fabien barel pirelli scorpion race
Fabien Barel testing the Pirelli Scorpion Race line; (photo/Mirror Media Agency for Pirelli)

Pirelli’s New Gravity Tires Mix Compounds, Get World Champion’s Touch

Four purpose-driven Scorpion Race tires rise from a collab with a rider who knows what rubber works for gravity riding: multiple Downhill world champion Fabien Barel.

Pirelli melds two rubber compounds for its new downhill and enduro tires, seeking to produce rubbers that grab the trail in any conditions but also hold up to repeat abuse.

The brand said in a press release that it poured 2 years of internal research and design into the Scorpion Race DH and EN tires. It also noted that it onboarded a decorated veteran in downhill and enduro disciplines to help its sponsored athletes test the tires: Fabien Barel, whose gravity racing career spanned 25 years.

The new tires arrived 3 years after Pirelli first launched the Scorpion line. The updated lineup folds in four new tread patterns, two new casing types, and the race-engineered hybrid compound.

Pirelli Scorpion SmartEVO DH Compound

Pirelli drew from its Motorsport division to produce the SmartEVO DH compound. As opposed to the all-around SmartGRIP compound the rest of the lineup uses, SmartEVO DH prioritizes competition. To make it, Pirelli threw down two different layers of rubber.

The layer on the tread surface looks to provide a high chemical grip. And the rubber under the tread prioritizes mechanical support for the blocks at high speed.

pirelli scorpion

It aims explicitly at control during braking and leaning and looks to help riders feel out grip limits predictably. A gravity rider’s ability to perceive and overcome grip limits, and control drifts, are as crucial as their tires’ absolute grip.

Finally, Pirelli said it mixed up the compound “without forgetting” the low rolling resistance racers need.

Two New Casings

In the SmartEVO DH line, you can find one of two new casings: DualWall or DualWall+.

Pirelli constructed the higher-echelon DualWall+ casing with aggressive riders in mind and designed it for maximum stability and puncture protection. You’ll find a double-ply of 60tpi rigid casing with a rubber anti-pinch-flat insert and a fabric layer to stabilize the sidewall.

pirelli scopion race
DualWall+; (photo/Pirelli)

DualWall, meanwhile, targets Enduro racers and lighter-weight riders. Generally speaking, Pirelli developed it for softness and rideability. 120tpi double-wall, reinforced with the same rubber insert, helps it comply more and weigh less. Pirelli says it saves about 150 g compared to DualWall+.

pirelli scorpion dualwall
DualWall; (photo/Pirelli)

Tread Patterns and Availability

The tires are available in M (Mixed Terrain), T (Traction), S (Soft Terrain), and MUD (specific to the Scorpion Race DH) tread patterns.

M is the generalist pattern. Evenly spaced blocks help it handle bike parks or harder-packed trails and tackle rooty passages.

pirelli scorpion race m
Scorpion Race M; (photo/Pirelli)

Check out the T pattern if you ride the deep gnar. Pirelli built it for situations where the tread block needs to penetrate the ground. The widely spaced, aggressive blocks aim to dig in, and you can cut the blocks out of the center channel for super soupy riding.

pirelli scorpion race t
Scorpion Race T; (photo/Pirelli)

S knobs get wide spacing to help punch through soft or loose surfaces and grip the firmer ground underneath. (Think loam-draped rock slabs.)

pirelli scorpion race s
Scorpion Race S; (photo/Pirelli)

The MUD pattern is the slop specialist: Pirelli built it for front tire use for downhill riding only. It’s the rubber for you to bite deep into the ground to find grip. You can also cut small caps off each block to customize your control over hard, wet surfaces like roots and hardpacked mud.

pirelli scorpion race mud
Scorpion Race MUD; (photo/Pirelli)

“Now our range of tires covers all the main types of use, from road to off-road, with solutions for professionals and amateurs,” said Matteo Barbieri, head of Pirelli Cycling. “We are also proud that important teams and great champions of the sport, such as Fabien Barel, have collaborated with our technicians and testers on these tires.”

Barel spoke about an R&D process he painted as long but productive.

“In gravity, even a small performance improvement can change the ranking and take a rider from an anonymous placing to a win,” he said. “I like to think that the work done with Pirelli can serve to get an athlete, whether professional or amateur, onto the podium. It was long and painstaking work, but I am proud of the results.”

Every Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro and Race DH tire in the M, S, and T tread patterns comes in 27.5″ x 2.5″ and 29″ x 2.5″, and each one costs $100 MSRP. Pirelli positions each tire to hit the market in early 2023. The Race DH MUD comes in a narrower 2.4″ width, and Pirelli didn’t offer pricing details.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.