New Engine, New Attitude

Piaggio steps up its backwards-leaning-trike game ahead of MY2018 with brushed up looks and a brand new 350 cc engine. The larger engine replaces the 300 and promises greater performance to go with its urbanite looks and unique front-suspension system that delivers a safe and stable ride without sacrificing the feeling of flight that makes leaning into the corners so much fun. Electronic safety features bolster the inherent stability of the Delta-trike design to make the MP3 as safe as possible, and Piaggio seems to have accomplished that with a trifecta of features that work together to provide overlapping safety nets. Think I’m overstating it? I don’t think that is possible with this ride.

Continue reading for my look at the Piaggio MP3 350.

  • 2018 Piaggio MP3 350
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    330 cc

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Design

2018 Piaggio MP3 350
- image 783653
The MP3 strikes the same elegant, urban-professional tone as before, but with some automotive-industry influence this time 'round.

Overall, the MP3 strikes the same elegant, urban-professional tone as before, but with some automotive-industry influence this time ’round. A new grid leads the way and dominates the head-on visage from its central location in the front fairing. Spray from the front wheels is contained by individual front fenders, but the fairing opens up to double as a decorative cowl that keeps the machinations of the machinery hidden from casual view before flowing into the legguards to form an automotive-style wheelwell.

The headlights come split with individual brows that give the MP3 a face of sorts, and it is topped by a tall, smoked windshield that comes vented to reduce turbulence with a three-position adjuster that lets you dial it in for comfort. Short standoffs mount the new LED turn signals, and that gets matched by the rear blinkers for excellent visibility to the surrounding traffic.

Behind the “glass,” the instrument cluster gets a brow of its own to shield against glare, and a minimal handlebar fairing cleans up the bars quite nicely without going overboard with too much bulk, even with the built-in handguards. The steering column sports a helmet hook down before opening up to about a half-a-step-through that is sure to make mounting easier than on a proper motorcycle, but still manages to ruin the handy cargo space between the feet.

An all-new saddle cradles the rider’s butt with an updated cover, foam and stitching, plus a new passenger backrest to go with the new pillion dimensions for increased comfort all around. The flip-up seat covers a voluminous storage compartment that will carry two full-face helmets or a laptop, and a small compartment in the inner fairing comes with a USB port to charge your mobile devices, and that’s plenty of room for most commuter/grocery-getter missions.

A generous grab rail finishes out the passenger’s amenities with a molded-in taillight and mudguard/plateholder to complete the rear end. All-in-all, a very modern-looking ride, and a mature one as well; none of that entry-level/kiddie bait to be found in this family.

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Chassis

2018 Piaggio MP3 350
- image 783650
The front suspension is a technological marvel that articulates each of the front wheels independently resulting in a supple suspension system that provides both stability and agility.

A proper tubular-steel underframe supports the structure, and of course, the front suspension is a technological marvel that articulates each of the front wheels independently of the other while keeping them parallel, if not on the same plane. The result is a supple suspension system that provides both stability and agility. It’s no wonder why the original MP3 was so well received in areas that still have cobblestone streets. The dual front wheels and sensitive suspension maintains its grip on the road, even under adverse conditions.

Yeah, it’s a huge boon for safety, and the factory doubles down on that angle with an ABS feature that provides another layer of traction protection. Each front wheel bears a wave-cut, 258 mm brake disc and integrated caliper that shares pressure with the other anchors for balanced brake effort and even more stability insurance. Cast rims mount the 110/70-13 front hoops and the 140/60-14 rear, and of course since it’s a scooter, the rear wheel bolts to a swing-mount drive unit that uses the engine and transmission as a stressed unit that replaces the swingarm. Coil-over shocks support both ends, but there’s nothing in the way of higher suspension tweaks to be found.

Frame: Double cradle in high strength tubular steel
Front suspension: Articulated quadrilateral - Stroke: 3.3 in (85 mm). Electro-hydraulic suspension blocking system.
Rear suspension: Dual hydraulic shock absorber with pre-adjusted spring in one of 4 positions - Stroke: 4.2 in (106 mm)
Front brakes: Two 258 mm discs
Rear brake: 240 mm Ø disc
Braking system: ABS with braking integrated with the pedal
Front wheel rims: Aluminum alloy 13" x 3.00
Rear wheel rim: Aluminum alloy 14" x 3.75
Front brakes: Tubeless 110/70-13”
Rear brake: Tubeless 140/60-14’’

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Drivetrain

2018 Piaggio MP3 350
- image 783656
In a move rarely seen at this displacement, Piaggio graced the MP3 with an Acceleration Slip Regulation traction control system.

An all-new engine drives the MP3 350 this year, and the new mill runs a modern-and-clean, four-stroke, liquid-cooled configuration. It replaces the plant in the outgoing MP3 300 with a 78 mm bore and 69 mm stroke that gives it an actual displacement of 330 cc. Meh, callin’ it a “350” is close enough for government work.

A reed-valve in the crankcase uses the pumping action of the piston to evacuate the oil from the cases in a power-saving, dry-sump arrangement that also prevents sloshing and the foaming that inevitably follows. A single OHC actuates the four-valve head with roller-tappets to reduce wear and prolong engine life. All good stuff right? Well it gets better. A multi-plate, centrifugal clutch couples power to the CVT rather than the typical dry clutch — another wear-saving measure — and the gearbox uses the usual belt and variable-pulley system in lieu of actual gears for twist-and-go operation.

Power figures are still sketchy. All I have from the factory is a vague claim of “over 30 horsepower,” but what I do know is that the factory means for you to keep it all under control. In a move rarely seen at this displacement, Piaggio graced the MP3 with an Acceleration Slip Regulation feature. This traction control system provides the final layer of safety net for the rider, and really puts the MP3 over the top for its safety and stability.

Engine: Single-cylinder 4-stroke
Displacement: 278 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78 mm x 69 mm
Distribution: Single overhead cam shaft (SOHC) with 4 valves and roller tappets
Fuel system: Electronic injection
Ignition: Electronic with inductive exhaust and variable advance integrated in the injection CPU. Closed loop system with Lambda probe for the exhaust. Electronic immobilizer, block of injection pump when the vehicle is tilted. Traction control (ASR)
Cooling: Liquid
Lubrication: Dry sump
Starter: Electric with oil-bath free wheel
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch: Centrifugal multi plate wet clutch

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Price

2018 Piaggio MP3 350
- image 783649
MSRP is TBA, but its stablemate, the 500 Sport is topping $9k.

I haven’t seen a price on the MP3 350 as of this writing, but I see the 500 Sport priced out a little over $9k. Figure a bit less than that, though I don’t hazard a guess as to just how much less. We do know the MP3 350 comes in three matt colors: black, grey, and green; as well as two pastel colors: white and grey.

Colors: Matt Black, Matt Grey, Matt Green, White, Grey
Price: TBA

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Competitors

no article
- image 724356
2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 781452
I expect the MP3 350 ABS to appeal to the same sort of crowd with some buyers that will be on-board simply because of the clever design and safety features.

Direct competitors are hard to pick for this sled. Yamaha has its Tricity in other markets, but haven’t been seen on our shores since, oh, about the time of the lawsuit. There are plenty of two-in-back trikes that arguably could qualify as a scooter, but they’re all small-displacement rides that are more like novelty items than serious commuters. The MP3 rates right up there in looks with the business-class rides from BMW such as the C 650 GT, and honestly, hits the same pertinent electronic high-notes with a comparable level of safety/stability; moreso even, given the inherently stable and grippy front end on the MP3. I expect the MP3 350 ABS to appeal to the same sort of crowd with some buyers that will be on-board simply because of the clever design and safety features.

He Said

“I don’t want one, but if I were in the market for a commuter-scooter in tight urban quarters, the MP3 would be on my short list, though if I’m honest I’ll go ahead and admit that I’d go straight for the 500. The thought that I can’t drop the thing is a great comfort, and the fact that it carves the corners is just freakin’ great. I can see why the French and Italian markets went nuts for the earlier versions of this thing.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I don’t know too much about the MP3 350 yet, but it looks like it’s similar to the new MP3 500 Sport in appearance, including colorways, some blackout items and split-spoke rims. I really like the leany frontend action that gives stability and a very motorcycle-like ride. I can see this being an easy pick for city commuting.”

2018 Piaggio MP3 350 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Single-cylinder 4-stroke
Displacement: 278 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78 mm x 69 mm
Power: n/a
Torque: n/a
Distribution: Single overhead cam shaft (SOHC) with 4 valves and roller tappets
Fuel system: Electronic injection
Ignition: Electronic with inductive exhaust and variable advance integrated in the injection CPU. Closed loop system with Lambda probe for the exhaust. Electronic immobilizer, block of injection pump when the vehicle is tilted. Traction control (ASR)
Cooling: Liquid
Lubrication: Dry sump
Starter: Electric with oil-bath free wheel
Transmission: CVT with torque server
Clutch: Centrifugal multi plate wet clutch
Chassis:
Frame: Double cradle in high strength tubular steel
Front suspension: Articulated quadrilateral - Stroke: 3.3 in (85 mm). Electro-hydraulic suspension blocking system.
Rear suspension: Dual hydraulic shock absorber with pre-adjusted spring in one of 4 positions - Stroke: 4.2 in (106 mm)
Front brakes: Two 258 mm discs
Rear brake: 240 mm Ø disc
Braking system: ABS with braking integrated with the pedal
Front wheel rims: Aluminum alloy 13" x 3.00
Rear wheel rim: Aluminum alloy 14" x 3.75
Front brakes: Tubeless 110/70-13”
Rear brake: Tubeless 140/60-14’’
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length/Width: 87.6 in / 31.5 in (2,225 mm / 800 mm)
Wheelbase: 59 in (1,500 mm)
Saddle height: 31.1 in (790 mm)
Fuel tank capacity: 3.2 gals including 0.5 gal reserve (12 liters including 1.8 liter reserve)
Approval: Euro 4
Details:
Colors: Matt Black, Matt Grey, Matt Green, White, Grey

References

BMW C 650 GT

2017 - 2019 BMW C 650 Sport / C 650 GT
- image 752233

See our review of the BMW C 650 GT.

Piaggio MP3 500 Sport

2016 - 2018 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport
- image 645665

See our review of the Piaggio MP3 500 Sport.

Yamaha Tricity

no article
- image 724356

See our review of the Yamaha Tricity.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: piaggiousa.com, bmwmotorcycles.com, yamaha-motor.com

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