Last year when Pirelli introduced their line of mountain bike tires, we were excited to try them. A company like Pirelli has generations of experience producing tires for motorcycles, dirt bikes, and of course automobiles.
Interestingly enough, they classify the Pirelli Scorpion MTB M as a tire that is suitable for XC, trail, and enduro style riding. Pirelli also says that the Scorpion MTB M is their most versatile tire. They add that “The Scorpion™ XC M is the best choice for XC and Marathon courses where terrain can vary but speed is still the key factor.” As with anything that tries to stretch its abilities, it is going to do certain things better than others.
Pirelli SmartGrip Compound
Like other Pirelli mountain bike tires, the Pirelli Scorpion MTB M is made from a single compound that they call SmartGRIP. SmartGRIP was developed by Pirelli based on their motorsport history. Like the tire itself, Pirelli says the SmartGRIP compound is made to do it all and last a long time.
“The single compound provides constant high grip performance both in wet and dry conditions, even when the tread starts to wear.”
There are two different casings available: Lite and ProWALL. I tested the 2.4-inch wide 29er with the ProWALL casing, which weighed 915g, a bit heavier than the claimed weight on the Pirelli website. The Pirelli Scorpion MTB M is also available in a 29×2.2 size. Both the Lite and ProWALL casings are 120 TPI according to Pirelli. MSRP is $56-$60.
Pirelli Scorpion MTB M On the trail
I rolled on Pirelli Scorpion MTB M tires across miles of singletrack from 2019 and 2020. I had the tire mounted on these Hunt carbon wheels in the fall last year, before remounting them on a bike this spring.
“Whoa, rocking an XC tire,” commented one friend when we were unloading our bikes for a ride one morning. Although Pirelli says the Scorpion MTB M is a do-it-all tire, one look at the short, clustered knobs and the round profile gives the impression that the M might stand for “miles” instead of “mixed” terrain.
The Pirelli Scorpion MTB M tire indeed is a pleasure to pedal around, with shorter, not quite sticky knobs. Rolling resistance is great and the tire has no noticeable drag.
Cornering is also nice, given the round profile. It’s easy to throw around, and initiate turning, although the cornering knobs aren’t always the most confidence inspiring.
“Mixed” terrain is a little ambitious for the tire’s capability, though. The Pirelli Scorpion MTB M tread excels on smooth, buff terrain, but can feel somewhere between surfy and unpredictable on looser trails, especially loose-over-hardpack conditions.
As far as the single compound, it does seem like adding a second compound for the cornering knobs would bring a little more confidence to the M. The caveat though, is that the Pirelli Scorpion M tires can handle a lot of miles without looking like a pack of chewed gum.
Overall, the tire feels best suited to cross-country riding, even if it ends up on the rougher side of things occasionally. The tire is a heftier than other Pirelli Scorpion options, but the tread is not quite ready for anything real loose or aggressive.
Pirelli Scorpion MTB M Tire Review Closing thoughts
The Pirelli Scorpion M is a solid choice for XC riders who want a tire that will hold up to a lot of miles, and can take on terrain that is slightly more challenging than a typical cross-country course.