Three years after the launch of the Scorpion family of tyres dedicated to the MTB world, Pirelli completes the range with two gravity products designed for the most demanding Enduro (EN) and Downhill (DH) races.
Scorpion Race DH and EN are born from the collaboration between Pirelli and a star of the Downhill specialty: the Frenchman Fabien Barel, three-time world champion and seven-time national DH champion. His experience, riding sensibility and technical expertise, combined with Pirelli's know-how, have led to the definition of a complete gravity racing range to meet the needs of any team or high-level athlete.
The new range, available in 2023, is the culmination of design, prototyping, testing, feedback, and field validation process that lasted almost two years. The result is a capillary range of products capable of enhancing the performance of modern DH bikes and meeting the most sophisticated needs of Downhill and Enduro athletes and teams, as well as of the most advanced amateurs, who are competing in DH or EN races.
Already tested by Pirelli testers and competed by Pirelli-sponsored athletes in the EWS (Enduro World Series) and UCI WORLD CUP DH circuits since 2021, the new Scorpion Race DH and EN tyres feature four new tread patterns, two new different casing types and a new compound specifically engineered for racing use.
AT THE HEART IS THE SMARTEVO DH COMPOUND
SmartEVO DH was developed thanks to the experience of Pirelli's Motorsport compound department, considering the specific applications of gravity racing. Unlike SmartGRIP, which was created for all-round use with more balanced properties, this new compound is engineered to offer high performance in competition. Designed to give a feeling of full bike control even in extreme conditions, it provides high chemical grip and adequate mechanical support at high speeds. Both the static and dynamic parameters have been adjusted to increase safety and the feeling of control when braking and leaning, considering predictability and limit management as key development parameters: the perception and overcoming of the grip limit and the ability to control drifting are as important as absolute grip, and increasingly fundamental to the riding style of modern downhill riders.
SmartEVO DH is the result of the combination of two layers of compounds: a single super-soft high-performance compound (42 Shore A*) for the entire outer tread, which is tasked with providing chemical grip in a wide range of temperatures and absorbing vibrations at high frequencies, and a support compound under the tread, which is tasked with providing mechanical support to the blocks and absorbing the most significant shocks. The two compounds work together seamlessly, making a decisive contribution to giving the rider a feeling of great handling, responsiveness, and control, which is the main goal for Pirelli engineers. All this without forgetting the low rolling resistance: a key factor when competing against the clock, especially in the World Cup where you win or lose by tenths of a second.
FOUR DIFFERENT TREADS
As is typical of all Pirelli Scorpion MTB tyres, the new Race tyres consider the type of terrain.
M, T, S and MUD are the four specific tread patterns, developed to cope with any type of condition that can be found in racing, be it Downhill or Enduro.
The M (Mixed Terrain) tread is the most versatile in the range. Its design is perfect for mixed terrain, from bikeparks to harder-packed trails to the more treacherous undergrowth-type sections. Geared towards all-round performance, it features evenly distributed blocks with sizes and heights designed to generate a great riding feel in a wide range of conditions.
The T (Traction) tread offers higher mechanical grip in all situations where the tread block needs to penetrate the ground and has a high, reinforced surface face for both braking and cornering. The blocks are more widely spaced and aggressive, and feature a central band designed to be cut. In fact, when ground conditions are intermediate or mud needs to be evacuated more quickly, it is possible to cut the central block and thus make the tyre more directional and optimise its behaviour for softer terrain. A unique feature for this type of tyre.
These are technical characteristics that stem from the intensive testing activities of Pirelli factory teams, including Canyon CLLCTV Pirelli DH and the Italian Rogue Racing.
The S (Soft Terrain) tread pattern, on the other hand, is designed for soft and yielding terrain - sandy and clayey bottoms, loose soil, and undergrowth - but still able to cope with more compact sections such as roots and rocks. It is characterised by higher, widely spaced blocks.
The no-compromise MUD tread, specific to the Scorpion Race DH, features high and widely spaced blocks, which are also designed to be cut as needed and according to the type of mud and track. Developed for specific downhill use, Scorpion Race DH MUD is only available in size 2.4, the most suitable for generating grip and control in extreme muddy conditions.
A CASING FOR EVERY DISCIPLINE
When designing the structures of the new tyres, Pirelli considered many other variables highlighted by Barel's tests, in addition to the terrain: from the increasingly high-performance bikes to the riding style of the riders, to the latest developments in terms of wheels and rim sizes, to the peculiar differences that characterise the EN and DH disciplines. This gave rise to DualWall+ and DualWall.
DualWall+ is the specific casing for DH and Enduro Racing. It is a full double-ply of 60tpi rigid casing with rubber anti pinch-flat insert and a layer of outer fabric to stabilise the sidewall of the tyre. Ideal for those athletes with an aggressive riding style, it is designed to offer superior protection against cuts and punctures, maximum stability at high speeds, and absorb vibrations and large impacts.
Specifically designed for Enduro races and/or lighter riders in general, the DualWall casing is a race-ready casing devoted more to softness and rideability. Consisting of a 120 tpi double-ply, which is also reinforced with a rubber insert like the DH one, it saves around 150g in weight compared to the DualWall+ and provides greater softness and smoothness. It is the choice of Enduro riders looking for maximum terrain feel without sacrificing the reliability typical of a double-ply construction. Also field-tested with Canyon CLLCTV Dainese athletes and the Theory Racing team, who took them to competitions and overcame the difficult EWS terrain and conditions with excellent performance.
"The completion of the Scorpion line strengthens our offering in the mountain bike segment, which is experiencing significant growth," said Matteo Barbieri, head of Pirelli Cycling. "Now our range of tyres covers all the main types of use, from road to off-road, with solutions for professionals and amateurs that focus on high technology, performance and safety. 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 tyres," concluded Barbieri.
"Working with Pirelli has been exciting and I am extremely satisfied with the result," commented Fabien Barel. "Having access to Pirelli's extensive know-how and research and development capabilities is what attracted me to the project from the very beginning. The company's testing tools, and commitment allowed me to explore new solutions, I would say almost limitless. Pirelli's approach is 'Design, Prototype, Test, Repeat', which meant hours and hours of 3D modelling to develop and produce several prototypes of a single tyre model. After the theory phase, there was the testing phase, carried out both in indoor labs and in the field with the Canyon CLLCTV Pirelli DH team. It was long and painstaking work, but I am proud of the results. In gravity, even a small performance improvement can change the ranking and take a rider from an anonymous placing to a win. I like to think that the work done with Pirelli can serve to get an athlete, whether professional or amateur, onto the podium. It will be a bit like being there myself. Again."
"When we decided to enter the gravity segment, with the ambition of developing tyres capable of winning in the World Cup, we were looking not only for an experienced rider, but a real guide in the development process, from the lab to the race fields. Fabien's profile was perfect, as well as being unique, because Barel is not only a DH champion, but he also has an engineering background: a perfect liaison between the athletes and our R&D department," commented Samuele Bressan, Head of Global Marketing at Pirelli Cycling. "Testing is a constant part of the way we work, but when it came time to make the decisions, Fabien's experience was fundamental in achieving the final result" Bressan concluded.