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Getting a leg up

May 25, 2015

My legs

Jeez, it’s almost June already?

I’ve often found myself bewildered at how quickly time seems to pass as I get older, but 2015 has set some kind of record. I suppose spending nearly all of the year in medical facilities has something to do with that.

Longtime readers may recall my hospital stay in Portland, where infected bones resulted in the removal of all the toes on my right foot. And maybe I’ve mentioned how more of my right foot had to come off in 2013 when a new infection appeared.

Well, guess what? Apparently 24/7 antibiotics for I don’t remember how many weeks didn’t quite get it all. Once again, an ER doc informed me that another couple of days would have seen me dead, and lengthy rounds of antibiotics were how I spent my days for over a month.

In this case, the right leg below the knee had to go.

A prosthetic replacement is under construction (no, not one of those cool bionic ones wired directly into my nervous system… they’re really expensive), and once I have it, a couple months will be spent learning how to use it. And how to live with it. I’m going to need hand controls for my car, at the very least.

Oddly enough, the only issue with regard to riding is scraping together the money for a scooter.

I could find out otherwise, but not having an ankle joint would seem to rule out having a motorcycle—working the foot brake seems unlikely. An old-skool scooter would not seem to present such a problem because it’s possible to move your leg straight down to work the brake pedal.

OTOH, driving a modern scooter is all hands. Throttle, front and rear brake levers. I still have both hands! 😉

But there’s the matter of getting a scooter up on a centerstand, and scuttling around with the legs. Maybe not a problem, but maybe it is.

2015 Piaggio MP3 500 ABS

2015 Piaggio MP3 500 ABS (Piaggio Group photos)

That’s why the Piaggio MP3 has been on my mind lately.

The MP3 was introduced in the U.S. in 2007. The response by Americans was, shall we say, underwhelming. So much so that it was dropped from Piaggio’s U.S. product lineup for a while.

For one thing, it was rather expensive. IIRC, ~$7K for the 250, $8.5K for the 400, and a bit over 10 grand as a 500. But never mind the price, it was just too weird for most Americans.

The French, however, have no problem with it (well, France is the nation that produced such automotive oddities as the Citroen 2CV and Renault Twingo). Something like 50,000 of them have been sold there; it probably helps tremendously that France does not require a motorcycle license to ride an MP3, no matter how big the engine is.

This time, U.S.-market MP3s come only as 500s, in your choice of black or matte silver. Joining a list of features that includes lockable front suspension and a parking brake are 3-channel ABS, ASR (Piaggio’s name for traction control) and the Piaggio Multimedia Platform, accessed via your smartphone and a USB connection. Also new for 2015 are 13-inch front wheels and larger brakes.

2015 MP3 500, rear view

I’ve said before, and I will say again, if you forget about how weird it looks and just ride it, the MP3 is the best 2-wheeler in the world. Wonderfully stable, surprisingly agile for something so big, it corners as if on rails and stops, if not on a dime, with stability that’s light-years ahead of any 2-wheeler.

This is a scooter that is perfectly suited for the lengthy road trips I wish to undertake. It’s impervious to crosswinds and bow waves from semis, it has tons of storage that can be supplemented by a large topcase. Yes, there’s a centerstand, but you can also park it by locking the front suspension and setting the parking brake.

Though the price is lower than the previous MP3 500, nine large is still a bit too rich for my blood at the moment. However, used ones are surprisingly cheap. I saw a 250 on Seattle Craigslist the other day offered at $1,999, with 26000 miles on the clock (it was the seller’s daily commuter) and documented maintenance according to Piaggio’s recommendations.

It’s going to be quite a while before I can think about another scooter. And who knows what possibilities might surface in the meantime? Favicon

The details

MSRP: $8,999
Built in: Italy
Construction: Tubular steel frame with attached plastic body panels
Dry weight:  577 lbs (261.7 kg)
Length: 85 in (2159 mm)
Width: 30.5 in (775 mm)
Wheelbase: 61 in (1549 mm)
Seat height: 30.9 in (785 mm)
Front susp: Parallelogram with dual steering tubes
Rear susp: Swingarm w/dual adjustable coil springs & telescopic dampers
Front brakes: Dual 9.45 in (240 mm) single hydraulic discs with ABS
Rear brake: 11 in (280 mm) single hydraulic disc with ABS
Front tire: 130/70-13
Rear tire: 140/70-14
Engine: 493cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4-valve w/EFI and electronic ignition
Transmission:  CVT with centrifugal dry clutch
Power/torque: 40 hp (29.8 kw) @ 7500 rpm/31.1 lb-ft (42.2 Nm) @ 5500 rpm
  1. Jon permalink
    May 25, 2015 12:02 pm

    Orin, sorry to hear what you are going through. Some how I missed reading about your hospital stay in Portland that you mentioned here. GET WELL SOON!!! Sounds like a scooter with all hand brakes would do well for you. We still have two scooters. A 2009 Kymco People 150, and our 2008 SYM HD200.

    Take care brother!!

  2. May 25, 2015 8:14 pm

    Orin, my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    You’re one tough cookie with a really amazing attitude.

    You’re also one of the bloggers who strongly influenced my decision to ride.

    Hang tough!

  3. Mark Morris permalink
    May 26, 2015 12:04 am

    I hope you are going to be ok. I enjoy reading the blog. It really comes from your heart+mind.

  4. John permalink
    May 26, 2015 5:14 pm

    Best wishes ORIN .I know you will do well .And youll be riding something very unique and cool.

  5. May 27, 2015 4:47 am

    Best wishes on the speedy recovery. I know of at least one gentleman that has a fake leg that rides a Harley. However the details of his amputation I don’t know. So it may be a completely different set of circumstances. My point however is that you can still ride….either on the MP3 or a motorcycle, and that is never a bad thing.

  6. May 29, 2015 3:44 pm

    I don’t know if Dave Barr is a gentleman but he did some remarkable riding and is still doing it apparently. would not indicate he is a horse rustler or a card shark so he may be a gentlemanly rider.

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