Piaggio has been producing it’s leaning three-wheeler the MP3 since 2006. Its configuration had two wheels upfront but unlike conventional three-wheelers, the motorcycle had the ability to lean towards corners while keeping both the front wheels on the ground parallel to each other. People weren’t really sure if this sort of configuration would actually work but later on, the MP3 grew popularity in Europe and now, other companies, such as Yamaha, followed the same design configuration with the Niken and Tricity. Now, Piaggio wants to flip that configuration and files a patent for another leaning three-wheeler, but this time, with two-wheels on the back.
Three-wheeler motorcycles, they’re not really something new. We’ve been seeing them for decades already with Harley-Davidson producing the Tri Glide or Can-Am’s Spyder or Ryker. However, the problem with these conventional three-wheelers is that unlike Piaggio’s MP3, its front wheels didn’t have the functionality of leaning on corners which made them a little bit tricky to handle. In reality, when trying to corner at high speeds, they behave more like a car rather than a motorcycle which made it a little tricky to handle when you’re sitting from a saddle and turning with handlebars instead of a steering wheel. This would also be the problem that Piaggio would encounter with their conventional three-wheeler, the Ape. With its new patent, it could potentially change the game yet again.
The way the new patent works, a new powertrain, and suspension system allow the engine, rear wheels, and front end of the bike to lean on corners, but its solid rear axle remains parallel to the ground. Power is transmitted from the solid axle to the leaning wheels via constant velocity joints allowing the three-wheeler to behave more like a motorcycle just as the MP3 does, giving them more versatility and maneuverability, especially in corners. Linkages within the suspension system would ensure that both the rear wheels are leaning at the same angle.
While the new patent presents a lot of potential for future model offerings by Piaggio, it is not expected to replace the MP3. However, it’s interesting to note that motorcycle brands such as Piaggio are putting just as much effort into innovations on three-wheelers just as much as conventional motorcycles.