Monday, June 30, 2008

First Ride: Piaggio MP3 400 and 500

Piaggio's unique MP3 scooter, with its two wheels in front and one in back, has been turning heads since its introduction as a 250cc model a few years ago. After getting the chance to ride the latest 400cc and 500cc versions, we can confirm that it still causes its fair share of rubber-neckers. As automotive drivers, we wondered if Piaggio's entry into the growing maxi-scooter segment could be a viable car alternative for some consumers, and as motorcycle riders, we wondered how those two-front wheels would feel as we chucked it into some bendy-roads. We found all we wanted to know and more after two days worth of driving through both downtown New York City and the surrounding rural roadways all the way into Connecticut.

We'll get to the riding impressions in a bit; first let's take a walkaround. One major aspect to consider when deciding how practical a scooter will be is storage. The overall usefulness of the vehicle can be greatly impacted if there is not enough room for your objects. Consider, too, if there is a specific place to keep a helmet when you dismount the machine. In the case of the Piaggio MP3, the 400 and 500 versions offer differing takes on the storage conundrum. The 400 would be the obvious choice if you don't want to add any extra cases to your mount, as its under-seat space is ample for most helmets. If more room is needed, topcases are available for both the 400 and 500 models. The 250, which is the original model from Piaggio, offers just as much room as the 400, so keep that in mind when shopping.

How about wind protection? Both models come from Italy with a full front legshield and a small wind deflector. This proves adequate for around-town riding, but expect to feel a bit wind-blown at high speeds. Two optional windscreens were fitted to our test models, one of which looks much like the alien-head from the classic movie franchise. Though odd looking, the touring screen proved the most adept at creating a bubble in which to ride. That large screen also did wonders when we encountered a small patch of rain. The smaller optional screen also did a fine job of deflecting the wind, bugs and road debris that makes hard contact with your person when riding on the highways without a screen. A full-face helmet would be a wise addition if you plan to ride sans-screen.

Piaggio has seen fit to offer two distinct looks for the MP3. The orignal 250's appearance is carried-over to the new 400 model, which the mad-max style from the Euro-only Gilera 500 comes over intact on the 500. We favored the 500's appearance, to be honest, and we also preferred its onboard computer to the 400's. The 500 also offers more options when it comes to the good ole bungee, as its exposed metal frame features plenty of places to attach to. We detected a bit more mirror-shake from the 500, though both models were fairly decent for their 360-degree view. We preferred the instruments from the 500 as well. Either model garners plenty of attention from passers-by, so those who don't like attention might want to look elsewhere.

It's the ride that proved the most enlightening feature of the MP3. We got the chance to hop on the original 250 for a brief spin... to be honest, it proved plenty powerful, even on the highway. The 500cc engine offers noticeably more grunt than the 400, so if passing power is your priority, the choice is pretty easy. The 400 proved to be a tweener model in our eyes, as the 250 offers just as much practicality along with a bit more fuel efficiency. The 500 gets around 60 mpg. This section could be titled, "How I learned to stop worrying and trust the front-end." Those riders used to a single contact patch in the front may find some trepidation when it comes to leaning the MP3 deep into a corner. We found that there is no need to worry, as the deep scrapes from the center stand will attest to. Contact with the pavement from hard-parts proved extremely easy, though there is plenty of lean-angle. Another benefit to the dual front wheels appears when braking. We had no trouble at all locking up the rear brake, but it's the front set that delivers the real stopping power. As with most two-wheelers, braking through corners makes the MP3 want to "stand up," so set your pace before the entry point and power out the other end. We had a great deal of fun with this approach, and the MP3 does nothing but inspire confidence. When rolling to a stop, a button press on the right handgrip allows the MP3 to lock into an upright position.

In the end, the pick of the litter would have to be the 500. Though it offers slightly less storage, it makes up for this shortcoming with adequate power and great looks. We'd recommend adding a topcase to the rear and would also consider an optional windshield for touring use, though a full-face helmet would likely be enough for most circumstances. We can think of no better scooters for around town errand running, for the commute to work or for past riders looking to rejoin the world of two-wheelers (ok, three-wheelers). Nobody missed the MP3s on the roadways, as their size and unique presence makes them highly visible. As with all scooters and motorcycles, though, be sure to get the proper training and always gear-up with a good helmet and riding apparel. When ridden properly and under the right circumstances, the Piaggio MP3 seems to offer a compelling alternative to the maxi-scooter norm and even midsize motorcycles.

Piaggio MP3-250, MP3-400, and MP3-500 Scooters are in stock

The PIAGGIO MP3 500 uses innovative technology and premium cycle components to re-invent the very concept of the scooter. With two front wheels and one at the rear, the PIAGGIO MP3 500 is sure to turn heads wherever it goes; its dynamic design offers unparalleled stability to provide an unprecedented riding experience.


The MP3 500 ie, which shares the same technological platform as the revolutionary original MP3, delivers show-stopping looks, incredible performance and the X factor that makes it stand out from other anonymous maxi scooters. The machine is particularly in its element on twisty roads, where the razor-sharp handling is complemented by a superb three-disc braking system and the double ignition “Master” engine. With a strong personality, aggressive design and cutting-edge technology, the MP3 500ie is ready to ride into uncharted territory, see specs below!

Go out on the Piaggio MP3 500 and enter a completely new dimension: of sensations and safety. The two front wheels combine the ride dynamics typical of a motorcycle with incredible road holding. The parallelogram suspension system, a Piaggio patented innovation, guarantees unrivalled stability, even on wet or loose tarmac, or trailing other vehicles. The Piaggio MP3 500 is also distinguished by exceptional braking performance: thanks to the 3 wheels and 2 powerful 240mm disc brakes with twin piston calipers in front and a 280mm disc in rear, allowing record deceleration (around 8 meters per second) and a stopping distance more than 20% shorter than that of normal two-wheeled scooters (even with ABS).

Designed using the most sophisticated CAD programs and rigorously tested at each stage of its development, the Piaggio MP3 500 scooter is cutting edge in all of its details. The high-strength tubular steel frame guarantees the best stability and distribution of weight, in perfect harmony with the engine and suspensions. The dimensions and proportions are similar to those of a traditional scooter, with even a small front end. Developed in the wind tunnel, the bodywork combines a revolutionary look with dual functions: maximum protection for the rider at the front, comfort and exceptional storage capacity at the back.

Quick and safe, the Piaggio MP3 scooter darts in and out of city traffic as if it’s quite at home: it negotiates cobbles, rails and drain covers with unbeatable safety and stability. The seat, with integrated backrest and special ergonomic shape, is very comfortable and suits riders of all sizes, whilst its height from the ground promotes maneuverability and control in all situations. There is also comfort and protection for the passenger, thanks to the side handles for a perfect grip.

Piaggio MP3 500 is extraordinary in every way, including its accessories; from the “winter pack” with the comfort windshield, the special winter tires, the heated leg cover and waistcoat, to the Tom Tom Rider GPS navigator with its 3.5” LCD monitor, the X-Jet helmet complete with a Bluetooth communication system, the electronic anti-theft device with remote and other great ideas. Actually, they are revolutionary: just like your Piaggio MP3.

Engine Type 4-stroke 4-valve liquid-cooled Piaggio MASTER i.e.
Displacement 492.7cc
Bore/Stroke 94 x 71mm
Max Power at Shaft 29.4 kW at 7,250 rpm (40 bhp)
Max Torque 42.23 Nm at 5,550 rpm
Distribution Single overhead camshaft (SOHC) with four valves
Clutch Centrifugal
Cooling System Liquid
Ignition Electronic inductive discharge and integrated variable timing
Gearbox “Twist and Go” Automatic Transmission (CVT) with dry centrifugal type transmission with damping plugs
Fuel Supply Electronic injection system
Starter Electric (freewheel) with torque converter
Max speed 89 mph (143 Km/h)
Lubrication Wet sump
Chassis Double cradle trellis made of high strength steel tubes
Front Suspension Parallelogram composed of four aluminium arms supporting two steering tubes, cantilevered suspension. Travel: 85 mm. Electro-hydraulic suspension locking system.
Rear Suspension Oscillating engine fixed to the frame with a swingarm and two dual effect hydraulic shock absorbers with four-position spring preload. Travel: 110 mm
Front Brake Stainless steel double disk, Ø 240 mm, two-piston caliper
Rear Brake Stainless steel disk, Ø 280 mm, floating two-piston caliper
Front Wheel Rim Die-cast aluminum alloy, 12" x 3.00
Rear Wheel Rim Die-cast aluminum alloy, 14" x 4.50
Front Tires 120/70-12"
Rear Tire 140/70-14"
Length 85 in. (2,160mm)
Width 30.5 in. (775mm)
Seat Height 30.9 in. (785mm)
Wheelbase 61.0 in. (1,550mm)
Fuel / Tank Capacity Unleaded / 3.2 gals. (12 liters)
Weight 537.9 lbs. (244kg)
Available Colors Passion Red, Demon Black

Features analog speedometer, odometer and fuel gauge. Plenty of under seat storage and a 1 Year Factory Warranty with Unlimited Mileage and Roadside Assistance. (Three year [total] - factory extended warranty available at additional cost.)

Yamaha Tmax 2008

Production: 細胡/Eddy/Dave 車輛提供: 萬里達車行有限公司

為何傳統綿羊的操控不及電單車好?新手也能答:自動變速的主動權不夠手動變速高,輪圈直徑較細小不夠穩定。但最主要的原因其實是傳統綿羊採用後置引擎設計,樞軸點(pivot point)在引擎的前方,引擎和傳動組件附在尾搖臂上,隨著尾避震的伸縮而上落。試問一臺重心偏後又會上下移動的細輪機器,操控怎可能會及得上真正電單車?在2000年甫一推出便驚動全球的Yamaha T-Max 500 ,革命性地推出樞軸點設在引擎後方的中置重心佈局,讓引擎安坐在車架中,不會隨著尾避震的伸縮而上下移動。配合世界首臺被安植入綿羊的四衝程水冷直二引擎,讓T-MAX的操控和動力,都突破了綿羊以往極限。

2008 T-MAX 500的操控非常輕盈,坐上車搖兩下便會明,係輕到你唔信。而且動力傳送的過程是平滑無震的。如果不看轉數計,你很難從把手、地臺或座位去感受到引擎工作的情況。新TMAX的rolling start加速力更是令人收貨。以90km/h巡航推上145km/h所需要的時間,比你想像中還要短。



2008 T-MAX 500的把手和座位都向前移了10mm,但腳位維持不變,令到駕駛姿勢更中置,更有駕駛電單車的感覺。多謝全新的CF鋁金金車架和43mm頭擔,新T-MAX在彎路的操控表現比起舊款更上一層。輪圈直徑達到15吋的頭擔在過濾不平路面時對車體的影響更加輕微,即使車身在大幅度傾斜時,車體表現仍然相當穩定。在中低速彎道上,T-MAX 500的彎性著實可媲美跑車。


新TMAX車主很多都是從SilverWing 600轉投TMAX懷抱。相信很多Majesty YP400的車主,都會有興趣知道,如果轉騎T-MAX之後究竟會有那些分別。不提加速力,單是過彎的穩定感和信心指數,T-MAX便遠勝過YP400,而且仍然維持相同的舒適度!不過在享受高兩班的加速力和操控的同時,無可奈可地要放棄YP400一半以上的儲物空間。要貨羊還是要跑羊?視乎你是司機還是公子:)


數數手指,Yamaha T-Max 500面世至今已有六個年頭。回想當年,這台以"maxi-scooter"概念研發,首次衝破400c.c.級數的雙氣缸中置引擎大羊,甫推出市面即引來一陣搶購熱。








為了造就輕快的騎乘感,配合減輕車體重量也是車廠研發新款T-Max的一個重要課題,其中最直接的便是減輕車架重量。08年全新TMAX最為驚艷的地方是車架竟然使用鋁合金作為車輛骨幹,而且是採用CF Die-Casting鑄造技術來製作08年的TMAX!

CF(Controled Filling ally die-casting Technology)鋁合金電腦印模鍛造技術能製造更複雜的外型,並同時準確地控制車架的厚度,讓受力支點厚一點。最重要是能有效減少氣泡形成,利用電腦感應器控制模件內不同部份的吸力,讓鋁合金更準確和更快速地被注入模具內,令注模時間可以縮短了五倍之多,所以溫度控制更佳,令製成品的密度和剛性都得到前所未有的大幅改善。

以往這種車架製作技術,只能在超級跑車或高性能的街車身上找得到。雖然Majesty YP400的車架也是採用CF技術製作,但TMAx的全新車架看來更精密更接近跑車規格。


雙頭燈和側邊T-Max的迴力刀側蓋設計保留,但整體革新的感覺並未像同廠07 Majesty般來得大。






車廠繼續為T-Max找尋更多的置物空間,位於把手下 方即增設了一個置物箱。這裡的空間足以擺放手套、散銀等雜物。

晶片車匙隨車奉送,以減低車輛失竊的機會。可能你會問,為何不使用更方便的Smart Key啊?!

這點車廠當然明白,無匙啟動的確是個很好的賣點,但在因應T-Max的造價成本和與同廠新車Majesty YP 250的衝突點後,無法不捨棄這項設定。




2008 Yamaha XP500/A TMAX 規格表
引擎形式 四衝水冷並列雙汽缸
缸徑 x 衝程 66.0 mm x 73.0mm
壓縮比 11.0 : 1
總排氣量 499 cc
最高馬力 43.54ps/7,500rpm
最大扭力 4.73kg-m / 6,500rpm
車架形式 鋁合金CF Die-Cast車架
傳動系統 V型皮帶無段式自動變速
燃油供應 電子燃油噴注系統
前懸掛系統 43mm套管前叉,120mm行程
後懸掛系統 油壓避震 預載調較,116mm行程
輪胎(前) 120/70 - 15
輪胎(後) 160/60 - 15
前掣動系統 267mm雙碟配四活塞掣動卡鉗
後掣動系統 267mm單碟
長 x 闊 x 高 2195 x 775 x 1445mm
軸距 1580mm
最低離地距 153mm
座高 800mm
乾重 203kg
油缸容量 15公升

2008 Yamaha TDM900A

引擎形式 四衝水冷DOHC 10活瓣並列兩汽缸
缸徑 x 衝程 92.0 mm x 67.2 mm
壓縮比 10.4 : 1
總排氣量 897 cc
最高馬力 86.2hp/7,500rpm
最大扭力 9.1kg-m/6000rpm
車架形式 鋁合金鑽石型車架
傳動系統 濕式多片六前速鏈傳動
燃油供應 電子燃油噴注系統
前懸掛系統 43mm套管前叉,150mm行程
後懸掛系統 單筒避震附預載調整,133mm行程
輪胎(前) 120/70 - ZR18M/C (59W)
輪胎(後) 160/60 - ZR17M/C (69W)
前掣動系統 298mm雙剎車碟配 四活塞卡鉗
後掣動系統 245mm單碟配單活塞卡鉗
長 x 闊 x 高 2180 x 800 x 1290mm
軸距 1485mm
最低離地距 160mm
座高 825mm
乾重 192kg / 195kg(ABS)
油缸容量 20公升