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Pirelli Scorpion Trail and Enduro tire review

Pirelli has revamped its trail and enduro tire range but do the Scorpion’s literally have a sting in their tail?

Pirelli Scorpion
(Image: © Pirelli )

Our Verdict

Seriously fast for chunky-looking tires with reasonable low speed dry/intermediate/loose grip and solid durability. Harsh feel and minimal damping make for a banging, disconnected ride as speeds and impacts increase though

For

  • Fast Rolling
  • Tough
  • Easy fit
  • Reasonable traction in smoother, softer conditions

Against

  • Bottle ejecting, suspension bottoming harshness
  • Clattery not connected
  • Limited lean grip

Pirelli has been making MTB tires for a while but the company has recently revamped the Trail and Enduro range for more aggressive riders. We’ve been on them for a while and they’re certainly coming into their own more as the trails dry out. The high-energy carcass makes them super quick for a chunky-looking tire but that means a harsh, bike and body hammering ride when you start hitting stuff hard.

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Pirelli Scorpion

The pronounced tread works best on terrain that can mold to the tire (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Pirelli Scorpion

The tread and compound helps the tire roll very quickly for an Enduro tire (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design and performance

We tested both the soft conditions ’S’ and rear-specific ‘R’ treads on both the ‘Trail’ and ‘Enduro’ grade carcasses in 2.4in width and 29 and 27.5-inch size. You can mix and match with different versions though so we’ll split the test down into the treads and carcasses.

Both Trail and Enduro use an overlapping 60tpi base. Trail gets an added nylon sidewall strip and under tread breaker to create what Pirelli calls the ProWall carcass. The Enduro takes cues from Pirelli’s Motocross tires and gets a nylon reinforcing wrap from bead to bead and a thicker butyl rubber strip above the rim to create the Hardwall carcass. Both are relatively light for size considering they’re designed to match Maxxis EXO+ and DD tires in terms of protection. Even handling the tires before you fit them it’s obvious they’re fairly stiff and the way the Trail scuffs and recoils away from rocks even when you’re hike-a-biking gives warning of what’s likely to happen on the way down. Run pressures in the low 20s or high teens (psi) and there is some low-speed compliance in the Trail carcass and there’s plenty of precision. It’s still definitely staccato-rather-than-sticky as speed and impact loads increase though and if things get rooty and rocky it’ll feel like someone has wound more high-speed compression onto your dampers. That feeling is even more pronounced on the Enduro carcass which kicks and skips around with no perceptible damping effect. That saw us ejecting water bottles and bottom-out suspension regularly on bikes/setups we’ve never had issues on before and forearms and feet take a battering, too.

On the flip side, both carcasses roll a lot faster than you’d expect given the audibly gappy tread and, because of the amount of rattle coming through them, they feel even faster than they physically are. That still applies at lower pressures too, but inflation is easy and we never had any issues with burping either.

In terms of tread, the first thing to realize is that what Pirelli categorizes as ‘Soft’ doesn’t cover what most riders would think of from that tag. To be specific they’re “not intended” for use on ‘wet rocks’ or ‘slimy hard pack’ and only “possible use” on ‘mixed wet roots’. That’s partly due to the lack of compliance around sharp edges but not helped initially by the fact that the tires have a lot of release compound on so it’ll be an hour at least before they don’t just repel anything damp like they’ve been waxed. The tire-specific SmartGRIP Compound is still relatively hard for an aggro tire even once you’ve worn it in too so it’s the wide-spaced tread blocks that you’re relying on for grip in loamy and muddy conditions where the ground can mold to the unyielding tire rather than vice versa. In the right conditions, traction when braking, driving, and, in more upright riding stances is decent, if you like a precise, sharp-rather-than-sticky feel there’s plenty of feedback to work with. Hard blocks and limited projection mean there’s no extra grip waiting if you push the lean angles so you need to be careful not to overshoot on the noticeable center-to-edge transition. While it looks less aggressive the R tread is intended for wet rocks and roots and slimy hardpack but the compound and stiff carcass still need more care than normal. Unsurprisingly the shallower tread means it struggles on typical UK trails where wet rocks and roots also mean muddy sections. The side knobs are more staggered too which means transition grip is more consistent but there’s not much to hang hope on when you’re getting violent with your vectors. 

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Pirelli Scorpion

Both Enduro and Trail Scorpion tires are best suited to dry trails (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Pirelli Scorpion

The tires are quite light especially considering the amount of protection offered (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

They are very quick rolling in either Enduro or Trail type though and we’ve had no visible signs of carcass strain or more than cosmetic scuff damage from regular bouldering battering. Even though we’ve been bottoming out suspension a lot more than normal that’s had no ill effects on the tires themselves or the rims either when we’ve used the Enduro carcass.

Verdict

Pirelli’s new Scorpion Trail and Enduro tires are seriously fast, tough and easy to set up. They work okay for less dynamic riding in softer conditions and literally fly on groomed bike park trails in summer. Longevity also boosts their investment value. They don’t offer any extra bonus grip though and the unyielding carcass makes for a harsh, disconnected ride if you’re hitting chunder and chatter at speed or looking for rubber that flatters your suspension rather than battering it. 

Tech Specs: Pirelli Scorpion Trail and Enduro tires

  • Price: Trail $69.90 / £54.99 Enduro $79.90 / £62.99
  • Weight: Trail S 29 x 2.4in 960g, Enduro R 29 x 2.4in 1090g
  • Sizes: 29 and 27.5 x 2.4 and 2.6