Utilising its three-wheel mechanism, the MP3 can be stopped and parked, without using a traditional kickstand or centre stand, and can be parked on irregular or side-sloping ground.
The front suspension is similar to the single-sided trailing arm of Vespa-style suspensions, linked by an alloy parallelogram and a central steering arm. When moving at slow speeds or stopped, the rider maintains balance by maintaining forward motion or placing feet on the ground. The front suspension locks or unlocks using a switch, which is located just below the throttle on the right handlebar. The suspension lock can only be activated manually, at low speeds or at a stop; the lock is automatically disengaged when the engine speed exceeds 2,500 rpm. A parking brake is used in conjunction with the locking mechanism to park the bike. A traditional center stand is also provided, useful in situations where the suspension cannot be locked, such as with a dead battery (though the suspension will remain locked if the battery fails or is removed while the scooter is parked).
Since introduction 125cc, 250cc, 300 (278) cc, 400cc and 500cc versions have been available.
In Europe, the 500 cc version is marketed under the sporty Gilera brand, called the Gilera Fuoco 500ie. In the United States, the 125 cc is not available, and the Fuoco is marketed as the Piaggio MP3 500.
In June 2009, the MP3 LT 400 was launched in the UK. This version has a slightly wider front track allowing it to be classified as a tricycle rather than as a motorcycle (as are the other versions). This allows the LT400 variant to be driven on a standard UK car licence rather than the motorcycle licence required for the original versions.
In September 2009, a plug-in hybrid version of the MP3 was launched, following trials in 2008 by the New York City Police Department. It has a 125 cc engine and a battery-driven 2.6 kW (3.5 hp) electric motor, with a regenerative braking system. The vehicle has three user-selected variants of hybrid drive to create a vehicle capable of up to 141 mpg‑US (1.67 L/100 km; 169 mpg‑imp) and 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 5 seconds when both methods of propulsion are used. In electric-only mode the MP3 can travel a distance of 11 miles (18 km) at a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). When both power sources are used the MP3 can run for a maximum of 25 minutes, with performance equivalent to a 250 cc scooter. When powered solely by the petrol engine the MP3 is slower than other 125 cc machines due to its weight: 249 kg (549 lb) compared with 208 kg (459 lb) for the petrol-only model.
- Piaggio Owners Manual, page 42
- "Official Gilera Fuoco Website". Gilerafuoco.com. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
- Ash, Kevin (19 September 2009). "Piaggio MP3 Hybrid review". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
- "Piaggio debuts 141MPG plug-in "MP3 Hybrid" scooter". engadget.com. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
- "MP3 125cc specifications" (PDF). Piaggio UK. Retrieved 13 September 2009.