Pirelli’s new “Race Level” DH and Enduro tires, in development for almost two years, were the secret to getting more resources poured into the Velo division, and it shows.
Internally, their reps told me that if it has to do with racing at the World Cup level, then Pirelli wants to win. From F1 to Moto, if the tires are going to the top teams and athletes, they must be tires that are produced with their top technology for the sole purpose of winning.
Now, fortunately for us, that mindset comes to their new Race EN and DH tires…
Pirelli’s standard models are designed to balance performance with durability, and an approachable ride quality for the average enthusiast rider. Nothing wrong with that.
The new Race models focus on all-out race-level performance; maximizing grip, compliance, and cornering with less focus on long-term durability.
Pirelli Race EN/DH tire models
These Race models get four new aggressive tread designs, but use the same naming scheme of M/T/S/Mud so you know their intended use. Only in 2.5” width, for 29er and 27.5”
EN vs DH
The EN and DH tires have the same tread pattern and both are tubeless ready, but they differ in casing and compound. The EN’s DUAL WALL is a more supple 2-ply 120tpi casing with a standard folding bead.
The DH tires gets rigid beads with a 2-ply 60tpi casing, plus a third DUAL WALL+ sidewall layer. That extra textile layer on the DH adds more lateral stiffness, too. All that adds about 150g more than the EN version.
DH Race tire weights range from 1310g to 1450g. EN Race tires weigh from 1210g to 1260g.
M for… All Around?
The M model is the “All-Around Racing Performance” tire. Its side knobs have recesses to improve grip on hardpack and rock faces, but are softer throughout because the intermediate knobs are closely spaced between the center and side knobs, so it’s more about using the rubber itself for grip as opposed to punching into the ground.
T for Traction
T side knobs are more separated from the center knobs, so their inside edge is sharper and the firmer underlying compound has a spike into the middle of the knob so it’s better supported.
The center knob can be cut out for front tire use or in softer conditions where you need more bite. Or leave it there for more braking performance in the rear or faster rolling on smoother, harder terrain.
S for Soft/Loose
S knobs are widely spaced to stab into soft or loose surfaces and grip the firmer ground underneath. The side knobs look smaller from the top down, but they’re buttressed quite well to stand up to hard cornering.
Mud for…yep, Mud
The Mud tire only comes in a DH model, and only in a narrower 2.4 width, intended to be a front tire for racing in really sloppy conditions where the treads need to bite into the ground to find grip. Smaller caps on each tread block are designed to be cut off in conditions warrant, like for more precision steering on firmer wet surfaces like roots and hardpack.
Pirelli Race EN/DH rubber compounds
Pirelli’s reps said compounds are not just about the Shore (durometer) rating, which is about compression. It’s also about hysteresis, which is the rebound, and they say that’s super important to prevent losing grip and giving the rider proper feedback.
The Race tires get a new dual-compound design puts a harder rubber underneath the tread blocks, and a softer compound for the knobs. The outer compound is the same across the tire, for both center and side knobs, because they wanted the grip and feel to remain consistent at all angles.
Meaning, the feel doesn’t shift as you go into a corner. They say this is standard in motorsports, so why wouldn’t they do it to bicycle tires, too?
This dual compound isn’t used on their standard tires, where many riders will ride the tires for a long time, even after the edges of the knobs have worn down. There, a single compound maintains more consistent performance even as the tires wear down.
Pirelli lists both the EN and DH tires as using the same 42a SmartEVO DH compound, however they seemed to wear quite differently during the press event we attended.
Above, the EN tires are shown on left, DH on the right. Both are shown after three full days of bike park riding under various riders, and the DH tire’s knobs are noticeably more chewed up on the braking edge. Could be the way the DH bikes were being ridden, but the differences seemed consistent across multiple bikes.
Pirelli makes no apologies for this – the goal is maximum performance. If you want a longer-lasting tire, get the standard versions. But also take solace that the EN versions seem like maybe they’ll last longer than the DH versions.
Pricing and availability TBA, we’ll update as soon as we have that info.
As with any test, riding a new tire on a new bike on new trails means there’s a lot of inputs to filter, but my first impressions are really good.
I rode the Race EN M-series tires on a Canyon Strive (170mm front and rear travel) and was very impressed with both the tires and the bike. Grip was phenomenal, and they felt extremely supple for a dual-play tire meant to withstand the abuses of enduro racing on varied terrains.
From hardpacked jump lines and berms to the loamy softness of some side trails, they went where I pointed them. Beyond that, there was something extra about the way they felt…maybe it was the “tuned” rubber with low rebound or the extra soft outer rubber layer grabbing hold of the ground.
Whatever it was, I’m looking forward to testing a set out on my own bikes on more familiar trails.
Pricing & Availability
All Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro and Race DH tires of the M, S and T tread patterns, in 27.5″ x 2.5″ and 29″ x 2.5″, retail at $99.90 USD. In Europe, pricing varies between the Race Enduro and DH lines, the former priced at 89,90 € and the latter at 84,90 €. Stock is due for both markets in early 2023.
|Scorpion Race Enduro M||27.5 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race Enduro M||29 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race Enduro S||27.5 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race Enduro S||29 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race Enduro T||27.5 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race Enduro T||29 x 2.5||89,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH M||27.5 x 2.5||84,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH M||29 x 2.5||84,80 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH S||27.5 x 2.5||84,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH S||29 x 2.5||84,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH T||27.5 x 2.5||84,90 €||$ 99.90|
|Scorpion Race DH T||29 x 2.5||84,90 €||$ 99.90|