Pirelli’s long absence from the world of cycling has come to an end, with the Italian tyre company releasing its new Pirelli PZero Velo tyre
Just last month, Pirelli teased us all with the prospect of a new tyre, jumping back into the game after an extended break and now it has formally released its Pirelli PZero Velo tyre.
Pirelli sees itself as a premium company, and its return to the market is marked by an increase in technology and knowledge of tyres and the simple fact that people are spending more on their bikes.
The Pirelli PZero Velo range
The new PZero Velo tyre comes in three series: PZero Velo, PZero Velo TT and PZero Velo 4S all of which will be available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm sizes apart from the TT, which is only available in 23mm.
The PZero Velo TT, a more race specific tyre, will only be available in a 23mm size, although Pirelli assured us plans were afoot to extend this. The TT model is the fastest and lightest available Pirelli produce.
Finally, the PZero 4S, an all year, dodgy weather option available from 23mm to 28mm or for those who want to go touring.
Hawk-eyed motor fans amongst you will notice that the moniker is the same as that of its car tyre, and Pirelli has used it’s steep history in motor racing to create its new rubber. But how do you go forming a new tyre after a long break?
Well, Pirelli pulled out the five things that consumers wanted from tyres: low rolling resistance, good mileage, grip, handling and puncture protection, but of course recognising there will always be a trade off between them.
The Pirelli PZero Velo compound
Naturally, this is by far the most important aspect of the tyre, and in recognition, Pirelli has created a “new molecule patent” named “SmartNet Silica”. It’s a molecule whose shape differs from a traditional silicate – instead of being spherical, it’s now an elongated stick.
This longitudinal position is key, supposedly allowing increased directional performance. Its increased elasticity decrease heat generation as well as rolling resistance.
According to the Italian company the special silica is able to create a “genuine particular matrix” that binds other elements to it, which provides reliable performance and contributes to puncture protection.
Tread is more important than you think
Pirelli believes that not enough attention is paid to the tread of a tyre, and, if a company gets it right it can be hugely influential in how a tyre rides.
Positioning and shape are influential, and for this reason Pirelli has opted for a “functional groove design”, or Flash groove for short. Here, the shape is fundamental. At the centre of the tyre, its longitudinal, whereas when leaning the tyre over it becomes radial.
It’s also a shape that helps water drainage, increasing grip when the conditions are foul.
It’s positioning is also key, though, and Pirelli has opted for alternate placing on either side, which they say should guarantee even stiffness across the tyre. Groove density has also been taken into consideration. The Pirelli PZelo Velo 4S actually gets more tread to help it through the messy stuff.
There are far less grooves at the centre of the tyre, making it as slick as possible and a far higher groove density on the shoulder as that’s where you lean the bike when cornering – a contact patch that is now 20% larger when leaning the bike over according to Pirelli.
Watch: Tubulars vs clinchers vs tubeless – which are fastest?
What, no tubeless?
In the current line up, there is the somewhat sizeable hole where a tubeless option should sit. We quizzed Pirelli on the absence and it confirmed it’s definitely in the pipeline, but they were making tyres depending on the market, and currently that means clinchers.
There is also the obvious absence of a tubular option, which is part due to the market and part due to the fact Pirelli aren’t currently sponsoring a professional team, and any moves in this area would be dictated by what the pros wanted.
Pirelli PZero Velo first ride
A trip to Pirelli’s testing ground in Bicocca, Milan provided the opportunity to hop aboard the new PZero, in both the bone dry and the wet (courtesy of Pirelli sprinklered wet track).
We rode the 25mm Pirelli PZero Velo tyre and initial impressions are good. As Pirelli hoped, the tyres feel stable on long, fast straights and give assured grip in the corners. They also iron out any road nastiness well, even when we tried riding along Pirelli’s Pave sections.
The tyres never felt draggy, but it’s difficult to tell the exact rolling resistance as Pirelli didn’t give us figures, instead saying it can be tough to benchmark such data due to a lack of constants.
Things like pressures, weights and temperatures are constantly different or always changing.
Of course, it’s difficult to judge a tyre’s performance on a new bike, in a totally different environment, so be sure to keep your eye out for our longer term test coming soon.
Pirelli PZero Velo: Available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm, clincher, and available at the end of August
Pirelli PZero Velo TT: Available in 23mm, clincher and at the end of August
Pirelli PZero Velo 4S: Available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm, clincher and at the end of August
Currently, there is no fixed price but expect the tyres to cost around the €43 mark.