Mountain Bike Action Product Test: Pirelli Scorpion XC M Tire
Pirelli Scorpion XC M Tire
Pirelli has a long history in auto and motorcycle racing, as well as passenger cars and off-roading, so offering a line of competitive bicycle tires was a no-brainer for the Italian rubber company. The Scorpion M tire is said to be a do-it-all tire, with the “M” meaning it’s designed for “mixed terrain.” Pirelli also offers a hardpack (H) tire and a soft (S) compound tire. This month the wrecking crew tested Pirelli’s Scorpion M tire to see if it could live up to the promise of being an all-around performance tire.
The Scorpion features a tight, fast-rolling tread pattern for cross-country riding and uses small bridges between the knobs for added support and better mud-shedding ability. These tires are offered in 29-inch diameters with either 2.2-inch or 2.4-inch widths. Pirelli designed these tires with a single compound called SmartGrip that was developed to be applied in all conditions, producing traction in dry terrain while retaining wet weather grip. Pirelli then slightly modified each tire’s knob width, height and spacing to better suit the performance needs of different conditions.
Pirelli also offers the tires in two protection options: a Lite version and a ProWall option. The Lite version has a lighter-weight casing for performance racing, and the ProWall has a thicker casing for longer, marathon-style races. This month we put the ProWall 2.4-inch Scorpion M tire to the test.
Field test results:
When mounting the Scorpions, expect them to have a tight fit. It may require a little more muscle than usual to pull them on. To ensure this wasn’t just a tight rim and tire combo, we installed these tires on a few other rims. It was always a struggle to fit the tires around the rim. Thankfully, once they were on, we had zero issues getting these XC tires set up tubeless and ready to hit the trails. We experienced minimal air loss between rides, unlike with other tubeless rim and tire combos we’ve ridden.
Out on the trails, the Scorpions rolled exceptionally fast and maintained their speed quite well. In corners, the performance was less impressive. Maybe we were running the mixed-terrain compound when the soft compound could have been better for our terrain, but Pirelli claims the mixed-compound model is a do-it-all tire, so we pushed on with our testing. When really pushing hard and leaning into corners, the tires let go a bit, undermining our confidence but staying relaxed helped us ride out the slide and remain upright. These tires have no issues with straight-line speed, but they are not at their best diving into corners.
Keep in mind, we were even running the wider tread width. That said, when we adjusted to the way the tires reacted, we began to regain confidence, sliding around turns with more control. Riders comfortable with their bikes moving underneath them may enjoy the feeling of the Scorpions, while riders who want more traction might prefer a side knob with a softer compound. Overall, the Pirellis performed well at top speed, but at the cost of cornering performance. If you can manage this type of handling on your XC race bike, you may like the feel of these tires, but if cornering traction is how you plan to win races, you may want to look for another option.