What's Cool In Road Cycling

Pirelli Presents PZero Velo: Bike Tyres get Smart Thanks to an Innovative Molecule

Pirelli has developed a new patent dedicated to the cycling world: SmartNet SilicaTM, a new generation high-tech molecule which delivers maximum performance, balanced on all fronts, conceived exclusively by Pirelli’s chemistry labs.

Pirelli paves the way for a new era in the world of cycling tyres, this time not for the best car or motorbike but for the best machine ever created: man.

This is how the PZero Velo range has come into being. Pirelli’s bicycle tyres are the product of more than two years of in-depth research, development, market analysis, lab and road testing.

As with its well-known car namesake, PZero Velo tyres draw extensively from Pirelli technology and its 110-year expertise in sports competition, taking advantage of invaluable know-how, tests, patents and technologies designed by the Italian company since its foundation in 1872.

The SMART tyre
Several factors make a tyre excellent but its core is always the compound. This is why Pirelli developed a new molecule patent for the bike world, the unique, exclusive and innovative SmartNet SilicaTM.

Composed of more than seventeen elements, the Pirelli compound was synthesized at the company’s Milan Bicocca Technology & Innovation Centre. The researchers who worked on this project are the same ones who worked on the F1 P Zero compound, currently the only tyre used in F1 racing.

SmartNet SilicaTM is a silicate-based molecule whose configuration differs from traditional silicates: it has no spherical shape but is an elongated stick. The molecule demonstrates a natural self- sorting tendency instead of being randomly positioned within the matrix. Such configuration assures numerous benefits in terms of performance: its longitudinal position positively affects the tyre smoothness allowing highly directional performance, thanks also to its high elasticity leading to decreased heat generation and rolling resistance. A further advantage of SmartNet SilicaTM is its anti-cluster ability; it spreads evenly and fully within the matrix: this property, added to the natural chemical affinity with water, results in outstanding wet performance.

Inside protection
The word ‘Net’ clearly does not appear by chance. A further characteristic of SmartNet SilicaTM is its ability to create a genuine particular matrix that binds other compound elements to it. The stability of the molecular weaving is vital for providing reliable performance and contributes to natural puncture protection without adding weight to the tyre structure and prolonging its longevity over time.

Three models
PZero Velo: one name for three different models aimed at the three main road uses and colour- coded like the P Zero used in F1 motor-racing.

The silver label showcases the PZero Velo, aimed at road racing. It is light and the most versatile of the three as it provides speed and handling along with dry and wet grip meaning top cycling safety. It is ideal for competitions or training on any type of surface.

The red label denotes PZero Velo TT, the fastest and lightest of the whole range. Designed for breathtaking speed, it features great handling as well as top wet behaviour.

The blue label, in conclusion, showcases the all-season tyres. PZero Velo 4S tyres are ideal during autumn and winter. They offer high puncture protection and an outstanding wet grip guaranteeing, at the same time, rolling, comfort and mileage.

Balanced all-round performance
“Perfect Balance” is one of the key characteristics of Pirelli’s new bicycle tyres: tyres with optimal and balanced performance in terms of rolling resistance, wet and dry grip, handling behaviour, puncture protection and longevity (intended not only as time duration but especially as performance reliability over time).

To meet such design requirements, Pirelli researchers worked on three fronts – the tyre shape and construction, the tread pattern and tread compound – developing F1 and World SSP-inspired technologies as in the case of the pattern or conceiving exclusive and ground-breaking patents like the compound.

For the contour and construction of the new PZero Velo tyres, Pirelli made use of ICS (Ideal Contour Shaping) technology working on the shape of the tyre contour. The use of CAD software, along with subsequent analysis of the finite elements (FEM), helped optimize the construction parameters of the tyre contour and repeatedly simulate performance. Hence PZero Velo provides the best and most efficient footprint conferring grip, stability as well as a reactive and controlled response to every type of surface (straights, descents or bends).

To fine-tune the tread pattern of PZero Velo and PZero Velo 4S (the TT model is 100% slick), Pirelli relied on the motorsport-inspired FGD technology (Functional Groove Design). The tread pattern, which does not have an aesthetic function, takes inspiration from one of Pirelli’s best SSP tyres (SuperSport class of the World SuperBike racing competition): Diablo Supercorsa. Tread pattern angles, depths and distances were researched to maximize performance in terms of water outflow, dry and wet grip, mileage, tyre response as well as comfort and handling. The tread pattern recalls a “flash” and features extremely tight angles down the middle area with a definite lateral opening so as to facilitate water drainage, smoothness and even the tyre usage. Moreover, the tread pattern has been designed to be progressively deeper to enhance resilience and give the tyre great reactiveness and response even on extreme bends.

The position of the pattern creates a different number of contact points between the tread and the ground. PZero Velo has three major footprint areas: a central slick ribbon, for high tyre smoothness, two extra-grooved intermediate bands, which help to negotiate bends and heat the tyre, and semi-slick edges providing high tyre responsiveness at bend apex. This result is optimum contact whenever the tyre is required to supply maximum ground power transfer and safety in any set of conditions.

The new bike tyre range was designed at the Pirelli R&D Innovation centre, at Bicocca, Milan: the main one among Pirelli’s 11 worldwide R&D centres. The company yearly allocates 200 million euros for the development and innovation of its tyre range and employs over 1000 dedicated researchers. PZero Velo prototypes were tested in Sicily at the Giarre facility near Catania where Pirelli’s Testing Department performed a total of more than 100,000 km of comparative road tests meeting strict standards under controlled and scientifically replicable conditions. Specifically, several tests took place on Mount Etna which offers – within a few kilometres – a broad choice of weather conditions, altitudes and surface types among the most demanding in the world.

PZero Velo is positioned in the premium market segment and is dedicated to the cyclist who seeks pure performance. The range will be available in European, US/Canadian and Asia Pacific points of sale from August 2017 on.

For technical data and measurements please refer to the attached data sheets. More info on www.pzerovelo.com

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