Pirelli’s re-imagined Scorpion represents the relative newcomer’s second-generation mountain bike design.
Trail and enduro versions are available of the new Pirelli Scorpion; the latter here with a meatier tread and casing suitable for all-mountain riding.
With multiple lug sizes, orientations and a more directional layout, the complex new Scorpion stands out from most blockier designs in its category that frequently resemble either popular Maxxis tyres or uniform motocross rubber. Both the S and R versions tested have unique treads too, targeting soft conditions and rear use respectively. They share offset shoulder blocks with alternating knobs, but the R gets lower profile central paddles that are perpendicular to the rolling direction.
Unusually, Pirelli use a single Smartgrip compound throughout, which claims high grip in both wet and dry conditions that remains predictable as the tyre wears down – other tyres can wear through the sticky outer compound to a firmer base. Enduro models use multiple reinforcement layers including a rubber tread wrap and sidewall bumpers to reduce pinch flats too. They were the easiest tyres on test to install, and the Scorpions held air perfectly from the first ride.
Both models have a unique high-energy feel and roll almost unbelievably fast considering the reasonably aggressive tread patterns. Evidence of this meant on a local trail we’ve hit hundreds of times, we boosted skyward further off the first jump than ever before.
The flip side of the extreme pace and lively ride is that they’re seriously springy and undamped. Whatever the pressure, expect to bounce and skip over small bumps and hollows in the ground, since these Scorpions apparently gain and maintain speed by not squishing much to maintain contact and ground control. This trait even saw our test bike bottoming out harshly where other tyres didn’t with the exact same shock pressure – the only logical explanation being Pirelli’s rubber and casing absorbs way less impact energy.
This disconnected behaviour translates to a very nervous feel over roots and rocks and edgy cornering where the comparatively-smaller offset shoulder blocks flutter and chatter at any lean angle, rather than smearing or holding fast for traction and grip.
Tough and super-fast rolling might work for a steady-away rider eking out big miles, but, we disliked the edgy, nervous feel and feel that most riders, whatever their level, will seek a tyre with more security and confidence than the Scorpion.