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Truck Tires - Tire Test: Pirelli Scorpion ATR

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on October 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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Truck Tires - Tire Test: Pirelli Scorpion ATR

To introduce the Scorpion ATR, Pirelli had gone out of its way to give the media a chance to experience the virtues of this newly designed tire, constructing an "off-road course" on a flat dirt field at the Las Vegas Speedway for two Jeep Unlimiteds to conquer. Instructors in the passenger seats guided the magazine writers through the Case tractor-induced hazards, proving for all practical purposes that an Unlimited isn't, at least in the suspension articulation department, and that the new tire was holding air.

Journalists were then treated to a trail ride in the nearby Nevada desert, in 4x4s ranging from capable stock Dodge Durangos to a Hummer with 22-inch wheels. Thus we were able to learn that the ATR is quiet on pavement and that a stock Grand Cherokee can go places that the Pirelli officials didn't want it to be, despite being saddled with a single-speed transfer case. Still, it didn't really educate us all that much on the tire's capabilities. Especially since we weren't allowed to air down-which was probably just as well since there were no means to air back up.

Now, how was anyone supposed to know what the Scorpion ATR could accomplish based on this? Had we penned our impressions at this point, we could certainly conclude that the Pirelli Scorpion ATR was round, black, quiet on the highway, and still held air. Also, that the ATR seemed to work fine on dirt roads and mild trails. We'd expect that much from any modern, non-mud tire.

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The Real Story

Since we had been running the new Scorpions in unfamiliar terrain and on vehicles we weren't used to, there were three unknowns out of three and the only way to evaluate the tires fairly was to get rid of the other two unknown factors. Back on home turf and armed with a set of 265/65R17 ATRs, we could drive them on roads and trails we are intimately familiar with, using our own test vehicles.

The first thing we learned was that the Scorpion ATR is quite round and very consistent. On the Hunter GSP 9700 balancer, we got a 15.75-pound average in Road Force Variation, the highest reading being only 17 pounds. Next lesson, the silica-enhanced ATR's tread sticks to twisty canyon roads very well and is even quieter than we first thought. Add very responsive steering, a smooth ride, generous siping, good load-transitional characteristics, plus what appears to be a long-wearing tread, and you can't ask much more from a tire that is also usable in the dirt.

Unlike Pirelli, we wouldn't call the Scorpion ATR a true all-terrain tire-it's more of a street tire that works well in several off-highway situations. Real mud is not one of them. Flotation in sand isn't great, but as usual, it's the radial construction and other street-friendly design elements that show their other side. With a surprisingly low durometer of about 65, and helped by the sipes, the ATR gets good traction on rocks. Loose dirt is very doable, and harder-packed dirt is even more to the Scorpion's liking. Overall, the ATRs would largely go wherever our stock-height vehicles could, as long as we stayed clear of mud and wet clay.

Visually, the Scorpion ATR reminds us of the Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo, and it also performs much the same both on the trail and on asphalt. Not surprisingly, that was one tire that Pirelli set out to meet or beat. In other words, it doesn't get much better if you want a tire that has practically impeccable road manners, yet can deliver trail traction that may exceed the capabilities of many late-model pickups and SUVs. Mainly street-driven TJs, for example, could also benefit from using Scorpion ATRs. Check these new tires out when you get a chance.

Specifications

Tire: Pirelli Scorpion ATR
Size: P265/65R17
Type: Radial
Load range: N/A]
Max load rarting (lb @ psi): 2,469 @ 44
Sidewall: Two-ply polyester
Tread: Two-ply polyester, two-ply steel, two-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9.5
Tread depth (in): 141/432
Tread width (in): 8 (measured)
Section width (in): 10.6
Overall diameter (in): 30.7
Static loaded radius (in): N/A
Revs per mile: 680
Weight (lb): 45

Sources

Pirelli
Rome, GA 30161
800-747-3554
http://www.us.pirelli.com

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