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How Pirelli’s range of road bike tyres can help see you through the winter
The key four-season tyres in Pirelli's range
As many of us know all too well, winter road riding comes with a whole new set of challenges.
Rain, colder temperatures and stronger winds make for some testing riding conditions, but can also yield an elevated sense of satisfaction when you get through it.
Switching out your summer rubber for winter road bike tyres can make a huge difference to how your bike feels in inclement conditions. It can also save you some money, and could even spare you from the horror of fixing a flat at the side of the road in a downpour.
Here, we check out two of Pirelli’s four-season road bike tyre models, the Pirelli Cinturato Velo and P Zero Race 4S, to help you decide which is best for you and your riding style.
What makes a road bike tyre good for winter riding?
Heading into the winter usually involves a complete wardrobe overhaul to help you cope with the inclement conditions: time to dig out the overshoes, waterproofs and insulated layers. While it can be all too often overlooked, the same goes for your bike’s tyre setup.
Forget the dry, smooth tarmac of sunnier days; winter riding on wet roads, often with debris such as loose gravel or mud and sticks washed onto them, presents a fresh set of obstacles when it comes to traction.
To counter these tougher riding conditions, four-season road bike tyres are developed to offer enhanced grip in the wet, greater durability and added puncture protection. Fixing a puncture at the side of the road in a gale with numb fingers is no fun, after all.
As your sole contact point with the road, replacing your summer tyres with all-season-friendly alternatives can make a significant difference to how your bike rides through the winter season.
As summer road tyres are designed to run optimally in warmer conditions, the rubber can become harder when used in colder temperatures, which compromises the performance compared to a four-season tyre, which is built to perform at these lower temperatures.
Winter road bike tyres are also often available in slightly larger tyre widths too, which may be a wise idea if you have the frame clearance to accommodate them.
Wider tyres also mean you can run lower pressures, improving grip and providing a more comfortable ride over rougher, harsher roads.
Pirelli Cinturato Velo overview
Available in four widths – 26, 28, 32 and 35mm – the Pirelli Cinturato Velo tyres borrow their patented Armour Tech casing from the brand’s motorsport division.
This sees puncture-resistant Kevlar strands laid across the width of the 60 TPI tubeless-ready casing.
The Cinturato Velo uses Pirelli’s SmartNET Silica technology tyre compound. Pirelli says the compound results in a tyre that gives a huge amount of mileage without needing to be replaced, as well as offering a reliable level of grip in wet conditions. Siping across the tread of the tyre has been added to help shed water from the tyre’s surface.
Weight-wise, the Cinturato Velo tyres range from 300g to 420g, based on width and colour.
Alongside black or tan-walled Cinturato Velo tyres, Pirelli offers a version of the Cinturato Velo with a reflective strip for increased road safety during darker months and nighttime visibility.
Pirelli P Zero Race 4S overview
Born out of the development of the P Zero Velo 4S, the P Zero Race 4S is a four-season road bike tyre designed to meet the demands of all-season use without losing the race-ready ride feel that Pirelli’s P Zero tyres have become known for.
Developed in tandem with Pirelli-supported WorldTour teams including UAE Team Emirates and AG2R Citroën, the SmartEVO tyre compound has been designed to enhance all-weather grip, while still retaining a low rolling resistance.
The tread is thicker than Pirelli’s P Zero Race and P Zero SL tyres, to improve the durability of the tyre for facing harsher winter road conditions.
Siping on the shoulders of the tread is orientated to help clear water from the tyre’s surface, further enhancing grip on wet tarmac.
This siping also helps to reduce the time it takes for the tyre to warm up in colder conditions, according to Pirelli.
For the P Zero Race 4S tyres, Pirelli use its 120 TPI Techbelt Road casing, which features an added nylon layer under the tread.
The performance-orientated P Zero Race 4S tyre is available in two sizes only, 26 and 28mm, weighing in at 240g and 260g per tyre respectively.
Should I go tubeless for winter?
There are a number of benefits to running a tubeless tyre setup on your road bike, and these become even more relevant as we head into the wetter, muckier seasons.
The main benefit is improved puncture resistance.
Anyone who has run a tubeless setup might have been impressed by finding small thorns or fragments of glass lodged in the tyre that had been plugged by tubeless sealant so efficiently at the time of puncture that they weren’t even noticed.
This added puncture protection comes in handy during the winter as thorny hedges are cut and rain washes debris into the road, meaning you’re more likely to encounter puncture-causing particles.
If you’re already opting for a slightly wider tyre for your winter setup, then that’s an added bonus, because this will allow you to run your tubeless tyres at a slightly lower pressure. This in turn increases the tyre’s contact area with the road, improving both grip and comfort.
Pirelli Cinturato Velo vs P Zero Race 4S for winter riding
Whether you’re looking to bash out the base miles or hit up a local crit series on your road bike this winter, Pirelli has all bases covered between the Cinturato Velo and the P Zero Race 4S four-season road bike tyres.
If pure performance is your priority, the P Zero Race 4S tyres will take some beating, with a fast-rolling, lightweight package tailored to excel on wet roads.
However, if you’d like a little more choice in sizing options, the added peace of mind from bead-to-bead puncture protection and the opportunity to set up your tyres tubeless, then opt for the Pirelli Cinturato Velo tyres.
The endurance-focused design also offers you the option to add a reflective strip for increased road safety during the darker months, which is a great choice if you commute by bike or often ride into the night.
Wider tyre sizing with the Cinturato Velo four-season tyres will also come in handy for riders looking for a little extra comfort for the rougher roads of winter, or looking to run lower pressures to tackle more testing weather conditions, with the choice of running the tyres with inner tubes or tubeless sealant.