Some riders choose dual-sports and adventure bikes because they want to ride both on and off the pavement. Others appreciate the upright seating and plentiful aftermarket luggage options such bikes offer. That’s what led me to my 650 V-Strom, which I’ve ridden off pavement for maybe 100 miles, but over 31,000 on the street. Until now, however, I haven’t found a rear tire that lasts very long, because the soft compound necessary for off-pavement riding compromises on-pavement tire life. But I think I’ve found the perfect tire for me and my bike—Pirelli’s dual-compound Scorpion Trail.
The Scorpion Trail rear tire has dual compounds—a harder compound in the middle of the tire, flanked by stickier shoulders. You can thank the Ducati Multistrada for this, because it’s the bike these tires were originally designed for. Both the front and rear tires have a 0-degree radial steel belt carcass, a design Pirelli says promotes easy handling and good road holding. The tires’ profiles are also sporty, with the front mimicking that of Pirelli’s Diablo sport tires, and the rear slightly more rounded than a traditional sport tire for better off-road performance.
The tread pattern is claimed to be optimum for off-road and supersport riding, which seems like a tall order, if not a contradictory one. The tread sipes are deeper in the middle of the tire than on the shoulders, putting more rubber, and a more stable contact patch, on the road in corners. The sticky stuff comes into play at 30 degrees of lean and hangs in there for as long as you can hang on.
Enough presskit summary. How do the dual-compound Scorpion Trails? On road, very well. On my first ride with the new tires, I sensed a very slight firming up of the ride, nothing objectionable but nevertheless noticeable, probably due to the 0-degree carcass’s stiffness. After a few days, either it went away or I stopped noticing it.
As I got more aggressive on the tires, the sticky shoulders came into their own. I found myself leaning farther into familiar corners, and the front end especially seemed more planted. The bike steered with less effort, held the line through a corner better, and let me use more throttle out of the turns.
Pirelli claims the Scorpion Trails have an on-pavement/off-pavement bias of about 90/10, meaning they’re for riders who ride almost all of the time on the street. I’m no Dakar vet, unless you count watching it on TV, but it’s my gut impression the Pirellis aren't as good on a graded gravel road as the softer, more off-pavement-biased Dunlop D607s they replaced on my V-Strom; a better rider might think otherwise.
What really intrigued me about the Scorpion Trails was their promise of better mileage on the street. So far, after more than 2,000 miles of pavement riding, neither tire shows any significant change in the profile compared to new; most other brands of dual-sport tires I’ve used would have at least shown some squaring off in the rear by now.
Scorpion Trails come in six front sizes and seven rears. I’m happy with the ones on my bike, and the way things look right now, I expect I’ll go on being happy with them for a long time. —Jerry Smith