XC speed and efficiency the Italian way

Tech features:

The Scorpion XC is the cross-country tire in the Scorpion lineup. Within Pirelli’s line, there are also trail, enduro and downhill options all with burlier treads and sidewall configurations. The XC tire is designed for cross-country and light-duty trail riding where speed and efficiency are key factors. The Scorpion XC comes in several versions, some with lighter construction and shorter knobs for hardpack, and others with taller knobs and more protective casings for trail riding and loose conditions. However, all Scorpion XC tires feature a relatively low profile and compact tread pattern compared to the rest of the Scorpion lineup.

Pirelli offers the Scorpion XC tread pattern in five specific models. We opted for the “M” and “R” versions, which are a front and rear pair designed for the greatest amount of trail-shredding capability. The “M” tire is designed for medium terrain with slightly taller knobs than the others for more versatility on rougher terrain. The “R” version is rear-specific, and is designed with improved braking control and stability in mind. The tires are also available in versions specifically for soft conditions (S), hardpack (H) and a jack-of-all-trades, universal front or rear (RC).

Our set of test tires features SmartGrip compound with a multi-ply, Lite, 120-tpi, nylon-infused construction for lightness and grip. The sidewalls have ProWall protective reinforcement for enhanced puncture protection.

Field test results:

Mounting the Scorpion tires to a set of Cannondale Hollowgram carbon wheels proved relatively easy with a bead that snapped on with our thumbs and did not require a lever. Inflation went smoothly with a snug fit that will install on most wheels with a floor pump. The 2.2-inch claimed size measures dead on at the side knobs with a moderately tall profile and ample air volume. More aggressive riders will appreciate the larger, more forgiving 2.4-inch size for trail-riding applications. The 2.2-inch version provides a supple ride that damps vibration nicely and feels protective enough, thanks to the sidewall reinforcement. The sidewall is stable and doesn’t need the helping support of a liner, although that would allow you to run lower pressures, if you desire.

The knobby configuration of the “M” and “R” recommended tire profiles threw us for a loop at first. The smaller-knobbed “M” and wider-spaced “R” seem like they would have looked flipped from the designs from other brands. Nevertheless, the closely spaced “M” front tire holds even sketchy lines surprisingly well, a feat we tested numerous times riding rutted trails during some particularly wet springtime rides. Similarly, the rear “R” tire provides a surprising amount of braking grip, a trait we appreciated while dissecting those steep chutes with confidence rather than terror. Same goes for cornering prowess, where the tire holds a line predictably despite the front tire knobs being relatively small. A lightweight cross-country bike can make the most of its travel when equipped with a suitable set of tires. We felt that riding these.

These tires feel like they split the difference between an XC race tire and a truly trail bike-worthy one, and that’s a good thing. They’re not as grippy as many of the sticky-rubber, big-lugged tires that come standard on trail bikes these days, but they’re darn close. The lightweight, snappy feeling of acceleration and supple ride quality from the lightweight construction will be worth the trade-off for many riders, especially those who value some efficiency over all-out grip. And, that’s not to say these tires don’t grip, as they hold their own on some of the steepest trails we frequent. Pirelli makes burlier tires, too, if that’s what you’re into. However, the Scorpion XC’s efficiency is tough to say no to.



• Impressive grip in a lightweight XC tire
• Supple ride quality paired with adequate sidewall protection
• Efficient and quick feeling for trail riding


• Picking the correct tire from Pirelli’s huge lineup can be daunting


Weight: 720 grams (29×2.2-inch)
Price: $80

Contact: www.pirelli.com

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