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Pirelli Scorpion XC Mid Soft (Front)

When sand is the problem, the Scorpion XC is the solution

by Martin Hackworth 

Photos: Martin Hackworth

Manix Wash Sand

xc mid soft front
     The Pirelli XC mid soft is a knobby tire advertised as the shazz/last word/best thing since sliced whole wheat bread for soft conditions such as sand and mud. Based on our nascent 400 mile acquaintance with it in the fine sand (and mud) of southern Idaho and the coarse sand of the Mojave Desert we believe! The Pirelli Scorpion XC mid soft is the most impressive front tire we've ever sampled for sand.

     Prior to last few hundred miles you'd have had a difficult time convincing us that a tire choice could make such a huge difference to a skilled rider on a properly set-up bike. We are, however, now completely prepared to get our minds right on this concept because this tire rocks.

     The first thing you'll notice about a fresh XC mid soft is how sticky it is. We spooned a pair of Scorpions onto a street-legal Honda XR650R and a KTM530 and headed to the local sand dunes. While riding some pavement between trails I was struck with how tenaciously the knobs adhered to hard surfaces at low speeds - so much so that it required more than the usual effort to steer the bike on pavement during very low speed turns (I had to check to make sure that the steering damper wasn't set to 8).

     Once in it's element the XC exercises a fierce grip on sand and mud that enables precise steering and confidence at all speeds. All you have to do is point, pull the trigger and go. There is minimal wallow at low speeds. Once you build up enough speed to get on top of the sand steering effort is light and stability is excellent. Steering, even in very deep sand, feels like hardpack at speeds above 25 mph.

     The XC Mid Soft is very light with a relatively soft and compliant carcass. The durability seems amazingly good for such a soft tire - although we did notice a distinct change in handling as soon as the knobs began to round (to be fair this process was accelerated quite a bit after 30 miles on the Interstate). The only nit we have is that this tire isn't the most stable at extremely high speeds. Unless you are planning on doing 80 mph+ everywhere you go in the sand this shouldn't be an issue.  
    We run our XC mid soft at 16.5 psi with a heavy duty tube, paired with a Scorpion MX Extra rear. Based on our initial impression this setup will suffice for any sandy/muddy terrain that we can imagine. Our YZ250F play bike may never see another front tire.

     If we can get the miles we need out of the XC mid soft we'd consider using it for a front tire even on a long ride on mixed terrain such as the 1300 mile Tour of Idaho. The handling in sand and mud would more than make up for the lack of durability - as long as it's not completely shagged, that is. We'll see. 
Pirelli Scorpion XC Mid-Soft: 80/100-21

Price Paid: $74.00 - Pocatello Power Sports

Rating: 5.0/5.0 knobs

Pirelli website

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