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The Pirelli P Zero Road is a light, comfortable tyre that feels very fast, with an anti-puncture belt that aims to make it an all-rounder. In the dry it feels every bit like a race tyre, but in wet weather grip is lacking while cornering or climbing.
This Road model sits second from the top in Pirelli's updated P Zero range of tube-type tyres, below the P Zero Race (not to be confused with the tubeless TLR version). It's available in 24, 26 and 28mm widths.
The Road is claimed to be an all-round tyre, but shares some of the features of the lighter, more expensive Race model. Both have the same high 127tpi casing, and both feature the same TechBELT Road puncture resistance layer.
Claimed weight for this 28mm size is 255g, with our pair of test tyres a touch higher at 264g and 260g; this is still among the lighter tyres that you will find in this width.
The tyre is easy to fit, although not worryingly so. I was able to install it on the rim without needing tyre levers.
When inflated on a wheel with a 24mm internal width, the tyre measured 29.5mm. Pirelli has based the sizing on updated ERTRO guidelines – when inflated on a 19mm rim it should measure 28mm in width.
During testing I have used the tyre with both standard butyl tubes and also Tubolito TPU inner tubes.
The recommended pressure range is a reasonably wide 72-109psi and with my riding weight around 65kg I opted for 75psi.
The ride is very smooth and comfortable, the tyres feeling supple. Even when compared back-to-back with tubeless tyres of similar size and pressure, the ride feels very comfortable. Rolling speed is very impressive as well, and while there are no rolling resistance claims they feel every bit like a race tyre and on a par with other premium tyres I have used.
The TechBELT Road puncture resistance belt is only across the area in contact with the ground, meaning the sidewalls are not protected. This is typical for road tyres, with the benefit of a more supple ride and lower weight than a full puncture layer. I was unlucky enough to have two punctures on one ride (one not the fault of the tyre), but ultimately this is a race tyre with an emphasis on speed and low rolling resistance rather than puncture protection.
On dry roads the tyre corners well and feels confident, and while it isn't the most communicative, I had no problems. When the roads are wet, though, the P Zero feels far less competent. We've had a significant amount of wet weather during the test period, and from the very first ride I had problems, narrowly avoiding a crash when the tyre lost grip and drifted on a fast descent in the wet.
I thought it was a one-off, perhaps caused by something on the road surface, but over the next month of riding the lack of grip on wet roads continued and on a variety of road surfaces, from smooth tarmac to rougher lanes, when cornering and also losing traction when climbing. And not just on green back lanes either – traction was poor in the wet even on well-surfaced roads.
Overall, the wet weather performance is far below what I would expect, especially for a tyre that Pirelli claims is for all-round use. As a result, I found I lost confidence to descend and corner as I normally would, when the roads were wet, which happened to be quite a lot.
Resisting the desire to replace the tyres because of the weather, I have ridden over 800km through a month of testing. That's far lower usage than a tyre would be expected to last, but enough time and distance to give an indication of durability and wear. Punctures aside, where I believe at least one was not a fault of the tyre, all other rides were problem- and puncture-free.
As a lightweight, race-inspired tyre, the tread is quite thin, and while they are unlikely to be big distance tyres, there is no flat spot currently evident, or any evidence of wear or cuts on either tyre.
The P Zero Road retails for £37.99, putting it among other high-performance tyres such as the Schwalbe One (£36.99). Stu tested the Schwalbe back in 2015 and the current version is a tyre that I use on a regular basis and rate highly, with many thousands of kilometres ridden. Another competitor is the Michelin Power Road – it's a little more, at £42.99, but Dave rated it highly last year.
If you mainly ride in dry conditions, or value speed over wet weather grip, the Pirelli P Zero Road delivers a comfortable ride while feeling every bit as fast as other premium race tyres. But the lack of grip on wet roads can lead to reduced confidence and control when cornering and on steeper climbs.
Feels like a race tyre with good speed and low weight, but grip in wet weather impacts overall performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli P Zero Road tyre
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?
Pirelli says: 'Pirelli widens the P ZERO™ family by introducing the most comprehensive and all-round tyre in its portfolio.
'It has been specifically developed as a training tyre for the fastest racers at the World Tour level. Pirelli designed this new tubetype tyre with Evo compound and TechBELT casing technology to give great puncture protection, reliability and comfort at light weight.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Size - 28-622
Claimed Weight – 255g
Casing – 127tpi
Anti-Puncture - TechBELT Road
The price is in line with others, such as the Schwalbe One Performance (£36.99) and Michelin Power Road (£42.99), but the performance – in wet weather at least – isn't up to the same standard.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good comfort, feels fast and light; grip is good in the dry but lacking in wet weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Feels fast and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Grip on wet roads, both traction and cornering.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's £17 less than the Race version (£54.99), but is in line with other second-tier options such as the Schwalbe One Performance (£36.99) and Michelin Power Road (£42.99). I wouldn't rate it as highly as the Schwalbe, though, and Dave really liked the Michelin.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a tricky one to score: on dry roads the tyre is hard to fault, giving a smooth and fast ride with good grip through the corners – a 7 at least, maybe an 8 – but on wet roads the opposite is true – a 3, at most. On that basis, I'm balancing it out at 5 – unless you're only using it for dry days, it's hard to recommend.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
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: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.