From the very moment you see the box of the new Pirelli P Zero Race tyre range knows you about to use a premium product, my personal highlight is that there is no nasty little plastic strap folding the tyre but an easily removable nice rubber one, also strongly resembles the iconic Livestrong wrist bands. They also look good, the labelling is minimal but looks great and the grey on black will fit with any bike.
Another detail before even installing the tyres that are thoroughly appreciated is the inclusion of well thought out and modern pressure recommendations, as both road rims and tyres get wider we need to rethink the pressures we are using. There are even recommendations for wet and dry conditions, but more on that later.
Something many won’t take as much notice of but is equally important is the inclusion of WAM (width as measured) and RAM (radius as measured) info on the packaging. In practice, this gives info on the actual size of a tyre depending on what width rim you’re using. In this case on my 21mm, wide rims the tyres are going to blow up to 29mm, which I checked and was spot on.
This isn’t usually much of an issue but as more of us are trying to it bigger and bigger tyres into bikes having actual measurements and a way to compare is very helpful. I’m sure every rider who’s tried a few different tyre brands has noticed that what one company calls a 28mm is up to a whole size different to what another company might label the same. This whole WAM and RAM system is another great idea of Cerveló founder Gerard Vroomen and one I hope catches on with more manufacturers, especially when we start talking gravel tyres. Install was clean and easy, personally, I'm on team 'tube inside' for any tyre under 32mm and if clinchers and latex tubes are good enough for Asgreen at Flanders they're good enough for me.
The set up I was using to test these tyres was my titanium Curve Belgie and a set of Bontrager Carbon clincher wheels. I initially set pressure at the recommended 81psi for my 71kg and 21mm rims and the only change I have made was dropping the recommended 5psi for wet conditions.
Now, out on the road.
The first thing you notice when riding them is how quiet they are, I don't think I've ever ridden a tyre that takes away almost all road-noise, on a smooth road it’s almost ghostly how little noise they make. On some rougher roads, they make some noise but even with a deep section carbon rim they're by far the quietest tyre I've ridden. Does this affect the performance of the tyre, not really, do I enjoy it, for sure.
The speed of a tyre is somewhat hard to measure, but they certainly feel fast. My trustworthy source of Bicyclerollingresistance.com doesn’t have data on this exact tyre yet but if the tubeless version is anything to go in it will test well, maybe not quite as fast as the top race tyres but for a tyre with a decent amount of rubber thickness it holds its own. Onto grip, again, something that is hard to put a number on but in the dry the P Zero’s stick to the road as a race tyre should, I never felt them want to give way on me, and if you are running the recommended pressures they will ride great.
Now, in the wet, it’s a slightly different story. It’s currently autumn here in Auckland so I’ve had a good few wet mornings and sadly, these really feel like a different tyre. The first morning I went out on wet roads I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt ‘off’ but sure enough on roads I know well and rider regularly I just couldn’t find the grip and then confidence I wanted.
The final two things to talk about would be puncture resistance and wear. So far so good, I’ve had no punctures and a close inspection of the tyres show very little signs of cuts/marks etc. These are a race tyre but based of the ample amount of rubber on the top of the tyre and my experiences so far I can’t see either of these being an issue for daily use.
So the bottom line, the new Pirelli P Zero Race tyres look to be a great race or fast training tyre for those who are still happy on a tubed set up and what to glide silently across the tarmac. Just maybe not over the wetter months.
Review and Images: Logan Griffin
Distributor: FE Sports