The Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR is a very good tyre, especially during these winter months, offering plenty of cold and wet weather grip while also providing loads of puncture proofing. The small cost to the rolling resistance is worth it for the durability too.
- Pros: Sticky compound offers great grip, impressive puncture belt
- Cons: Faff to fit tubeless
I'm a big fan of the SmartNET Silica rubber compound that Pirelli has used here on the Cinturato as it gives a very reassuring ride, especially in the wet. Like a lot of summer race tyres it has quite a soft tacky feel to it in your hands; it's nowhere near as hard as you might find on something like Continental's Gatorskins, for instance.
My initial test rides all took place in the dry and I didn't hesitate to chuck the bike into the bends as fast as I normally do straight away, such was the feedback and confidence I was getting back from the Pirellis.
The compound offers loads of grip and I could really nail the bike flat out through the local twists and turns, or attacking fast roundabouts just like I would normally do riding something like Schwalbe's excellent G One, the tyres that were fitted to the Bowman Pilgrims Disc I was testing alongside the Pirellis.
As the weather has turned wet and cold, the Pirellis have continued to impress. Obviously you have to scrub off a bit of speed but I haven't felt as though I've needed to back off too much when negotiating corners or traffic, as there still feels to be plenty of grip there even when a layer of salt has built up on the roads.
For puncture protection Pirelli uses an aramid belt under the tread to stop foreign objects from forcing their way through. The Cinturato is quite a thick tyre too, something I noticed while holding both the Pirellis and the Vittoria Corsa Control G+ I was swapping them for. The Pirelli is well over a millimetre thicker, coming in at around 3.6mm on the Vernier callipers.
I spent plenty of time on the country lanes where the farmers have been having a field day covering them in hedge cuttings and haven't suffered any punctures at all. There are a few tiny little marks on the tyres where things have tried, but to no avail.
This extra thickness and the inclusion of a breaker belt does mean that the Cinturatos aren't the fastest rolling tyres out there, and if you ride them alongside something aimed at racing in the sun then you will notice the difference, especially under acceleration.
If you aren't constantly swapping between bikes, though, it's likely you'll barely notice because in isolation the Pirellis don't feel sluggish. This time of year I would definitely take puncture proofing over speed.
While we are talking about puncturing, it's worth mentioning that the Cinturatos are tubeless-ready, meaning that you can fit them either with an inner tube inside or on their own with sealant inside.
With the amount of wheelsets coming my way lately for testing, I've been fitting a lot of tubeless tyre setups and I can safely say that the Pirellis are easily the biggest faff so far. No matter what wheels I tried to fit them to, they would not seat just with the use of a standard track pump, which I find a pain.
Borrowing a mate's tubeless-specific track pump I eventually got them to fit and they rode nicely, offering plenty of comfort; they felt reasonably supple too, considering their pretty low threads-per-inch count of just 66TPI.
Swapping them over to another set of wheels, I didn't bother with the faff and just went with inner tubes instead. The ride didn't actually feel to be that different overall and the tyres were certainly easy to fit without too much of a struggle to get the last bit on with just thumbs.
Price-wise these 700 x 28mm versions (26mm, 32mm and 35mm versions are also available) cost £46.99 each, which isn't massively overpriced against some of the competition we've seen lately.
On the whole, for everything but all-out racing the Pirellis do a great job, offering decent enough rolling resistance while being as tough as old boots.
An excellent tyre for pretty much all weather conditions and they'll keep the puncture fairy away
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli Cinturato Velo Tyre
Size tested: 700x28C
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Pirelli says, "Pirelli's experience and the reliability of SmartNET™ Silica technology combined with the tubless-ready comfort and the resistance of the Armour Tech™ technology facilitated the creation of a new clincher tyre with a unique DNA, perfect for long-distances and various terrains:
- Armour Tech™ construction combines a Nylon bead-to-bead high density layer to an aramid breaker and aramid fibers dispersed into the tread, resulting in a new level of protection against the worst road conditions which has never been achieved before
- SmartNET™ Silica rubber compound guarantees safe rides and confidence-inspiring handling even in harsh conditions
- Sizes from 26-622 up to 35-622 make it ready for Granfondo riding as well as long adventures rides, all in a tube and/or TLR configuration"
Pirelli has delivered a tyre that will stand up to a lot of abuse while still delivering on the performance side of things.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Compound: SmartNet Silica Rubber
Puncture Protection: Aramid Fibre
Technology: SmartNet, Armour Tech, Tubeless Ready
Tyre Bead: Tubular
Tyre Type: Tubeless
Heavier than most race tyres at 345g each.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great grip levels in the wet and dry while warding off punctures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A pain to fit tubeless.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A lot of the other all-season tyres we've tested come in a bit pricier than the Pirellis, especially in tubeless guise.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For the conditions they are designed for, the Pirellis do a very good job of combining durability with performance. It's only really the difficulty of fitting them as tubeless which takes the shine off.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.