2009 Piaggio MP3 500ie

My son and I on one of our many runs along the tail of the dragon.

My son and I on one of our many runs along the tail of the dragon.

Everything I wrote about the unique nature of the MP3 400 applies to the 500cc version of this bike as well.  If you did not read the content on the MP3 400 page, you can do so by clicking the following link: MP3 400ie

After owning the 400cc version of the MP3 for a little over a year, I was left longing for more power as I ride frequently with my sons as passengers and the 400cc frankly feels a bit underpowered in a two-up situation to me.  I was originally drawn to the styling of the 400 over the 500 because of the extra storage in the “trunk” as well as what appeared to be a wider variety of aftermarket add ons, or as I later learned they are called “farkles.”  Even though the aftermarket add-on are few and far between for the 500cc there is a big difference between the two bikes in power off the line and in low speed maneuvering.

Those Italians know a thing or two about leaning... just ask the folks in the town of Pisa...

Those Italians know a thing or two about leaning… just ask the folks in the town of Pisa…

One of the greatest features, at least in my humble opinion, is the hydraulic tilt locking mechanism.  At first, this added feature was very useful when coming to a long traffic signal, maneuvering the bike in and out of storage, and of course for the occasional “psych out” moment when you stand up at a complete stop next to another rider and they are left trying to figure out how.

This feature is also the main reason I will never be without one of these machines in my corral for a few reasons:

  1. With the bike being stable and self supporting, it makes loading and off-loading of passengers a breeze.
  2. As I get older, and the knees and joints begin to wear out, it is nice to not have to fight the weight of the bike in parking lots, at long traffic signals, or in stop and go traffic.
  3. It allows my dad, who can not ride independently because of the lingering effects of multiple strokes effects on his equilibrium, ride with me…
Celebrating my dad's birthday last year with a great ride on the MP3 500!

Celebrating my dad’s birthday last year with a great ride on the MP3 500!

Riding the "Tail of the dragon" in Tennessee Fall 2012

Riding the “Tail of the dragon” in Tennessee Fall 2012

Dad & I at Deals Gap after riding the Foothills Scenic Parkway and "The Dragon"

Dad & I at Deals Gap after riding the Foothills Scenic Parkway and “The Dragon”









The MP3 500ie was a terrific travelling companion for a trip I took in the summer of 2012 from New Orleans Louisiana to Boone North Carolina. At the time of this trip I had not purchased my BMW R1200RT and was torn between riding the MP3 500 and the BMW f650gs. Leading up to the trip, I did everything I thought to be reasonable to ready the f650gs for the trip because my traveling companions would be on large displacement BMW touring bikes and our destination was a regional BMW rally… This speaks to how bad the f650gs was for 100+ mile runs and how capable the MP3 500 truly is.


What she looks like without her clothes on... What she looks like without her clothes on…



Single-cylinder, MASTER, 4-stroke, 4-valve
492.7 cc
2.8″ x 2.4″
40 hp
42.23 Nm at 5,550 rpm
89 mph
55-57 mpg
Electronic inductive discharge
‘Twist ‘n go’ automatic CVT
Double cradle trellis made of high strength steel
Parallelogram supporting two steering tubes
Oscillating engine fixed to frame with swingarm
Stainless steel double disc, 240 mm
Stainless steel disc, 280 mm
120/70, 12″
140/70, 14″
Dragon Red, Black

Time for your first full service
3,000 MILES
Time for your second service. Check, clean or replace your oil if necessary, check for wear and tear on your brake pads
6,000 MILES
Time for your third full service. Check rollers and replace transmission belt
9,000 MILES
Check, clean or replace your oil if necessary, check for wear and tear on your brake pads and lubricate your center stand
12,000 MILES
Time for your fourth full service
Check, clean or replace your brake fluid

Cee Bailleys Custom Saddle
XFP Highway Foot Pegs
Garmin Zumo 665 with XM-radio
Madstad Windshield
Givi E55 Monolock Top Case

MotorcycleDaily.com: The Italians Trike Back

We quickly learned that the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 493cc, 40-horsepower, single-cylinder engine is quite capable of maintaining freeway speeds of 80 mph. That output is certainly enough to leave the cars for dead when the lights change, even with an initial launch that feels a tad soft in the way many CVT-equipped scooters seem to be. But after a few yards of relatively lazy thrust, the engine reaches an rpm-range with good torque and just locks on those revs as road speed increases. Before long you find yourself using both levers to slow the bike, then switching to the left lever to free the right hand so you can flick the front undercarriage-lock switch just as the bike stops moving. That way the MP3 holds itself upright, and you don’t have to put a foot down. It takes a little practice, but it’s a neat trick.

Read the full article here

Ultimate Motorcycling

A third variation on the theme is the intriguing Piaggio MP3 which successfully merges three wheels and motorcycling in a very distinct way.  This iteration features two 12-inch wheels in front as part of a parallelogram front suspension that enables the machine to title conventionally in a turn.  The four cast-aluminum arms, four hinges and two steering tubes allow independent action for each wheel, and the dual-tire stance provides an extremely stable platform, particularly in the low-traction conditions—cobblestone, railroad crossings and rain—often found in Italy, where it was conceived and designed.    Cornering the MP3 hard, the technology quickly removes any rider’s skepticism.  It produces an authentic motorcycling experience, and enhances it by offering staggering confidence—the dual front contact patch simply refuses to push or tuck.  Braking is impressive as each front hub carries its own disc.   At rest, the flip of a switch triggers a hydraulic mechanism that locks the bike upright.  Once locked in place, dead-engine maneuvering of the MP3 is superior to two-wheelers, as the need to maintain balance is removed.  With the hand-operated parking break, the bike can be parked securely on steep hills.

Read the full article here

San Francisco Chronicle

The MP3 500 is the three-wheeler for those who want to stand out from the crowd, or at least to keep up with the motorcycling crowd.    The entire Piaggio MP3 lineup makes riding easier than ever before by providing increased stability, particularly at lower speeds.    Both the MP3 400cc and 500cc models are as stylish as they are affordable and can handle short trips, heavy commuting or long pleasurable rides equally well.

Read the full article here

Rider: This is Batman’s scooter

If Batman owned a scooter the Piaggio MP3 500 would be it…. One of the coolest things about the MP3 is the electro-hydraulic suspension locking system: It has no sidestand because the scooter can be locked at any angle whenever you stop…. The MP3 500 is fast, furious and fun.

Read the full article here

Has Piaggio Idiot-proofed the Motorcycle?

Piaggio’s MP3 500 is new for the USA market for 2009, but was introduced previously in Europe as the Gilera Fuoco (it means “fire,” in Italian, not something dirty, so just stop it). It’s based on the smaller 250 and 400cc models, using the same front suspension system, a complex parallelogram design composed of four aluminum arms supporting two steering tubes. The mechanism allows the two 120/70-12 front Pirellis to lean in tandem, simulating a normal motorcycle but putting twice the rubber on the pavement. A good idea, no?

Read the full article here

RoadBike: MP3 500 is muscular and aggressive

Ideal for the campus or the rock club, the muscular and aggressive MP3 500 is as high-tech as its little brothers.

Motorcycle.com: MP3 500 is an Instant Celebrity

The MP3 can be pushed into deep lean angles without the fear of the abrupt step-outs common to single track front ends.  In the canyons, the two tracks make for increased mental security…. Back and forth is wicked fun—like skiing’s giant slalom racing… At speed, the MP3 is as stable as any other streetbike out there… Boasting a 40-degree lean angle, the MP3 is great fun on twisty roads… the MP3 requires 20% less breaking distance than best-in-class two-wheel scooters.   We can believe it, as the MP3 can be braked harder than you might expect. … Its eye-catching and innovative design is very appealing and turns its riders into an instant celebrity.

Read the full article here

Scootering USA Reviews the MP3 500

Piaggio’s MP3 is a scooter you won’t soon forget… The two front wheels give the MP3 more stability than either a (two wheel) scooter or a motorcycle, yet it turns and leans with surprising nimbleness.  Fun and easy to ride on city streets, the 90 mph top speed and Tom Tom navigation system make the MP3 a great choice for over the road trips.

Cycle World: MP3 500 is Brilliant

This thing is positively brilliant!   Craving attention?  Nothing on wheels short of Britney Spears exiting a Lamborghini draws onlookers like the MP3!   Two impediments that keep “civilians” from riding are the need to master a manual clutch/gearbox and the fear of tipping over.  Piaggio’s three-model MP3 line directly addresses those concerns.   Top speed is an honest 90 mph on the radar gun, with a timed quarter-mile of 17.43 seconds at 75.7 mph.  Zero to 60 mph takes 9.7 seconds.   …the 500 has a sort of diabolical tiki-doll visage…army of darkness stuff.   Is it safer than a two-wheeled scooter?  Well, it has an extra contact patch up front and an extra disc brake, so it stops well…More important to fence sitters trying to choose between open-air commuting and another bloodless econocar is the sense of security that a third wheel brings.  At $8899, the 500 ain’t exactly cheap, but it’s half the price of a new car, gets and easy 44 mpg and sets the owner well apart from the mundane masses.   See?  Brilliant!

Read the full article here 


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