PIRELLI JUMPS BACK IN

When most people hear the name Pirelli, they usually associate the name with car or motorcycle tires. Founded as a tire brand with an emphasis on competition, Pirelli has been making tires since 1872 and in the years since then Pirelli has distinguished themselves as one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world.

Surprisingly, it was both their passion for cycling and society’s reliance on the bicycle for transportation at the time that made cycling their initial product segment. Owing of course to the rapid expansion of motor vehicles to come, Pirelli later discontinued their cycling line, but fast-forward over 100 years and they are now returning to their roots.

Over the past two years, Pirelli has spent extensive time and effort incorporating the technology and knowledge gleaned from their motor racing exploits into developing a new line of road bike tires.

THE PZERO IS HERE

Enter the PZero Velo, a silica based clincher tire that uses Pirelli’s own compound technology called SmartNet Silica. The patented technology is said to prevent the individual molecules from becoming spherical and instead take shape as elongated lines which helps with tire direction and the manipulation of performance. The “Net” portion of the name comes from the matrix of silica that binds together for a naturally strong puncture protection without adding weight.

The PZero names borrows from the branding used for their Formula One racing tires and there will be three PZero Velo tires available for the different needs of cyclists; PZero Velo, PZero Velo 4S, and PZero Velo TT, each differentiated by different color coding. The silver label showcases the PZero Velo that is designed with the performance needs of road racing in mind. It is the lightest and the most versatile of the three tires and it is supposed to provide speed and handling along with dry and wet grip.

The red label denotes Pzero Velo TT, the fastest and lightest of the whole range. Designed for speed, the slick tire also uses the same technology for handling and good wet weather behavior.

Finally, the blue labeled tire is used for the all-season Pzero Velo 4S tires which Pirelli says is intended for the colder months. The 4S rubber offers high puncture protection and a similar wet grip, along with the technology to provide good rolling, comfort and wear by virtue of what Pirelli calls their Functional Groove Design.

IN THE HOOD

We were fortunate enough to get our first ride with the Pirelli tires with an invitation to visit their private test facility located outside of Milan. This is the same facility Pirelli relies on test and develop tires of all kinds.

For the cycling tires, they laid out multiple cobblestone sections, smooth pavement, rough, pavement, and even wet sections to showcase the versatility of the tires. Over the course of a few rides the Pirelli rubber provided a consistent feel, yes, even in the wet. Just as it is with our first ride on new bikes, we’ll withhold judgement until we get the tires on the bikes and roads back home.

Both the PZero and PZero 4S tires are available in three sizes (23mm, 25mm, and 28mm sizes) with the 25mm sizes weighing 210 and 220 grams respectively. The TT tire is only available in 23mm size and weighs 205 grams.

A little bit of industry scuttle is that Pirelli also owns the Clement brand of tires which is no doubt helpful in telling their development story. The Pirelli tires are competitively priced and we were told should sell in the $60 range.

 

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