Pirelli says that “Power is Nothing Without Control” so how does the new range of Pirelli Scorpion Enduro and Trail tyres perform?
Just over 2 years ago, Pirelli launched the Scorpion MTB tyre range consisting of a collection of unique tyre designs suited for XC, Trail and Enduro. A lot can change in 2 years though, and as riders have come to expect more aggressive treads for ever-changing, technical terrain, Pirelli has made a few updates to make their rubber even better.
The new range consists of XC, Trail, Enduro and eMTB tyres, and each of the new Scorpion designs is easy to identify thanks to clear and simple labelling. For example, a Scorpion XC M is designed for cross-country riding in mixed terrain, whereas a Scorpion Trail S if aimed at trail riders taking to the mountain in soft or loose conditions.
It’s a simple system that makes choosing a new tyre far easier than some brands make it:
- RC – World Cup level performance (XC only)
- H – Hardpack for ulitmate speed. (XC and Trail only)
- M – Mixed terrain
- S – Soft and loose terrain.
- R – Rear specific in mixed terrain
On top of those markings, each Scorpion is simply called XC, Trail, Enduro or EMTB and those tyres are designed and optimised using Pirelli’s own sidewall, protection and compound technologies.
Pirelli doesn’t label each of its tyres with a specific compound type but instead uses a Smartgrip concept across the range. What this means is that each tyre feature a compound designed and optimised for its specific use from tread pattern and profile to the rubber compound itself.
Smartgrip promises to be tear-resistant, and be able to offer optimal grip in wet or dry conditions. Pirelli also claims that Smartgrip offers better performance over the lifespan of the tyre and that even wear and tear doesn’t have too much of an undesired effect on traction. Though that’s not to say you can run them bald and hope for the same grip as a new tyre.
Riders enjoying the benefits of motor assist on their bikes get the option of SmartGrip+ on their eMTB tyres. This compound has a naturally sourced chemical component called Lignin added to the rubber. Adding this component is said to not affect the dry or wet weather chemical grip of the rubber, but does result in a 10% increase in tension strength to improve durability when mounted to a heavier and more powerful eMTB.
Pirelli Scorpion First Impressions
Extra, the distributor for Pirelli in the UK, sent over a few of the new tyres to try ahead of the launch. Knowing I’m no XC rider, I was sent a pair of the new Pirelli Scorpion Enduro S tyres, a single Scorpion Trail S and a single Scorpion Enduro R, and I have been testing them on the Project Purple Pole and my awesome YT Izzo Pro Race.
The Izzo has spent much of the time with matching Enduro S tyres front and rear, because it basically is a short travel enduro bike (only with a 150mm fork now), and my Pole Taival has spent much of the time running the Enduro R on the rear and Trail S upfront. Each of the tyres I tested is the 29 x 2.4in versions, but they are also available in 27.5in.
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro S First Impressions
- Size Tested: 29 x 2.4in
- Claimed Weight: 1050g
- Casing: 60tpi
- Technology: Hardwall
- Position on bike: front and rear
- Price: £62.99
The Enduro S is aimed at enduro riding in soft and loose conditions. The tyre is designed for use front and rear, and that’s how I have been testing them.
Aimed at the more aggressive end of the market the Enduro S tyre has a full bead to bead Nylon reinforced belt across its construction. This extra protection comes as part of the Hardwall technology that also incorporates thick rubber bead inserts. The extra reinforcement allows the Enduro S improved stability across the carcass and also allows the tyre to be run at lower pressures.
The tread design uses an arrow type central pattern made of two parts. Every other ‘arrow’ runs a slightly wider spacing from the previous which helps when transferring traction from the centre to the side tread when leaning in a turn. The side knobs also run an alternating pattern. This time an almost heart-shaped knob sits closer to the centre with a chunkier block design in between making up the cornering sidewall. The sidewall tread is reinforced to prevent it from squirming when pushed hard.
As Pirelli markets the Smartgrip compound as an all-weather rubber, it’s not surprising to see that each tread block features sipes. What is neat though is the detailing closer to the carcass. Extra material links each knob and a thin border of rubber wraps around each knob for added protection against tearing.
On the trail, the Scorpion Enduro S rolls well and has an energetic feel to it. Sometimes tyres feel a little too sticky or sluggish, but the Smartgrip compound is a good balance that feels spritely on road climbs but gives plenty of traction on the way back down again. The well-spaced knob design and shortish block height aid rolling, and have enough mechanical traction to bite into soft dirt for plenty of support and grip in corners.
Being the S, these tyres are aimed at soft conditions and it’s in the loam and dirt where the Enduro S really shine. While I haven’t been able to ride them in the wet yet, loose dirt seems to be where these tyres can really run their magic. On a recent test ride around Cannock, I was blown away by the grip on soil filled corners and the angle of lean you could place on the Pirelli’s without any breakaway in traction. Only on the armoured bike park type trails with loose stones sprinkled across the top, is where I lost a little confidence in the Scorpion’s sting, but on subsequent rides I’ve learned to trust them in these situations too, making a mental note to really push and lean them over for the best results.
A recent trip to Helvellyn also gave the Hardwall construction a good test on fast rocky terrain with no issues even at lower pressures. The tyres roll and pick up speed well, and on climbs allowed me to overtake my ebike riding companion on the really steep and loose stuff, though I did instantly need to take a rest.
Pirelli Scorpion Trail S First Impressions
- Size Tested: 29×2.4
- Claimed Weight: 950g
- Casing: 60tpi
- Technology: Prowall
- Position on bike: front
- Price: £54.99
The Trail S features the same tread pattern as the Enduro S, so it can be ran front and rear, but I have only tested the tyre on the front. The Trail S even uses the same rubber compound as the Enduro version too, only the construction technology is different. Instead of the tougher Hardwall, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail S uses a lightweight Prowall technology for lower overall weight.
Obviously, a lower weight means faster rolling and more agile handling, but it generally comes at the expense of puncture protection. Pirelli hasn’t done away with all the puncture protection but has limited Prowall to the sidewall of the tyre, starting at the bead and running to just below the tread pattern. The technology means a 100g saving over the enduro tire, and doesn’t sacrifice sidewall protection.
The design of the tread is exactly the same as the Enduro S, and because they each use the same compound the level of traction and grip on offer is equal too. However due to the lower weight and slightly lower levels of reinforcement, you might need to run higher pressures to retain the same level of stability as the Enduro tyre. Again it’s natural or loam covered trails that the Trail S is made for and this is where they excel. My local trails aren’t really classed as ‘trail’ and are much more ‘enduro’ and gravity focussed with plenty of sharp rocks and steep loose shoots to navigate. So far I’ve not had a problem with punctures and the level of grip is on par with the Enduro S, only giving a little when really pushed hard due to the difference in reinforcement. A great tyre that I would consider as an enduro-lite/trail tyre.
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro R First Impressions
- Size Tested: 29 x 24
- Casing: 60tpi
- Technology: Hardwall
- Claimed Weight:
- Position on bike: rear
- Price: £62.99
If you have been following, then you’ll know that the R in Scorpion Enduro R stands for ‘rear’, and as I tested this rear tyre on a hardtail it made a lot of sense to use the Enduro flavour. Like the Enduro S above, the Enduro R, boasts a thick rubber insert at the bead plus a complete Nylon layer across the construction. These details allow lower pressures to run while reducing the chance of a puncture, especially important when using on a hardtail.
While this is a rear-specific tyre, it’s also worth considering the tread design and low profile of the knobs and I can imagine some riders running these front and rear in certain climates. This is a great dry weather rear tyre, but for loose conditions, you would probably be better running the S front and rear.
That said we have had very nice dusty and dry trails to test on over the last few weeks, and these are perfect conditions for Pirelli’s design.
The tread design of the R has elements of the S but is designed with an overall much lower tread height and aggressively ramped knobs for improved rolling resistance. The side knobs of the R are identical to the S so there is plenty of traction on hand when pushed over into corners or riding off camber.
Taking up much of the central tread is a ‘bow’ shape consisting of 3 tread knobs. The central a simple block with the outer two featuring sipes for improved wet and damp weather performance. This ‘bow’ design alternates with 2 heavily ramped knobs that combine to create an arrow. These two knobs are spaced close together leaving enough space either side for a transition knob to ensure there’s a natural and predictable transition from the flat out speed and cornering grip.
In our current dry conditions the Pirelli Scorpion R is an extremely fast rolling design, but because the side tread is equal to the S cornering stability isn’t compromised for low resistance. Again, like each of the Pirelli tyres I have tested, I haven’t had an issue with punctures even when on my most recent ride I did feel a couple of rim dings.
Overall, it’s still far too early to tell how well these tyres will fair after a summer of hard riding, but my initial thoughts are very positive and I’m excited once again that we’re seeing other brands enter markets to offer us more choice. If you can’t wait for my final longterm test, and you ride in mostly natural conditions with plenty of loose dirt I would highly recommend mounting a pair of S and seeing how far you can lean on them, it’s pretty epic.
Pirelli Scorpion Pricing
- Scorpion XC: SRP £54.99, Team edition £56.99
- Scorpion Trail: SRP £54.99, Team edition £56.99
- Scorpion Enduro: SRP £62.99
- Scorption E-MTB: SRP £64.99
I’ll be riding the Scorpions over summer to see how they hold up and will follow this review up with a longterm report.
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 8 weeks|