Pirelli P ZERO Race TT Clincher Tyre – Review
TL;DR - Pirelli's best. A fast, lightweight, low rolling resistance, pro-level race tyre for TT and triathlon
Definitely one of the very best but difficult to say where it ranks amongst them.
The Pirelli P ZERO Race TT clincher tyre is a race-grade product designed specifically for professional cyclists and individuals seeking superior speed and lightweight performance. Manufactured at the Pirelli plant in Italy, this tyre is a successor to the P ZERO Velo TT and was used in the 2022 TdF time trials under the race label P ZERO Race label.
The P ZERO Race TT is clearly the lightest clincher tyre within the comprehensive P ZERO Race range, made lighter still overall when combined with the ultra-light Pirelli SmarTUBE inner tubes. The tyre is claimed to deliver exceptional performance for teams like Trek-Segafredo and AG2R Citroën.
With yet another addition to the Pirelli cycling tyre range since 2017, we can assume that the company is in the market for the long haul.
A key feature of the P ZERO Race TT is its tread, which incorporates the SmartEVO compound. This compound is claimed to minimize rolling resistance, provide control at high speeds, and deliver grip. Unlike its predecessor, the P ZERO Velo TT 2017 (RR 10w) the tread of the P ZERO Race TT is not entirely slick. Instead, it adopts the design of the P ZERO Race (RR 11-12w). This new tyre boasts a notable 5% reduction in weight and a 15% decrease in rolling resistance compared to its predecessor [claim]. Pirelli’s tire engineers achieved these improvements by utilizing a 120 TPI nylon LITE casing without additional protection layers, focusing on achieving the lowest possible rolling resistance.
Available in 26mm (26-622) and 28mm (28-622) sizes for 700c wheels. Claimed weights are 170g and 190g respectively.
Pirelli P ZERO Race TT Tyre – Add the P-Tube
Super-light tubes like Pirelli’s P-Zero SmarTube can be compared favourably to Tubolito or Schwalbe Aerothan. I have personally used all of them and found them to be excellent performers but only satisfactory as an overall rating due to their cost. However, I eventually returned to using latex tubes, keeping those super-lightweight tube options first as spares and subsequently until they punctured. Despite claims of repairability, these inner tubes cannot actually be effectively repaired in my experience.
Having said that, when paired with Pirelli’s Race TT tyres, using such lightweight tubes does make sense. The P Zero Race TT tyres are not meant for regular use; they are intended for special occasions only when you want the very best performance options. Having said that I tested Race TT tyres with Michelin latex tubes (because I couldn’t get any long-stem Vittoria tubes).
Putting these tyres on and off took me back 10 years. I could just about get them on without using any tools. YAY. It always used to be that easy.
As you can see from the various bits of imagery included in this review, the Pirelli P ZERO RACE TT just so happen to perfectly match the colour scheme of my Cervelo P5six TT bike. Consequently, this time around I was concerned enough about aesthetics to also get the Pirelli branding to align with the HUNT logo on the wheel. I was very pleased with the look!
You are limited to 26/28mm widths and for best performance you should ignore what forums and reviewers say and head on over to the recommended sizes given by your wheel maker. In my case, the optimal size is 25mm but Hunt says anything from 23 to 28 is fine. Obviously, the wider 28mm tyre is going to be a tad comfier and a tad less suited to the aerodynamics of the wheel. I went for the 26.
Air Pressure Choice
Again when it comes to recommended tyre pressure it’s perhaps best to spend a little less time listening to what Jo Bloggs has to say on any given forum. Sure optimal tyre pressure and actual road surface are related but I would like to bet that you are going to be doing your TT on a half-decent road surface and so the seemingly-high pressures recommended by Pirelli are almost certainly correct.
This first chart comes from the box of the P Zero TT tyre and contrasts with the lower recommendation from the second more general chart (ignore its recommendations for this tyre, I’ve just added that for comparison)
So at over 70kg, I need to run these at 105psi. Yikes. This causes me a problem as my HUNT 82mm wheels say to not exceed 100psi for 25-28mm tyres. So I run them at 100psi by taking the recommended -5psi hit for comfort. The point I’m avoiding making here is that you need to do some research on your wheel specs to see how to run these tyres.
I might run my bog-standard GP5000 tyres at 20psi, or more, lower. Perhaps if the race was on a particularly poor road surface I go wider and more lightly inflated on some GP5000s?
I’ve got a 10-mile TT coming up in just over 4 weeks’ time. So I’ll update this post then with race day performance figures.
In the meantime, I’ve only used them for laps and segments in Richmond Park (London) mainly because it’s relatively smooth and relatively safe for a TT bike.
I don’t intend to use them in the wet.
So, less than ideal test conditions. Sorry.
Hey, these are for me to go fast in straight lines!
I don’t have any comments to make on handling. The tyres can certainly handle better than I can and I can’t push them anywhere close to their limits.
I’ve done some very quick lap and segment times with these on my TT bike but certainly, I won’t claim they’ve delivered PBs/PRs. Over about 20 minutes I’m about 30 seconds off my best-ever times – however, my FTP is about 10% lower so the times are about in line with what they should be. IDK, for example, if they gain me 5 seconds or lose 5 seconds, I just can’t say.
With my road bike (and the 82mm wheels) I’ve also got VERY close to my best-ever road bike times. Again my FTP is not so great at the moment but I’ve got a slightly more aero riding position aided by my coefficient handlebars and shorter cranks. The tyres almost certainly helped a bit. How much?..hard to say.
They are good though. Maybe if I get all the various other bits of kits and preparedness in place (and get a bit fitter) I can match some of my very best times over the last few years.
As far as my 10-mile TT race goes, I’ve chosen perhaps the most optimal race I could. So, I’m assuming if the weather is sensible that I WILL get a PB on that but that will be down to an ‘easy’ course and the fact that my official, best 10-mile times to date remain on non-optimal courses in non-optimal conditions.
They’re comfortable enough.
At 100psi what else do you expect? You will definitely feel the bumps in the road.
Pirelli P ZERO Race TT Clincher Tyre – Specifications
Bicycle Rolling Resistance hasn’t yet put this on their resistance machine. However, it’s likely that the rolling resistance will be superior to the predecessor Velo TT. Thus I would speculate that this model is something like 8-9 w of rolling resistance in line with the 15% improvement claim made by Pirelli. If so that would not compare favourably with the Continental GP5000 TT which comes in at around 7-8 watts.
That said the GP5000 TT weighs in heavier at 215g albeit as a tubeless tyre. However, my own weighing of the 26mm tyre comes in at 197g, considerably more than the claimed 170g. I’m not quite sure what to make of that. The brand commented that I had a very early production set of tyres and the extra weight could be used to errors in manufacturing tolerances; current production tolerances are said to be correct at 170g
The Pirelli P ZERO Race TT is obviously an excellent race tyre. Whether it’s ‘the best’ by any broad criteria, I can’t really say. It is certainly somewhere ‘up there’ amongst the other top TT tyres.
The other top tyres have to be Veloflex TLR25, Vittoria Corsa Speed G+2.0 TLR 25, Continental TT TR 25 and Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE Addix 25. Of those, perhaps The Pirelli would only have the straight-line speed to beat the Schwalbe based on rolling resistance, even then it could be more aero-friendly with my wheels or your wheels. There won’t be much in it but Time Trials can be settled by small margins.
Cost: RRP €74.90 but already selling for €60.
Buy: Direct from Pirelli
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