The Pirelli Scorpion name is well-known in motorsport, and the Scorpion range of mountain bike tyres is said to really deliver on the trails. Here's our first look.
In early 2019, Pirelli released their mountain bike version of the Scorpion tyre range. With a name well-known in motorsport, Pirelli had already found fans in cycling when their road tyres hit tarmac in 2017.
The Scorpion range was based on making tyres that were specific for conditions, with Rear Specific treads, then tread patterns for Soft conditions, Mixed conditions and Hard conditions.
Pirelli also produce widths that are specific for how you ride. So with 2.2" and 2.4" LITE options for cross-country, 2.4" reinforced models for Trail, and 2.6" (and 2.4" rear option) for Enduro riding and racing, Pirelli have just about all bases covered. And this includes their new eMTB specific tyres and some XC specific models developed with the Trek Pirelli MTB Team.
Casing thickness, rubber, tread depth and specific tread shapes all change as you move from 2.2" tyres through to the 2.4" Trail and 2.6" Enduro. We tested the 2.2" and some 2.4" models when released, but the 2.4" Trail and 2.6" Enduro models have had updates to casings and tread profiles - and we've just had some land to test.
A closer look at the Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyres
Having terrain specific tyres as a system means Pirelli take a lot of the guess work out of choosing tyres for you. Put a Rear specific on to suit your wheel size (27.5" or 29") and the use, then match it with a tyre for Soft conditions, Mixed conditions, or Hard conditions on the front. There isn't a 2.6" Hard conditions front tyre - as fast rolling, low tread height front tyres for Enduro don't really seem to be a thing!
Here's a run down on the 4 tread patterns:
From the looks of it, you can see that the Rear specific has wide paddle like tread. It's all about traction for acceleration and braking, without crazy edge knobs so it's easy to lean over and push. There are good transition knobs between the edge and centre, for a consistent feel when cornering.
The Trail model has Pirelli's ProWall reinforcing, while the Enduro models have Hardwall, for even more strength above the bead and beneath the tread.
This tread looks a bit like something from the Pirelli Scorpion MX range, and the Soft terrain tread is designed for soft conditions. Mud, sand, very soft loam - places where the tread really needs to dig into the ground.
So, I said that the Enduro tyres are 2.6, but these come in Enduro 2.4" and 2.6", as the Soft conditions tyres are designed to shed mud, as well as hook up in deep loam. Like the rest of the range, the Enduro models have the greater reinforcement of Hardwall, compared to Prowall with Trail. More on those casings in our coming review.
The goldlilocks combination with the Rear specific tyre, the Mixed conditions tyre is designed to work for everything from wet and loose conditions through to faster and firmer trail conditions.
That means you get tread that is closer together in the centre, and knobs that are a little smaller than the Soft conditions tyres, but there are more of them for great transitions from straight line speed to tipping it into corners. There's two rows of transition knobs before the edge knobs, so there should be really high levels of support.
The Prowall v Hardwall difference remains for Trail or Enduro, and in the 27.5" Enduro models you can get a 2.4" or 2.6" option. But for 29", you just roll on 2.6".
This tyre is only available in 2.4" Trail, plus the 2.4" Lite and 2.2" options. Infact, the H tyre is popular front and rear for some riders who like to go super fast on their short travel bikes.
As you can see, the centre tread is really close together for fast rolling, and across the three rows of tread blocks to the edge knobs, they're all smaller tread with wide bases of support for minimal squirm on harder terrain.
Pirelli say it's the best trade off between speed and grip, and if you're out to chase some KOMs on fast trails on your trail bike, this is probably where you should be looking.
Testing the Pirelli Scorpion Trail and Enduro tyres
This is falling on the shoulders of two of our testers, and all the tyres are being mounted up to wheels with a 30mm internal width, which is what both the Trail and Enduro models have been designed around.
We're using Ride Mechanic's Hoop Goop sealant to set them all up tubeless, and our testers will be working out their own baseline tyre pressures.
One of our testers, Ben Morrison, is keen to put the whole range through their paces.
"The new Scorpion Enduro range from Pirelli have some very promising features at a first glance! You get 3 tyres to choose from including a rear specific compound when you need a little extra speed."
"It’s hard not to notice what looks to be a very high quality construction with little to no imperfections in the sidewalls as you transition across the tyre. Pirelli's HardWall structure in the Enduro tyres features a promising bead-to-bead protection and a hard rubber insert right above the bead for extra reliability and likely some nice rim protection."
PIrelli use a single compound rubber, called SmartGrip. So each tyre is made of one compound that is designed for the purpose of that given tyre.
"It is hard to tell if the SmartGrip rubber will stand the test of time just yet, but Pirelli do claim that this magic mix (they make it in Italy then ship to Taiwan for construction) that comes from their power sports background should still offer you the grip you need even when the tread starts to wear. The rubber feels very hard, but it is Canberra and the workshop is cold! I’ll know more once on the trails."
Stay tuned for a complete review of the Pirelli Scorpion Trail and Enduro tyre systems in early September. Pricing for the Scorpion MTB tyres start at $99.99, and you can contact FE Sports to find out who your closest dealer is.
We'll have an updated review of the 2.2" and 2.4" XC tyres with the XC RC tyres in September as well.