Pirelli has overhauled their premium year-round road bike tire with the new tube-type P Zero Race 4S clincher, the first of many tires to come that they are making entirely in Italy. We had the chance to get in a couple of road rides on the updated tire, and it seems to strike a fast-rolling balance between the racier P Zero Race but with extra durability and a longer-wearing tread.
Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tires, made-in-Italy
Just a week ago Pirelli shared the news of their new Italian bicycle tire manufacturing capability at their completely revamped, now hi-tech factory just up the road from their Milan, Italy HQ. And the first product out of the robotic assembly line is this clincher Race 4S four-season tire.
We’re told that new machinery is still being installed and set up in the plant, so tube-type tires were the first to come off the line. But TLR tubeless tires will be made in the new factory soon, as well. They are also starting with road tires, but all of the Race level tires will eventually move production to Italy, both on-road & off-road.
On the outside, the new Race 4S looks quite similar to the original P Zero Velo 4S tire that we saw when Pirelli returned to cycling tires five years ago, just with a tweaked shoulder sipe arrangement. But inside, Pirelli completely redeveloped the tire to pair better summer performance with the already good winter performance. The shift in focus makes the new Race 4S less of a winter tire like its predecessor, and more of a true ‘set it and forget it‘ tire for riding year-round.
To do that, the tire gets the exact same soft yet fast-rolling SmartEvo rubber compound as the standard P Zero Pace, just with about 2mm thicker rubber so it will wear longer. To make that work well in the winter, the larger sipes / tread grooves cut into the shoulders create more flex in the rubber as you lean, heating up the rubber for improved grip, while also better adapting to contact the road.
The 120tpi tire also moves to a more flexible nylon puncture protection belt that helps the thicker tire casing stay flexible for low rolling resistance and better grip in all weather.
The new tire is also adapted to wider modern rims, yet the clincher doesn’t go quite as wide as tubeless versions. Available now in 26 (240g) & 28mm (260g claimed) widths designed for a 19mm internal hooked rim, Pirelli also offers very helpful charts on their website and the tire’s packaging telling the real expected widths on various rims. The 28s I’ve been riding vary from 27mm on a 17c rim, up to 31mm on a 25c rim.
The new Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tire is available now for $85 / 70€ as a clincher only. A 30mm version is coming soon. And up to 32mm TLR tubeless versions are in the pipeline for delivery this summer.
First Riding Impressions
The new Pirelli P Zero Race 4S feels as fast as the standard P Zero Race now that it shares the same rubber compound. And the more aggressive sipes on the 4S shoulder promise faster heat-up of the tire once you start cornering which really should help grip in cold weather (or cold surfaces) road riding. Those sipes also do a good job of helping the rubber adhere to irregular road surfaces.
Riding the new 28mm tires (which measured true to size on a 19mm internal rim), they definitely performed best with lower pressures in the 75-85psi range for me (an 80kg rider). At those low pressures (compared to Pirelli’s recommendations) they gave me plenty of grip on fast, twisty descents, even with the occasional sand & grit washed across the road. And with almost double the tread thickness and a new puncture protection layer, they should hold up better than the standard Race tire while riding year-round.
We don’t have too many riding shots to share of the new tires, as they were mounted to a new Italian road bike that won’t be launched until later this year. But suffice it to say that the new tires seem to perform as Pirelli describes them – a nice balance of fast-rolling & good cornering grip in a wide range of temperatures outside, and they promise to be extra long-wearing and durable.
Now, I’ll just be waiting for those wider tubeless versions to roll off the Italian manufacturing line…