Trek Factory Racing Moves to Pirelli Tires

Jan 27, 2023 at 18:08
by Matt Beer  
photo

Earlier in the week, Trek Factory Racing (TFR) announced a partnership with Pirelli tires that will see its cross-country, enduro and downhill teams running the Italian rubber for the next three seasons. Those three teams are filled with multiple World Champions, including Jolanda Neff, Evie Richards, Anton Cooper, Loris Vergier, and Reece Wilson, plus a long list of heavy hitters to add to those rosters.


In Pirelli's mountain bike line up, the classic Scorpion moniker is used everywhere and in between the XC and DH tires. Pirelli states that they will be developing and producing a fresh line of Scorpion tires at a brand-new plant in Biocca, Italy. There already seems to be prototypes in the works, as seen on the rear wheel of Reece Wilson's downhill bike in a recent Instagram post.

bigquotesThe growing collaboration with a leading company like Trek, with both road and now mountain bike athletes, confirms how happy we have been during our journey together over the past few years.
-Matteo Barbieri, Head of Pirelli Cycling

The Trek-Segafredo road team, which consists of nineteen team members, joined forces with Pirelli last year. Looking at the larger picture, you have to wonder what this does for the Bontrager brand of tires that the teams previously used. We've reached out to Trek to ask if this partnership with Pirelli will have any influence on OEM bikes.

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mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
349 articles

148 Comments
  • 210 4
 I hope they’ve got their sharpies ready
  • 83 0
 People said that about Continental too, up until the latest line of their tires came out. I'd hope that this pushes Pirelli to make some awesome new tires and give customers more alternatives.
  • 15 5
 Sharpies don't work and neither do those tire markers you buy online. Rattle can all the way baby!!
  • 10 0
 @ATXZJ: you need 3m black primer. It's expensive and the bottle only lasts a very short time. Ask me how I know lol
  • 102 2
 Article title should read as follows:
Team owned by manufacturer with in-house tire division pairs with a different tyre company to then use blacked out tyres from another tyre comapny who are also the major leading competition.
  • 9 0
 Sand them off. It's the only real way.
  • 59 0
 Not a good look for Bontrager
  • 2 0
 @therealnobody: I'll remember that. I've used SEM trim black for years now and it's been great. Also really handy for auto repairs too.
  • 2 0
 @wheelsmith: unless the new tyres turn out to be worse eh
  • 7 3
 Trk Cllbrtv?
  • 3 0
 I'm riding some of the new Enduro S tires now and I really like them. I rode DHF/ DHR forever and I didn't feel a dip in performance on the Pirelli's. I do need to get back on a set of Maxxis just to compare again but their new offerings are nothing like the old tires.
  • 2 0
 To be honest the Pirelli sorpion race tyres actually look ok, tread patterns, compounds and casings look good. The DH tyres are 1400g with 42a compound, so pretty similar to a maxxis DH maxxgrip
  • 10 2
 @melonhead1145: realistically judging a tire off its durometer (42A) is like judging how a bike is going to handle based off its chainstay length. It's one ingredient in a complicated recipe.
  • 1 0
 This comment is sponsored by Edding.
  • 2 1
 @felimocl: It saves their racing budget probably a good 30% of expenses.
You'd like to think Pirelli was paying the racers directly a check via the sponsorship. Not sure how that works.

But if Trek isn't having to throw a boatload of money at their team for tires they're having to buy (and re-brand because there's not a Bontrager factory)...someone is either saving or profiting.

I'd like to think the switch would let Trek pay more riders AND pay those riders MORE money AND pay for more races.

But it's probably just a smart move by the team manager to justify their existence and not be such a loss leader.

The CEO will no doubt increase his bonus and take full responsibility.
  • 2 0
 @felimocl: Pirelli is about to start making the tyres themselves instad of having Hutchinson as a supplier.
  • 86 14
 Why on earth does a Chinese military chemical company (chemchina) have a 45% stake in Pirelli? They have a hard on for pesticides and ….bike tires?

Needless to say, as a company who boasts how environmentally conscious they are, this partnership is not a good look.
  • 30 31
 why? why?
Because!


wake up, world is not what you lwant to think.
Money, greed, power, .......
  • 9 66
flag wburnes (Jan 28, 2023 at 5:07) (Below Threshold)
 Why is it not a good look; literally nobody cares that China is invested.
  • 17 1
 Every tire company isn't a good look, more and less... i mean the only choice you have is to look for someone who is crafting the tire locally (hutchinson for europe on certain referencies) or a company that recycle things and that is strongly in research for solutions (Schwalbe), but infortunately that's all (to my knowledge).

Whatever the tire, with or without "green compound", it will alway be a tire so not a good thing for the environnement.
But as customers, what else can we do ?
  • 23 1
 @niboreriam:

If the customers demand it, it can be done. We have the technologies today to completely abandon petroleum. But the will is not there yet:

tflcar.com/2023/01/goodyear-rolls-out-a-tire-made-from-90-sustainable-materials-at-this-years-ces
  • 16 1
 @audeo03: soybean oil. Isn't that the same component that was used to 'sustainably' replace wire insulation that has been a bit hit with rodents?
  • 1 0
 @wburnes: just like kat williams said it.
  • 8 0
 don't think this deserves a down vote for a fact and a reasonable opinion.
  • 12 0
 @stunnanumma1: tbh I would have never known but it was puzzling a company like Trek that makes tires, outsources the tires their riders use.

My hunch was Trek or a larger company that owns trek also owns Pirrelli.

And then I saw “chemchina” so yeah i dove deeper into the rabbit hole and here we are.
  • 10 1
 @ka81: I’m well aware. That’s obviously what it boils down to. Still funny that a controversial chemical company in china has their hands in a bike tire company and worth discussing. You’re free to move on.
  • 8 1
 @wburnes: From the comment you are referring to: I mention they are a chemical pesticide company. Trek actually does try to be environmentally conscious.

That point has nothing to do with China.

Now if you still don’t get it, hit the books.
  • 28 2
 @niboreriam: I get that. I just thought the entire situation was a little funny/weird in that a pesticide company that Americas Department of Defense has blacklisted from the stock market owns 45% of a bicycle tire company that just partnered with an American brand based out of Americas farm country. Worlds small I guess.
  • 4 1
 @ka81: then you go and buy that shit because I choose not to
  • 10 0
 @pinkbert: Did you just call Pirelli a bicycle tire company?
  • 4 0
 Pirelli makes way more than bike tires…….
  • 5 0
 @pinkbert: want an easy answer as to why Trek would put the team on Perelli instead of their own Bontrager tires?

Money.

Running these teams costs money. Perelli agrees to give money and products (even more money) to the team. I think Trek also distributes Perelli here in the US, but I'll double check that in a couple of hours.. And, if they don't, don't be surprised when they start...
  • 3 1
 @nickfranko: Sorry do they not produce tires? Guess I have no clue!
  • 3 1
 @lumpy873: Wow, you really understand how this complex world works...
  • 2 0
 @fred-frod: I know my answer isn't very exciting since it doesn't involve Chinese pesticide companies, but racing is a business at that level...
  • 1 1
 @pinkbert: then why mention the Chinese military
  • 3 2
 @wburnes: why not
  • 2 1
 @wburnes: yeah why not?
  • 5 0
 Maybe they produce rubber for military tires? Have you seen how the Chinese Michelin knockoff tires used by the Russians are performing in Ukraine? Expect Chinese manufacturers to suddenly produce better tires with technology very similar to Pirelli within two years.
  • 2 1
 Pirelli is .1% bike tire.lol. They make car tires, and the best ones on the planet.

My guess is that Trek is cosying up to Pirelli to get tech to make Bontrager tires better(which shouldn't be hard. lol). Less likely scenario is in the coming years we see Bontrager and the pirelli bike division merge.
  • 9 3
 @pinkbert @wburnes The Chinese military don't need to be mentioned because they should be implied. Every Chinese company is owned in part by the Chinese Communist Party and therefore the Chinese military. So yea it is concerning, or atleast should be a talking point, that the CCP is trying to gain access to the states via a backdoor.
  • 1 1
 @wburnes: not true.
  • 5 0
 @BMXJJ327: they don't need a backdoor they have all of our manufacturing
  • 1 0
 @pinkbert: ya, I “try” to be faster, but that doesn’t happen lol
  • 1 0
 @Mtbdialed: not as good as they used to be car tire wise. i really like the Bonti SE4 but not sure on their other tires
  • 1 2
 @dchill: Bontrager enduro sidewalls have the integrity of a wet fart
  • 1 0
 @lumpy873: Exactly, people forget that race teams are just for marketing and that if it gets to expensive they go away and the money goes to something else. Trek made a deal here to keep the cost of running the team back down to an acceptable level.

Otherwise you start cutting riders or end up with so many team sponsors that riders and bikes end up like NASCAR sponsored by Bounty paper towels and Mountain Dew.
  • 1 0
 @brooklyn1: Would sponsorship by Mountain Dew be a bad thing? I don't drink soda, but they would bring bigger money and exposure...
  • 2 0
 It's a perfect tire investor though. Tires have a shitload of crazy chemicals in them to create strong sticky tires that hold up in all weather conditions and last a long time.

A study recently published has linked the wear of car tires and so, a specific chemical being deposited on roads, which is then washed into local rivers and oceans, as a possible significant contributor to the west coast salmon die off.

canadiangeographic.ca/articles/killer-tire-chemical-threatening-canadian-salmon

So ya, agree... if you're environmentally conscious and make tires... you're actually just conscious of the fact that your f*cking up the environment.
  • 1 0
 @audeo03: anything that creates materials supply completion with food is abad thing. Farm food not tires. No we can’t do both without raising food prices
  • 38 0
 I can't help but think there's something more at work here, like Trek is going to sell the tire line to Pirelli, or Pirelli will OEM Bontrager tires or some sort of business joint-venture beyond just tires for a couple of race teams. Any ideas?
  • 1 0
 Makes sense that's going to happen. I lost track of who makes the current Bonty tyres, but unless the athletes were basically refusing to use the tyres they were given, I can't see why they would do this otherwise
  • 29 0
 More likely it is just $. If the team runs Bontrager tires, no additional support money comes in for the team, race fees, travel etc. Pick and choose where your racing/advertising can have the most impact and get as many partners as you can to start with a bigger budget
  • 1 0
 Bontrager tires used to be made by IRC,at least many years ago.
  • 1 3
 @mountainsofsussex: If I was a Trek athlete, I wouldn't necessarily refuse, but I would be begging to ride something different. Bonti's can be pretty sketchy in the wet.
  • 6 0
 Pirelli tyres are already being sold on the trek website store…..and have been for quite a while …..

www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/equipment/cycling-components/bike-tyres/c/E208
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: Their SE/XR tire compound is 50a, which I agree sucks in the wet. The G series DH tires use 42a which I imagine is quite a bit better.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Vergier ran DHR 2 Tires in VDS so i assume thry ran sharpied maxxis all year.
  • 1 0
 @headmechanix: i think they ran sharpied maxxis tough. But it makes sense to go from sharpied tires you have to pay, to tires you get for free /for less or even money to run them.
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: bets on them still running sharpied Maxxis this year too?! I'm mildly suspicious about whether they're any good as the only review I could find since they were released in October is from Loamwolf. Certainly nothing on here since the first look 3 months ago
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: hmmm, the canyon- pirelli team has been running them not sharpied. I doubt they sponser a bigger team just to get sharpied.
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: haven't been following closely enough then, I stand corrected!
  • 17 0
 Thanks to this being Pinkbike, no one seems to be aware that the Trek Segafrego road teams have been running Pirelli for a while. Nothing too 'suspicious' other than the offroad teams moving to using the same tyre manufacturer.
  • 6 0
 Nail on head! And Trek-Segafredo are now using 100% sunglasses after using Koo.
All that is happening is that TFR are having the same multiple major sponsors across all their different teams.....Sram, Pirelli, 100%, etc

As is usual on here, people are reading far too much into it.......
  • 2 0
 Team UAE of Tadej Pogačar used Pirelli to last year. He was visibly not happy with them on more than one occasion.
Their moving to Continental this year.
  • 19 0
 Keith is gonna be pissed!!!
  • 29 2
 Keith Richards? Will he be pissed because on the logo of their actual tyres they will need to Paint It Black? I'll get my coat.
  • 2 0
 @bigtim: too good
  • 6 0
 @bigtim: are your saying that because of this collaboration, he can't get no satisfaction? Too bad for him. You can't always get what you want.
  • 21 3
 Ugh. "Scorpion" makes me think of life altering crashes. What are their future tire names? Paralyzer? Piledriver?
  • 6 21
flag mtb-thetown (Jan 28, 2023 at 8:47) (Below Threshold)
 Or those cops who beat that guy to death in Memphis...
  • 5 0
 I think Pirelli has a scorpion dirt bike tire as well as a scorpion automotive tire. They just love the little critters I suppose.
  • 6 0
 not a Castelli fan, eh?
  • 3 0
 @Negativeyoda: Hah! Nice! I hope they hear the Winds of Change and reconsider the naming...
  • 4 0
 Past, present, future off road tyres are all Scorpion. You want an XC tyre? Scorpion. Enduro? Scorpion. MotoX? Scorpion.

Meamwhile, over on the Road bikes, Gravel bikes and my VW Passat, you have the Cinturato.

All is forgiven, Maxxis
  • 2 0
 @woofer2609: if the new tires suck everyone will go to Blackout again.
  • 12 2
 I wonder if that's gonna set back the team.. it takes time to develop a tire, look how long it took continental till they started having success. But I guess on race day they'll be on MAXXIS anyway
  • 1 0
 There are other races that have been using Pirelli before; they are not starting from square one
  • 7 0
 Interesting to see all these big tyre manufacturers dipping their toes back into mtb. They aren't gonna make much money selling bike tyres compared to what they make off of car tyres, so you gotta assume they are doing it for the perceived (essentially) free advertising of having their names on cyclists jerseys after the disco takeover. Kinda cool, but also furthers the niggling worry that the sport is going to be unrecognisable in a few years. And likely not in a good way...
  • 7 4
 You know the destiny at this point is a watered down corporate sport. Just look at how the Joyride riders react. They are like influences or some FortNite character. It actually grosses me out. Their over the top acting and clucking like a chicken. It's like watching an unboxing video for a new iPhone. They are putting on a show more than they are riding.

They'll be last hold outs, of course. Riders true to the essence and original mindset of the idea of mountain biking will rebel against the IMBA blue-flow-trail entropy the envelope all, and consume new difficult trails from being built.

It'll be just like the old times, pissing off logging companies, private land owners, cutting multiple loamers in the forest, falling trees and destroying the soil structure because no one's building new hard trails anymore. They aren't insurable. We will resort to building at night.

The organizations known as c*ntS will be forged. The Canadian Underground Network of Trail Shredders. Why am I still typing?
  • 4 1
 @skiboot1: Haha, while i don't fully agree with everything you said there, the gist of it was pretty spot on. The recent announcement that all disciplines will be grouped together in order to facilitate "a festival atmosphere" was a massive red flag to me. f*ck bike festivals. I'm not even remotely interested in hanging out with a load of influencers with fantastic hair and teeth, hawking yet another generic shit goggle brand in front of a photo of them doing a 720tripleflatspincrankflipbarturn into a swimming pool full of hired dancers all sponsored by monsterdriftenergybar2000 . I want to watch racing. I wanna see who can get a bike from the top of a mountain to the bottom fastest, with a load of difficult terrain in the way. That is all. Everything else is just noise.
  • 2 3
 @gabriel-mission9: it's pretty grim for sure. I was pretty deep into an edible when I wrote that last night. Let's hope that doesn't come true! But I bet it will happen. Mountain biking needs more money and this is the easiest way to get it
  • 7 0
 During COVID my beloved Maxxis Ardent Race were unavailable. LBS said I should try Pirellis. I'm so happy I did so. The Pirellis are tougher, have better rolling resistance and cornering grip. I gained 80 grams but SFW because I'm going faster overall. I've run the XCM and the XCH (my preferred tread for Canberra XC trails), both in 2.4. I can't recommend them enough.
  • 4 6
 Yep Maxxis are rubbish, massive upgrade switching to Michelins
  • 10 3
 Newest tool for Trek mechanics: black edding pencil
  • 4 0
 At least we know cyclocops won't have any traction, that their sidewalls will roll over during even the lightest cornering and that we, as long as we have good tires will get away from our urban shred spots without hassle
  • 3 0
 It would be interesting to know what’s going on behind the scenes here. It is probably about Trek taking their tire business to Pirelli or maybe switching OEMs for their own Bontrager-line of tires.

Trek Factory Racing surely didn’t just switch to Pirelli for the performance… Tried the Pirelli Scorpion Enduro S and M and they are decent, but not quite on the same level as Conti, Schwalbe or Maxxis.
  • 1 2
 Don’t know about new Conti but Michelins far superior to the others imo
  • 3 1
 I kinda liked my G5's. They were no Maxxis meat tho. Interesting that they aren't going with their own in house brand. That's like Santa Cruz not running their own carbon wheels. Or maybe they don't? I'm sure Parelli said they'd pay them lots of money and in addition they'd give them free tires. Maybe even threw in free muffler bearings. Can't say, really Big Grin
  • 3 0
 It may or may not translate to the DH tires, but Pirelli's recent lineup of gravel bike tires have unanimously excellent feedback. Maybe they're doing it right and these will be good.
  • 2 0
 I can't speak to the gravity side, but on the XC front Bontrager XC tires need some work:
XR0 is unavailable/not tubeless ready.
New XR1 should be a good option but only available in 2.2 when everyone is going wider on those short knob designs (Aspen and XCRC in 2.4 for example)
XR2 is ancient.
XR3 is XR2 middle with XR4 corner knobs and the 2.4 measures 2.2 maybe.
XR4 is a light trail tire.

The Pirelli XCRC is a faster Kenda Booster/ Maxxis Rekon Race and should suit them pretty well, available in 2 casing options and 2 usable sizes for XC. Between that and the Scopion H I think the TFR team will be covered pretty well except maybe short track where short knob designs like the old Aspens, Thunder Burts and Vittoria Terrenos are king. Just my 2 cents.
  • 1 0
 excellent summary, 100% agree
  • 4 0
 Yeah but now we need to see mandatory compounds in practice Practice 3, Q1, Q2,Q3.
  • 4 1
 The se6 and se5 are great..so good in fact that trek is going to sell the rights to pirelli ..it's going to be the same tread ..just under the pirelli name
  • 2 0
 Smart move for Pirelli. Bonty put a lot of engineering into the SE6. Hope to see a 27.5 version when it comes out as a Chinelli.
  • 4 1
 What a great piece of news ! Pirelli tires are well-known for their overall qualities everywhere they are used (think about Formula 1 and WRC...)
  • 6 2
 All the F1 teams and drivers hate the tires.
  • 3 1
 @anotherstoneinthewoods: The FIA control how the tires perform
  • 3 0
 Their WRC tyres are not the best....bring back Michelin....
  • 3 0
 @Starch-Anton @anotherstoneinthewoods

Yup, my comment was sarcastic.
  • 1 0
 I know this is the wrong website, but I ran some Pirelli Cinturatos H on my cyclocross bike through the summer and they were f**king excellent. Fast rolling, grippy, tough as hell. Gravel, xc singletrack, braindead skids through town, hardly any tread wear. Interested to try an enduro tire from them
  • 2 0
 Interesting. Trek has really been cranking down the number of tire SKUs in their catalog for awhile, so this may have been a long time coming?
  • 1 1
 Bontrager is going away in a year.
  • 1 1
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: that's the Trek cycle. Buy an established brand (Lemond, Bontrager, Gary Fisher, etc). Run it for long enough to make a brand association, then kill it and rebrand those products as Treks.
  • 2 0
 @GTscoob: I mean they owned Fisher from 1992 and had it as a separate brand until 2011 just a couple of years to kill the brand off. I think they bought Bontrager in the late 90s.
  • 1 1
 Not every Trek comes with Bontrager tires. A couple of the Marlins are spec'd with Maxxis and a couple of ebikes have Schwalbe. As said above, it tales a lot of money to run a team, especially when you treat the women's team the same as them men's. The road teams started using Pirelli last year. You see non Bontrager grips, pedals, gloves, jerseys etc. on the race teams.
  • 2 2
 Trek's site actually shows Pirelli tires along with Bontragers. It makes Trek look like they don't trust their own brand. Remember when they dropped the full-floater design for a more traditional design and claimed "no loss in suspension performance?"
  • 1 0
 To be fair you never want a full floater
  • 4 0
 Looks like a...
  • 2 0
 ... pirellion?
  • 2 0
 Hmmm,is that means BONTRAGER tires will be OEM only or ……discontinue?
  • 1 0
 Maybe, maybe not, but this announcement only covers the race teams.
  • 2 1
 Trek maybe finally realised that their claimed 2.4 tyres are all 2.28 in practice and accepted this as evidence they shouldn't be in the tyre game.
  • 2 0
 Can confirm. Used their tires exclusively for the last 3 years but made a switch this year for this reason.
  • 1 0
 Bontrager has good products, such as their dropper posts, hubs are decent and very cheap. Not so sure about the tire though...
  • 1 0
 I'd trust Pirelli to make a good tire - they started the company in 1872. Methinks making a good MTB tire would a straightforward task for a company with their history.
  • 1 0
 G5’s are my favorite DH tire. Been running them for the last few years with zero issues. I hope they keep making them.
  • 2 0
 Xc ones at least are just vittorias.
  • 3 5
 I dig the Perellis on my gravel bike, a lot better than the WTBs they've replaced. I've got a little hoard of my usual Maxxis trail bike tires that will probably get me through the fall, but Perelli is on the list to try... I want to try some new Continentals, but they're so far up their own ass on marketing and nonsense pseudo technical ad copy I can't be bothered to figure out which tires would actually be competitive for me.
  • 9 2
 If you can't wrap your mind around Conti's tyre range, that's on you mate.
  • 2 0
 Krypt -R-2.4 Trail endurance with Argotal 2.4 or 2.6 enduro soft on front. You're welcome.
  • 3 0
 See Gwin on Kenda.
  • 3 1
 Can’t be worse than Maxxis
  • 1 0
 I have a trek slash and i swapped the bontrager tires right away. Not a fan of them.
  • 3 0
 Now THIS is news.
  • 2 0
 I dont see the problem. The new Race line looks good.
  • 1 0
 I thought Trek made their own Bontrager tires? They are not endorsing their own product?
  • 1 0
 What's next? Trek Racing gets a wheel company on board so they can have less awful wheels too?
  • 1 0
 Now Trek riders can use iconic rally phrase: Reporter: What kind of tires are you had? Juha Kankkunen: Black round Pirelli.
  • 1 0
 Chuck retired at a good time.
  • 1 0
 Wasn't this news a week ago?
  • 2 1
 As long as the calendar stays awesome
  • 1 0
 I need an SE6 in 27.5x2.6
  • 2 0
 aka team budget cut
  • 1 0
 Always though Bontrager was just a Trek brand, who knew
  • 2 0
 It is, but Im guessing the Pirellis came with a good size cheque to ease the transition.
  • 1 0
 Whoa...
  • 1 1
 Is Pirelli a manufacturing partner for Bontrager tires?
  • 5 5
 Another reason to not buy a trek
  • 1 1
 Will they be riding the Scorpion, Scorpions or the Scorpioni
  • 4 6
 Don’t like them on my cars, won’t like them on my bikes loll
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