(Pocket-lint) - It wasn’t the informative briefing from Piaggio, or the video accompanying it, that made us realise the Yourban LT was ultra hip. It was the reaction of people when we stopped in Battersea Park.
“These three-wheel scooters are so cool”, was overheard as a coach load of school kids filed past. Then we were approached by a shady looking character with a video camera, asking if he could film his “model” on it (in 7-inch heels and showing more flesh than commonly acceptable).
Despite the unfortunate name - Yourban is a contraction of You and Urban - there is something joyful about the Piaggio three wheeler. It looks like fun and it is fun to ride.
Piaggio tell us that it’s pitched at those looking for an alternative method of urban transport, to avoid the displeasure of public transport and avoiding the costs (both cash and environmental) associated with driving your car.
Interestingly some of the design has been made to make it more appealing to women, slimming down the bike and making it less chunky than the original MP3. The front weather protection has been trimmed down and some bulk has been sliced off the back end, so it looks more dynamic than the previous iteration.
There are two versions of the MP3 Yourban available, the 125cc and the 300cc, known as the LT, the version we tested. As this is classed as a motor tricycle, you don’t need a bike licence to ride it - your standard driving licence will have you covered.
Achieving recognition as a motor tricycle has lead some of the design, for example the rear protruding indicator lights and the foot brake, but otherwise your regular scooter controls work: twist and go, fully automatic, with brake levers.
Jumping onto the saddle of the Piaggio MP3 Yourban LT offers up a nice comfortable seating positions, with controls falling logically into place on the handlebars. The foot brake is a little in the way of the right foot, but we didn’t find it to be a problem - you don’t have to use it either.
Riding the Yourban LT is very easy, light feathering of the brakes and smooth throttle action will get you going gently, but the 300cc engine means there is power on tap when you need to eat up those miles. It has a max speed of 70mph, but in our test ride around London we never hit those sorts of speeds. We had the bike on the road for about an hour and a half.
The front end is obviously where the difference from a regular scooter lies. The two front wheels mean greater cornering stability and more grip, resulting in better wet weather performance and reduced stopping distances when braking.
Having two front wheels doesn’t leave you feeling like you are riding a chunky machine, as steering is as easy as ever. You can gently nudge the bike one way or another by rocking your hips and shifting your weight slightly, with handlebar turning for slower or sharper turns, just like any other bike. The official promo video (below) likens this to skiing and when shifting your weight slightly to carve up the road you do get that sort of feeling.
There is an additional control that allows you to lock the front wheels to hold the bike upright. The front wheels have a clever articulated quadrilateral suspension mechanism that allows the body of the bike to lean whilst keeping both wheels in contact with the ground.
At low speeds you’ll have to put more into balancing the bike, using your foot as you would on a regular scooter. But then engaging the lock allows the suspension to then take the weight of the bike so you don’t have to support it yourself. This means that when you stop at the lights to make a turn, you don’t have to hold the bike up.
This is about the only part of the Piaggio MP3 Yourban LT that takes any learning, but is simple enough to master and within about 20mins it became second nature. The lock disengages when you pull away so it soon all starts to happen without you thinking. A handbrake is also present to engage when parking the bike and you don’t need to use the traditional kickstand.
The Piaggio MP3 Yourban LT is huge amounts of fun to ride, it’s easy to control and comfortable. It is still narrow enough to weave through stationary traffic and gives you enough power to keep pace in traffic. It also feels responsive enough to deal with busy commuter traffic, quick to stop and start, so you can react to the road conditions.
Giving you 87mpg, as well as being exempt from congestion charging, on low £15-a-year road tax and possibly free parking, it starts to look like a more compelling alternative to your crowded train. The 10-litre fuel tank should give you a range of up to 190 miles, although with limited storage (two open-faced helmets will fit within the seat) you might not be able to take much with you.
The MP3 Yourban LT will set you back £5699 (exc OTR). If you’re travelling in from the London suburbs you might be facing costs of £2000+ a year for the trains, so roughly speaking you’ll cover the costs in 3 years and you get to enjoy the freedom of the open road.
We certainly did, even if our in-action photos suggest otherwise.
Additional photos by Andy Robinson.