November 21, 2023

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR Tyres - The internet has lied to you.

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR Tyres - The internet has lied to you.

The Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyre gets a bad rap on the internet. If you believe what you hear, it's a completely useless tyre with no grip on the road or off it and should be changed out within the first 5 kilometres of ownership, for something truly 50/50.

But that is far from my experience with the tyre.

Disclosure: the following is based on my own impressions, with tyres I either received as OEM fitment on my own motorcycle, tyres I bought retail, or obtained second-hand. Pirelli hasn't had any input in this story. They don't even know I'm writing it. No money has changed hands with Pirelli, or any other tyre brand in the lead-up or following me writing this.

There has to be a reason why not only the Tenere 700, but the Moro Morini X-Cape, Ducati Desert X and a whole stack more, come out of the factory with the Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR right?

Pirelli says the Scorpion Rally STR was "Conceived for the latest generation of adventure, dual purpose and street enduro bikes, also capable of handling long trips and excursions, including off-road sections. For those riders that are seeking versatility, balanced on and off-road performance and a knobbly tyre with an aggressive look that does not sacrifice grip, safety on wet roads, mileage, stability and comfort"

If that was the brief, then I reckon they nailed it.
A street bias tyre with the ability to go off-road... it's not a mud plugger but can do mud. it's not a gravel or sand tyre, but can do both. It's a compromise... which if we think deeply about it pretty much sums up all our adventure motorcycles... they're all a compromise. None of us are Pol Tarres, Chris Birch or Toby Price. Unless you guys are reading this, then... ummm... Hi!

The point is, we all need a tyre that can do it all, on our bikes that can do it all... we're all unicorn hunters.

I've been running the STR for a while. after chewing through the OEM tyres on my Tenere 700, I started seeing people whipping their STRs off with plenty of life left in them and going for something else they perceived as a "hero tyre". Well, if they're going to go to waste, I'll run them on my bike no problem. I managed to pick up a few sets for next to nothing, and given how much commuting I do on the bike, I'm stoked with the performance. In the last 40,000 kilometres, I have done around 20,000km on an STR rear tyre (taking a quick break to try some Mitas E07+'s). The Pirelli Scorpions have taken me through some pretty diverse and rough conditions. From the rocky, stony rugged trails of the Akatarawa forest, to the sandy beaches of red rocks, and through some slippery wet and muddy paddocks in Wairarapa. Not to mention the length of the South Island on SH1 and back up via some of the best gravel roads you'll ever see in Central Otago.  I've managed to get some incredible life out of these tyres. Not only do they manage off-road conditions perfectly well, but they are an excellent road tyre for when your adventure bush pig decides it wants to try and keep up with the sports bikes on the Rimutakas.

While it stands to reason that having all the knobs in a horizontal row may reduce your lateral grip, It also means the knobs are bigger and more resistant to damage. This means the tyre is good for 10,000+ kilometres if you don't abuse it. Speaking of lateral grip, I actually prefer these STRs for their slightly looser rear end on gravel. Not only is it fun, but it means you don't only have the front wheel to aid in getting around a corner, with a trained right wrist you can bring the rear around with control also. Speaking of a trained right wrist, (mind out of the gutter please) The STR is fine in more slippery off-road conditions if you can get a feel for the throttle. Come across some mud on a trail? Well, every tyre has its downsides, and these aren't amazing in mud, but it's not as though we play in the mud all day, every day right? With a bit of momentum and power, I've not found a muddy hole or wet grassy paddock I couldn't get through yet and having all the knobs in a row does make for a reasonable sand tyre.
It's not all roses though, the front tyre is a little vague off-road. I can only really put it down to the lack of a hard edge on the knobs. That said, the profile of the STR tyres on-road, really does make them feel like a street tyre, allowing the motorcycle to lean over and maintain traction beautifully in the tarmac twisties. It's all a tradeoff, right?

I guess, tyres are one of those silly things where one man's trash is another man's treasure. But, the point is, don't believe everything you read, hear, or see on the internet.

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, are not as shit as the internet would have you believe.
But feel free to keep swapping out perfectly good, brand-new tyres for "Hero" brands, because it's keeping me well stocked.