Pirelli Scorpion Trail II ADV Tires

Redesigned and better suited for road-focused adventure touring bikes.

The Pirelli Scorpion Trail II has a bit of an identity problem. Its moniker suggests off-road performance, and while it handles light off-road duty quite well, this updated member of the Scorpion family is best suited to hardtop. Which, actually, isn't all that new; the previous Scorpion Trail was primarily a deep-tread street tire, with far more land than sea in its tread pattern.

Pirelli took it a step further with the II designation, redesigning the tires to better suit road-focused adventure touring bikes—from the powerful models like Ducati's Multistrada to stalwarts like BMW's R1200GS and even the smaller machines like Kawasaki's Versys 650. As a sport-touring tire, the Trail II offers ample confidence-inspiring grip and predictability. This is not surprising since the Trail IIs are derived from the Angel GT. Compared to the old Scorpion Trail the new tire features a rounder profile that creates a contact patch 6 percent shorter and 10 percent wider. The new tread pattern does away with the intersecting grooves and the big block tread pattern of the old Trails in favor of a more street-bred, continuous block pattern that delivers improved lateral stability with less road noise and vibration. Pirelli claims the new profile and tread reduces heat and increases longevity by 50 percent without the need for a harder compound.

Deep, steeply angled grooves promise to discharge water more effectively, says Pirelli, and new compounds will improve both wet and dry weather performance. The front tire has a single, 100 percent silica compound while the dual-compound rear tire features a 100 percent silica shoulder and 70 percent silica center that balances corner grip with longevity. Pirelli’s super-secret compound cocktail is concocted using a unique process of continuously mixing polymers and resins with silica that chemically bonds to carbon black for more consistent wear and performance.

To handle the demands of high horsepower ADV machines Pirelli increased the Trail II’s carcass tensile strength by 60 percent and linear density by 32 percent over the old tire. Rear tires are available only in 17-inch sizes ranging from a 130/80 to a 190/55 and $200 to $310 retail. Fronts are available in 17, 18, 19 and 21-inch sizes in popular sport and dual-sport widths from $170 to $220. Of course, street prices are considerably lower. Pirelli has kept the Trail IIs price-competitive with the other popular street-biased ADV tires like the sister Metzeler Tourance Next, Continental’s TrailAttack, Dunlop’s Trailmax, and Michelin’s Anakee 3.

The Trail IIs performed admirably during our dry and very cold pavement-only media test day, providing excellent grip, good traction feedback and a quiet ride but with slightly more vibration than a typical sport-touring tire. Turn in is predictable but a bit slow and we noticed a tendency for the bike to fall further into the turn about mid-corner, requiring a slight amount of throttle to correct the over-steer. Also, the ride is noticeably choppy at faster speeds, which can be attributed to the stiffer carcass. However, the sturdy carcass makes perfect sense as soon as you encounter rougher surfaces at slower speeds.

Even though the Scorpion Trail II doesn’t look like it would do well off road, its durable construction, deeply cut tread and grippy compound perform admirably on packed dirt and gravel roads. We were able to controllably drift the rear of our test bike and brake with quite a bit of force before running out of traction.

We can’t comment on wet performance or longevity until we rack up more miles. But, all indications are that this new generation Scorpion Trail is a perfect match for ADV bike owners who occasionally traverse moderately rough roads, but prioritize pavement performance and mileage over aspirations of serious off-road adventures.