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Escape on a sporty trike.

I COULDN''T wai t to escape the UK's miserable winter and jet off to the sunny South of France. Hooray for the launch of Piaggio's MP3 Yourban.

T h i s t h r e e -w h e e l e d twist-and-go has become a regular sight on our roads since Piaggio launched its first MP3 in 2006.

It's taken Europe by storm, especially France where it's become the biggest selling scooter.

The MP3's popularity is down to its funky looks and clever tilt mechanism that lets the twin front wheels lean independently so the MP3 behaves like it's only got two wheels.

A button on the handlebar locks the front suspension so the MP3 stands up on its own. The suspension unlocks when you twist the throttle with the engine on, or via the same handlebar button.

More recently Piaggio created the LT version with the two front wheels slightly wider apart, letting the MP3 take advantage of a law loophole that classes it as a trike.

This means you can ride it on a car licence without Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). You don't even need a helmet, although unless you aim to be spoon-fed for the rest of your life, I'd recommend using one.

The LT version is a sportier, more compact model for the younger generation of, says Piaggio, 25 to 40-year-olds.

As well as its new edgy appearance, it's also lighter. Piaggio has shaved 15kg off compared to the original MP3, a huge improvement as the mechanism made it heavy.

The Yourban now accelerates 8% faster than the original MP3, bringing it in-line with a conventional scooter.

Meanwhile, 13-inch front wheels and a shorter wheelbase aid agility.

Back to 'sunny' Cannes, and it's pouring with rain while the temperature is barely above freezing. But that's no bad thing for testing the Yourban.

The MP3's biggest asset is its added stability round corners and safety under braking, especially in slippery conditions. Another advantage is the suspension that doubles up at the front, soaking up more of the road imperfections for a plush ride.

And so I rode as fast in these rubbish conditions as I would have had the weather been a scorcher, although my smile would have been wider under a blue sky.

The engine's lovely - power on this punchy 300cc version is strong and comes in smoothly at a twitch of the fly-by-wire throttle.

TheYourban is available as a 125cc too, costing pounds 4,749 compared to the 300cc's pounds 5,649. Despite the Yourban's more compact size, there's still space under the seat for a full face helmet plus smaller items, or two open face helmets.

The clocks look smart with plenty of useful information including fuel gauge and time, and the seat is wide and comfortable with fold-out pillion pegs.

The Yourban exudes high build quality and robustness.

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THREE-WHEELING: Piaggio's sporty new MP3 Yourban
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2011
Words:485
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