Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tyre review - fast, grippy and comfortable
It's never too early to start thinking about the rubber you're going to be riding when the rain finally comes - and these Pirellis should be at the top of your list
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The decisions that Pirelli have made in the design of this tyre, between the materials used and compromises chosen, have led to a superb product that I enjoyed riding very much. It is priced competitively against the likes of Continental's Grand Prix 4 Season too. If you're after a fast, all-season tyre this is well worth considering.
Good weight for usage type
Great all-round tyre
Not tubeless compatible
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The new Pirelli P Zero Race 4S 700c tyres are are new, four-season variant that the Italian brand has just added to the relaunched P Zero clincher range (opens in new tab).
They have been designed for all-year-round riding and to provide great handling as well as high puncture resistance.
They come in two widths - 26c and 28c - and are all 700c with a folding bead. The tyres on test (28-622) weighed 261g and 263g compared to the stated weight of 260g. They are also a tubed-only tyre, no messy tubeless sealant here!
The Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tyres use a 120tpi casing with a TechBELT Road anti-puncture Aramid strip underneath the SmartEVO compound rubber that makes up the tyres' tread. As with all things a tpi (threads per inch) rating is a compromise. The lower the number (eg: 60) the more durable a tyre will generally be, but it is also likely to be heavier. less supple and therefore and less responsive. Conversely the higher the number (eg: 240) the lighter and more supple a tyre will be but at the expense of durability.
So by choosing a 120tpi casing - which is relatively high for a nylon casing, beating the Continental GP 5000 (opens in new tab) (three layers of 110tpi) and Vittoria Corsa N.EXT (opens in new tab)(100tpi) and then adding the TechBELT layer to aid puncture resistance it should be possible to achieve the feel and durability of the tyre that you require.
Pirelli uses SmartEVO compound, which is a single-compound mix using three different polymers to provide a balance which Pirelli claims solves the trade-off that traditional rubber compounds suffer from. In this way they aim to provide better grip and rolling resistance in any weather condition.
I have been riding with these tyres since the colder weather of April 2022 until the heatwave in July 2022 and they have coped really well with a temperature range from 2-3 degrees up to 30 degrees, and no, I didn't try them on that 39.1-degree day.
They were very grippy/tacky to the touch upon fitting to a Borg26 (opens in new tab) wheelset. I did wonder how that grippy feeling would translate into rolling resistance, particularly over time and temperature. Over the test period the grippiness has remained when touched, so it wasn't a surface treatment; rather down to the compound itself. Also interestingly, whilst I wondered whether the grip might translate to higher rolling resistance as the temperature rose, it hasn't felt as though it has.
I found that these tyres rolled very nicely and gripped fantastically well, The ride is supple, comfortable and fast. They coped with washboard sections of road easily and softened the jolty vibrations that can occur with those surfaces.
I wondered whether the feeling of speed and responsiveness that I like in the Borg26 wheels might be masked by a different set of tyres, but not at all. In fact I found that they complemented each other well.
The Borg rim is 20mm wide (internally) and Pirelli uses a WAM (Width As Measured) system so that you know the actual width of the tyre when fitted beforehand. It's the first time that I've tried this: the prediction was around 28.5mm and I measured 28.2mm. This allowed it to fit in my frame etc nicely. Previously I had a Continental Grand Sport Race 28c tyre which came up to 30.5mm width when paired with the Borg rim, and unfortunately I had some rubbing as it was too wide. I like the WAM idea.
I have been using the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tyres for many years now and it's been my benchmark for a fast, comfortable, puncture-resistant, quality tyre for all-year-round use. I have to say that the Pirelli may have stolen its crown. Certainly if the last four months of use are anything to go by. I reserve full judgement after a full year's use though. Sometimes tyres go on to try out and whilst fine or good, you can't wait to put your old favourites back on. This time the P Zero Race 4S are staying put and will only be changed to test something else. I really appreciated the combination of fast, grippy and comfortable.
Over the test period there have been no tears or splits to the tyre and I haven't had any punctures either. I noticed a small hole in the tread however, until I realised that it was a wear gauge! So all good.
I ran the tyres at the recommended 81psi from the 'Fine tune your performance' section on the box. A 28c tyre on a 15c rim for my weight range was 90psi then -9psi as I had it on a 20c rim. It certainly felt about right to me.
These tyres are intended for performance and endurance riding primarily, and are certainly capable of being ridden all year round. If you wanted a boost to performance for an event you could consider saving some weight and putting on some P Zero Race (opens in new tab) tyres on, or equivalent.
Pricewise they come in at £62.99 RRP which is similar value compared to Continental Grand Prix 4 Season (opens in new tab) at £65.95 RRP and cheaper than the Continental Grand Prix 5000 (opens in new tab) at £74.95 RRP. However the GP5000 can be run tubeless. The Pirelli Race 4S and the GP 5000 feel similarly grippy/tacky to touch as well. I have only fitted a GP 5000 tyre for a friend but not ridden them as yet.
As I reviewed my test notes I kept finding the same phrase reoccurring; "Fast, grippy and comfortable". It is your classic 'training' tyre, and it can be viewed much like 'training' wheels, whereby should one wish to swap them out for racing or a fast event you'll feel the benefit. Or, if like me, you want to keep up with friends on rides it'll be you that is the limiting factor not the tyres... So get your excuses in early if you're not riding that well as the old 'tyres are a bit draggy' excuse will be off the table. I will happily accept the compromise that these tyres bring and I look forward to the autumn and winter rides that will be arriving soon enough.
Whilst there are lighter and racier tyres as well as more treaded, sturdy and heavier ones, the Pirelli P Zero Race 4S really do cover all bases extremely well. If you're after a fast, all season tyre, this is well worth considering.
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Over 40 years cycling in a variety of disciplines including road riding, commuting, a self-supported Land's End to John o' Groats trip, XC mountain biking and several Polaris Challenge two-day events. Adventure, escape and fun are the motivations for my riding. I also love bike and kit design and have fillet brazed a couple of framesets using Reynolds 853 steel tubing for myself. A very satisfying experience to ride your own bespoke bike!
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