Pirelli Scorpion Trail - Product Review

Best of both worlds.

Pirelli Scorpion Trail - Product Review

Pirelli Scorpion Trail - Product Review

There is perhaps nothing harder than multi-tasking, especially if you happen to be a motorcycle tire designed to provide off-road traction, asphalt grip, excellent handling and superior stability. But these are the demands required of a road-oriented dual-sport tire.

Giving the Scorpion Trail the ability to excel on completely different surfaces is the tire's unique tread pattern. It's made up of four segments containing six different asymmetrical tread blocks that repeat in an alternating sequence. Three of these are optimized for asphalt, while the others form V-shaped blocks, the gaps between which provide off-road grip. The single compound is optimized for quick warm-up and the ability to provide excellent traction in wet or dry conditions on asphalt.

Two versions of the front are made depending on tire diameter. Reserved for 19-inch sizes ($160 to $180) is a radial, while a bias-ply is used for the more off-road-oriented 21-inchers ($150). All rears are 0-degree-belted radials ($155 to $200). I tried both front/rear combinations mounted on a Honda Transalp (radial) and a Yamaha Ténéré (bias-ply).

Pirelli really understands how a dual-sport tire is supposed to perform. Our test ride was split into four segments. The first section was part cobblestone, part broken pavement and off-road. The Yamaha Ténéré and its 21-inch hoop were perfectly at home here. Despite weighing 400 pounds, it confidently carved through loose rocks on the gravel road without missing a beat. Traction was very good both accelerating and turning, while brake performance was as good as can be expected off-road without knobbies.

The other three sectors were made up of various types of asphalt (twisties, freeway and roads that Julius Caesar himself must have had built). This is where the Scorpion Trail came into its own. Subjected to a sportbike pace, the tire provided excellent grip, even on the Ténéré with its off-roadie front. Side-to-side transitions were predictable, and stability was excellent even over some nasty, bump-riddled surfaces.

Bottom line? If you want an adventure tire and you spend 80 to 90 percent of your time on-road, the Scorpion Trail is a great choice.