The Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S is the Italian brand’s top-level all-season road tyre, pitched towards riders looking for high levels of grip and suppleness blended with hardiness to cope with poor conditions.
In testing, the P-Zero Race 4S has proven to be a grippy, quick-feeling and satisfyingly supple tyre, and has held up admirably to worsening autumnal road conditions.
Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S tyre details and specifications
The P-Zero Race 4S tyre is intended to bridge the gap between the brand’s fastest P-Zero rubber and its tougher Cinturato siblings.
So, rather than being an out-and-out winter tyre with an all-over tougher construction, it features Pirelli’s proprietary SmartEVO compound – as seen in the highly rated P-Zero Race TLR model – to deliver the grip you would expect of a race-derived tyre.
SmartEVO also leans on Pirelli’s experience in performance tyres across motorsport, with claims that the compound warms up more readily than its competitors, thus delivering more grip.
The compound features a siped tread pattern moulded into the tyre shoulders. These are claimed to help the tyre to deform and hold onto lower-grip surfaces.
There’s also a 120 TPI (threads-per-inch) casing. This puts it on a par with many of the best road bike tyres, which feature similarly supple carcasses.
The performance-focused theme continues with a nylon puncture protection belt, chosen for its relative flexibility. The 4S tyre also features a little more of the performance-oriented SmartEVO compound versus the raciest tyres in the range, to fortify the tyre against hazards.
The P-Zero Race 4S tyre is clincher-only, and available in 700 x 26c and 700 x 28c (as tested) sizes.
I weighed them at 261g per 28c tyre, just one gram more than claimed.
Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S tyre performance
During my time with the P-Zero Race 4S tyres, I’ve tested them on my regular commute, as well as on local solo spins and club rides in the 70 to 80km range.
I’ve totalled around 500km so far, and throughout they’ve impressed with their grip, as well as retaining the sense of speed and ride quality you only really get with top-spec race clinchers (my current personal pick of those being Continental’s GP5000).
Mounting and removing the tyre is easy. I needed to use a tyre lever or two to get the bead over the rim, but it wasn’t a struggle in the grand scheme of things.
When run with standard butyl inner tubes, you get performance that feels comparable to race-spec tyres.
The SmartEVO compound (which impressed in our review of the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR tyre) has proven to be supple, grippy and fast-rolling.
It really excels when the road conditions aren’t optimal and you’re dealing with a mix of damp and wet roads, as well as when temperatures dip into single figures.
The P-Zero 4S tyre compound is really able to mould to the road, I suspect in part down to its claimed ability to generate heat. It’s hard to be specific around these claims, but all-in the tyre compound feels as though it holds the road incredibly well.
That’s borne out when you’re cornering on a damp descent on a 9°C morning, with the tyre sticking fast to the road.
That feeling of grip is backed up by the suppleness built into the tyre construction. A 120 TPI casing is in the region of what you’d expect for a high-performance road tyre, and the P-Zero Race 4S gives a real sense of conforming to the road surface.
This translates to delivering really high levels of confidence through the bike you’re riding. I felt I could really lean on the tyre and trust it to grip.
It’s a shame there’s no tubeless version of this tyre. The loss of running an inner tube offers a tantalising prospect of improved road ‘feel’, the ability to run lower tyre pressures for more comfort and a vastly reduced chance of pinch flats.
Speaking of which, the P-Zero Race 4S tyres feel quick to roll on, the 261g weight per tyre doing nothing to slow you down.
Of course, in a clincher setup you also need to account for the tubes you’re running to calculate a total system weight, just as tubeless setups require you to add in the weight of the sealant.
However, when the chips are down, these clincher tyres feel light, sprightly and satisfying to ride. They’re near to being on a par with the lightest and most supple race-oriented tyres.
My test period isn’t long enough to wear the tyres out, but I’ve noticed very few nicks in the tread, while I’ve also had no punctures in testing.
Before fitting, when you hold the tyre in your hand the central section feels relatively thin versus tougher winter-specific road tyres, as do the sidewalls.
This pared-down construction with the flexible nylon belt and some thicker SmartEVO compound rubber has me wondering if it will stand up to sharp objects and shrapnel through a full winter season – after all, the P-Zeros are positioned as a ‘four-season’ tyre – but so far at least, the indications are positive.
Compared to rivals such as Continental’s Grand Prix 4 Season and Goodyear’s Vector 4Seasons, the P-Zero Race 4S is priced similarly, although our best winter tyre guide highlights plenty of options available for less money.
However, for that premium price, you’re getting a tyre that really does a great impression of a race tyre, while adding the extra necessary resilience you want in a four-season tyre.
Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S tyre bottom line
The Pirelli P-Zero Race 4S tyre impresses with its race-derived grip, suppleness and overall riding experience.
Depending on your point of view, you could easily fit the P-Zero Race 4S for year-round use, or use it either side of summer, when you might hide from the worst deep-winter conditions anyway.