Tilting 3 Wheelers – Still in the Future or Already Over?

Piaggio MP3 tilting scooter trike

Piaggio MP3 tilting scooter trike

Remember the buzz generated by the Piaggio MP3? We saw all sorts of fuzzy pictures and spy photos before it was launched followed by lots of press coverage when it finally made it to the dealers. It was quite a machine, with 2 wheels up front in the now common reverse trike configuration but it also had something trikes usually lack, the ability to tilt, and videos of the MP3 proved it could traverse bumpy roads and gravel strewn corners with sure footed ease.

It took very little time to see lots of home grown variations, the mechanically inclined were attaching tilting front ends to all sorts of motorcycles and some of them worked very well. The idea seemed sound, the Piaggio looked good, ... so what happened?

Harley Davidson tilting trike patent drawing

Harley Davidson tilting trike patent drawing

Did the concept come out at the wrong time? The economic downturn hit the motorcycle world pretty hard and companies have been having a tough time just keeping things going, let alone, introduce a new model, especially if it had a radical design change from what people were used to, so I think that played a big part. On the other hand, did the concept of tilting 3 wheelers fill a need or desire on the part of potential buyers strong enough to support continued development?

Personally, I think it's a little of both. We haven't seen a lot of all new models for several years, sure companies are still rolling out new bikes, but the pace has slowed. When the economy picks up a little speed, new model introductions will pick up, too. Then, as cool as the tilting 3 wheelers are, who is the target market? Older bikers who might buy a trike for the stability are probably not the same buyers who would look at a tilting trike. The young racer types don't see 3 wheelers on the track and the cruiser guys don't see them anywhere in the image they're looking for, which may leave the scooter crowd where the concept made it to production in the first place. Then again, as we've noted before, the motorcycle world, for all of the rebel image it tries to convey, is a pretty conservative bunch when it comes to big changes. No one wants to be the first guy, unlike what happens in the high tech world where everyone shows off their latest gadget.

As I mentioned a long time back, seeing some tilting 3 wheel customs or sport bikes might be interesting enough to gain some traction for the idea but I'm not sure we're going to see them. I guess we'll have to wait for the economy to recover to see if that is the holdup or whether it's a niche that now has all of the tilting trikes it needs. What do you think? Me? Forget the tilt, I want a Morgan.

Comments

  1. Dean says

    any type of three wheeler in my opinion is just all the disadvantages of a car wit all the disadvantages of a bike!! have never wanted one dont think i ever will either?

    • says

      Ah, the same argument usually stated by people who dislike sidecars. On the contrary, trikes (and bikes with sidecars) have cars’ ability to carry a lot of stuff, like cars they don’t fall over in a turn when hitting gravel or a wet manhole cover, and – unlike cars – you can usually see all the nice tech bits just like on a motorcycle. No body rot either.

      Anyway, the article was about Piaggio’s three-wheeler, which is no wider than your average cruiser’s handlebars. So you can still split lanes on it.

  2. says

    The Morgan trike is awesome for sure. It is definitely on me things to build before I die list.

  3. says

    As far as we all can see, MP3 is not a hot seller in the US. But it is in France, where Piaggio titling 3-wheeler is the #1 scooter in the market : some 12 000 might be sold by the end of the year. Germany is second, with sales around 3500 a year.
    The italian maker recently stated that 100 000 units have been built since 2007 and they released the more compact Yourban model.
    Newcomers are in the starting-blocks such as Quadro, the spin-off Marabese Design srl (the people who developped Piaggio MP3 concept in the early 2000’s).
    French success roots are the need of fast but secure commuting vehicles and the need to ride something to stand out of the crowd, espacially in Paris and on the south coast. Car licence allows you to ride as much as a 125 cc / 15 hp bike. But MP3 LT (large tread) suits a different homologation rule. Thus, no displacement or power limitation. So 125’s riders massively switched to Piaggio 400 cc / 34 hp MP3 400 LT, no matter the crisis.
    Quadro has a titling 4-wheeled under developpment. It may be seen as even more secure and sales volumes could be huge.

    So, are titling 3-wheelers dead ? Not in Europe. Does US marketing to be thought again ? Maybe.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      The particular market the product is targeting is definitely important, like the 125cc bikes sold in Asia by the millions, a non starter over here in the US. The European roads and cities and even the popular culture is probably far better suited to scooters like the MP3 than we are so perhaps it will continue to sell there in decent numbers.

      It will be interesting to see if they ever take off on this side of the pond.

    • hoyt says

      all good points, but what about tilting 3 wheelers that are not scooters?

      I’d be surprised if Can Am didn’t significantly increase their sales with a tilting front-end. Improve the styling some more (see Sub G trike) & add tilt

    • Lucy says

      MP3s have been a massive success in France, you see them everywhere and I think a saw a figure over 100’000 sold since launch.
      Only thing is licencing, sure you can ride them on a car licence + 125/tricycle card, but ONLY IN FRANCE, so for those of us who dream of doing round-Europe tours on them, you still need a motorcycle licence…
      If the new quadro 4d is rated as a car or quad, I am heading straight down to the store to buy one, however, quad rating = not allowed on the motorway… so the game is not yet over…

  4. Scott says

    I think the success of the Can-Am Spyder shows there is an interest in 3 wheelers. If three wheelers are coming (and I think they are), better suspensions will also be coming and the obvious suspension option for a 3 wheeler would seem to include some tilting ability.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      I’ve been seeing a surprising number of those Can Am trikes on the road lately but I’m not sure tilt would be a plus for the buyers of those machines. I think they’re buying it for what it is now.

  5. Bill Todd says

    “any type of three wheeler in my opinion is just all the disadvantages of a car wit all the disadvantages of a bike!! have never wanted one dont think i ever will either?”

    You took the words right out of my mouth :)

    Bill

  6. B50 Jim says

    If I read Charles right, tilting 3-wheelers are red-hot in Europe more for the social cachet than any advantages in handling and utility. But it seems that a 3-wheeler that tilts, when properly designed, would corner like it’s on rails. All the fun of leaning into a curve at insane angles with none of the worries about a washout or tank-slapper. I like the concept; although a tilting trike would take up more space in the garage (I couldn’t park one against the wall and still have space for a car and a pickup). I’m thinking that a good tilting trike with lots of rubber and a strong V-twin would make a really fast, exciting and crazy-fun machine.

    • Simon says

      It’s legislation, you can drive the LT version on your car license. Also, it’s narrow enough to give the advantage all bikes have.Also lane sharing is allowed in most of Europe.
      Being an automatic makes it easy to drive and it’s about the same price as a small car.

    • says

      You read me right. But, it’s also correct to say that titling 3-wheelers are very secure and fast in corners even if the rear wheel can slide a bit on the MP3. Piaggio just released the 500 cc model of the MP3 LT, the biggest of the family. Faster but quite heavy and, thus, requiring experience to be ridden really fast.

      The Quadro 350D seems to offer significant improvement in its design but I haven’t tested it yet. It’s supposed to be 30 to 40 kg lighter than the MP3 LTs. But Quadro’s primary objective is to hit the market with the 4D plateform, the titling 4-wheeler one.
      It will adress to an enlarged prospect basis, from ATV-enthusiasts to car drivers. Let’s wait end 2012…

  7. says

    The Can-Am Spyder and Morgan 3-Wheeler don’t really belong in this conversation. They don’t tilt and therefore are worthy of the “just a car with one back wheel” comments. They are generally marketed towards non-motorycle riders who want the fun of being in the open air at speed, and are attractive to non-riders who worry about all that leaning in the corners.

    For those of us that crave that scrape of the pegs, a leaning trike would give you the same feel but with twice the stopping power and 50% more traction, as well as a “safety net” for pushing the boundaries in a tight turn. Not to mention the added safety and peace-of-mind for inclement weather riding. Rain, snow, or ice will no longer be an excuse for leaving it in the garage for half the year.

    The Brudeli 645 “Leanster” from Norway is the best tilting 3-wheeler I have seen thus far. And it makes sense for a climate where the roads are covered with snow and ice for the majority of the year. The braking and traction advantages of a reverse trike are what will determine it’s market. For true all-weather riders it will be an appealing vehicle. However the buying power in the motorcycle market lies in fair-weather comfort cruisers and high-speed sport bikes, both of which see no real advantage from the break in style and/or added weight and drag. I highly doubt a major manufacturer will produce a tilting 3 wheeler in the coming decade, but maybe there will be some more interesting startups and one-offs as the economy eventually turns around. I’m always looking forward to continued innovation.

    • Robert says

      Daniel nailed the issue. For all weather riders, the leaning tadpole configuration has alot of advantages. This not only includes for wet roads but wet manhole covers on turns and curves, turning across wet light rail tracks, and the day you hit ice that isn’t supposed to be there.

      The Brudeli is the best I have seen and I am surprised HD is bothering with a patent pending at all considering it looks like it copies the Brudeli to a large extent. Maybe the HD design came first?

    • hoyt says

      The can am spyder does belong in this conversation if you look at it from the perspective of the main point of this article…If can am adds tilt, their sales should increase.
      Without tilt those things are frightening on curvy roads

  8. B*A*M*F says

    I had the good fortune of being on the press trip for the MP3 launch. I got to ride one before they were in showrooms. I came away extremely impressed. It does corner as though it’s on rails. I felt encouraged to lean much further and harder than I would on a conventional bike that I hadn’t ridden very long. It inspires quite a bit of confidence. We also took the MP3s onto a small patch of gravel and they were very difficult to upset. Braking was also quite impressive. With double the contact patch of what you would have on a similar bike and weight transfer to the front, deceleration was beyond what I expected.

    Overall, I think the concept is quite sound. The MP3 is not much wider than the conventional scooter on which it’s based, so parking would not be the hassle in Europe that a Can-Am Spyder might be. There is a chicken/egg problem in the US with this concept. It’s on a scooter, which is the most un-biker bike of all. The cruiser people likely don’t care for the look, though as that demographic ages we might see that change. I could see the touring bike crowd getting into it, but that formula is pretty well established at this point. At the price of a Goldwing or big BMW, I can’t see the manufacturers or buyers risking buying something too weird. So that leaves us with the sport bikers. If there is no racing series, there are no bikes. If there are no bikes, there is no racing series.

    • Paulinator says

      Initiate a series that sports 125cc (clean 2-stroke?) leaning kneelers. Missile-like speeds and excitement on hobby-level budgets that actually propagate applicable technological advancements.How long would it take to break the 150mpg mark while evolving a bit of side-armour?

      Just a thought…

  9. Simon says

    I’ve seen several of the Piaggio trike scooters on the road here in North Carolina. so someone is obviously buying them, albeit not in great numbers. My guess is that price is the reason. You van get a small motorcycle for what most “high-end” scooters are going for these days (and by that, I mean the ones that aren’t made in China and sold in hardware stores and, when they break, regular shops won’t touch them because they can’t get parts). I have always thought Vespas were kinda cool (ever since I saw Tommy Kirk ride one down a flight of stairs in some Disney movie years ago), but for the price, I could get a used, low mileage Sportster. If they dropped the price, I think they’d sell a lot more of the things. I, for one, wouldn’t balk at a 125 cc, because it would make a neat and economical winter commuter. As for Morgans, I agree, different conversation entirely, but I would rather see one with a convertible top, in case it rains.

  10. Mzungu says

    @ Dean & Bill Todd: man, you guys sure are from the “glass-half-empty” crowd, aren’t you? As is well pointed out by others, they also enjoy many of the advantages (and fun) of each!

    I’ve always been confused as to why this hasn’t been done (in spades) already due to these advantages! I love the idea of the Can-Am Spyder, but have always felt that it fails at the point of it’s not tilting (for safety and maneuverability.) I’ve also always been astonished at the popularity of “triking” out cruisers and tourers with a rear-wheel arrangement – usually done in the name of safety – which effectively ruins both its stability (while cornering) and its fun in one fell swoop. (IMO, it can no longer even be called “motorcycling” when you tack on that abomination of a rear axle.)

    But with the addition of a second *front* wheel, along with retaining the one factor that makes motorcycling so awesome – the tilting – I think you have a home-run hit that gives the best of both worlds! I think TMW’s on the right track with their kit (one which I would support with my $ if I were in a place to!) Great stuff!

  11. Marvin says

    A tilting recumbent streamliner in the style of craig vetters recent stream liner or the Innova from the Netherlands could achieve great mileage and make people feel more comfortable with riding along with their legs in the air! It could be the ultimate commuter machine with weather protection and great miles and smiles per gallon.

  12. Chaz says

    @Marvin: Way to join up the dots! I like Vetter’s streamliner, except for the stopping and parking issues. The trike configuration would also help with the stability in crosswinds.

  13. Steve says

    Google Lumene Smera, its taken this concept a bit farther. I like it and can see the possibilities.

  14. sfan says

    My greatest interest in 3-wheelers is when they use the platform to achieve greater performance or, ideally a combination of performance and stunning design. I believe that by maximizing the design advantages of a high-performance trike, some of them conceivably could out-perform either cars or motorcycles with the same engine.

    There have been several very interesting concepts featured over the years here that struck me as far more compelling than the Can-Am Spyder or 3-wheeled scooters. Here are the ones I thought has fascinating potential….

    The Brudeli 625L (tilting) off-road trike is far more interesting to me than the ubiquitous ATV and could appeal to anyone who likes ski or sea doo-ing:
    http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2006/06/23/brudeli-625l-tilting-3-wheeler/

    The Peugeot Concept LiiON (tilting) is very a cool road design with excellent aerodynamics:
    http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2007/01/02/peugeot-design-competition-3-wheelers/

    The Aprilia Magnet Tilting 3 Wheeler is also very cool in a go-kart kind of way:
    http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2007/01/12/aprilia-magnet-tilting-3-wheeler/

    Finally, the Volkswagen GX3 (non-tilting) definitely was tested on the road but, despite suggestions it might, never made it to production:
    http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2006/01/04/volkswagen-gx3-at-la-auto-show/

    These are all admittedly niche vehicles but that doesn’t mean that they could not be made into a commercially viable niche. The beauty of 3 wheelers is that in north america they are classified as motorcycles and therefore are much more feasible for small-volume, specialty builder production… or as an image product from a major manufacturer.

  15. gildasd says

    In Paris, and it’s region, roads are wet and slick most of the year. Add in spilt diesel, oil and no parking spaces – ever – it makes a lot of sense.

    Would I buy one? No, it does not make sense in rural Belgium.

    But I would love to see a racing series with them… Stick a R1 motor in one with no traction control :)

    G

  16. Greenman says

    I live in the Boston area, where the roads would shame any self-respecting developing country. Pot holes, ruts, heaves, and general shoddy construction and maintenance are the norm. Evading these with three wheel tracks strikes me as a whole lot harder than one or two.

  17. Jon Hutchison says

    I think many of the three wheeler sales are to folks who aren’t comfortable on a motorcycle and hey will see a tadpole leaning bike/scooter as scary and less stable. The auto transmissions in scooters of all types seem to bear this out. This configuration seem to be perfect for electric power given room for batteries and solar collectors. Honda sells a bunch of three wheeler service scooters outside the USA that are kinda cool. I saw these in the Greek islands wher streets are super narrow..

    • says

      When Piaggio released the first MP3 (125 cc), they probably thought it would get interest from people scared by 2-wheelers driving. But, as for France, nearly 95% of the sales are made with ex-bike/scooter riders.
      In a survey we made one year ago, we found that the security argument of the inverted-trike configuration was often used to convince wifes and bosses !

      Will any 3-wheeler reach the car users ? Piaggio is trying again, on the 30-45 women prospects with the Yourban and Quadro is working on a different path with the HTS technology which seems to be more easy to handle.
      Anyway, the real breakthrough will come with the leaning 4-wheelers such as Quadro 4D (release autumn 2012).

  18. Kevin says

    I wouldn’t consider a 3-wheeler trying to replace a motorcycle. It is heavy, ugly, and I can balance.

    There is only one way I see an advantage of 3 wheels. That is “cars” like the Scorpion P6. Cars have so many safety restrictions a sub 2000lb car is very hard to make. 3 wheels allows them to be registered as bikes, and then not have to worry about regulations and as strict of emissions. The P6 weighs 725lbs! No 4 wheeler is that light. And you can buy it for half the price of a 2000lb Lotus.

    If you want a very, very light weight car for canyon roads, 3 wheels is a great option. But I would never replace a 2-wheeled bike for even a leaning trike. (I don’t ride a bike to carry luggage, I ride for fun)

  19. Bob says

    I don’t think you’re looking at the right vehicles to see the real appeal of TTW. Brudeli works but it’s basically a much wider motorcycle with some additional stability. Like the MP3 it’s a modest enhancement at the cost of additional weight and complexity.

    Look at the Vandenbrink Carver (check out the Top Gear review of the Carver on youtube… their giddy about it). You get a completely enclosed vehicle that’s exceptionally narrow (fit two side by side in a single lane), stable, and let’s you enjoy all the sensory experience of a vehicle that leans into corners. There are other examples. The homebuilt TBX3 uses free-to-caster steering that forces the tilts and lets the tires figure out their direction. It works. Look for video on youtube. Nick Shotter’s 4MC (http://www.4-mc.co.uk/) is a narrow tilting 4 wheeler. Watch him slide the bike around a slick parking lot with perfect stability. Throw in some weather protection and I think a lot of your reader would be all over it.

  20. B*A*M*F says

    It’s interesting that so many think the MP3 is self balancing. It is not. There is an electronic lock that is used when parking it to keep it upright. If a rider were to hop off the bike at a stoplight without locking the tilt mechanism down, the MP3 will fall over like any other bike.

    @ gildasd: I too, would love to see a hard edged, high powered version of the tilting 3 wheeler concept.

  21. says

    It strikes me as just another way to add a bunch more unnecessary and costly crap on to a bike.

    Modern bikes are already full of unnecessary and expensive stuff that does nothing but move them into cost brackets which people cannot afford.
    The last thing I want is another reason to charge $40k for some crappy imitation of a motorcycle with an extra wheel.

    What this world needs is a bike that doesn’t have any of that “hi-tech” gizmo crapola all over it, works like a real motorbike, and is affordable.
    No EFI, no ECU, no VVT, no ABS, no water cooling, no Luke Skywalker plastic fantastic all over it, etc. You know, a real motorcycle.
    A brand new 1973 Honda CB350 for $2k on the showroom floor would be just fine

    • Mikey says

      Small moped shop here had a very nice 70’s RD-350 up for $2200. It was an estate sale type thing that had sat for 30+ years when it was brought in for a set of new tires and a general tune up. Fired right up and sounded like a new one. “ting, ting, ting, ting” Oh I wanted it so bad…
      I remember that little bike was one of the ones that would scare the crap out of you because it was so quick….

  22. John Mc Dowell says

    I am with Tom Lyons and the “NEW” CB350. However, when I add the wife into the mix and call the “Sport” Transportation, instead, I see the need for a more powerful steed. A three wheeler that tilts is neat. Make it Electric Front Wheels Drive, and capable of having weather protection ( Rain,Snow,Ice) with two passenger comfort, 85 MPH, 85 MPG. Now, that is worth the $$$. Mazda Miata, Gold Wing Trike, DRZ400…

  23. Nortley says

    If tilting had any advantages on the street, I’d think these advantages would be greater off road, yet I’ve not noticed any tilting ATVs. Tilt looks like a complex and expensive attempt to compensate for a high center of gravity. On the other hand, the Morgan shoves logic to the back of the mind and ignites the lust.

  24. Joe W says

    In the UK, today, I saw a four wheel version of the MP3 and momentarily had to do a double-take… it was actually an upmarket electric buggy for aged or obese people who are unable to walk. Don’t know if they stole their styling from the MP3 or if it was coincidence but it does mean if you buy an MP3 you are likely to be a laughing stock however well it corners in the wet!

  25. says

    I should start by saying that I, for one, am very attracted to the Can-Am Spyder. But it’s not a motorcycle. It’s more along the line of an ATV/PWC/snowmobile for the street. The sensations are totally different than a motorcycle’s (that’s not a bad thing, just different.)

    That being said, I have zero interest in a leaning trike. Once you go with a leaning, configuration, I don’t see enough stability advantage to make me give up my motorcycle.

    I could perhaps be interested in some sort of tilting enclosed “kabinenroller” like the Vanderbrink Carver or some sort of 3-wheeled Peraves Ecomobile/Monotracer, but again, not as a replacement for my motorcycle.

  26. BoxerFanatic says

    I really would love a recumbent reverse trike, with a motorcycle engine and driveline directly behind the pilot’s back, with tilting front suspension, even if it would require a bit of steering assist by having such a low center of gravity and thus less tilting leverage. Something like the Aprilia Magnet concept brought into real life. I have contemplated also an enclosed cockpit version as an all-weather capable vehicle.

    But not many of the tilting designs I have seen, like Tilting Motor Works, or the Harley patent diagram handle the front suspension truly properly for a leaning vehicle.. Maybe the Piaggio scooter does, I am not sure…

    The suspensions still seem to work as if the wheels are always upright, even when they are tilted by acting through the suspension arms in a radius action. That is standard SLA suspension stuff, and is well known and easier.

    A motorcycle handles the suspension forces in the plane of the wheel. When the bike leans, it isn’t just the tire, it is the forks, frame, and everything else, as well. The forks still act on the front wheel perpendicular to the front wheel’s axle.

    None of these reverse trike designs seem to apply the front wheel suspension action in the plane of the front wheels themselves, even when tilted. Then the suspension action would have to be applied at the wheel uprights, and lean with the wheels.

    http://www.tiltingvehicle.com has some discussion of the engineering aspects of this issue, and working engineering prototypes. (hand built, and not concentrating on aesthetics, but engineering principles)

    I don’t mind the concept of the CanAm, and the Morgan 3-wheeler is fantastic, I have some ideas on how I would modify it slightly, but they are essentially 3-wheeled roadster ‘cars’ by not tilting and carving like a motorcycle, which has been likened to the sensation of flying, with banked turns and such.

    I hope development and exposure continues.

  27. chrome says

    http://www.tiltingmotorworks.com/

    Met the owner/inventor at a Tony Foale Seminar in LA. Its an awesome kit. Handles exactly like a motor cycle and retains the full suspension travel in the vertical direction while at full lean. He also had a hydraulic system to level the bike (side to side) if you get stopped on a sloped road.

  28. Larry Hubbard says

    The MP3 has a cooling system problem in that the h20 pumps fail early on. I had one in my shop for h20 pump & wanted to see if I could lean & hang off like a 2 wheeled bike and I gotta’ tell you,nothing gets your attention when you lift one of the front tires in a hard lean…..talk about pucker factor!

  29. says

    To date, there has not been a product suited to the niche of everyday urban transportation – safe and highly-efficient using modern battery power (lithium ion) and electric motors (forget gasoline and hybrid technology), bicycle-class moped (no DMV in most temporate states) with decent range and speed priced under $2K.

    Piaggio and many other tilt-wheel reverse trike products (seen Green Lite Motors?) are expensive pigs with lipstick, still burning gasoline so they can drive on the freeway and compete with Honda and Toyota. Not the best market stategy….

  30. Paul says

    Living in NYC specifically Brooklyn, I’ve seen a number of women riders as well as women who are intruigued by the possibility of riding but are concerned about riding on two. I think the manufacturers are missing a prime opportunity. Much the way Vespa wasn’t afraid to develop the female market, the makers of trikes should try and appeal to urban females.

  31. Jorge says

    In Spain, they are becoming very popular:
    A few years ago, authorities changed the driving license rules so you can drive a 125cc motorbike with a car’s driving license… People who usually don’t drive bikes started to buy scooters in the cities. The 125cc MP3 became popular among car drivers who have to go downtown to busy cities like Madrid where you can drive your bike all year long.
    Piaggio made a smart movement and changed the 400cc MP3 so you could drive it with a car driving license. Now you only need a car driving license to ride a 400cc bike which is perfect if you live outside the city and need to go there on a daily basis.

  32. Shawn says

    I was able to have an MP3 for a weekend, both solo and with my wife on the back. Great bike in every way BUT…… it just didn’t grab me. A car is practical and a bike is pure 100% fun. A compromise does not give you the best of both.

  33. Joe W says

    “A few years ago, authorities changed the driving license rules so you can drive a 125cc motorbike with a car’s driving license…”

    This is very strange as in the UK we are repeatedly told that motorcycle licence laws and tests are being changed in line with Euro laws so how come they can step out of line…

    • tim says

      Here (sunny New Zealand) you can ride a 50cc scooter on a car licence. When fuel prices spiked a few years ago, you had a hell of a lot of people getting out of SUV’s and riding scooters. And displaying the same road sense they had when driving, whilst riding. Absolutely crazy. My view is you should have a proper motorcycle licence for any two wheeler

    • Hooligan says

      There was a advert yesterday for the MP3, with a picture of a driving license. Which clearly said you could drive the MP3 on a bog standard English car driving license ( no mention of what it’s like in Wales or Scotland hah hah) I think the important point is that it is three wheels so classed as a trike.Equally I believe you can drive a trike with a (full) bike license as well so if you have never passed a car test you can drive/ride a big Rover V8 engined (or similar) trike.

  34. Tinkerer says

    Tilting is a behaviour meant to compensate the inherent unstable design of the two-wheeled, high-gravity-center, motorcycle -their inherent design flaw-. Tilting is not something that you do because it’s better than having your weight supported by your wheels: it’s something you are FORCED to do because your vehicle is too unstable to turn without falling. Deal with it.

  35. tim says

    Those Piaggio MP3’s are functionally equivalent to a two wheel scooter of equivalent size (not the behemoth ones like Burgmans and DN-01’s, but something like a 200 or 250cc scooter). Except they have the functionality that you dont have to put your feet down if you dont want to, and an extra contact patch. So in my limited ride on one, you have all the pluses of a scooter/motorcycle, i.e. able to filter in traffic, cut to the front, narrow, light(ish) and nimble, plus the locking/feet up part, and the extra rubber on the road. I think they’re a winner, in their intended application.

    I am less convinced about the not tilting jobs (Can-Ams, or the trike conversions) because to me they have the downsides of motorbikes i.e. lack of weather protection, lack of comfort etc, and the downsides of cars i.e. can’t filter, stuck in traffic, without any of the countervailing advantages of either.

    I’d love a Morgan too, though as a replacement for that little sports car I dont have: in no way does it have any functional equivalency to a motorcycle.

    TL: DR: MP3 and Morgan win, others fail

  36. Metrella says

    I’ve owned a three Vespas; PX200, GT200 and GTS250. They were great in inner Sydney. Congested streets, heavy traffic and a number of routes. I tried the MP3 and it didn’t have that same feeling of brio. The PX200 was the best. Just the sound of the 2 stroke would make you smile on a cool winters day.

  37. Calypsoart says

    I’ve been a rider most of my life and I have been eying the MP3s for some time. I’ve been to the dealer to check them out several times, but just can’t get past the price. The 250 costs more than what I paid for my SV1000. If I find one at an affordable price I’d buy it tomorrow.

  38. Roy says

    Someone earlier had it exactly backwards. A TTW has all of the advantages of an auto and all of the advantages of a bike. Incidently, the brudelli will stand by itself. As the owner of Tilting Motor Works says “If you don’t look down and see the two front wheels you would NOT know that you were not driving a conventional motorcycle”. Also, there is no reason to suggest that a tilting four wheeler will be more stable than a tilting three wheeler, actually the reverse is true.

  39. S.K. PO says

    Someone back there hit the mark when he said the MP3 need weather protection. This TTW would appeal to a greater niche market with a completely enclosed body such as the two wheel “economobile’ that won the x-prize competition. Did someone notice on Alibaba that the Chinese is offering a 150cc MP3 “clone” for less than $1000.

  40. george tackles says

    OK how many of you actually own an MP3? I do,i ride it on crappy roads in Northern WI and i can say it’s a mixed bag of nuts.
    Front grip in turns is awesome,ride quality on rough roads is lousy thanks to tiny wheels and goofball front forks.
    Brakes are as you would expect from dual disc fronts,terrific.
    Mine is a 250 and will cruise at 65 OK but if the road is not smooth the bars are hard to hold onto.
    So what if the wheels were larger? dunno but the entire wheel-gyro effect would get worse. I can give you details on dual fronts handling quirks if you are interested.

  41. davd says

    I’ll climb in too, having ridden it.
    It’s a perfect commuter, it takes almost all the daily dangers out of the equation, potholes, oil spots, gravel etc. No stupid falls for newbies.
    I would have preferred a slightly bigger one (i rode the 250) but it feels great! Just easy and nimble, exactly what a commuter should be. I don’t agree with the arguments that a 3 wheeler isn’t a bike, this isn’t half a vw bug trike, it’s just double front traction.
    Why i don’t have one, is price. The cost was over R100 000 (RSA) which put it in the same cost as a zx-6 or similar, the other scooters are half that.
    No, it’s not worth that much, but i hope to see more variations on it. There’s a chance it would become a “trainer bike” with all the sniggers from the less well endowed among us, but i do see it overcoming the safety aspect, a major deterrent for new riders.

  42. Mzungu says

    For those getting “priced out” on the MP3, the folks over in your friendly neighborhood chinese manufacturing facilities have caught on to the idea. Check out the offerings at http://www.scooterdepot.us : 150cc fourstroke leaning trike runs about $2k and a 50cc 2-stroker’s @ $1.5k. I’d be interested to see a review of ‘em! :-)

  43. says

    A discussion worth wile keeping alive, because three-wheelers really can be the best of both worlds many (me included) are waiting for: the maneuverability/flexibility and fuel consumption of a motor scooter and the comfort and safety of a small car. Would be an interesting new market: the long awaited successor to (semi)three-wheelers like the Isetta and the Messerschmitt.

  44. says

    TTW’s have great potential. The Piaggio already proved this. It is a huge success in (Western) Europe. But the principle of the TTW does not necessarily have to apply to motor scooters only. The biggest gain can be made in producing more automobile-like vehicles, like the Opel Rak, the KTM E3W and Peugeot Velv. They are safer and more comfortable because they offer an enclosed passenger compartment. The best one IMO is the so-called Space-Efficient Vehicle, a sort of New Isetta. Check it out, Paul.

  45. Gavin says

    To answer the original post about the Piaggio and is 3 wheeling dead.

    In motorcycling there is a lot of each to their own, will 3 or even 4 wheelers ever outsell 2 wheelers? Not as motorcycles I doubt but as urban and then even open road transportation that can be AS MUCH fun as any two wheeler, yes I think that can be achieved for some people who ar5e open to the concept.

    The market will sustain a moderate cost and I’d definately like to test the market for both tilting tyrkes and quadracyclesd particularly built on the Can Am Spyder platform to start just to see what the reactyion is, you’ll sell enough as novelty to make it worth your while take G&G selling quadricycles at 50,000Euro! No doubt the investigation would pay off.