Pirelli are one of the most recognised brand names in tyre manufacturing. Although not many people realise that they have a place in cycling history. Providing tyres to 30 of the 49 finishers of the 1909 (first) Giro d’Italia. After decades of concentrating on motor sports, 2017 saw the Italian manufacturers return to cycling with the Pirelli P Zero Velo tyre range. We have been putting the all-seasons Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S Tyres to the test.
The Pirelli P Zero Velo tyre range are all made with the Pirelli’s SmartNET Silica compound. This soft compound is specially designed to produce a balance between rolling resistance, grip (even in wet conditions) and puncture protection. The lightening shaped tread has been adapted from the company’s motorsport experience. The pattern is similar to the company’s Supercorsa motorcycle tyre. Pirelli say that the narrow angle of the groove towards the centre helps regulate the wear of the tyre. The wider section on the shoulder is designed to increase performance (and confidence) through corners. The whole groove layout is also designed to improve water drainage – giving increased grip in wet conditions.
The Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S tyre has a 127tpi (threads per inch) casing. It’s available in the three most common road tyre sizes – 23mm, 25mm and 28mm. This makes the tyre feel supple and flexible. The anit-puncture protection is made from aramid fibre. This is a super strong synthetic fibre that is also heat resistant. It is also claimed to have a high cut and abrasion resistance. The result is a strong breaker belt that doesn’t add too much weight. The 25mm tyres weigh in just over 220g.
The Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S tyres I have been riding have covered over 1000 kilometres at the time of writing this review. In that time, we have had just about all weather conditions and covered varying distances. This included commutes, Sunday rides and an Autumn sportive. Despite these being the all-year-round version of the P Zero range, I was a little skeptical about how soft SmartNET Silica compound is. Pirelli have come up with something that has the soft, supple feel – yet a high level of durability that would shame some tyres. In the dry, the Pirelli tyres feel responsive and quick to react to changes in speed and power. The feeling of a low rolling resistance would leave you to question if they are capable of handling four seasons of cycling. When thrown into corners, they hold the road well and offer a reassuring level of compliance.
The area I felt that these tyres really excelled was in the wet. I have been riding the Pirellis through Autumn and Winter. In that time we had heavy rain, sleet and snow. Cycling in wet conditions can be a nervy experience and this increases when you are riding in heavy traffic. However, these tyres ride with a confidence in their grip. The Velo 4S’ lightening groove pattern is designed to quickly channel surface water from under the tyre and away from the contact patch. The result is surprisingly impressive and I found the tyres maintained their focus on holding the road.
Puncture protection is an area that Pirelli seem to have done ok with. I know that as cyclists we don’t like to discuss the ‘P’ word, but in all of the rides (so far) each tyre has picked up a single flat. When take into account how soft the SmartNET Silica compound is, on poor winter roads that’s not a bad. However, the tyres did pick up some nicks and cuts in the tread quite quickly. This is to be expect from riding on country lanes strewn with gravel and debris from a wet winter but this didn’t affect the performance. In the end it becomes a bit of a trade-off to have a fast, grippy tyre with a good puncture protection. Or having a heavier tyre that is built around excellent puncture protection but rolls much slower.
Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S Tyre Review Conclusion
I really enjoy riding the Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S tyres – a lot. As a tyre designed for ‘year-round’ riding, I’d go as far as saying they are good competition for the Continental GP 4 Season or the Schwalbe Durano. Both of which have been long standing champions of the ‘all-year-round’ tyre. Pirelli’s Velo range are currently only available as clinchers and this may put some tubeless fans off. But these tyres have plenty to offer in terms of all-round performance. They roll very well and feel responsive. I am really impressed by the grip which is excellent in both wet and dry conditions. There may be a question mark over the tyres puncture resistance and seeing how quickly they cut is a little disappointing. However, it didn’t seems to affect their overall performance. Price-wise, the Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S have a retail price of £43.99 which isn’t cheap in a competitive industry, but I think their performance is worth the investment if you want a ‘fit them and leave them’ tyre.
An impressive tyre that's new to the 'all-year-round' category. Puncture protection could be better but it's not bad. With its lightweight, fast rolling and excellent grip, this is a very good tyre.
Grip - Dry9
Grip - Wet10