2015 Peugeot Metropolis 400i vs 2012 Piaggio MP3 300ie: Owner Review
Metropolis 400i RS vs MP3 300ie LT Touring
In June 2016 I moved to a job in London and had the choice of 4 hours commuting each day by train, or cut this down to 2 hours commuting and use a bike….not a tough choice!
In choosing the bike for commuting the biggest two concerns come from the fact I’m using the bike all year around and commuting 70 miles a day with a mix of motorway and in the city work. Stability and the ability to keep warm are the highest priorities for me. Scooters offer about the best weather protection, but all two wheelers run the risk of losing traction on oil, manhole covers etc and small the wheels on scooter have even more stability issues as well as less braking power over a normal bike, not good for the motorway! Bikes are better, but offer nowhere near the weather protection.
Travelling in Europe, the rise in popularity of trikes in cities like Paris and Rome is noticeable, in London scooter culture in general is not as developed, though there are a few about. Having seen so many around Europe, I thought trikes were an interesting option, research suggested they were more stable, offered better braking, enough power for the motorway and, as a bonus, had a good amount of storage.
Buying the trikes
From the start I would have liked a 400cc or bigger trike, however as this was going to be my first “bike” for many years I didn’t want to spend a fortune. With the Metropolis and MP3 500s all fetching a minimum of £5K, the only potential option was the MP3 400ie. They are not legal to ride on a car licence which suppresses the price and insurance costs (but fine for me as I have a full bike licence), but also are generally only available from 2008-2010 and they are starting to get a bit old. As I am commuting almost 15,000miles (24,000km) per year, age and condition were very important. I decided to buy either a MP3 300 LT touring or Yourban as with a bit of careful searching you can pick up a good trike in the UK for around £3-3.5K. I found the MP3 300ie LT Touring, 2012 with 9.5K miles on eBay at the bottom of my budget, bought it on the Sunday 12/6/16 without even a test ride and started commuting on Monday 13/6/16. Since then I have covered 4,500miles (7,200km) in just less than 4 months.
In buying my MP3 I knew I was only buying my first trike and I would be replacing it within about a year. With the Metropolis and decent MP3 500’s starting at £5K I wasn’t in a rush to change but kept an eye out on prices. In September on eBay I happened on a 02/2015 Metropolis which was being sold by a private seller who was emigrating and had to sell. I took a punt and won the bike, paying approx. 40% of the new price of the bike. I’ve had the trike for about 2 weeks now and have covered about 300 miles (500km)
Wheels, steering and suspension
Both trikes have identical tyres, 12” at the front and 14” at the back (though the new MP3 500 has larger wheels). The Metropolis’ steering and suspension at the front is akin to a car set up but with an incredible amount of travel, whereas the MP3 is more like two Vespa front suspension system joined together, this fundamental different has a big impact on the way the two ride. The Piaggio is very similar to every other bike I have ridden and the steering and suspension is light and the trike feels nimble. On first riding the Metropolis the steering feels incredibly heavy at low speeds, you have to be very positive with the handlebars in compared to most other bikes. Though I had read this in reviews it’s still a shock when you first ride the trike, that said, take things slowly to start, get used to it and you’ll soon forget. Once you are used to the steering/trike it is as nimble as the MP3. High speed handling is also effected, when you first ride the MP3 it feels lights and I wobbled a bit at speed due to over my eager steering input, the Metropolis felt stable and solid at sped from the word go. But as with low speed, once you are used to both trikes high speed handling doesn’t appear to be a problem and my MP3 was as stable as my Metropolis is.
One thing that is worth noting about both trikes is that having 3 wheels means they can be pulled around by unevenness on the road. For example, when filtering, if you hit a small bump in the road with just one of the front wheels you can feel a slight unsettling of the trike, even unevenness under the back wheel can have the same effect.
Suspension feel is another big difference and the MP3 wins here, on the road the suspension on the MP3 is rarely phased by the poor road conditions, absorbing bumps without issue. The Metropolis feels much more agricultural and has a tendency to crash over bumps transmitting much more vibration through the handlebars. Considering the suspension looks more agricultural too, I’m hoping this also indicates a more robust system as I have had the steering on the MP3 adjusted and re-greased twice and the dealer warns me that the main bearings need replacing surprisingly regularly.
Brakes, Engine/Power, Fuel economy, Service intervals
One the MP3 the foot brake operates both front and rear brakes, the left hand handle bar break the rear wheel and the right hand the front wheel. On the Metropolis the right hand controls the front wheels and both the left hand and foot brakes operate front and rear brakes in tandem. There is no ABS on either bike. Effectiveness and feel of braking is pretty much identical on both bikes, however I like to use the handlebar brakes and find the Metropolis system lazier and easier to use.
The MP3 has a 278cc engine and the Peugeot a 400cc, on this weight of bike that’s a big difference and so it would be wrong to judge the MP3 for having less power. It goes off from the lights fine and tops out at about 80mph/130kph, the Metropolis is a lot quicker, it’s as faster than all but the likes of Porsches off the lights and will get to 100mph/160kph (not that I have tried to find out the top speed on either trike officer, it’s just what it says in the specification that I’m quoting, promise!)
The way both trikes deliver power is different too, the MP3 has a very smooth feel to the engine and a very linear power delivery, the Metropolis is a little more agricultural, the engine feels rougher and offers more power mid-range or higher than at low revs. On engine feel, I’d have to say the MP3 win out. Despite the difference in power and capacity, I appear to be getting pretty much the same economy out of both, achieving approx. 3.7ltrs/100km or 80mpg. I assume this is because I don’t have to push the Metropolis as hard to achieve the same rate of progress.
Service intervals on the MP3 are every 5000km, whereas the Peugeot its every 10,000km.
Lights, Comfort and Convenience
The Metropolis has 3 bright LED strip daylight running lights and uses both front headlights and the two high DRLs during the night for both low and high beam. Day and night the MP3 runs on dipped beam with a little light at the bottom of the front of the trike, though there are two headlights, the right one is dipped beam and the left high beam. Because of this set up the lights on the Peugeot are far superior to the MP3 and having observed both the MP3 Yourban and Mk 2 MP3 500ie, it appears to beat both of those.
Having the Touring MP3, the screen is a lot higher and provides much more wind protection than the Metropolis RS, so much so that I will be changing the screen on the RS at some point (even though I prefer the look of the smoked screen). The wind protection on your legs appears better on the MP3 too, though I have a leg cover for the MP3, even with it off there appears less buffering around your legs.
The seating arrangement is much better on the Metropolis, I’m approx. 5’9” (175cm) and can easily put both feet flat on the ground with the Metropolis, this isn’t quite the case on the MP3. The Metropolis is also a proper step through with plenty of room for your feet. The MP3 has a hump between your legs and the position of the brake pedal means you have to put your right foot further back. On top of this the distance between where your feet sit and the seat is less. I sit with my knees and hips level on the Metropolis, whereas on the MP3 my knees are slightly higher than my hips. My commute is an hour each way, after 45 minutes on the MP3 my backside is going numb and getting uncomfortable, I’ve ridden the Metropolis for 2 hours straight and not suffered the same issue.
The advantage for the MP3 of this seating position is that the fuel tank is between your feet, on the Metropolis it’s under your seat and as a result under seat storage on the MP3 is significantly better. The flip side to this is on the MP3 the fuel filler is down between your legs, its difficult to get at and difficult to see as you are filling up the tank. On the Metropolis the fuel filler is under the seat and a lot easier/more comfortable to use. Also, the filler cap itself is a lot easier to get on/off on the Metropolis than the MP3.
Both trikes have boots, the Metropolis is slightly bigger that the MP3 but the interconnecting opening between the Boot of the MP3 and the under seat storage is bigger allowing easier access than in the Metropolis. The MP3’s boot will only hold open face helmets, whereas the Metropolis will accept some closed face helmets. Unfortunately I have a large head and a MK1 Metropolis, as a result my HJC IS17 L (59-60cm) helmet will not fit in either trike. Fitting a top box to both machines solves the issue. I went for a 30ltr box for the MP3, but I have gone for a 47litre box on the Metropolis due to it’s the smaller under seat storage (guide here). The fixing for the top box is a lot better on the Metropolis though, the top box fits directly to the boot lid, this stops the boot lid popping all the way up when you press the button, but it is still easy to use. On the MP3 you have to manually prop up the top box, which is a pain, but easily got around by only storing things you occasionally need at the back of the MP3’s boot.
The MP3 has a manual handbrake to the Metropolis’ electronic one, there is not a huge amount of difference between the two, I find the Metropolis’ brake a bit of a pain as I regularly forget to put the handbrake on before I turn off the trike, on the Piaggio this is no issue as the ignition key only needs to be in to take the brake off and the handbrake can be put on without the key in at all. For the Metropolis, you have to have the ignition on and the dashboard all lit up for the handbrake to work.
Styling and build quality
Styling is a very personal thing, but for me the Metropolis wins out, the more angular design is reminiscent to me of the vehicles from Total Recall and on my trike the combination of black, grey and orange highlights works really well, in comparison to the original MP3 and the MK2 MP3 500, I think it looks far fresher and distinctive, however, I’d argue the Yourban comes close on styling to the Peugeot and I adore the look of the Gilera Fuoco.
Build quality for switch gear and the plastics used around the dashboard and handlebars appears better on the Piaggio and I am slightly concerned about the long term reliability of the more complex electronics on the Metropolis. However, the basic frame and feel of the Metropolis feels more solid than the MP3.
I think whichever trike you choose you will likely be happy; they are both highly accomplished vehicles. If I was just in town on short journeys, the Piaggio would have been great. If the seat was better and I had the 500cc MK1 version, I think it would be a tie, but with its comfortable riding position I think the Metropolis would always win out over the MK1 MP3 500.
Sometime I’ll have to try the MK2 MP3 500 to see how it stacks up!