Pirelli developing gravity MTB tires with Fabien Barel

Pirelli and Fabien Barel
(Image credit: Pirelli)

The Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli has been busy developing a new range of tires for gravity riding and racing. No official model details are available yet, but the brand has announced that they've been tapping the expertise of downhill racing legend Fabien Barel. 

Barel is a three-time downhill World Champion and a seven-time French downhill National Champion, among other racing achievements. Now, he races e-MTB enduro races and consults on projects like this one with Pirelli. 

Pirelli says that Barel has been testing prototypes of the mysterious new tires. In addition, the tires will be race-tested by Enduro World Series and downhill World Cup athletes. 

"There's already a solid line of Pirelli MTB tires on the market, my job is to help complete it with models dedicated to racing, which will hopefully lead to the successes that the company has already achieved in many other sports," Barel said in a press release. "Take Formula 1, motocross or Superbike, for example. The clear objective of these new tires is to reach the top of the podiums.”

The brand has released photos of a prototype tire, so we can see at least a little bit of what they have been testing. The sidewall has a label that says "Prototype #0," and the tire is also marked with Pirelli's logo. In one photo of the prototype, we can see the tire features staggered side knobs, as well as a center tread that alternates between two-knob and three-knob horizontal blocks.

Pirelli currently offers a range of three different enduro tires. The Scorpion Enduro M is an all-around enduro tire, the Enduro R is a fast-rolling rear tire, and the Enduro S is a more aggressive tire meant for the loosest conditions.

The Scorpion Enduro range features a 60 tpi casing, Pirelli's SmartGRIP compound, and the sidewalls are reinforced with the brand's HardWALL technology. Maybe this new gravity tire will take design cues from the Scorpion Enduro range, but it's impossible to tell at this point.

No release date is known yet, but it will be interesting to see if any other prototypes are spotted in the wild this season.

Ryan Simonovich

Ryan Simonovich has been riding and racing for nearly a decade. He got his start as a cross-country mountain bike racer in California, where he cultivated his love for riding all types of bikes. Ryan eventually gravitated toward enduro and downhill racing but has also been found in the occasional road and cyclo-cross events. Today, he regularly rides the trails of Durango, Colorado, and is aiming to make a career out of chronicling the sport of cycling. 

Rides: Santa Cruz Hightower, Specialized Tarmac SL4