2008 Piaggio MP3 250 Scooter Review

by Daren Johnson
(Minneapolis, MN, USA)

Me & My Piaggio MP3 250

Me & My Piaggio MP3 250

Here is my Piaggio MP3 scooter review... Background which informs the following comments: I've ridden bicycles since I was a child. I've driven cars, manual and automatic, for over twenty years (yeah, I know, big deal). Before last summer, I had never driven anything with a motor and less than four wheels, so it was all new to me then.


Riding a cycle or scooter is both very familiar and utterly alien to my bicycling nature. On my bike, I sit more-or-less upright, legs extending down; lean forwards into the handlebars; balance, pedal and steer. It's how I imagine riding the world's lightest thinnest laziest horse might work. Given I'm 6'5" and 160lbs, we're well matched, at least in the light-and-thin dimensions.

The Piaggio MP3 250 is an entirely different animal. One realm is posture. The seat is only about 18" above the footbed, even though it's probably more like 24-28" above the actual ground. My feet aren't much further from the ground than they were on my bike, but the rest of me is much closer to both the ground and my feet than I'm used to sitting.

Second is center-of-gravity and mass distribution. I'm taller and more massive than my bike (naturally). By contrast, I'm about a third of the weight of my scooter, just a hair taller than it is long, and it's broader than I am. (Its body is a little over two feet from side to side, and I'm a little less.) I actually feel kind of tiny by comparison, even though I have one thing it really doesn't: height.

When I sit down on the scoot, I sit down, and the machine benevolently permits my presence: I'm sure as heck not bulky enough to disturb it if it doesn't feel like going anywhere. God forbid any part of me ever gets stuck between it and unchecked gravity.

As for my anthropomorphic-but-like-animals tendencies, it stands up more or less by itself when at rest (if you tell it to). When you turn the throttle towards you, it goes and you take over balance.

When you turn the throttle a little more, it goes. (You've got control of mass and momentum in a way that you don't ever have in a car, because THE CAR EATS YOU when you drive one. The MP3, on the other hand, is a barrel-chested little marvel of modern engineering that you ride on, not in.)

I could be all pop-culture-referential and say I imagine it's like riding a worg or Battle Cat, but it's not. It's long and kinda squat, and neither wolves nor big cats usually get the "squat" adjective.

A bike is a lazy horse to me, but my scoot is much more like riding a post-apocalyptic super-mutant armored wiener dog with an utterly compliant disposition.

I'm sure it's possible to make it lose its traction in good conditions, but I will also say that you'd have to work at it. "Ridiculously sure-footed" would be apt, even though I've hardly tried to test it. But with the center of gravity so low and so (relatively) well-supported by the triangular wheelbase, even as an utter novice I feel I can ask it to maneuver pretty radically without much fear of falling over.

The 50cc two-wheelers I tried before riding the MP3 are superficially comparable, but not in depth - because the third wheel, extra mass, and the bigger engine that drive it make a huge difference. As I discovered later when I took the MSF course, it weaves and slaloms with unreal amounts of stability, and you can lean over in a 15mph+ turn to remarkable degrees and still feel very stable. It's a very confidence-inspiring design for a new rider.

Since acquiring it last July, I have ridden nearly every week, even through this Minnesota winter. I sold my car to buy my MP3, and it's been more fun than any car I have ever owned. An $8000 scooter sounds like a lot of money, but compared to a new car it's a pittance.

Between the scooter's storage and either a backpack or my new topcase, I get a week's worth of groceries with room to spare. I have ridden highways at 70+ mph. I have ridden carefully on icy and less-than-perfectly-plowed snowy roads (with winter tires) and have not fallen.

I have ridden in temperatures down in the xºF, well below freezing, and my scooter has not failed me. It's as close as I can imagine to a year-round scooter, and though there is weather in which I will not ride - for nearly all other times, when I need to go, my Piaggio MP3 gets me there, and I have a great ride.

Comments for 2008 Piaggio MP3 250 Scooter Review

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Mar 27, 2011
Rating
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I have an MP3 500
by: John in Massachusetts

I took delivery of my 500 about a year ago.. despite being in Massachusetts.. I put a little over 3300 miles on it last summer. I was completely inexperienced.. but really love the MP3.. I have a windshield and top box as the 500 has reduced storage over the 400 & 250,,
I use it for commuting and I agree.. very sure footed.. and easy to drive.. but it is a brute.. 600 pounds, so if it starts to go over, best to let it go.. the front wheel lock is useful but it will go over and it is a good idea to ride it as though it didn't have the wheel lock for awhile, but that feature is very useful for parking.. all in all.. I love it !

Feb 24, 2011
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finally a scooter for us big folk
by: ZIGGYFF

I'm in the Scooter Guide's Idaho neighborhood (although a little higher up in ski country, Sun Valley) and finally glad to see that a larger person fits these. I've been interested in this model ever since PBS's Motorweek did a show segment on it a few years ago. It may interest our Minny writer that there are aftermarket hand and seat heaters for these. I'm also curious if the 250cc engine is responsive enough for us heavier guys (6'4" 245lbs and carrying a passenger sometimes). Would it be better to go up to the 400-500cc models? Anyway, thanks for the info on this model, I'm looking now as Piaggio is offering winter discounts of $1000-1400!. Cheers

Oct 15, 2010
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Great Machine!!!
by: Mark

I own a 2007 Piaggio MP3 250 and it's been enjoyable to drive. I have almost 5,300 miles on it and it still looks like new. Of course, I cover it as much as possible whenever I park it for long periods. The only trouble I've had with it is the battery going out about a year ago. I replaced the rear tire earlier this year and put a taller windshield on it. This really helps with the riding windchill factor. I would recommend this scooter to anyone who enjoys riding and wants to save gasoline. It's certain to turn heads.

Oct 06, 2010
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great review!
by: Jayson

Dude your review makes even me want to sell my car for a MP3 now!! lol

Jul 26, 2010
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I loved your review and now I may get one
by: Mary

I have been riding a Vino 125 for the past 4 years. Recently we saw a spot on Jay Leno's Garage on the net and he tested a Piaggio MP3. He did nothing but rave how great it was. I went to our local dealer and they had sold the last 250 that they had the day before and only had a 500.

I really don't want one that big so I will continue to look for the 250 and maybe wait until the next year's model comes out. Your review was wonderful and really made me want one. I was not sure if it would be that easy to ride but you have made it sound like it would be a perfect ride for me.

Jul 17, 2010
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awesome
by: kim

I went to Honda and test rode one. One word: amazing. I never rode, but I am in love with this 3 wheeler.

Apr 08, 2009
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Now I want an MP3
by: Rob Wadman-Scanlan

I thoroughly enjoyed this review. I have 3 young children so the idea of selling my Toyota to buy an MP3 is out of the question (for now anyway). That said I would love to own an MP3: I would appreciate the stability, practicality and smiles such a vehicle would bring. But I don't have the money right now so I will stick with my Yamaha BWS. Regarding riding in the rain, I do it from time to time. My advice: take the motorcycle safety course and put into practice what you learn (about rain gear, visibility, staying warm, traction etc etc). Riding a two or three wheeled vehicle has inherent risks, the trick is to minimize these risks to the best of your ability.

Have fun and ride safe.

Mar 03, 2009
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Fantastic Review, Daren!
by: Kathi

Wow... thanks for leaving this wonderful review, Daren. It's informative, it's entertaining, and it's inspirational. And it's no problem that you've published it elsewhere, since it's your own personal review. I just don't want people coming here, copying other people's reviews from somewhere and pretending it's their own.

Back to the Piaggio MP3... personally, I think it's a little funny looking, but you've sold me on what a great scooter it really is. :)

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