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Pirelli Returns to Cycling with Global Launch of their New PZero Velo Tires

by Ben Andrew

June 20, 2017 (Milan, Italy) – Pedal Magazine was on the ground near Milan, Italy recently for the global launch of Pirelli’s new PZero Velo range of tires. The two-day event provided journalists and industry members with the chance to see the new tires, view the extensive Pirelli headquarters and testing center, as well as log some kilometers on the new PZeros.

PZero Velo has a great cornering grip  ©  Pirelli
Pirelli is best known for its hold on the motorsport and performance road car industry, being the current provider of tires to the Formula 1 Championship, manufacturing tires for many of the worlds fastest production vehicles, and being heavily involved in the world of Moto GP and Superbike.

However the company’s 110-year sport competition history also includes a strong involvement in cycling as Pirelli’s tubulars saw heavy use in the world of cycling in the early 20th century. During the first edition of the Giro d’Italia in 1917, a total of 30 of the 49 finishers had their wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber.

 ©  Pirelli
Excited to return to its cycling roots, Pirelli has introduced the PZero Velo range, a line of three clincher road tires; the PZero Velo, PZero Velo 4S and PZero TT. The new PZero tires share the same colour coding as Pirelli’s F1 tires. The silver on the Velo for road racing is pegged as the most versatile of the range. The tire has on alternating tread pattern, with the narrower portion of the grooving in contact with the ground when riding in a straight line, and increasingly more tread contact the further the bike in leaned over during cornering.

PZero Velo  ©  Pirelli
The grooving, according to Pirelli, has been optimized for maximum performance in terms of water outflow, dry and wet grip, mileage, responsiveness and as well as for comfort. The Velo is will available in three widths; 23mm (195grams), 25mm (210grams) and 28mm (230grams). The tire uses a 127tpi casing and is will be made only in 700c, as with the other two models in the PZero range.

PZero Velo 4S  ©  Pirelli
The blue label on the 4S indicates the tire’s all-season and colder weather capabilities. This model shares a similar design to the Velo, however with increased grooving in the tread pattern and is manufactured using a compound which has been optimized for colder temperature performance. Instead of producing a “rain tire” the company has sought to maintain the performance of the PZero range across the board which Pirelli believed to have achieved through the consideration of the tire’s temperature. The 4S also comes in 23mm (205grams), 25mm (220grams) and 28mm (250grams) widths and uses a 127tpi casing.

PZero TT  ©  Pirelli
Finally, the TT model which features a red label, is a full slick tire and is the lightest and fastest of the range. The TT is available in a 23mm width with a 127tpi casing and the suggested weight is 205 grams.

Central to the PZero line is a new patented compound of Pirelli’s creation: SmartNet Silica. With the goal of improving upon the compounds already in use within the cycling tire market, Pirelli’s chemistry labs have created a new type of silica which has a patented molecular structure. Designed in the company’s Milan Bicocca Technology and Innovation Center, SmartNet Silica brings the traction benefits of silica compounds to the PZero line, however with lower rolling resistance.

Silica is a powder which normally has a spherical molecular structure and disperses unevenly into a rubber compound mix. Pirelli’s team of researchers, the same group who worked on the tires currently used in F1, have designed a new compound in which the silica is positioned into linear rods within the molecular structure and run in the same direction as the rotation of the tire. The uniformed silica is claimed to increase the tire’s elasticity, which Pirelli suggests leads to decreased heat generation and rolling resistance, all while maintaining the benefits commonly associated with silica compound tires, including excellent grip in wet conditions. In addition, the SmartNet Silica is claimed to have a structure that creates a “net” which acts as a natural anti-puncture layer.

Vizola Test Track  ©  Pirelli
Test Report
The company’s testing department has reportedly logged over 100,000km of road tests during the development of the PZero line. The test team was on hand for the global media launch and led a testing session which included a 50km road ride followed by laps on Pirelli’s Vizola test track located outside of Milan with the bikes outfitted with the standard PZero Velo tire in 25mm.

Testing PZero Velo on the pave  ©  Pirelli
The Velo rolled well to be sure, and handled harsh road conditions including paved and pitted tarmac with a dampening effect that increased the overall comfort of the ride, however the tires really shined when you lent the bike over for a corner.

Testing the PZero Velo on the Vizola Wet Track  ©  Pirelli
Aboard a new machine and with little knowledge of the road conditions to come, the Velo promoted confidence very quickly especially in corners. While this might be less surprising when considering the nearly 40 degree Celsius heat, the tires performed equally well on the soaking wet test track which Pirelli had prepared. The slick hairpin corners were easily navigated by the PZero Velo which seemed to bite into the asphalt.

Riding over multiple road surfaces  ©  Pirelli
For those looking for a performance road tire which provides excellent cornering grip while also promising to be one of the fastest rolling tires on the market, the PZero range is up to the challenge. Stay tuned for a longer term road test from Pedal coming later this summer.

The PZero Velo line is set to hit the European, North American and Asia Pacific markets beginning in August 2017. Pirelli has stated that it chose to focus solely on the PZero line of performance road clinchers, however the tire giant says other models are in the pipeline. Senior staff also hinted at a possible partnership with a World Tour squad, however no details have been released as of yet.

If Pirelli’s presence in F1 and motorsport arenas are testimony to their expertise and potential, expect to see the yellow and red Pirelli logo a lot more at the top end of the sport of cycling.

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