Pirelli Scorpion mountain bike tyres explained

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The complete range of Pirelli Scorpion mountain bike tyre has evolved into a comprehensive offering of high-performance rubber. In this guide we’ll analyse the range so you can see what Scorpions are for you.

The first point to get across is that all – yes, all – of Pirelli’s mountain bike tyres are called Scorpion. You can almost take the words ‘Pirelli Scorpion‘ and treat them as you would a brand name.

pirelli scorpion race tyre tire
Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M

The next thing to get your head around is that there are two different levels of tyre tech burliness. Most of the tyres cover an XC through to Trail Bike remit and they’re simply umbrella-d under the Pirelli Scorpion name. Then there are the more burly, gravity race focussed tyres that are aptly called Pirelli Scorpion Race.

What makes the Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres different? As well as beefier casings, they use more than one type of rubber; soft rubber with firm rubber underneath. Dual compound in other words. The other Pirelli Scorpion tyres use one rubber compound which Pirelli claims offers consistent levels of what they call ‘chemical grip’. In other words, friction through the entire lifespan of the tyre.

Then there are words and letters suffixed after the Pirelli Scorpion and Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres that denote what each tyre is specifically designed for.

pirelli scorpion race tyre tire

The four ‘Pirelli Scorpion’ tyres

  • XC
  • Trail
  • EMTB
  • Enduro
pirelli scorpion race tyre tire

The four ‘Pirelli Scorpion Race’ tyres

  • M
  • S
  • Mud
  • T

Seeing as you’re on this page and reading this, you are probably something of a tyre geek. So let’s start with the flagship Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres first.

The Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres are the very latest tyres to be released by Pirelli. They’re currently the tyres being used by Trek and Canyon on the Downhill and Enduro World Cup Series.

As mentioned, these tyres are the first tyres in the Scorpion lineup to use a dual compound construction. This is because the outer layer is so soft (in the 40s Shore-A range) that it needs a firmer rubber underneath to help support the knobs to stop them folding over and/or tearing under the extreme loads generated by cornering and braking.

This dual compound rubber is called SmartEVO DH rubber and is used on all the Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres.

What do the letters mean?

M = Mixed. The all-rounder tread pattern basically. Should be ideal for the vast majority of UK riding conditions.

S = Soft conditions. Either loose wet or loose dry.

Mud = Mud! Filth specific spike.

T = Traction. Broadly rear-specific ‘paddle tread’ tyre for straight line traction. As with other brand’s supposed ‘rear’ tyres, the T tyres can be used up front if you want. Also, if you look closely at the tread you’ll notice that there’s a pre-shaped area on the centre tread that can be customised and trimmed to achieve a more open tread design.

Race Enduro versus Race DH

How do the Race Enduro tyres differ from the Race DH tyres? The key difference is the sidewall. The Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Race tyres feature a Dual Wall carcass made of multiple layers of 120tpi material. The Pirelli Scorpion Race DH tyres have a Dual Wall carcass made of multiple layers of 60tpi material, which is a bit heavier but significantly more resistant to slices and punctures.

Both the Enduro Race and the Enduro DH tyres also have more rubber placed around the bead area for increased tyre support at lower pressures.

Okay, that’s the Pirelli Scorpion Race tyres dealt with. Let’s turn our attention the regular Pirelli Scorpion tyres now…

The regular Pirelli Scorpion tyres

The Standard Scorpions, if you will. As listed earlier, there are four regular Pirelli Scorpion tyres: XC, Trail, EMTB and Enduro.

Yep, Enduro again. The regular Pirelli Scorpion Enduro tyres have a revised tread pattern compared to Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Race tyres (having said that, if you put the S and the M versions of the Enduro and Enduro Race tyres side-by-side there’s a clear family resemblance!)

pirelli scorpion xc tyre tire pro wall
Pirelli Scorpion XC tyre

Pirelli Scorpion XC tyre range

There are five tread patterns in the Pirelli Scorpion XC offering. Each of these is denoted by suffixed letters.

H = Hardpack.

M = Mixed terrain. The marathon event tyre.

S = Soft conditions.

RC = Race. World Cup XC courses.

R = Rear specific.

I’m going to be a bit cheeky here and say that there’s an argument that these tyres should have been called ‘Race’ as well. Because they are very much aimed at all out speed and racing albeit from the cross-country and marathon end of the spectrum. These have been raced by some of the world’s fastest races such as Evie Richards, Yolanda Neff and Vlad Dascalu.

All of the Pirelli Scorpion XC tyres use a single compound rubber construction (roughly 60a). Pirelli call this compound SmartGRIP.

There are two casing options: ProWALL or Lite. ProWALL casing uses a layer of 120tpi material and is augmented by sidewall reinforcements to reduce cuts and increase stability. Lite casing is also 120tpi but is designed to be race-day only rubber and does away with the reinforcements thus saving weight.

Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyre range

You can think of these as being similar to the XC tyres above but with bigger knobblies and tougher sidewalls. There are four tread patterns in the Pirelli Scorpion Trail offering. Each of these is denoted by suffixed letters.

H = Hardpack.

M = Mixed terrain all-rounder.

S = Soft conditions.

R = Rear specific.

As with the XC tyres, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres are all made from SmartGRIP single compound 60a rubber. All the Trail tyres use a 60tpi casing and feature sidewall reinforcement.

pirelli scorpion trail tyre tire

Pirelli Scorpion EMTB tyre range

E-bike specific tyres are now very much a thing. Crudely speaking, Pirelli Scorpion EMTB tyres have a very beefy casing but are allied to a middling compound SmartGRIP Gravity rubber (approx 50a). There are three tread patterns offered, each denoted by suffixed letters.

M = Mixed terrain all-rounder.

S = Soft conditions.

R = Rear specific.

The Pirelli Scorpion EMTB tyres feature HyperWALL casing. HyperWALL features a 60tpi construction, bead-to-bead protection, nylon sidewall protection and also a 30mm rubber bumper that protects the bead area from pinch-flats. All of the EMTB tyres are only available in 2.6in volume.

pirelli scorpion enduro tyre tire
Pirelli Scorpion Enduro tyre

Pirelli Scorpion Enduro tyre range

Saving the best ’til last. Or rather, saving the most UK-relevant rubbers ’til last! There are three tread patterns in the Pirelli Scorpion Enduro offering. Each of these is denoted by suffixed letters.

M = Mixed terrain all-rounder.

S = Soft conditions.

R = Rear specific.

The PIrelli Scorpion Enduro range is what the vast majority of riders in the UK should be looking to use (unless they’re particularly gravity-focussed, in which case check out the Pirelli Scorpion Race range above).

All Pirelli Scorpion Enduro tyres are constructed of single compound SmartGRIP Gravity rubber (around 50a durometer).

They are available in two casing options: ProWALL or HardWALL. ProWALL tyres use a 60tpi casing and feature sidewall reinforcement. HardWALL tyres use 60tpi casing, bead to bead protection and a 15mm rubber insert around the bead. HardWALL sits in a real ‘Goldilocks’ place in terms of casing suppleness-v-support that arguably isn’t offered by other tyre brands currently.

In terms of dimensions, Pirelli Scorpion Enduro tyres are available in 2.4in or 2.6in volume and most models are available in both 27.5in and 29in diameters.


More about the Pirelli Scorpion tyre range:


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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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