The Scorpion Race Enduro M is the latest tyre to hit Pirelli’s mountain bike tyre range. Providing a soft compound and heavy protection for enduro- and trail-style riding, it supplies oodles of grip through an impressive range of conditions. While increased wear and drag will put all but the racer off from using it as a rear tyre, it’s not without a couple of easily remedied but irritating niggles.
- Best mountain bike tyres 2023
- Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S SmartGRIP 2.6in tyre review
- Tubeless mountain bike tyres - everything you need to know
Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M tyres - Technical details
Pirelli’s Scorpion Enduro M has already been around for a little while but, in order to offer some tacky, soft compound goodness for those who spend time in between the tapes, the brand has taken the formula and brought a number of tweaks to improve its all-round performance.
Pirelli says the M tread is the most versatile in the Race Enduro range and it’s been shaped to best suit mixed terrains. However, on this particular model, the tread has been revised a little to help enduro racers eke out full performance. Here, the alternating shoulder knobs found on the original Scorpion Enduro M have been swapped out for a consistent, straight row of shoulder knobbles.
Elsewhere, the tread pattern remains the same. It’s reasonably widely spaced with the centre tread receiving some ramping to aid rolling speed. There are small transition knobs that should eliminate dead spots in terms of lateral progression. The profile of the tread is mid-sized and similar to what is found on the Maxxis Minion DHF.
The Scorpion Race Enduro M brings a different compound construction to the range. Instead of a single compound, the tyre uses Pirelli’s SmartEVO DH formula. It’s derived from the brand’s experience in motocross utilising a super-soft 42a outer compound that’s supported by a firmer rubber to stop the knobs from bending under load.
The tyre uses the DualWALL casing with a 120tpi double-ply carcass, replete with a rubber insert that reinforces the bead area to fend off pinch flats. Pirelli says that this casing blends excellent feel with reliability.
As for options, they’re rather slim but the Scorpion Race Enduro M can be picked up in a single 2.5in width to fit either 650b or 29-inch wheels. We have the latter on test which weighed in at 1,298g on my scale which is a couple of hundred grams lighter than its nearest rival.
Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M tyres - Installation
For the test, I inflated a pair of Scorpion Race Enduro Ms and fitted them to a Reynolds 305 Blacklabel wheelset and it was an easy process. The sidewalls clearly have some rigidity but once the beads were positioned, the tyres inflated without issue.
At 19 and 23psi, the tyres blow up with a mid-round profile on this wheelset with a 30mm internal width.
Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M tyres - Performance
During my test period with the Scorpion Race Enduro M, I managed to take these tyres through almost everything the UK’s changeable weather could throw at it – and regardless of the terrain on offer, it performed impeccably throughout and didn’t get totally overwhelmed in the soft stuff.
As a tyre that utilises a softer compound, the rolling resistance is pretty evident – especially when the aggressive and packed tread comes into play. The resulting drag is one that I’ve felt varies quite a lot depending on the surface but the tyre is consistent. As the tread pattern spans the width of the tyre’s surface, the lateral grip is very predictable. It’s a similar-feeling tyre to a Maxxis Assegai that comes with a similar level of packed tread.
When leant and once those shoulder knobs kick in, Velcro-like grip comes to the fore in the corners. Granted, against the alternating pattern of the Scorpion Enduro M it’ll take a little more lean and commitment to reap the rewards. But once those shoulder knobs engage, the grip is plentiful and confidence-inspiring.
When cornering, the DualWALL casing kept the tyre well supported with no sign of burping or squirming. With such great support, it takes a hell of an effort to force the tyre to break traction.
The level of predictability remains almost regardless of the conditions it’s being pushed through. I’ve never felt the need to dial back my riding because the trail is slightly wetter than before. However, when things get wet, that’s where the tyre’s limit is found, mostly under braking.
When pushing the tyre down steep chutes with a nice layer of soft muck covering the grippy hard stuff underneath, the tyre got overwhelmed. It packed up with mud and lost traction fairly quickly. Though, this was the only time I lost confidence and it’s what I would consider to be outside the remit of a mixed-conditions tyre.
Over wet, not quite so sloppy terrain, the tread has just enough spacing and height to cut through and find some purchase. It’s definitely no slouch when things get damp and its ability to effectively clear mud aids the wet weather performance. Even though it can get clogged at times, the generous spacing between the knobs means the mud is cleared very quickly.
It’s very capable under braking loads, too, delivering an abrupt but positive response to brake input, especially over harder ground. Of course, as mentioned before, it requires a more considered touch when things get steep and slippery.
However, where the tyre begins to fall short is at the rear. All of those good qualities I mentioned before are still there but, because it wears rather quickly, that solid braking disappears. The rubber will eventually chip and round off of the braking edges, which can compromise the braking performance. Now, the tyre has a tendency to lock up quite quickly, requiring a light touch. Comparing that level of wear with the Maxxis Minion DHR II MaxxGrip that I tested prior, the Pirelli looks a little worse off as the DHR II’s braking surfaces is still in much better nick after a similar period in similar conditions. This does indicate that it’s absolutely a race-focussed option.
To combat this and offer better pedalling characteristics, it would be great to have a firmer compound in the range with this exact tread pattern. There is the Scorpion Enduro M, as I mentioned before, but its shoulder knobs alternate, so performance wouldn't be consistent front and rear (ignoring the compound) and the grey logos don’t match the uber cool-looking yellow of the Race model.
The DualWALL casing does its job impressively well. While riding on this tyre, I’ve ridden through some of the rockiest trails I could find and I’ve managed to bottom the tyre out a number of times, only to continue rolling. The puncture resistance provided by those rubber bead inserts is excellent.
As for wear, it’s a very mixed bag. The front tyre is still looking rather fresh, only just having worn the little hairs off after an abrasive bike park day. At the rear, as touched on, it’s a different story with the braking faces of the centre tread looking a little tired. As a result, I don’t expect the rear tyre to last terribly long without its performance dropping off mid-season.
Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M tyres - Verdict
Unfortunately, the Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M’s value falls short as it’s one pricy tyre at £82. In a market with so many very well-established tyres, it’s a tough sell.
Though, it’s not much more expensive than the Maxxis Assegai with an EXO+ carcass and 3C MaxxGrip compound. As mentioned before, it corners similarly but the Pirelli clears mud more effectively. Its rubber inserts then offer impressive puncture protection. Other than that, there’s little difference between the two.
To compare other race focussed builds, Michelin’s Wild Enduro Racing Line comes in at £70 and gets a similar-looking casing construction, using a four-ply carcass and downhill shield puncture reinforcement. However, these only come in a slightly slimmer 2.4in width and it is a much draggier tyre.
Vittoria’s Mazza Race Enduro tyre is another that offers some kind of bead protection and a soft rubber compound. That will set you back £65.
Although I’ve had a couple of issues with the Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M, namely the lack of a firmer compound option in the exact same tread, and its quick loss of braking as it wears, I’ve had a great time with the tyre. It’s one that I’ll definitely keep on the front of the bike as it corners consistently and performs admirably over a range of surfaces whilst confidently fending off punctures. However, at the rear, its high drag and rate of wear quickly compromise its performance, pigeonholing the tyre as race-only, which is great if that’s what you're looking for. The average Joe may appreciate and benefit more from a slower-wearing compound.