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The Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tyres impress with their grip in mixed conditions, while feeling quick to ride. If you want a summer tyre-like feel all year round, these are among the best options around.
These clinchers feature a new nylon puncture protection belt under a 120tpi (threads per inch) casing, which in turn lives beneath the same SmartEVO rubber compound you get with Pirelli's racier tyres for a summer-tyre feel.
That new nylon belt adds some extra resilience over its P Zero Velo 4S predecessor, and without adding much weight. Pirelli has also remodelled the casing to optimally fit a 19mm internal diameter rim.
I fitted these 28mm versions (there's also a 26mm) to some Hunt 4 Season Disc alloy hoops (19mm internal, 24mm external), and found they measure up accurately and tip the scales at a competitive 260g. That's 20g lighter than an equivalent Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tyre.
Compared to the'regular' P Zero Race, the rubber on the 4S is marginally thicker to boost puncture resistance and longevity.
Fitting these is about as easy as it gets, as one of the benefits of a lightweight construction is some flexibility in the bead and tyre shoulders. I've not got the strongest fingers in the world, but I could get these to the point where I only needed levers to get the final stretch over the rim.
I'm fairly confident that someone with a bit more brute force (or better technique) would manage on most rims without levers at all.
Throughout my spring testing period, the SmartEVO compound has been the real highlight, offering grip levels I've rarely experienced in a clincher tyre while providing a supple ride feel. You can really lean on them in the corners, and although they can't perform magic and provide as much grip in the wet as the dry, when the heavens open you get a good sense of surefootedness.
The nylon puncture belt is said to be more flexible than most, helping the tyre mould into the tarmac for the confidence to lean into corners, and although I can't say for sure how much 'moulding' is going on, the grip levels do imply some compression into the tarmac when you're giving it the beans.
I generally run my tyres in line with Hunt's recommendations, and as I'm about 80kg (okay, 81.5 at the last weigh in...) that meant 91psi at the front wheel and 96psi at the rear. At least, in the dry – I let an unscientific 5psi or so out when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
In changeable and cooler conditions the Race 4S is also impressive when it comes to speed and grip.
When you do have a warm, dry day, the low weight and performance-oriented construction results in a quick-feeling ride. They're not on the same page as the top-of-the-range P Zero clinchers for sheer speed, but they do a mightily fine job of retaining much of the pace and quick handling characteristics that most look for in a 'summer' tyre.
Certainly, the Race 4Ss feel just a touch livelier across the board than the 28mm Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons I was running pre-test.
Puncture resistance is obviously key to a four season tyre. The obvious downside of a lighter, more flexible belt is the increased potential to flat, but I've had no punctures so far.
The roads around where I live have been relatively clean this spring, but the compound has proven pretty resilient and I haven't seen any major cuts – just one or two small nicks that I'd expect to see with some mileage anyway. In short, the signs are good.
I've referenced the GP 4 Seasons a couple of times, so let's start there. At full price they're £66, whereas the Pirelli is £62.99 (or a whopping £1 cheaper in the 26mm width).
Meanwhile Michelin's Power All Season tyre is £47.99, but leans more towards resilience than speed and grip, while Goodyear offers a tube-type version of its Vector 4 Season tyre for £59.99. Dave found the tubeless version reassuringly sturdy, but that model seemed scarce at time of writing, for some reason.
Pirelli's P Zero Race 4S is about as good as it gets for a fit-and-forget year-round clincher road tyre – certainly if you're after one with a light, grippy summer tyre-like ride quality. Tubeless fans will need to wait a little longer for this option, but for clincher riders it's a great all-season tyre.
Four-season tyre that values performance over out-and-out resilience – yet is still plenty robust
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tyre
Size tested: 700x28
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: "P ZERO Race 4S is the sucessor of the famous P ZERO Velo 4S developed as a further evolution of the best-selling all-season tyre. The new SmartEVO Compound enhances performance on both wet and cold surfaces, all while the new TechBELT construction continues to provide the handling and racing feeling that made the P ZERO family renowned the world over. The use of a slightly thicker tread improves the mileage performance of the tyre, thus making it the ideal solution for cycling every season, without giving its race feeling and experience."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Suitable for all-seasons
- Greater handling
- Superior grip
Leans more towards a summer tyre feel than heavy durability.
I've been impressed despite the arguably weaker puncture protection versus rivals. The compound has proved resilient in testing.
260g for a 28mm tyre complete with all season protection? You don't get much lighter.
Certainly not the cheapest tyres around.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly well, I'll happily keep using them in the future.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent grip, easy to fit, enjoyable ride quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Missing a tubeless option, expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The similar Continental GP 4 Seasons is £66, whereas this Pirelli is £62.99 (or a whopping £1 cheaper in the 26mm width).
Meanwhile Michelin's Power All Season tyreis £47.99, but leans more towards resilience than speed and grip, while Goodyear offers a tube-type version of its Vector 4 Season tyre for £60 Dave found the tubeless version of that to be reassuringly sturdy, but it seemed to be scarce at time of writing, for some reason.
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
Four-season tyres are always a compromise, but the compromise Pirelli has struck leans more towards grippy performance and a lively ride than standout resilience. Nevertheless, they still feel robust and reliable – it works really well.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL (2016), Fairlight Strael 3.0 (2021) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Dabble in Zwift training and racing