A year on since the launch of the Pirelli Scorpion range, the brand has listened to its critics and has brought changes to what was already a solid tyre. The Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP Gravity features a new, softer compound and a tougher e-bike-specific carcass, noticeably improving on previous models and creating a tyre that’ll please leg-powered riders and e-bikers alike. That said, is it a worthy contender in the best mountain bike tyres category? Read on to find out.
Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP Gravity – Technical details
While the tyre looks incredibly similar to the Pirelli corpion Enduro S, rocking the very same tread the changes are more than skin deep as this tyre gets brand's SmartGRIP Gravity rubber compound. Essentially, it’s a softer rubber than others in the range but similarly, it’s a single compound formula so as the tyre wears, the grip should remain fairly consistent as you’re not wearing through to a firmer rubber.
>Buy the Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP Gravity from Merlin Cycles for £53
This new compound promises better stability and control at speed, tear-resistance and grip in any conditions; a bold claim if I do say so myself.
Also new on this tyre is the HyperWALL construction. It’s an e-bike-specific casing that’s designed to improve handling, stability and puncture protection at lower pressures. Using tech found on the brand’s motocross tyres, and similarly to HardWALL, HyperWALL means that the tyre receives a thick rubber insert that runs along both beads and is connected to a layer of fabric that is said to add 10% stability and 50% puncture protection. While that may sound like a bunch of Elder Scrolls armour stats, it’s great to see improvements being made.
As for weight, the Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP tips the scales a 1,371g, a significant 321g weightier than the Enduro S tyre.
Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP - Performance
Inflating the tyre onto a rim with a 30mm internal width gives it a very round profile. Its 2.6in width is measured from the carcass, rather than the tread, which means good things all around for overall tyre volume.
Fitting the tyres wasn’t difficult. The HyperWALL casing is definitely stiffer than Pirelli’s other offerings but it was still malleable enough to bend around a rim’s bead.
What’s great about this tyre is that Pirelli has built upon what was already a very solid circle of rubber, keeping everything that I liked about it before but actually making it better. So it still rolls well, despite its weight gains and the fact I’m running the tyre on a regular mountain bike.
However, unlike the skinnier 2.4in Enduro S model I tested, the 2.6in E-MTB slows down the lightning-quick steering characteristic to a much more controlled level. Because of this, it didn’t take long at all to get used to during my initial rides. The wider carcass also expands the tyre’s limits of lean, making for a more predictable tyre in the corners.
A criticism of the firmer compound found on Pirelli’s other tyres was that at high speed, it got rather squirrelly, sapping confidence and control. This is where SmartGRIP Gravity comes into play as it completely solves this issue. The grip is plentiful over a range of conditions, from dry to soft but it’s been noticeably improved over harder surfaces, like roots and rocks. At speed, the tyre is confident, planted and brilliantly supple.
And that suppleness is thanks to the HyperWALL construction. It’s knocking on Hutchinson’s Hard Skin casing in terms of its plush ride feel but the edge that HyperWALL has is that it’s incredibly stable on the rim, even at lower pressures. As mentioned in my Tubolight EVO HD tyre insert review, I’ve been experimenting with lower tyre pressures and the Scorpion E-MTB S has been more than happy to accommodate. At pressures of around 18psi, the tyre has shown absolutely no sign of burping, rolling or slipping of the rim. It's impressively secure.
Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP - Verdict
At £70, the Scorpion E-MTB SmartGRIP Gravity is getting up there with Maxxis and Schwalbe but for a Maxxis Double Down Assegai, for example, you’ll be spending £10 more.
A favourite tyre of mine is the WTB Verdict and with the e-bike-specific E25 casing it’ll set you back £65. If the SG2-cased tyre is anything to go by, it’ll be a very solid contender.
It’s great to see a brand listening to the customer and making improvements based on their quibbles and in Pirelli’s case, it’s resulted in an excellent tyre. The grip and stability have been boosted, and the new HyperWALL casing offers a very nicely damped ride. Whether you’re riding regular bikes harder and want better tyre stability, or you’re smashing an e-bike about, the Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP Gravity is a very worthy choice.