The famous car tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, has branched out into the e-MTB market with its new Scorpion e-MTB tyre range. Designed for aggressive trail and enduro riding, the Scorpion range features three new e-MTB-specific tyres to cater for different trail surfaces.
The new tyres are based on Pirelli’s existing Scorpion enduro tread profiles and design, featuring a front and rear mixed terrain set as well as an S model for soft or loamy conditions. Pirelli claims that these tyres are among the lightest tyres available that offer e-MTB reliability.
While the tread pattern has been carried over from the existing Scorpion tyre range Pirelli has introduced two new technologies to improve grip and sidewall protection.
Pirelli’s reformulated its tyre compound to create SmartGRIP+ which it claims keeps the same grip levels as standard SmartGRIP but is better suited to handle the additional torque levels generated with an e-MTB. Pirelli developed SmartGRIP+ in its Racing plants where it develops F1 tyre compounds, adding a naturally sourced chemical component from the paper pulping process called Lignin.
The e-MTB tyres feature a reinforced HyperWALL bead and sidewall construction, introducing a “woven fabric flipper” that wraps around the rubber sidewall insert and the tyre bead to anchor the two together and improve stability and reduce the risk of pinch flats according to Pirelli’s internal laboratory tests. The rest of the construction uses a multi-ply 60tpi nylon casing. All three tyres are tubeless-ready.
The front and rear Scorpion M and R models are designed for trail and all-mountain riding with a tread that Pirelli says will work over a range of different conditions from hard pack to roots and loose rock. The rear uses a different tread pattern with the centre knobs grouped horizontally for better braking and climbing bite, the side knobs are more pronounced and spaced out presumably to aid off-camber grip.
Pirelli’s Scorpion S tyre is its most aggressive enduro tread and has been designed for soft ground where the widely spaced knobs are able to dig in and grip the ground whilst avoiding getting clogged up. The S model comes in one tread pattern to be used on the front or rear.
First ride impressions
We have been lucky enough to get a set of the Scorpion E-MTB S tyres pre-release and have managed to get a couple of rides on them to see how they handle. The weather has been particularly unpredictable recently so we were able to try them out in a range of conditions.
The tread on the Scorpion S features a centre knob configuration that interchanges between close and medium or widely spaced to create an offset pattern and prominent shoulder knobs. Many tyre brands use a similar layout and its a setup that has proven popular amongst many riders. The tread overall is quite tall indicating its desire to dig into soft terrain. Usually, this translates into a sluggish ride quality on hardpack but we found that the tyre rolled surprisingly well. A relief to those that need to do a little pedalling to get to the trailhead.
On the trail, the tread does a good job of digging into the soil to offer planted straight line and a beautifully smooth transition as you enter a corner. The tyre has a very even rounded feel as it transitions from the centre towards the edge although it much prefers to be eased into a corner. The sudden transition into a catch berm seemed to unsettle the tyre which was surprising considering its overall performance on steep and technical terrain. Channelling my inner Sam Hill, I found the tyre much preferred being eased through the inside line and making full use of the tall tread.
The tyres really need to be able to dig into the dirt to see the best performance and if the trails are dryer or dusty/greasy over hardpack you will need to look for areas of softness and work harder loading the tyres to assure that the knobs find their purchase. If you don’t, the tyre will let go in an unpredictable manner and there were a couple of release and re-grip incidences that resulted in some spectacular high-speed snap understeer and oversteer moments. This is likely down to the lack of siping on any of the knobs, while improving the intended soft ground traction, limiting the deformation of the stout shoulder knobs. Fairweather riders and those frequently tackling rock rolls would likely be better suited to the Scorpion M and R models.
I also found that on loose rocky surfaces the rear tyre had a tendency to squirm enough for me to check whether I had a flat, strangely the front never gave me this feeling. Other than the front being a 29er and the rear being 27.5-inch the only other difference was tyre pressure. Tyre pressure can make a huge difference to the characteristics of a tyre and unfortunately, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to further experiment. Again, this is not the tyres intended surface so shouldn't really be an issue for those that are riding the trails this tyre is intended for.
Climbing back up was decent and I never felt that there was a lack of traction on anything but the slickest or greasiest section where it’s expected that any tyre would be struggling to grip. If the ground is soft off-camber or very textured rock I found climbing performance was good and managed to clear a couple of sections that have previously been a struggle.
This is unlikely to be a tyre that appeals to a schralper looking for on-the-dime cornering, however, for those that are gentle on the brakes, calculated and focused on the fastest line down the mountain this could be a good option. The Scorpion S is a tyre that embodies the Navy Seal “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast” mantra, rather than being subjected to handfuls of brakes and sudden and forced cornering. The tyre shows its best characteristics with a considered line choice flowing smoothly between corners looking for ground to dig into.
Sizing is limited, with Pirelli offering the tyres in 29x2.6 and 27.5x2.6 which will suit most riders needs. The Pirelli Scorpion e-MTB range will be available from 30th June and retails for $79.90 (£64.99).
Pirelli Scorpion e-MTB tyre specs
- Price: $79.90 / £64.99 / €69.90
- Sizes: 29 x 2.6, 27.5 x 2.6
- Scorpion M weight (claimed): 1270g (29in), 1200g (27.5in)
- Scorpion R weight (claimed): 1270g (29in), 1200g (27.5in)
- Scorpion R weight (actual): 1343g (29in), 1236g (27.5in)