Midwest Scooter Enthusiast
Potential of the New MP3
Its been a while since I've had the opportunity to put some good thoughts down for you to read. I had the chance to see the new Vespa MP3 at the Minneapolis motorcycle show this last weekend.
The MP3 is much smaller in person than pictures seem to suggest. The bike certainly has its own look. A lot of carrying capacity might make it an interesting travel capable vehicle but there are other prospects I've been thinking about. Both in the real world and on the track.
The real world:
The lean angle of that front end allows approximately forty degrees of lean if you want to keep both front tires touching tarmac. This is substantially less than what is possible considering how deeply the design of the standard two wheeled bikes can taken to their limits. Is this a problem? Depends how you ride.
Here's the advantage. You can use that third wheel design to lean less and use more power. You actually push the bike harder at less angle because that double hoop setup up front is going to provide roughly double the traction you had otherwise. But its contradictory to what we motorcyclists are familiar with. To the newer rider however, it might seem a real boon to have twin contact points leading the way. Lower levels of skill are could potentially train newer riders inexperienced with how much actual usable lean angle a traditional two wheeler has, to treat every scooter they ride with the same shallow lean angle at a higher speed than might be safe. Its as if once a rider owns an MP3, the necessary learned riding style is going to change dramatically to accomodate the way the MP3 has to be ridden. Unfortunately riding the current MP3 seems to have the potential to really mess with the heads of people like myself. I think the three wheeled design is going to have to be treated like a completely different animal. Its not a bad thing, but it is something to consider if one moves from a three wheeler to two wheelers at any time.
On the track:
Here's what I see that's going to be interesting. There are places which have created scooter racing divisions. There's one in Iowa and I hope to attend at least one event there.
Imagine racing MP3's. These machines, though complex, will offer a huge dividend for both racing participants and audiences. Harder racing, faster laps, innovative ways to increase the factory lean angles could really make such a race an exciting thing to watch. Even in stock form these machines could compete against deeper lean angle capable traditional two wheeled scooters because the "trads" may be able to lean all the way down to their limits through the turns, but the MP3 should be able to make up the difference in traction and the extra speed that traction can provide.
I can also see the skills of scooter visionaries coming up with ways to deepen the lean angle of the MP3 to the limits it could actually get down to. We're talking about a machine which would limited more by how well the rear tire performs in gripping the lane than the limits we've dealt with to this point.
Could it be that a slower engine, one generating less power, would be able to hold higher rpm's through a given course simply because it didn't have to slow as much in the turns? Keep the speed up and you have faster laps.
A mixed race of traditional scooters and MP3's could make for some incredible racing scenarios. I hope its in our future.