference, or three bags of groceries
- It will run with the dogs on the Tollways just fine. It’s surprisingly stable. In a braking turn I found myself lifting my visor and scratching my nose while I completed the turn and stopped for a red light.
- There is little to no wind-blast with even the lowest windscreen with a full face helmet. There are two other screens, including one that will go nearly over the top of one’s head. I would imagine that with that setup along with the “winter pack” that is available from Europe, you might be able to ride this scoot almost year round. It includes stuff like electric leg warmers and “hippo hands” like grips… (www.af1racing.com might have them…)
It was well-received by this hard-core motorcycle crowd. A lot of older riders asked questions, and so did a few people asking about what it would be like for a beginner. On the ride home it got me to thinking about the MP3. Exactly what is it? Ah! Now I know!
Answers for this on the next post!