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The Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR is a very good tyre, especially as we head into winter, offering plenty of wet weather grip while also providing loads of puncture proofing. This model also gets reflective detailing, ideal for dark rides now that the clocks have gone back. The small cost to the rolling resistance is worth it for the durability too. It doesn't quite squeeze into our best road bike tyres buyer's guide, but it's only half a star behind the two top choices for winter...
I'm a big fan of the SmartNET Silica rubber compound that Pirelli has used here on the Cinturato as it gives a very reassuring ride, especially in the wet. Like you'd find on many summer race tyres, it has quite a soft and tacky feel to it in your hands; it's nowhere near as hard as you might find on something like Continental's Gatorskins, for instance.
My initial test rides all took place in the dry and I didn't hesitate to chuck the bike into the bends as fast as I normally do straight away, such was the feedback and confidence I was getting back from the Pirellis.
The compound offers loads of grip, and I could really nail the bike flat-out through the local twists and turns or attacking fast roundabouts.
As the weather has turned showery and wet, the Pirellis have continued to impress. Obviously, you have to scrub off a bit of speed, but I haven't felt as though I've needed to back off too much when negotiating corners or traffic, as there still feels to be plenty of grip there.
For puncture protection Pirelli uses what it calls Armour Tech, which consists of a high-density nylon layer covering from bead to bead along with an aramid breaker layer under the tread. Aramid fibres are also placed into the actual tread for added protection.
All of this means the Cinturato is quite a thick tyre, something I noticed while fitting them on to the wheel rim. As I was pushing the bead over the rim to get them seated it was noticeable how much extra material there is in the middle compared with a lighter weight summer race tyre.
Overall weight hasn't been massively affected, though, as they come in at around 363g each. Not hugely light, but acceptable for the protection levels.
I have spent plenty of time on the country lanes where the farmers have been having a field day covering them in hedge cuttings and the tyres haven't suffered any punctures at all so far. There are a few tiny little marks where things have tried, but to no avail.
This extra thickness and the inclusion of a breaker belt does mean the Cinturatos aren't the fastest rolling tyres out there, and if you ride them alongside something aimed at racing in the sun then you will notice the difference, especially under acceleration. If you aren't constantly swapping between bikes, though, it's unlikely you'll notice because in isolation the Pirellis don't feel sluggish. This time of year, I would definitely take puncture proofing over speed.
While we are talking about puncturing, it's worth mentioning that the Cinturatos are tubeless-ready, so you can fit them with an inner tube inside or on their own with sealant. They are also compatible with hookless rims.
If you ride in the dark a lot, I'd highly recommend this Reflective version of the Cinturato as the silver band around the outside of the tyre glows up brilliantly when light is cast upon them.
Other options are all black (£61.99) or black with a tan sidewall (£63.99).
I originally fitted them to the FFWD Tyro 2 wheelset I had in on test, and then to my own set of Hunt's Race Aero Superdura alloy wheels when the FFWDs went back.
As I mentioned above, they took a fair bit of thumb and lever pressure to get them over the side of the rim, but once on they sealed as a tubeless setup straight away with the use of an Airshot tubeless tank. I tested a previous version of these tyres back in 2020 and found that they didn't fit easily with just a track pump, but there are various options you can use to seat them if you don't have an inflation tank, as you'll find in our guide to fitting tubeless tyres.
Using them with an inner tube is a lot less faff (I ran them both ways) and once fitted they rode well, offering plenty of comfort. They feel reasonably supple too, considering their pretty low threads-per-inch count of just 66tpi and the fact that tubeless tyres require a more robust sidewall, which can deaden their feel a little compared to clincher only.
It's early days but wear rates don't look to be an issue. The rear is still fully rounded, and I've locked it up a few times under heavy braking.
Price-wise these 700 x 28mm versions (32mm and 35mm widths are also available, and 26mm in the other two colours) cost £66.99 each.
Many plump for Continental's Grand Prix 4 Seasons when they want to carry summer performance over to the winter months, and to do so will cost you £65.95 a tyre.
Simon tested those in 2020 and thought they were excellent (for £54.95), but tubeless compatibility isn't an option, if that's your thing, though they are a good 70g lighter.
On the whole, for everything but all-out racing the Pirellis do a great job, offering decent enough rolling resistance while being as tough as old boots. They aren't as well priced as they were just a couple of years back (that can be said for a lot of things), but they are still just about competitive against the high-quality opposition.
High-quality tyre for pretty much all weather conditions, keeping the puncture fairy away while rolling quickly
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR Reflective
Size tested: 700x28
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?
From Extra, Pirelli's UK distributor:
Cinturato Velo is the tubeless-ready clincher tyre from Pirelli, crafted around protection and comfort, without compromising performances.
Reflective sidewalls increase safety at night and in low light conditions
Pirelli's experience and the reliability of SmartNET™ Silica technology combined with the tubeless-ready comfort and the resistance of the Armour Tech™ technology facilitated the creation of a new clincher tyre with a unique DNA, perfect for long-distances and various terrains.
Armour Tech™ construction (patent pending) combines various components, in order from inside to outside, which add to the 60 TPI Nylon casing underneath:
High density Nylon layer from bead to bead, which protects against cuts as well as improved stability at low pressure riding and contribute to make the carcass air tight when used with liquid sealant
High density waved aramid fiber breaker belt placed underneath the tread, which provides protection against punctured and sharp object cuts.
Aramid fibres dispersed into the tread rubber compound (SmartNET™ Silica) in two layers: an outer one (cap) which grants performances (dry & wet, mileage, contact feeling), an inner one (base) which, thanks to an higher gradient of those fibrils, slows down the penetration of foreign bodies towards underneath layers
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Good rolling resistance
Dry & wet grip,
Excellent puncture protection
Superior handling for extreme safety feeling.
Functional Groove Design
Ideal Contour Shaping
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Offer plenty of performance even though they are loaded with protection for all-weather durability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very good puncture protection.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite a tight fit to get on some rims.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They cost pretty much the same as the Goodyears and Continentals mentioned in the review.
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 overall score
For the conditions they are designed for, the Pirellis do a very good job of combining durability with performance. The protection does add weight, but that doesn't really make a huge difference out on the road.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!