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Review: P Zero Race TLR RS Is Pirelli’s Fastest Road Tire To Date

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The fast tires keep coming, this time from the Italian powerhouse Pirelli. Just in time for the summer race schedule (and Olympics), Pirelli adds another update to the performance focused P Zero Race tire line. Pirelli sat the new P Zero Race TLR RS is its fastest road race tire. Claiming a 13% increase in rolling efficiency (compared to the P Zero Race TLR) and a 8% (more like 3% on our scales) reduction in weight.

How did they accomplish this? Read on and find out. 

What is it? Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS 

All Photos: Jordan Villella/BikeRumor

The new top-tier road race tire from Pirelli shares the same tread pattern and overall design as its predecessor, but it excels with lower rolling resistance and wet weather performance. 

Pirelli Bollate Plant

To accomplish this, the Pirelli team moved production to an Italian factory in Bollate last year. The new factory is within a stone’s throw of their Milan HQ. There, they hashed out ways to make the P Zero TLR the fastest it’s been, arriving at an all-new P Zero Race TLR RS. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS P logo brick
Photo: Jordan Villella

Didn’t the P Zero TLR Race just come out? Yes, and we love that tire (I’ve raced it all last season with zero issues). Like many race-focused companies, the team at Pirelli is always looking for faster, lighter, and better. They hit the nail on the head with the new P Zero Race TLR RS. 

P_ZERO_Race_TLR_RS_section
Image: Pirelli

First, the team looked for where they could make improvements, most notably in weight, rolling resistance, and all-around weather performance. They leaned heavily on the Trek LiDI World Tour Team for testing and guidance. The current P Zero TLR Race was the team’s go-to tire but was slightly overbuilt. The puncture protection is top-notch, but it also costs in rolling resistance and weight. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS out of box
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Pirelli team improved on this with an updated Patent-Pending Speed Core technology. This technology consists of a thin, airtight layer of rubber compound infused with aramid particles. Using this layer helps lighten up the casing structure and overall thickness, knocking down the weight slightly and reducing the rolling resistance. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS inside tire
Photo: Jordan Villella

Flats Aren’t Fast 

Does this mean the tire is less puncture-resistant? Yes, but…not really. The current version of the P Zero TLR Race is very puncture-resistant. I can’t remember getting a flat on them the entire time I’ve ridden them. They are less flat preventive than the previous version, but remember that these are race tires, and the risk/reward for lower rolling resistance and weight will be worth it to many.

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS made in italy
Photo: Jordan Villella

Updated SmartEVO Compound 

The Pirelli SmartEVO compound used on the P Zero TLR RS is a product of the new facility in Bollate, Italy. This updated compound improves the tire’s speed and grip. As Pirelli says, “power is nothing without control.” The team looked to improve performance in all race conditions, both dry and wet. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS under belly
Photo: Jordan Villella

Along with the updated compound comes an updated TLR bead design. This new design improves compatibility and air retention. The rim and bead market has changed, and with it, bead design.

To accommodate modern rim designs, hookless included, Pirelli developed this new TLR bead design under ETRTO and ISO standards.

Modern Tire Sizes

The new Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS comes in a wide variety of sizes: 26, 28, 30, and 32mm.

Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS pressure options
Image Pirelli

This is enough to fill all the road racing segments and bleed into the all-road market. Like most, 28mm and above are hookless rim approved, but any size under is not. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS top logo
Photo: Jordan Villella

Details – Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS

  • Price: USD: $99.90, CAD: $136.90, Euro: €89.90, AUD: $144.90 and NZD: $159.90
  • Weight: 298g Size 28mm
  • Availability: Now 
Photo: Jordan Villella

Ride Impressions: Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS

I admit it: the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR is my go-to road race tire. I have two sets mounted up: one on my training wheels and another on race “please squeeze every watt from my body” wheels. I’ve had a few issues (none, actually) with my current P Zero Race TLR setup.

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS close up tread
Photo: Jordan Villella

Unboxing 

The new Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS looks and feels significantly different from the current P Zero Race TLR. The under portion of the tire is notably glossy, and the tire itself has a softer feel. It might be my imagination, but the compound feels softer as well.

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS weight
Photo: Jordan Villella

Either way, one thing is certain: They are lighter — 12g lighter than the other P Zero Race TLR in a 28mm size (298g vs 310g).  

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS side with RS logo
Photo: Jordan Villella

Hookless Mounting 

Since there has been a lot of talk about hookless lately, I felt the best review would be from the view of hookless wheel setup. NOTE: Max pressure recommendation on Hookless rims is 72.5psi, Pirelli states that you SHOULD NOT go over the state 73psi.

With minimal effort, I mounted the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS tires on the CADEX 50 Ultra (race) wheels. The glossy internal “finish” on the tire made it slip around lightly on the rim, but after some direct attention, it mounted quickly. 

I inflated the tires with my trusty Silca floor pump with zero tissues getting the tire to the seat. It’s worth noting that I cleaned the heck out of my valves before attempting this. This allows the air to flow enough to seat the tire without a high volume pump, and hold that seated bead. Which is sometimes is an issue when removing the valve core when seating road tubeless tires.

Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS options
NOTE: The above recommendations are for HOOKED rims, HOOKLESS rims are subject to a 72.5PSI MAX pressure. Image: Pirelli

Pirelli Pressure Guidance

The CADEX 50s have a width of 22c, which is a slight tick above whats listed on the guidelines. After inflation to 73psi, the tires plumped up to a nice 29mm and pretty much on the dot of what Pirelli said in their tire inflation guide.

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS measured width
Photo: Jordan Villella

The guidelines are slightly misleading on the tire guide on the Pirelli tire packaging. But are very clear on the above recommendations in RED. Don’t inflate higher than 73 psi. The pressure is higher than I usually run and are at the top of some hookless rim recommendations (72.5 for some MAX). All in all, though, the tires felt nice and comfortable at 71psi for 160lbs. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS riders eye
Photo: Jordan Villella

On the Road 

At the same pressure that I ride my P Zero Race TLR tires at (70-73psi), the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS felt nearly the same. I did have that “new tire feeling” in some sections and thought I felt a faster roll into some downhills, but it’s unsubstantiated. The tire felt just as comfortable as the P Zero Race TLR, and I rode with the same confidence on poorly maintained roads. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS tread
The Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS rear tire after many test miles. Photo: Jordan Villella

Though I only had a few rides in the rain on the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS tires, they felt as good or better than any others in the P Zero lineup. Per Pirelli’s recommendations, I dropped the tires at 5-ish-psi for the rainy training day and felt confident in the performance. I couldn’t feel much or any rolling resistant loss (they felt better actually), and I was feeling the confidence in the corners — here on after, 70psi was my new go-to pressure.

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS bead
Photo: Jordan Villella

With the same setup and the same equipment, I felt faster on the super smooth and more well-maintained tarmac. This, again, is a “feeling,” but as any racer will tell you, a large part of going fast, is feeling fast. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS side wall
Photo: Jordan Villella

At the Races 

At our local weeknight crit, I had a chance to give the Pirelli P Zero Race TLR RS a proper test. The tires rolled fast on our traditional Oval shaped course — I felt confident in the traction. The performance was nearly identical to the Race TLR versions, with an unexplained springiness to them. That feeling could be the excitement of summer night racing or the new compound and lightened carcass of the tire. 

Racing our “bullet” shaped crit course, I was able to push the corning a bit more. I found the tire comfortable with a confident performance. The tire’s sidewall felt slightly more corner-friendly when leaning the bike over, slightly more supple. I attribute this to the thinned-out casing and a bit to the compound. 

Pirelli P Zero TLR RS rear wear
Photo: Jordan Villella

Final Impressions 

Without all the technical data from Pirelli, it is impossible to prove that the tires are indeed faster. All we have to go off of is Pirellis claim of 13% increase in rolling efficiency from the already fast P Zero Race TLR and a slight reduction in weight.

I have to settle on my ride sensations and race impressions. As a fan of the previous P Zero Race TLR, I find this improvement (all be it slight) excellent. I see these as a go-to race day tire to give any road racer that extra edge and confidence on race day. The price? Yeah, these are performance “race-day” tires, and with that comes a higher price. Considering the wear and puncture resistance of the previous top-tier Race TLR, these should hopefully prove their price.

We’ll be back with an entire season of racing reviews, but as of now, these are my new road race tires. I’ve yet to have a flat (knock on wood), and the tire wear seems on par with most race-focused tires we test.

Pirelli.com

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Laxonthree
Laxonthree
8 days ago

Interesting the recommended pressures seem high but prolly for best rolling resistance. At 200lbs kitted I’m rocking 28s at about 75-80psi and 30s at 65-70 psi and love how they feel. Some days I even let more out during ride down to 50 55 on my 28s and really helps with the path bumps etc. The CXr in me can’t help it. Great write up Jordan! Thank you

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
12 hours ago
Reply to  Laxonthree

At 190lbs, I’m never over 65 on 28s. My 32s are under 60 and I’m low 50s for 35s.

Cody
Cody
8 days ago

Not really a fan of the Pirelli road tire profile. They have too steep of a profile (think a triangle shape) vs a Conti and many other brands more round and higher volume profile. The Pirelli noticeably quickens up steering response and falls into corners harder. It feels more twitchy and unpredictable, not in the best way.

c c
c c
5 days ago
Reply to  Cody

Unsure why Cody’s post got -ved. Twitchy and unpredictable, yes for the lesser skilled or hamfisted riders. My friend doesn’t like it as well and made him nervous during descending. I like it tho for the faster turn in… but… only on dry days, as the pointed profile affects the wet grip so much. Maybe I need to soup my skills up.

Robin
Robin
8 days ago

It’s worth remembering that according to the newest ISO standards, max pressure for any tire between 25-29mm nominal width (the width printed on the tire) is 72.5 psi for hookless rims.

If Pirelli is recommending that pressure for tires on hookless rims, they’re contributing to the confusion that users are having regarding the use of tubeless tires on hookless rims. If that’s what you’re recommending–and essentially that’s what you just did–then you’re adding to the confusion.

One of the biggest problems right now with the use of hookless rims on the road is the confusing information about what a user should do. You’re adding to that confusion, not helping.

Screenshot-2024-02-24-at-11.13.42.jpeg
Robin
Robin
7 days ago
Reply to  Robin

For clarity, it seems Pirelli and you are recommending 80 psi.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
12 hours ago
Reply to  Robin

I’m honestly surprised anyone that’s not very heavy(+230) would wanna ride near those max pressures anyway

Chris
Chris
7 days ago

The max pressure for tyres on hookless rims is 73psi, as per what Pirelli shows on that first chart (in bold red letters).

Why did you ignore that?

Oliver
Oliver
7 days ago

80psi on hookless rims? you, sir, have a deathwish.

Phillip
Phillip
7 days ago

As someone who rides Hookless and runs Hookless wheels (so I’m not a hookless hater), this article is, at best, “relaxed” and, at worst, dangerous.

What in the world are you guys doing totally sidestepping the PSI maximums for Hookless wheels in a public news piece like this?

This crap is how people get seriously hurt.

You COMPLETELY FAIL to mention that Cadex (and basically Cadex alone) does tire testing and has a list of tires that they approve, on a per tire and per size basis, to run above 73 PSI. You totally sidestepped it. The only reason I know that is that I also have a set of Cadex wheels at the house, and you have the set in the pictures.

Also, the Pirellis you’re writing about here has not been tested (at least according to Cadex) to that standard yet, or if they have, Cadex has not updated their site to reflect it.

Seriously, be better. For better or worse (and that’s obviously up for debate), people’s safety is far more at risk with this new generation of wheels tires.

Astro_Kraken
Astro_Kraken
7 days ago

I just like how these are more available than the 700x40s that were announced a year ago.

Robin
Robin
6 days ago

So you guys put up information that runs counter to standards for tubeless inflation pressures vs tubeless tire size………and you just leave the article up. You damned well the confusion that exists for customers right now regarding tubeless tires, especially on hookless rims, and you opt to add to that confusion.

Here’s an easy question: is that responsible or not? Or do you just not give a damn?

Todd
Todd
5 days ago

“Like most, 28mm and above are hookless rim approved, but any size under is not. ”

Why do they sell a 26 mm tire then?

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
12 hours ago
Reply to  Todd

Easy, there are still a lot of hooked wheels out there and people wanting narrower tires

veloaficionado
veloaficionado
5 days ago

Pressure recommendations from Pirelli seem a bit high: are these for with tubes fitted? After several years of experimenting with Pirelli P Zero tyres fitted as tubeless, my 95kgs with 21mm internal rims is happy with a hair under 60psi in 28mm width. Anything more on our not-too-smooth asphalt feels like you are being bounced around like a pea on a drum. I hear that Adam Yates is fine with ~ 50 psi on his 28mm tyres: although he is almost ½ my weight . . .

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