Engineers love problems. Whether it’s creating inertia-defying compounds for F1, or durable yet supple road bike tyres for the Tour de France, problems are the stuff that engineering dreams are made of.
The engineers at Pirelli, famed for their success on the F1 race track, are one such breed who live for problems that need solving.
Recently they’ve trained their considerable mental horsepower on creating the best bike tyres they can for each of cycling’s main disciplines.
For a team used to seeing their petrol-powered compounds roar around the world’s F1 courses since 2010, pedal power offers a new challenge.
Already, they’ve proved themselves equal to it, with their solution already up and rolling in the UCI World Tour, featuring on the steeds of the Trek Segafredo Team.
But it’s not just road where Pirelli have pooled their creative engineering, as they’ve also dived in to developing innovative tyres for MTB, cyclocross, gravel/adventure, and commute.
Here’s a look at some of their innovations in each of these areas along with a brief look at the know-how that makes them tick.
Road: Pirelli P-Zero
Read more about the Pirelli P-Zero at Pirelli.com.
With such a huge name to live up to, their performance needs to meet the hype.
Fortunately for the Pirelli engineers, they’ve been able to work with top World Tour teams to ensure every detail is right. Both Mitchelton-Scott (which includes road bike champion Annemiek Van Vleuten) and team Trek-Segafredo were recruited to aid the testing. Failure, we imagine, wasn’t an option.
Among the technologies developed by Pirelli and employed in various models in the range is TechWALL+ technology, which reinforces the tyre wall without adding weight. Put to good use in the The P-Zero Race TLR SL, it has helped the team create their lightest ever tyre at just 230g for a 24c.
The same tyres also feature Pirelli’s ground-breaking SmartEVO compound, created using three different polymers to balance performance with rolling resistance and dry grip.
Here’s a breakdown of the P-Zero range:
P-Zero Velo 4S Folding Road Tyre
The Pirelli P-Zero 4S Folding Road Tyre's unique tread design is developed to shed water from your path giving maximum confidence in every weather condition. Wet or dry, the P-Zero 4S is a seasoned all-rounder.
P-Zero Road Tyre
Ready for every training mile, this road bike tyre features an Evo Compound that delivers grip and low rolling resistance, as well as a great balance of mileage and all-round performance. Pirelli has also kitted out this model with lightweight TechBELT Road casing technology, which uses high-cut resistant fabric underneath the tread to provide superior puncture protection in a variety of conditions.
P ZERO Race Road Tyre
Also featuring TechBELT tech, this tyre is born for competition. Race-ready, it features a SmartEvo compound to enhance grip in both wet and dry asphalt. Its compound also uses a blend of smart polymers to provide maximum grip with a low rolling resistance, so you can enjoy better control on any road or surface.
P-Zero Race SL TLR Road Tyre
Whether you're training or competing, this road bike tyre features a SmartEvo compound for exceptional grip, comfort and stability in both wet and dry conditions. Pirelli has also equipped this model with its Techwall casing technology with an added layer of reinforcement to provide superior puncture protection in a lighter structure.
P-Zero Velo Tubular
Currently ridden on the World Tour by top riders, and using Pirelli’s SmartNET Silica® technology, this tyre provides outstanding grip in the wet and dry and unrivalled levels of puncture resistance. Pirelli’s “Functional Groove Design technology” gives this tyre a unique tread design where the grooves are deeper in the centre of the tread.
MTB – Scorpion Range
Read more about Pirelli Scorpion at Pirelli.com
The Pirelli Scorpion™ MTB range was borne out of Pirelli's experience in off-road competitions.
With rally and motocross an integral part of Perilli’s background, their existing research and development provided a considerable head start that culminated with the Scorpion™ MTB.
For example, the shape of the lugs was influenced by the Scorpion™ MX range, which has been used on every motocross and supercross race circuit in the world, winning more than 65 world titles.
The tyres also feature Hyper Wall, a patented construction that further increases handling and pinch flat resistance. Key in demanding off-road applications, such as gravity and eMTB, the integrity of the bead area and the stability of the sidewalls offer a reliable pillar for overall tyre performance.
The SmartGRIP Compound is another advance, this one pulling together two opposite characteristics: tear resistance for intense mechanical grip on dry surfaces and chemical grip for wet surfaces.
Here’s a look at the full Scorpian range:
Designed to offer high speed and grip performance in cross-country competitions these lightweight tyres come both in LITE and ProWALL versions to max out rolling efficiency and control.
For those who want uncompromised performance on the trails, Scorpian Trail offers ProWALL technology and exceptional chemical grip offered by the SmartGRIP compound. The Scorpian Trail tyres come in soft, mixed and hard compounds.
Scorpian Enduro's are for riders with an eye on the clock and who rely on the ultimate grip and a stable tyre structure. The HardWALL technology pairs with SmartGRIP compound in a tyre that always perform at the top level in every weather condition.
The Scorpion™ E-MTB
The Scorpian E-MTB offers a new standard in durability, puncture protection and battery saving. All of this has been achieved working on the new patented structure HyperWALL™ and the new rubber formulation SmartGRIP+ Compound.
Read more about the Cinturato range at Pirelli.com.
The Cinturato™ Gravel range offers tyres that roll faster, protect you from flats, and allow you to ride safely in all weathers, all with the handling and comfort that make Pirelli famous all over the world.
Expanding the already successful Cinturato™ Velo range, the new Cinturato™ Gravel and Cross range from Pirelli combines specific tread pattern designs and new compounds. They include some technologies Pirelli has already applied successfully to the road as well as the MTB product ranges, such as the terrain-driven tread pattern design from the Scorpion™ MTB range with the rolling efficiency and reliability of the reinforced Cinturato™ Velo range.
Initially used successfully in motorsport, including F1, Cinturato was the first example of a wrap-around radial tyre structure. Now Pirelli has adapted that design concept for the bike.
Pirelli has also developed bespoke treads for different terrains, with a compact tread design (Hard Terrain) for tarmacked or hard packed gravel roads and a more aggressive design (Mixed Terrain), with more open spacing and higher lugs for more demanding terrains.
Two additional models are included specifically for cyclocross applications. These 33 mm models feature the reinforced tubeless-ready (TLR) construction.
With reinforced casing coupled with a tubeless-ready Aramid bead for wide modern rims, the Cinturato™ Gravel range offers strong puncture protection and performance.
Here’s a look at the full range:
The tubeless-ready clincher tyre from Pirelli, crafted around protection and comfort without compromising performance.
Cinturato™ Gravel Hard Terrain
Specifically designed for compact, rocky terrain they feature a low tread for riding at high speed while offering control on all compact terrain, dry or wet.
Cinturato™ Gravel Mixed Terrain
A balance between aggressive and smooth riding for variable terrains. The tyre combines a bespke lug spacing for mixed conditions, like undergrowth and dirt roads, and just as capable in the dry or wet.
Read more about Pirelli's Cycle-e range at Pirelli.com.
Pirelli's Cycl-e commuter tyres have reinvigorated the world of urban cycling tyre with new compounds and top tier performance. Suitable for urban biking on both e-bikes and calorie-powered machines, Pirelli has added 'sport' versions for many of its models.
Here is a look at the range:
Pirelli Cycl-E Granturismo Tyre
Not only can this tyre handle a bit of rough riding, but the low-profile tread makes speed build-up fast and reliable on tarmac. Plus, the Wet Grip technology in this tyre allows for a consistently fast performance even in wet conditions.
Pirelli Cycl-E Downtown Sport Tyre
The Downtown sport is a more streamlined version of Pirelli's Downtown tyre, built to keep weight low and grip high for a more race-oriented performance for your urban bike.
Pirelli Cycl-E Crossterrain Sport Tyre
With a multi-pitch tread to ensure high-speed travel over road and gravel alike, plus a diagonal pattern for the quick displacement of water, this tyre truly offers a versatile riding experience that's perfect for cyclo-cross.