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Piaggo, the Italian manufacturer of the famed Vespa, has updated its famous three-wheeler for 2010, offering MP3 LT 300 ie and 400 ie "Sport" models that feature larger engines for additional low-end grunt and better fuel consumption.
But where this machine appeals most is who can drive it. The MP3 LT features a larger front track of 465mm and footbrake, which meets proper European Legislation homologation rules, giving the scooter three-wheeled car status.
This allows holders of normal driving licenses the chance to ride it; in Europe, to drive a scooter/motorcycle over 125cc, one must obtain a special motorcycle license. But with the MP3, non-motorcycle licensed riders can finally experience something over 125cc, without the need of getting the extra license.
First introduced in 2006, the MP3 "astonished the world with its two independently sprung, tilting front wheels: an absolutely innovative technological solution that redefined the very concept of dynamic stability." But the 250 version was a bit low on power, so Piaggio decided to up that model to 300cc.
The MP3 LT 300ie "Sport" delivers 22.5 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and 17.1 ft-lbs of torque at 6,500 rpm compared to the 15.4 ft-lbs of the 250, thanks to the single-cylinder, four-stroke four-valve 300cc motor featuring fuel injection.
The new model also features some electronic enhancements, including the Ride-by-Wire throttle control, which deletes any mechanical connection between the throttle and the intake duct that modulates air/fuel mixture; this provides smoother power delivery.
The MP3 LT 400 ie "Sport" has the same enhancements of the 300 version, but the larger engine provides much more power: 34 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, and 27.7 ft-lbs of torque at 5,500 rpm.
Concerning style, new front and rear lights emphasis "the sleekness of the forms and add a touch of elegance to the unmistakable silhouette of the new MP3 family."
The LT "Sport" has many race-inspired features, including 10-spoke wheels, a car-like grille, premium trim, headlight assemblies with silver backing, and a protective, blue-tinted fumé windshield that provides protection against wind and rain.
The seats provide maximum comfort for rider and passenger, and its red relief stitching makes a "bold statement about the sporty character of the new MP3 LT ‘Sport'. And don't worry about luggage space: the helmet compartment, accessible from both the saddle and rear hatch, offers 65 liters of space, and can carry objects up to meter long.
Combine these sporty upgrades with the reliability and safety of the first three-wheel scooter, and one can see why Piaggio has much success in this custom market. These machines are only available in Europe, while Americans can choose the non-LT MP3 250, 400 or 500 (which still require a Motorcycle License).
Piaggio MP3 LT 400 “Sport” (300) –
Engine : 4-stroke single cylinder
Engine capacity : 398.9 cc (278 cc)
Bore x stroke : 85.8 mm / 69 mm (75 mm / 63 mm)
Power : 34 hp at 7,500 rpm (22.4 hp at 7,500 rpm)
Torque : 37.6 Nm at 5,500 rpm (23.2 Nm at 6.500 rpm)
Timing system : Single overhead camshaft (SOHC) - 4 valves
Fuel system : Electronic fuel injection (with Ride By Wire control)
Cooling : Liquid
Lubrication : Wet sump
Starting : Electric
Transmission : Twist-and-go CVT with torque server
Clutch : Automatic, centrifugal dry clutch
Frame : Double cradle in high strength tubular steel
Front Suspension : Articulated quadrilateral consisting of four aluminium arms sustaining two steering tubes, and pull rod suspension geometry with offset wheel axle
Rear suspension : Double dual-action hydraulic shock absorber
Front brake : Two 240 mm discs
Rear brake : 240 mm Ø disc
Front wheel rim : Aluminium alloy 12" x 3.00
Rear wheel rim : Aluminium alloy 14" x 4.50 (14" x 3.75)
Front tyre : Tubeless 120/70-12”
Rear tyre : Tubeless 140/70-14'' (140/60-14”)
Length/Width : 2,180 mm (2,130 mm) / 745 mm
Front track : 465 mm
Wheelbase : 1,550 mm (1,490 mm)
Seat height : 785 mm (780 mm)
Fuel tank capacity : 12 litres
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