Every company has its pet projects. Honda has its clutch-free shifting designs, and Piaggio has leaning three-wheelers. Piaggio didn’t invent the idea, but in recent years, it’s been the company that popularized the design (although Yamaha’s certainly running with it too).
Now, two newly unearthed patents show Piaggio is working on a leaning three-wheeler with standard two-wheels-in-back layout, as well as a new two-wheels-in-front design, similar to its existing MP3 scooters.
The advantage of the extra wheel up front is added front-end grip, at least with the Niken. Not everyone likes the look, but the MP3 has sold well for Piaggio, so it makes sense to keep developing it. You can see one of the images from the patent drawing on the left-hand side, above. The patent itself (read it here) is for a new shock absorber design, so while this setup may not be a radical departure from previous MP3 designs, obviously Piaggio sees the need to tweak it a bit.
The second drawing, on the right side of the image, shows something far more interesting: a leaning trike with two wheels in back. This layout is much more rare, although it’s been done before, by BSA and then Honda. The Piaggio design looks fairly complicated, with lots of CV joints and other trick parts, but it also looks like it would be very stable and planted. For riders who want a more traditional three-wheeler look, this could be just the ticket—see the patent here.
Remember, neither patent is a guarantee that Piaggio will actually sell vehicles with these designs, but they do show the Italian manufacturer is ready to push its ideas even further, instead of giving up on leaning three-wheelers.