Having spent a considerable amount of time laughing myself silly on the Piaggio MP3 and snapping the necks of astonished onlookers who’ve never seen anything like it, I’m very excited to hear that this sensational three-wheeler’s evil 500cc big brother has now gone on sale. The Fuoco is built on the same platform as the MP3, but is being released under the sportier Gilera brand.
If you haven’t yet ridden the MP3 or the Fuoco, it’s probably hard to understand why this sort of bike would be of any interest. It looks big, bulky and every bit as dorky as a Burgmann - and your biker mates will tell you to “get a REAL bike.” But those same mates will disappear from your mirrors in tight urban corners, over bumpy and damaged tarmac, and in the rain as the two chunky front wheels simply dole out twice the traction and stability you get on an ordinary bike. You quickly learn exactly how quickly you can go into a right-angle corner to scrape the centrestand all the way around and come out on full throttle. Then, you do so on every single corner you see. Rinse and repeat.
It’s a demon on the brakes too, there’s almost no dive thanks to the twin-parallelogram front end, and the two contact patches let it stop like nothing on two wheels ever could. It’s an absolute gas!
The MP3 is hilarious fun, but it’s just begging for more power and a suspension package that can elevate it out of the learner-bike leagues and raise its limits to the sort of level the steering package makes you want to ride it at. And here’s that power and suspension package right now, in the Gilera Fuoco. A 500cc single making a grunty 40hp will fire the beastie out of those lovely tight corners with much of the urge the MP3 was missing - and hopefuly the stiffer suspension will give you just that few degrees more of a lean angle and iron out the MP3’s tendency to lounge around a bit in the faster corners.
For all its lavish helpings of hoonish fun, the Fuoco will be every bit as practical as the MP3, with huge storage capacity, hydraulic tilt-lock for feet-up stops and parking on any angle, and the sort of fuel economy that has you giggling at the petrol station counter.
When I last spoke to a dealer that was selling the MP3, he told me that it was proving a bit intimidating as a learner package, just because of its size and weight. But every seasoned biker that came in and took it for a belt around the block came back whooping and hollering and demanding to be notified when the Fuoco hit the sales floor. Well, they’re here, lads. Your hooligan commuting tool of the decade has arrived!
The Fuoco is hitting showrooms floors across the world right now with a price in the vicinity of UKP5500 or AU$13000, which means that it will probably be around US$11,000 when it hits American shores under the Piaggio brandname (Piaggio doesn’t use the Gilera brand name in the USA). Full press release after the jump. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!
Gilera Fuoco 500ie Unleashed
The Gilera Fuoco 500ie, which shares the same technological platform as the revolutionary Piaggio MP3, is now on sale.
The 492cc four-valve fuel-injected single remains true the sporting principles of Gilera, with show-stopping looks, incredible performance and the X factor that makes it stand out from other anonymous maxi scooters. Riding has never been this exhilarating, while maintaining the easy, enjoyable and secure characteristics first introduced on the MP3.
The Fuoco 500ie streaks away from traffic lights and handles variable road conditions with aplomb, thanks to its extraordinary parallelogram front suspension. This radical technical set-up ensures impeccable road holding in all riding conditions, with stability and braking power that no conventional scooter can provide. The Fuoco takes on cobblestone streets, patchy asphalt and tram tracks with the greatest of ease.
The Fuoco 500ie is particularly in its element on twisty roads, where the razor-sharp handling is complemented by a superb three-disc braking system and double ignition “Master” engine, which produces a heady 40 horsepower at 7250rpm, and maximum torque of 42Nm at 5500rpm. Like the 250cc and 400cc MP3s, the Fuoco 500ie meets Europe’s tough Euro3 emissions standards.
As well as sublime performance, innovative styling is also a trump card for the Fuoco 500ie. The attention-grabbing front end sets the tone, and flows into the tapered, aggressive bodywork. Other nice touches include the ‘naked’ handlebars, black 10-spoke rims, five-lamp headlight (with shockproof covers), and the minimalist tail design. The seat offers a wide and comfortable ride for both rider and pillion.
Parking is ridiculously easy on the Fuoco 500ie. An electro-hydraulic tilt-locking system means there is no need to put the vehicle on its stand, although one is provided for ease of servicing. Simply flick the lean-locking button and apply the parking brake. The system will operate at any angle, so you don’t need to find a level parking area.
The tilt-locking system also means you don’t have to put your feet down at traffic lights, or worrying about maintaining your balance if you’re ‘vertically challenged’.
“In just a short period of time, the MP3 has made a huge impact, and the interest from consumers has been phenomenal,” said Piaggio Brand Manager, Simon Gloyne. “Now we have the Fuoco 500ie, which maintains all the attributes of the MP3, but in a sleek package which sticks to Gilera’s sporting platform. This is the archetypal go-anywhere scooter - all with a minimum of fuss and with superb handling and performance.”
A large range of accessories is also available for the Fuoco 500ie, including a 42-litre top box, adjustable windshield, hand guards, navigational system (with installation kit), leg cover, bike cover, electronic alarm and soft tail bag for luggage.
The Fuoco 500ie is type-approved as a standard two-wheeled motorcycle. This means licensing and registration requirements are the same as for a motorcycle. With its strong personality, aggressive design and cutting-edge technology, the Fuoco 500ie is ready to ride into uncharted territory.
Fuoco 500ie features:
- Powerful and economical 492cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled four-stroke, double ignition engine
- Electric start
- Front assembly with dual independent tilting wheels providing a lean angle of up to 40 degrees
- Electro-hydraulic front suspension locking system that keeps vehicle upright without using the centrestand
- Analogue dash with speedo and large clock
- Three-disc braking system
- No wider than comparable two-wheel maxi scooters
- Handbrake for parking
- Low-emission, environmentally friendly Euro 3 compliant
- Two-year unlimited kilometre warranty
Metallic Emotion Red
Metallic Excalibur Grey
Matt Metallic Demon Black
The Piaggio company, nestled in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Pisa, first invented scooters in 1946 when it produced the first-ever Vespa and helped liberate a war-torn Italy. Vespa remains the iconic scooter brand with its unique metal-bodied design. Today, Piaggio continues to produce scooters under the classic Vespa brand, the sporty Gilera brand and the contemporary Piaggio brand.