Long gone are the days when just a handful of manufacturers shared the market for MTB tires. Italian tire colossus Pirelli want a slice of the pie too, and are working frantically to expand their MTB portfolio. We put the Pirelli Scorpion Enduro Race M flagship model to the test to find out what it’s capable of.
MAXXIS, Continental, Michelin, Goodyear… The list of tire manufacturers that are also trying their luck in the mountain biking segment is getting longer and longer, and Pirelli want a slice of the cake too. To get their foot in the door, the Italian tire colossus are also sponsoring several racing teams in the UCI downhill and enduro World Cups. The flagship model in Pirelli’s enduro tire portfolio is the Scorpion Race Enduro M which, as a true all-rounder, is supposed to deliver a solid performance over a variety of terrain, from hardpack bike park tracks to loose natural loam, providing you with huge amounts of grip regardless of the conditions. What makes it even more of an all-rounder is the fact that it can be used for both the front and rear wheels. However, the Scorpion Race Enduro M is only available in two versions: in 29″ and 27.5″, both of which come in 2.5″ width. If you want to roll on Italian rubber, you’ll have to fork out € 89.90 per tire.
To ensure the highest level of traction, Pirelli divided the tread pattern into three sections. The centre knobs are relatively wide and arranged in pairs, with transition lugs ensuring a smooth transition from the centre tread to the shoulder knobs. In addition, the transition lugs are supposed to support the side lugs in corners and thus to provide more predictable handling. The side lugs are all identical, both in size and shape. Particularly striking is that the shoulder knobs are extraordinarily tall and almost at the same height as the centre knobs. The dual-ply, 120 tpi DualWall casing was developed specifically for enduro riding and is supposed to offer a good compromise between puncture resistance and ride feeling. In the bead area, which is the most vulnerable part of the tire, Pirelli used an additional layer intended to improve puncture protection. And while the dual-layer casing might not be the lightest out there, the Scorpion Race Enduro M lies in the midfield of tough enduro tires in terms of weight, with the 29″ model tipping the scales at 1,260 g. Of course, maximum grip calls for a soft rubber compound! Pirelli use their SmartEVO DH compound, which feels incredibly soft to the touch and should therefore deliver plenty of traction for aggressive riders.
We had the opportunity to test the Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M tire over several weeks and on all sorts of terrain, from our loamy, root-scattered home trails to fast hard-pack downhill tracks and bike park lines – basically everything a good enduro all-round tire should be able to handle. We mounted the tires on Stans Flow MK4 alloy rims, running 1.55 bar at the front and 1.7 bar at the rear. When climbing on tarmac and fire roads, you’ll quickly realise that the Scorpion is no KOM chaser. It feels rather sluggish on climbs and produces a rather loud background noise, which is perfectly normal for a gravity-oriented tire with soft rubber compound. However, the strong rolling resistance is also noticeable when you drop into the trail. In a nutshell, the Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M isn’t exactly fast rolling and doesn’t accelerate willingly. However, once you get them up to speed, you’ll enjoy the wide threshold zone between grip and slide. When cornering, the Pirelli Scorpion is incredibly responsive, following the contours of the trail as you lean into bends without unexpectedly breaking loose. And if you get a little too excited, the predictable breakaway point gives you a chance to adjust your line, with the aggressive tread pattern and soft rubber compound always ensuring plenty of grip, whether you’re riding on flowing trails or committing to techy highlines with plenty of roots.
The Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M is pretty good, but not perfect. It generates excellent traction and cornering grip with a predictable breakaway point and wide threshold zone between grip and slide. It also generates tons of traction on technical trails with nasty root carpets, letting you know clearly when it’s about to break away. Unfortunately, braking traction is sub-par, which can quickly lead to tricky situations on steep or fast trails – Pirelli urgently need to improve this!
- Wide range of applications
- Excellent cornering traction
- Good grip on roots and on technical trails
- High rolling resistance
- Very poor braking traction
- Poor damping qualities
Test duration: 1 month
Price: € 89.90
Weight: 1,260 g (Manufacturer’s specifications)
For more info, visit Pirelli.com
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Words: Felix Rauch Photos: Peter Walker