Bike Life: Adventure Touring on the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II

Note: I’m going to ramble for this week’s blog post. Super busy with life, but just wanted to get this out for the sake of photos! 🙂 …

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Let’s face it, for the most part, today’s modern adventure touring bikes are the equivalent of SUV’s. They are comfortable, stylish, great value for what they are, perform very well on real riding roads and are also loaded with most of the latest technology to boot. On the other hand, just like SUV’s, the bike equivalent tend to be too large and heavy for any outright motocross action; off-roading capabilities are, to a certain degree, sacrificed so that a bias towards long-distance practicality can be achieved. That’s not to say that they’re bad. A fair proportion of new adventure bikes would not likely venture out much further than gravel roads leading to a camp site, so the balance of additional creature comforts in conjunction with a bit of off-road action is probably the ideal compromise.

I’ve always believed that adventure is more dependent on the heart of the rider, rather than just the genre of the bike itself. You can take a Harley across the Nullabor and you can legitimately call that an adventure. Hell, you can take a Honda Grom for a camp trip, and that would definitely be an adventure. The term ‘adventure’, therefore, is very subjective, and it shows in the market, too. In the BMW adventure touring offerings, there are wild variations within its own stable, very prominent between the road-biased S1000XR and the R1200GS that most people associate with a big adventure touring bike. All of the bikes mentioned above have their own pros and cons but, ultimately, it’s your choice as to how far you go to make the most of it. The best adventure that you have is your own bike.

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With that in mind, I call my Panigale an adventure touring bike. After all, I have done some few tens of thousands of touring kilometres, across various states. In the case of my 1199, gravel surfaces are a staple as part of its adventure diet. The stock Pirelli Supercorsa SP were unsuitable for my style of adventure touring, so I had changed them as soon as I could with the Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres that I’ve been so attached with when I had them on my Multistrada. It’s been great but, as I’ve explained in my previous blog, I wanted a better-wearing tyre, which the latest Scorpion Trail II are claimed to improve on, while also improving on-road performance.

Last weekend, I went on a 900km overnight camp trip to the NSW Central West region with my close mates, which allowed me to make good use of the new tyres. The majority of roads were mainly straight country and main roads, aside from the entertaining twisties around Crookwell and Lithgow, but enough for me to feel the benefits of having a suitable tyre.

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The Trail II tyres seem to work well on highways, feeling progressive and smooth enough for comfort. It’s a little hard to determine if it is that much more improved in this area on the Panigale, as the noise and vibration of the engine makes it difficult to analyse this area.

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What I’ve noticed between the old Scorpions and the Mark II version is that the latest offering tends to tip into the corners faster than the old ones. It might be that I was still getting accustomed to a new tyre, coming out from a squared off set, but I don’t remember the originals to turn this easily. The tyres seem to grip more consistently, without the slightly edgy feeling of its predecessor, and this may be in part due to the updated tread pattern that favours a less jagged shape along the outer edges, which helps to increase confidence when riding closer to the bike’s limit.

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From what I recall from the top of my head, the Trail II tyres are good for a 5% off road, 95% on road bias, which really means that it’s only slightly more capable on gravel than what a normal street tyre would be. However, the tread depths are a lot deeper, so jagged gravel and stone pieces would be handled better. Acknowledging this, though, means that you’re far more confident to take things a little further on a sport bike. And hey, if it’s good enough to come as a factory set with the likes of the BMW F800GS, Triumph Tiger 800 and Honda VFR1200X to name a few, then it’s good enough for me!

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Overall, I just love that I can feel better prepared for the worst on these Trail II tyres, on gravel, the wet and the goat tracks of Parramatta Road. The main test, though, will be the overall mileage that I’ll get out of it. I’ll note how it goes as the weeks and months go by, later on.

For next week’s blog, I’ll be covering the Oxley Highway trip that I’ll embark with over 40 other riders this weekend… Excited! 🙂

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