Pirelli is preparing to launch its P Zero Race Tub SL, a tubular cycle tire that will debut in the Giro d’Italia 2021 after two years of planning, research and development. During the development, Pirelli’s engineers worked alongside the Mitchelton-Scott team, now called the BikeExchange team, to gather insights from a range of professionals.
Road tests began at the 2020 Tour of UAE with the Mitchelton-Scott team using the tires, and the team subsequently achieved podium results early in the season at the 2020 Tour de France.
Pirelli’s tire is 10% lighter than the company’s previous P Zero Velo tub iteration, resulting in an overall 100g reduction in weight on the bike. The tire is claimed to provide low rolling resistance and a high level of grip even on wet roads, along with improved resistance to punctures.
The inner tube is designed specifically for the P Zero Race Tub SL. Traditionally, lightweight racing tubes have been manufactured using latex, but Pirelli opted to use TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), instead. The material is said to offer the same speed performance and puncture resistance as latex, but with a significant weight reduction. Furthermore, the air tightness of the material eliminates the pressure loss associated with traditional latex tubes, which need regular reinflation.
The casing is made from Pirelli’s Corespun material with a 320TPI thread count; the company’s most recent SmartEVO compound is used for the tread. Following a series of road tests carried out by Pirelli’s partner teams, rider feedback showed that the tire improves the handling of the bike and also ascent speed, while still offering good puncture resistance and a high level of control at higher speeds.
“This new Pirelli tire is a great way to reduce bike weight by 100g, which is quite a large improvement and not normally easy to find in a top-end race setup,” commented Kevin Tabotta, performance manager of the BikeExchange team. “The tires performed exactly as we hoped they would, but now lighter! It’s hard to believe that you can make such a significant saving in weight with a high-performance all-round tire for road racing, but Pirelli did it.”
Esteban Chaves of the BikeExchange team added, “I was excited to see the large drop in weight per set of tires with the new tubulars. The main thing is the tires feel faster and handle well, like always, but now they are lighter as well. You feel that in the climbs. I’m already using them, but of course the Grand Tours will be a big target.”