Three-wheeled vehicles don't get the best press - just think about the flak picked up by the Reliant Regal van - but that could be about to change with the arrival of Piaggio's MP3, the bike that thinks it's a trike.

Instead of having two wheels at the back the Italians have put them at the front. (Pity that Piaggio is not imported to South Africa - will somebody please take note and do something about it! - Editor)

It's best not to take too close a look at what's there. Extra braking power there may be but that doesn't negate the fact that, seen head on, the MP3 looks more like a moon buggy than a style accessory for city commuting.

Once astride it, though, everything changes. Even though it is a mere 125cc machine (a 250cc engine is also available), I was taken aback by the feeling of riding a decent-sized bike. Never have I felt less like the Susie-scooter filling in a truck sandwich.

Piaggio designed the MP3 hoping that it would tempt potential but nervous scooter-owners. As gimmicks go, it deserves to work: as well as having the stability of an wheel the bike has two natty parking-brakes - one that stops it toppling sideways and one doing the same job as a car handbrake.

I particularly liked locking the leaning mechanism while waiting at traffic lights and sitting there with my feet up but you have to be careful because one touch of the throttle and it moves off, which takes some getting used to.

I also almost had a couple of nasty moments when I thought I'd flicked the required parking switch but hadn't.

The flip side of such a big bike - its running weight is 199kg - is that there is a lot of it to manoeuvre. Unlike the electric Vectrix (the only other large bike I've ridden), the MP3 has no reverse and the turning circle is lousy so getting in and out of the crowded motorcycle bays dotted across London is something of a nightmare.

The extra weight also means that the MP3 is not as nippy as most 125cc machines. It's also that much fatter and that limits squeezing potential through crowded lanes of traffic.

If you decide to splash out £3999 to take home the 125 (an extra £300 will double its engine size) then be prepared to be the centre of attention.

"That's serious," was the verdict of one kid on the back streets of east London, but on balance I'll stick with my Vespa. - The Indepenent, London