The Pirelli P Zero Velo tyre marks a very impressive return to cycling for Pirelli after a half-century hiatus. This tyre is fast, comfortable and long lasting, making for a great all-round ride experience on the road.
I first tried the P Zero Velos out at the launch in Milan a couple of months ago, and left with mixed feelings. However, after a thorough test period I have to say any doubts have subsided. I came away from the launch with the 25mm tyres and they've been on my main road bike ever since, taking on everything I've thrown at them during a wet summer. They still look fairly fresh and haven't punctured once.
One thing I learnt at the launch was that the tyres aren't made in Italy but France, a practical decision according to Pirelli so it could focus on R&D and partner up with an already established factory to get them made in large quantities for a competitive price. They're actually made in the same factory as Hutchinson's tyres, though Pirelli states that the P Zero Velo is 100 per cent its own tyre, and that the SmartNET Silica compound is sent from Romania, where it's made, directly to the factory.
Fitting the tyres to my bike was an absolute breeze as they're very supple. Out on the road, they are thoroughly impressive at all times, feeling fast and slippery (through the air, not on the road surface!), yet able to take on the often poorly maintained roads that I'm accustomed to in the south west. Cornering in the wet never feels sketchy, and they zip along very nicely on flat roads without giving any unwanted feedback.
I know that they have bad weather in Italy, but I'm still very impressed with how much Pirelli has obviously thought about adverse conditions when developing these tyres. I saw Pirelli testing the wet grip of the tyres on the test track outside of Milan at the launch, and it certainly appears to have paid off.
Weighing in at 210g, the P Zero Velo is 15g lighter than a Continental Grand Prix 4000S II, which I'd say is its main competitor as an all-round race tyre. Okay, you're not going to notice such a small difference on the road, but the fact that it doesn't seem to have affected durability is notable. The P Zero Velos ride smooth but act tough, and feel like the best of both worlds.
The tyres are priced at £39.99 each for the 23mm and 25mm versions, and £41.99 for the 28s. I'd say that's a fair price and, going off RRP, the best value performance tyre out there (although after heavy discounting from online retailers it's possible to pick up a Conti Grand Prix 4000S II for under £30 a tyre, or a Michelin Power Competition for a shade over £30).
After 1,000-odd miles there's still tread on the tyre, so if durability is your priority they may be worth the slight levy. Having used both the tyres mentioned above and other similarly performing/priced tyres such as Specialized's S-Works Turbo and Clement's Strada LGG heavily, I'd say the P Zeros are longer lasting.
I must confess I was a little disappointed that the P Zero Velos don't look a bit more 'Pirelli'. The famous logo that adorns its F1 tyres is nowhere to be seen here. You might totally disagree, but I think the classic Pirelli logo looks far better than the one on these tyres.
In conclusion, after more than 1,000 miles on the P Zero Velo tyres I'm extremely impressed with their performance. Pirelli doesn't supply any data on rolling resistance or puncture resistance compared with the competition, its official line being simply that it doesn't think it's 'classy' or in keeping with its values to come in all-guns-blazing and take a pop at its competitors. As a reviewer I'm not simply going to take Pirelli's word for it that these tyres are the business, but they certainly ride like they are.
If you pay the slight premium over a race tyre from the likes of Michelin or Continental I can't guarantee you speed gains, but I doubt you'll feel short-changed.
As well as the P Zero Velo silver label tyres I tested, you can also get the P Zero Velo TT slick for maximum speed for £39.99 (23mm only) and the P Zero Velo 4S offering more durability for £43.99 (23 and 25mm) or £45.99 (28mm).
A fast, comfortable and durable tyre for training and racing, with excellent wet grip and cornering
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli P Zero Velo
Size tested: 25mm, 700C
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Pirelli P Zero is a road race clincher tyre, with a patented silica compound. I'd class it as an all-round tyre for training and road racing, and that's exactly where Pirelli has positioned it, with a TT and all-season tyre also available.
Pirelli says: "Years of top-level racing expertise deliver the crowning jewel. The P ZERO Velo sets a new standard in bicycle clincher performance. At its core, the patented Pirelli SmartNET Silica® which provides superior grip in both dry and wet conditions, as well as unparalleled puncture resistance and mileage longevity.
Low rolling resistance
Dry & wet grip,
Superior handling for extreme safety feeling"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made with Pirelli's patented SmartNET Silica compound
Superior puncture resistance and rolling resistance promised compared to competition
Functional groove design tread pattern
Say what you want about tread patterns, but on the P Zero Velo it gives me great cornering confidence.
Fast, grippy and good in all conditions.
There's still tread on the tyre after 1,000-odd miles, I can't argue with that.
One of the best for a road clincher – impressive.
For a 25mm tyre I was impressed with the comfort of the P Zero Velo.
There are cheaper, but from my experience I'd say the P Zero Velos are worth the extra compared with 95% of road tyres out there for racing, and are probably the best all-rounder I've tried.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Thoroughly impressive; they felt fast and slippy yet were able to take on poorly maintained roads with aplomb.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Hardwearing, smooth, able to take on rough road surfaces with ease – and a great all-round tyre that is still more than capable of fast road racing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that they're not actually made in Italy, and the aesthetics (I want the full Pirelli logo!).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If you want a tyre for your racing bike that will last you the year and then some, this is one of a select group that I'd fully recommend.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017 having previously being Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine, and reports on all things tech as well as editing road.cc's live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.