Piaggio MP3 Yourban 300 LT

Three-wheeler promises more stability than regular scooters

When it comes to the daily commuting grind, are three wheels better than four? For around £1,000 less than the price of a basic Twizy Urban, you could get your hands on this Piaggio MP3 Yourban scooter.

Unlike most bikes, this 278cc machine can be ridden on a standard car licence due to its three-wheeled design – which also makes it legal on dual-carriageways and motorways. Plus, it has the best chance of winning our race, as it’s been designed specifically for short city journeys: it’s small enough to exploit even the narrowest gaps in traffic.

Setting off is not a simple process, though. After donning your crash helmet and other protective gear, you have to release the hand and foot brakes (just like the Citigo), but there’s also a small switch that frees up the locking electronic suspension on the front wheels. When this is pressed, you suddenly have to support the full 211kg weight of the bike using only your arms.

Once you’re underway, performance is quite impressive. This 300 LT model makes around 6bhp more than the Twizy’s output from its single-cylinder engine. With a CVT gearbox taking care of the gears, you simply twist and go on the Piaggio, while it can easily keep up with motorway traffic.

Cruising on the open road feels daunting at first, as vibration through the handlebars and the effect of crosswinds increase along with your speed. It didn’t take very long for the Skoda to flash past in the outside lane, but once the traffic started to get heavier, the scooter’s small size became an advantage.

The extra front wheel means the MP3 is wider than most two-wheel bikes, but still narrow enough to sail through gaps between stationary cars and buses at blocked junctions. Instant throttle response also allows the scooter to nip ahead of slower-moving cars that would hold up the Twizy and Citigo.

All this meant the MP3 was at the office in just over an hour: well ahead of its rivals. This proves that a bike is the quickest way to tackle a busy commute, but does that mean it’s the best overall choice? The price you pay for that manoeuvrability is total exposure to the elements, and riding the MP3 is much more physically demanding than driving.

You have to stay aware of other vehicles, while working the brakes and indicators with your hands and leaning yourself in to corners to get the bike turning in smoothly. The heavy steering column takes some getting used to, but the Piaggio feels more stable than other scooters and rides better than you’d expect.

However, there’s no protection from the rain at all – even a windscreen is £96 extra. All-weather riding gear would be essential for surviving a typical British winter.

Safety is also an issue: the lack of a seatbelt or any of the other safety systems you get in a car makes you feel horribly exposed. Still, it’s cheap to run – we managed 60.4mpg on our test route, and unlike the Twizy there’s no monthly charge for battery rental.

So the Piaggio was the fastest commuter, but does it sacrifice too much practicality?

Details

Chart position: 3Why? Three-wheel scooter aims to offer the best of both worlds. It’s more stable than a normal bike, but still has the manoeuvrability and speed to breeze past traffic.

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