Pirelli Scorpion XC M 2.2 Mountain Bike Tyre
by Robert Thorpe
by Robert Thorpe
We previously tested the Pirelli Scorpion™ 2.4 MTB Mixed tyre, setting things up on our Yeti SB115 trail bike. Swapping things over the Pirelli Scorpion™ XC Mixed, in general terms, I suppose it’s just a slightly narrower tyre – but it’s not. It’s a whole new riding experience, providing a faster and livelier ride, with the same reliability of grip and performance. Yes, I know that many riders set things up with a 2.4 at the rear and 2.2 at the front – and we might try that next- but this test was all about the Scorpion XC M 2.2 and how lively and fun a ride it provides – and boy is this an exciting tyre. The Scorpion™ XC M is the best choice for XC and Marathon courses where terrain can vary but speed is still the key factor.
The tread pattern of the Scorpion™ XC M is optimised to compliment the properties of the rubber compound to offer uncompromising performance in variable conditions over differing terrain. The additional “bridges” help support the knobs and improve mud shedding in wet conditions.
As we’ve said previously, we have a wealth of mixed terrain in the Yorkshire Dales and North Yorks Moors, so these Pirelli Mixed options are ideal. From fast dusty tracks that weave around the hills, to the rocky technical trails and the loose and gravel strewn bridleways, you need tyres that can perform in a variety of locations, and this tyre certainly does. It’s a tough beast of a tyre that simply wants to go mountain biking.
The Yeti is an ideal bike for the trails here in the U.K. and yet it comes fitted with a 2.5/ 2.3 mixed setup which we found slightly unwieldy. We wanted to bring a bit more adventure to the ride, to speed things up a bit – hence the 2.2mm from Pirelli, which is certainly lively and yet controlled too. The tubeless setup was easy to fit to the wheel and the tyre looks and feels robust after some great riding here in the Dales. We’ve ridden it at several pressure options, depending on the riding conditions, and the tread pattern and knobs dig into things with ease and keep you upright. The tread pattern on the Scorpion™ Mixed is simply designed using the knowledge gained from working with the top riders, consisting of knobs with average height and spacing to guarantee excellent performance on a wide range of terrains. It allows speed and grip in equal measure – and this tyre is made for speed.
Pirelli say that ‘the use of the special SmartGRIP Compound guarantees an elevated adaptability and at the same time resistance to tearing, offering elevated grip in all weather conditions, be they dry or wet: the best ally for your performance off-road.’ What that means in practice is that the tyre stays super firm when you need it to, with the knobs biting into the surface, and remaining strong, even when ridden at speed over the numerous natural rock gardens of Nidderdale and Wharfdale. It’s very much a confidence giving tyre, allowing you the freedom to open up, knowing that the tyre will do it’s best to stay firmly on the trail. The whole bike feels different with the Scorpion™ XC M 2.2mm and it wants to climb, wants to descend and wants to have fun, as it dances you around on the loose terrain and yet still gives the necessary grip that your handling requires. It’s a grin inducing tyre that the 2.4mm and other even wider options take away. Mountain biking is all about adrenaline and grin inducing trails, and the Pirelli Scorpion™ 2.2mm is definitely a tyre for racing around on.
Now for some tech data I guess…
• 2.2: rip-resistant rubber compound with 120 tpi reinforcement of the sides to offer greater protection against puncturing and cutting without sacrificing performance
• 2.4: rip-resistant rubber compound, casing of robust 60 tpi nylon and additional 120 tpi reinforcement of the sides for greater protection against puncturing and cutting without sacrificing performance
Riding in spring can be tricky, with the trails either being perfectly dry or wet and muddy. The weather here in the U.K. is unreliable, meaning that the tyre needs to compensate for this. The rapid changes to conditions obviously affect grip at varying levels depending on the surface, but the Scorpion™ XC M simply eats things up, and you can literally hear it digging in and gripping the ground.
Pirelli take grip seriously, as you’d expect. It’s why their tyres may cost more, but why they’re well worth it. Innovation isn’t cheap, and neither should your safety be taken lightly:
• Grip: the SmartGRIP rubber compound guarantees elevated grip on wet surfaces; weather is no longer an issue, no sacrificing grip for dry or wet conditions – and from our perspective it’s not just marketing, it actually works and will benefit the casual rider who wants a tyre that exudes confidence.
• Handling: the shape of the tyre has been optimised for modern rims made of aluminium or carbon with a wide internal groove. During our tests, it’s remained firm and stable on the bike in all conditions. The narrower width did give a livelier ride, but when required, the grip and handling was superb and even allows for you to get of trouble on the unexpected loose stuff.
As I mentioned earlier, the Yeti SB115 becomes a different riding beast with this 2.2mm tyre fitted. It’s a bike that still loves the trails and all day fun, but it also becomes a restless beast that wants to go fast and have some fun. The whole bike looks and rides differently and yes, in my view, rides better, taking you back to the time when tyres weren’t so chunky.
• 2.2: 120 tpi TUBELESS READY casing designed to dampen vibrations and make low pressure riding more stable with a wider footprint on the ground
• 2.4: robust 60 tpi TUBELESS READY Nylon casing, designed to dampen shocks and vibrations and make low pressure riding more stable with a wider footprint on the ground.
Yes, these tyres have been designed and developed around some of the world’s best riders, like Vlad Dascalu from the Trek team, so you’d expect them to perform well in their hands. However, it’s when ridden in the hands of the ordinary everyday mountain biker that the true test comes. The trails here in Yorkshire don’t take prisoners and can be unforgiving, but we still want to have fun and we want to go fast uphill and downhill too.
The Pirelli Scorpion™ MTB M 2.4mm was a great all-rounder to test, but the XC M 2.2mm is its crazy younger brother, who can’t sit still. It’s about as a good and as fun an all-round cross country tyre that you’ll find – perfect for racing and having fun on. In terms of speed, it’s a tyre on fire and despite its width, it still gives you that confidence boost on the trails that produce the widest grins. If you want your mountain biking to be more fun and yet still give you the necessary reassurance, then go fit a set of Pirelli Scorpion™ XC 2.2mm Mixed to your own bike – you won’t regret it.
Clothing by Rosti (Italy) & Inspire-Repeat Socks
Shoes by Lake Cycling & RXM Custom
Water Bottle by Elite (Italy) Ice Fly