After the Pzero Velo, Pirelli now presents a tire suitable for gravel: the Cinturato Velo, a tubeless-ready tire for various surfaces.

Now also off the asphalt: Pirelli presents the Cinturato Velo – a puncture-proof tire that can be used with or without inner tubes. In 2017 Pirelli launched the PZero Velo racing tire. It was a sign: A traditional Italian brand returns to cycling after decades. It was a sign: Cycling is relevant, cycling fits into the portfolio of a company that wants to present itself in a sporty, dynamic and ecological way.

Into the width

In addition to the classic version, the PZero Velo was initially also available as a particularly handy and puncture-proof all-weather model Pzero Velo 4S and as a lighter competition and time trial tire Pzero Velo TT. The widths range from 23 to 28 millimeters, depending on the model. In the spring of 2018, a 28-millimeter wide tubular tire was presented as part of the classic Amstel Gold Race – after all, the Italians have been equipping the Irish professional team Aqua Blue Sports since this season. The Group also presented a special model especially for e-bikes at the Eurobike 2017 trade fair.

One Gap Less

Now the manufacturer is closing another gap in its portfolio – one that shows the spirit of the times to many companies in the bicycle industry. An area that is not clearly defined and is negotiated under terms such as Gravel, Allroad, Adventure or “fast commuting”.

The Idea

The Cinturato Velo should again combine many things: puncture protection, low rolling resistance, control through good grip. Pirelli already demanded all this from the PZero Velo. The difference is the wider range of use of the Cinturato. Especially on coarser surfaces, the performance should be stronger than that of the PZero Velo. However, the tread pattern is much more road-oriented than with many gravel tires: there are no studs, the lightning-like notches hardly differ from those of the pure road model Pzero Velo. Pirelli is therefore not talking about a tire for gravel use. It has a very wide range of applications, including light gravel passages, rough pavement or firm paths: “light gravel”. However, you should not have to do without good rolling characteristics on asphalt. In addition to sporty road cyclists who also want to include gravel paths in their training laps, the Cinturato is particularly appealing to sporty commuters who are also on the road on unpaved surfaces in favor of low-traffic routes.

Belted Tyres

The name refers to how it works: “Cintura” is the Italian word for belt. As such, the developers describe the structure, which should bring robustness and high puncture protection. The experts from Pirelli’s development department rely on two technologies they have created themselves: Smartnet Silica and Armour Tech.

Smartnet Silica

On the one hand, as with the PZero Velo, puncture protection is mainly provided by the patented “Smartnet Silica” system. This refers to the use of aramid fibers which combine with the other materials to increase puncture resistance. These fibers condense from the outside to the inside. Smartnet Silica should also ensure the best possible driving characteristics under various conditions.

Armour Tech

The “Armour Tech” layer construction (patent pending by Pirelli) is a combination of different components. Below the Smartnet Silica tread, a nylon layer completely protects the tire. Below the Smartnet running surface, there is also a web of highly compressed aramid fibers. If a pointed object penetrates the tire, the aramid fibers around it condense. The impulse is passed on bluntly, the puncture should, therefore, be less easily able to penetrate the tire.

Tubeless or with a Tube

The Cinturato is sold as Tubeless-ready: it can be driven with or without a tube. Pirelli says that the Cinturato should be measured in terms of performance with a tube. If you ride it tubeless, all features should improve again. The highly compressed nylon layer provides both protection against cuts and lateral stability when driving with low air pressure, which is typical for tubeless vehicles. It also seals the carcass when sealing liquid is used.

Variants and application

The Cinturato is available in widths of 26, 28, 32 and 35 millimeters. As always, the actual width depends on the width of the rim on which the tire is mounted. The weight of a tire is 290, 320, 350 or 380 grams, depending on its width. Comparing the weight of the 26 mm wide Cinturato with that of the 25 mm wide Pzero Velo, the Cinturato is 80 grams heavier. Depending on the tire width, depending on whether tubeless or tube type tires are used, Pirelli recommends different pressure ranges, which can be read off the tire flanks. There are also recommendations for the optimum rim widths. As always, the optimum air pressure depends on the system weight and the ground. The 28-millimeter wide model, for example, should be driven with five to seven bar air pressure if you drive it with a tube. As tubeless tires, this range is four to six bar.

Barely profiled

Striking for a tire that also has to master gravel passages: it is not clearly profiled. The serrated notches known from the PZero Velo are designed to warm up the tire through movement so that the material quickly becomes softer and thus offers more grip and control. Samuele Bressan, Pzero Velo product manager, says that no profiling is necessary against wetness anyway: even slick tires without profiles are not susceptible to aqua planning. On the contrary: In wet conditions, racing professionals often reduce the air pressure and consciously increase the contact surface, which improves control.

Road Test

We took the new tire for a spin. The grip convinced as already with the PZero Velo. Especially in fast descents on asphalt, contact with the ground remained noticeable even when cornering. When braking strongly with directly responding disc brakes, the tires broke out late and in a controlled manner – if you provoked it. Otherwise, the grip remained high even with strong deceleration, in curves as well as in straight-running. When starting on loose gravel, the Smartnet silica surface quickly found contact with grip elements on the slope thanks to the appropriate air pressure. We, therefore, did not come close to punctures even if we deliberately aimed for potholes, larger stones or concrete edges. At uphill drives and short, strong beginnings the contact and thus a direct power transmission was to be noticed. The driving characteristics were not noticeably worse on wet ground, but it was easier to provoke breakouts.