A lot of new players are entering the mountain bike tyre market of late, bolstering the choices we have in a sector that has been dominated by one or two brands for many years. The names coming in though are not unrecognisable, and have plenty of experience in the rubber game in auto and moto applications, and are applying that knowledge to their mtb offerings. Pirelli, the Italian brand steeped in racing history across all forms, have thrown their hat in the ring and the Scorpion series is their flagship tyre for aggressive trail riding, enduro racing and e-mtb. After some of our testers had put in time on the Scorpions on regular mtbs, I got hold of the E version for some boosted riding.
Emtbs have particular requirements when it comes to tyres, namely large volume, chunky treads and sturdier casings. The Scorpions come with a thick sidewall dubbed Hyper Wall, that isn't really explained beyond that on their website. Whatever they've done works, as I dropped pressures as low as 15PSI, with the sidewalls still feeling solid and without any squirm whatsoever under hard cornering. The front 2.6 EMTB-S tyre has massive knobs spaced well apart, and the side knobs take the bite factor to the next level with their size and toothy profile digging into anything from loose over hardpack to mud and slimey rocks. Just looking down and seeing that big boy leading the way instils some false bravado, and when you get a bit carried away with the speed it'll quickly step in to correct things as you try to wrestle the bike back on line.
Out back there's the EMTB-R, with the same 2.6 Hyper Wall casing and Smart Grip compound (another Italian mystery that uses something called Lignin, look it up) but in a way less aggressive rear tread pattern. Tighter spaced knobs in the centre help with braking and more importantly traction, especially important if you're one to take on steep technical ups as well as downs. Wheelspin even on rutted out goat racks was negligible until the gradient got too much more for the rider than the bike. Smaller side knobs make it easy to drift the rear wheel as far as you like in corners, knowing that when you want some grip it'll be there. To say the Scorpions changed the way my bike rode would only be half the story, as the confidence they give changed the way I rode the bike too.
The set-up was painless and the tyres have held air well between rides. After around 100km of trail riding and a sniff of tar, the knobs are holding up well and look like they'll be around for a long time, as well as a hell of a gripping good time.
Distributed by FE Sports | RRP: $137