PIRELLI SCORPION eMTB TIRE REVIEW
Review by Drew Rohde
Photos by Cole Gregg
When we opened up a brown box containing a fresh set of new Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires, our brains started spinning as we examined the tread, sipes and sidewalls intently. We’re probably not the only mountain bikers that feel a little gitty when big, non-bike brands enter our space. It’s like they offer some sort of validation that we didn’t know we needed. When it comes to high performance tires, Pirelli is a brand that is synonymous with victory lane, granted those checkered flags are usually waving while the roar of high combustion engines go flying past. With a storied history on everything from Formula 1 cars to Supercross victories, we’re curious to see if the pedigree will carry over as mountain bikers and ebikers start running these Italian rubbers.
Available in only one width, 2.6”, the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires are available in 27.5- or 29-inch diameters, which doesn’t upset us a ton since 2.6-inch is our preferred width. Pirelli offers the Scorpion eMTB tires in three tread patterns based on riding conditions and terrain. The Scorpion eMTB M is a tighter, medium tread pattern that will roll quicker and be good for some harder pack terrain where speed is key. For our testing we used the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB S up front and the Scorpion eMTB R on the back.
The eMTB S features taller profiled knobs and a pretty widely spaced pattern. The side knobs extend over the shoulder and give the tire a pretty round profile. Pirelli says the tire is ideally designed to cut into loose or soft terrain. Out back the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB R is a medium profile tread design for varied conditions and is ideal for rear tire usage as the knobs aren’t quite tall enough to be a good front in our opinion.
Tire Construction on the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires utilizes their new HyperWall technology. This patented construction is designed to increase handling stability and pinch flat resistance. Pirelli also added Lignin to their eMTB specific tires to create a specific eBike compound called SmartGrip+. The compound is meant to optimize the performance for the torque, weight and speeds found on eMTBs.
Riding the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires was quite a bit of fun overall as it really had our testers focusing on the traits and characteristics. One thing if for sure, they’re not a Minion clone, and subsequently didn’t ride anything like a Minion! For our testing we ran the S up front and the R out back.
A quick look at the Pirelli Scorpion S and you’ll see that this is an aggressive tire with widely spaced knobs designed to grip the earth beneath. The tire offers good braking traction, holds a line well but offers a bit of a vague feeling when rolling it over onto the side knobs. Several times our riders thought they were going to low side, lose the front tire, but it never gave way.
It impressively held and even though our feet were tempted to come off the pedal in preparation of an emergency dab, the Pirelli Scorpion S tire would predictably hold that unpredictable feel. It’s as if the knobs wrap around the sidewall of the tire and you’ve passed the main knobs on the center and are then riding on the sidewall. It’s a weird feeling and took some getting used to. Even after we acclimated to it, we’re not sure if we could get used to it, or if we’d want to. Nevertheless, we never actually lost traction, it just wasn’t our ideal feel on certain types of terrain.
Out back, we found the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB R a very good fit for lots of applications. The pattern is relatively tight and low in profile, which had us a bit concerned on loose-over-hard terrain but did offer longer battery range, less rolling resistance and great traction on softer soil and trail as well as hard pack terrain. On steeper trails we found that the braking and climbing traction were missing and had the back end sliding when trying to keep the bike under control with heavy braking. It was fun for sure, but not confidence inspiring. Obviously when in softer terrain, you’d be hard pressed to find a tire that doesn’t grip well, but we found loose-over-hard marbles and muddy days left the tire searching for grip, up and down.
While the Pirelli Scoprion eMTB R lasts a long time, rolls fast and does a great job spinning away on rock, soft soil and hard pack terrain, riders who deal with very steep climbs or descents may want to run an S front and rear as the larger knobs may offer more grip.
Depending on your local terrain and conditions, these tires could be a solid choice, or not. We really like the durability and longevity of the tires as they’ve lasted a while and still look new. The sidewall construction is solid, and they offer a nice ride feel for sure. Our testers also liked the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB on softer soil and on fast, hard pack terrain. However, we also had some issues with the Scorpions during our test period. While we never got the Scorpion S to actually give way up front, it did feel a bit vague as we pushed it onto the shoulder knobs. And out back, while the Pirelli Scorpion R did many things well, when it came time to scratch our way up vertical pitches with looser conditions and marbley rocks or dust-covered slabs of rock, the tire would spin a bit more than we would like. In these same conditions it also lacked braking power due to the lack of penetration and had us doing a bit more ski-style sliding to control our speed and slamming the back end into corners for speed-checks. If, however, you live in a place that does not have these types of conditions or you’re looking for a long-lasting tire that does performs well on hard pack terrain and trails that aren’t covered in marbles, the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB S and R tires could be worth a try.
Weight: S Model (29″) – 1,330g / R Model (29″) – 1,270g
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