You may have noticed the Canyon CLLCTV Pirelli World Cup team
(the other vowel-phobic Canyon DH team) racing some unreleased tires last season. Along with team mentor Fabien Barel, they have been developing a complete range of tires designed specifically for racing. Now, Pirelli is finally ready to unveil them.
The new line of tires is divided into the Scorpion Race DH and the Scorpion Race Enduro. The difference is the casing construction and weight.
There are four tread patterns: M (mixed), T (traction), S (soft) and Mud. The Mud pattern is only available in the DH casing, while the other three are available in Enduro or DH versions.
One of the best metrics to characterise a tyre's intended use is the land-to-sea ratio - the area of the tyre surface that's made up of the tread compared to the rest of the tyre. This number goes from 0.21 for the M to 0.11 for the Mud pattern.
The DH tires are claimed to weigh around 1,450 g in 29x2.5" size, while the enduro line is said to weigh around 1,260 g, depending on the tread pattern. Both are a dual-ply construction with a rubber sidewall insert to prevent pinch flats. The difference is in the nylon threads used to hold the carcass together: the DH casing has thicker threads (60 threads per inch) while the Enduro casing uses finer ones (120 threads per inch). This means the Enduro tire is lighter, faster rolling and suppler over bumps, but the DH tire is more puncture resistant and more supportive in the turns.
For now, they're only available in a 2.5" width, except for the Mud pattern, which is 2.4" only. All are designed to work best with 30 mm rims. According to Fabien, the number of World Cup racers still using 25 mm rims is diminishing and the reason is primarily due to new tires not being well-designed for narrower rims. Pirelli say that when starting from a blank sheet of paper, it makes sense to design tires specifically around 30 mm rims as they're the most popular and they offer more stability to the tire. Pirelli claim they measure up true-to-size at 2.50" (63.5 mm) on a 30 mm rim at 22 psi. That would make them a little bigger than the equivalent real-world size from some other brands, and while I haven't had a chance to get a set of callipers on them, they certainly look plump in the flesh.
The Race DH and Race Enduro tires all share one compound, which Pirelli call SmartEVO DH. They say the rubber compounds in their MTB tires have been developed with help from the brand's motorsports experience. In contrast to the SmartGRIP compound already seen on Pirelli's MTB tires
, the new rubber is designed to offer uncompromising race day performance. This doesn't just mean the most grip possible, though, as Pirelli say they prioritised predictability over ultimate stickiness.
The knobs feature a soft (42A durometer
) rubber on the outside to help them stick to the trail, with a harder base compound under the surface to prevent the knob from folding under the extreme cornering loads seen in top-level racing and to allow it to absorb impacts effectively. When I talked to Pirelli's engineers, it sounds like the layer of softer compound is relatively thin (to better resist folding), which means the tires will wear down to the base compound relatively quickly. This is the compromise Pirelli made in order to combine stickiness with stability. If you want a tire to last all season in the bike park, look elsewhere.