Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Tuscan Loop

Well, I might as well make this official.

2014 will see another major rider tour.

I'm calling this year's edition the 2014 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Tuscan Loop, or just Tuscan Loop for short.  As with last year's tour, I plan to group all the Tuscan Loop posts in one series on the Touring on a Vespa page

This year will also star three intrepid riders.  Myself and... well I don't want to spoil all the suspense at once.

I got the confirmation this morning from Roberto at Multirent Toscana Srl that my bike is reserved.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's a 250cc Piaggio MP3.  OK so technically I won't be touring on a Vespa.  But I will definitely be touring in the company of Vespas.  Close enough.
Noleggio Moto ToscanaNoleggio Moto Toscana
Here's a photo of the bike I reserved.
For those unfamiliar with this bike, it's a feat of modern engineering.  Its distinguishing feature is that it has dual independently sprung front wheels.  Some people assume, wrongly, that three wheels makes the MP3 a trike.  Like a CanAm Spyder, or one of those Harley Davidson trikes.  Nothing could be further from the truth, though it is possible to lock the suspension at very low speed so that you can crawl along like a trike in heavy traffic.

As soon as you accelerate, the suspension is released and the MP3 leans in the turns just like a motorcycle.  Actually, better than a motorcycle.  The chief benefit of the design is greatly increased stability on difficult surfaces where traditional powered two-wheelers can struggle. A great example is streetcar tracks and other similar situations that constitute "edge traps" for two-wheeled vehicles.  For those of you who don't ride, think of approaching a sidewalk driveway ramp on a bicycle at too shallow an angle.  The wheels can't manage the edge when the angle is too shallow and the risk of taking a tumble looms.  The MP3 is virtually impervious to edge traps.  There are YouTube videos of people riding MP3s down flights of stairs at a 45 degree angle.  Crazy stuff.

Who better to introduce you to the wonders of the MP3 than the legendary Jay Leno.

The MP3 also has an amazing amount of underseat storage.  I came very close to buying a 400cc MP3 instead of my Vespa GTS.

What stopped me? I wasn't thrilled with the look of the beast.  That front end dominates the bike visually.  I wasn't sure I wanted to trade off amazing styling for amazing handling.  That, and the reported weakness in the steering bearing that could be very expensive to repair.  In the end I chose the Vespa GTS and am thrilled with my choice.

We'll see if I change my mind after a day spent in the saddle of an MP3.  If I decide to recant, you'll read about it here.

Stay tuned, the Tuscan Loop will have much more in store, including some great tips on inter-continental moto touring.


RichardM said...

How long/far is the trip going to be and will it all be done on the MP3?

Unknown said...


(spam on)** I knew your trip was getting close. How many more sleeps ? How about your Italian translation app for your iPhone ? So many questions, bring your jacket ? how about helmet ? They also made a MP3 500 can you rent one of those ?
(spam off)**

Must be getting excited. so excited that you have been loosing weight due to lack of sleep and eating . . . May 1st is next week

** black lace **

I know you're going to have lots of fun

A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

Trobairitz said...

Wow. Now that sounds like a great trip. Can't wait to follow along.

I feel as though I need to bow to peer pressure from the guys above: black lace spam.......

David Masse said...

Richard it's just a one day affair. I'll post the itinerary. It's basically a loop: Pontedera then southeast towards Siena, then northwest back to Pontedera. There are some really nice medieval villages along the way, including Volterra and San Gimignano, and a good chunk of Chianti vineyards.

Oh, and that's not spam, and you forgot the "/" to turn off the not-spam.

David Masse said...

Bob, all good questions will be answered in the fullness of time. For now, I'm taking Sonja's advice and wearing my mesh jacket on the plane, and renting a helmet.

Easter did a number on my diet, so I'm back to struggling in hopes of getting closer to my target in the next three weeks.

Twenty sleeps.

I'm not wearing black lace.

David Masse said...

Brandy I hope I do the trip justice, blog-wise.

You can't fool me with that weed reference... 'black lace' indeed.

SonjaM said...

If we are going to talk about black lace, we should also include bondage, sorry, second language speaker here, I mean of course bonding... with the MP3. Maybe you are going to like it. Roland was very tempted, too but he also opted for the more stylish Vespa. One reason being that he didn't know where to put his legs...
Tuscany will be a blast, but you already know that...

Walter Cronenburg said...

Watch the hills if you're going around Barga. Some can be quite steep particularly for a 250 (my own experience). Let us know what sort of fuel economy you get on your Ted Simon special! Does it have enough luggage space under the seat - say, for more than 2 helmets or will you need to fit an additional top box? Sounds like an interesting trip. Have fun!

David Masse said...

Sonja, the ergonomics of the Vespa GTS are amazing. I agree with Roland, that's where the MP3 is likely to be challenged. I think a one day rental is the perfect opportunity to answer all the questions I have concerning that bike.

I do know that many MP3 owners have the seat pan altered and add highway pegs specifically to address the comfort and ergonomics issues.

David Masse said...

Walter, this tour will be a Sunday drive afternoon romp through the Tuscan hills. Certainly not a Ted Simon-worthy trip. I agree that a 400cc or 500cc MP3 would handle that terrain more competently, but my choices for a scooter are limited to 125cc Vespa LXs or the one MP3.

Even if the bike struggles it will be a blast. Given the venue, the watchwords will be piano, piano rather than presto, presto.

Unknown said...

The scenery and roads are incredible... have a great trip and can't wait too hear your comments on the mp3 .. piano , piano :) enjoy !

David Masse said...

Thanks Howard. This will be the vacation of a lifetime. We are truly blessed.

ScooterMadness said...

That trike looks like a ton of fun to ride around on :)

David Masse said...

Scooter, I'm certainly looking forward to finding out first hand.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.