Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer based in Milan, Italy. The company produces tyres for bicycles as well as motorcycles and cars. It is the sixth largest tyre manufacturer in the world, operating in over 160 countries.
The company was founded more than 150 years ago in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli and initially made rubber products such as transmission belts and rubberised canvas. In 1890, Pirelli moved into tyre manufacturing, with its first product being a bicycle tyre before it later ventured into motorcycle and car tyres.
Pirelli’s range of bicycle tyres gradually expanded over the coming years, with the ‘Tipo Milano’ racing tyre launched in 1895. By the turn of the century, Pirelli was producing a selection of tubes, travel tyres, racing tyres, and even components such as pedals, handlebars and brakes.
When the first Giro d’Italia was held in 1909, Pirelli firmly wrote itself into the cycling history books thanks to 30 out of the 49 finishers arriving in Milan on Pirelli tyres. This paved the way for the likes of Alfredo Binda, Gino Bartali, and Fausto Coppi to use Pirelli tyres over the coming decades.
After an intensive reorganisation project, which involved selling off sectors of the business, Pirelli withdrew from bicycle tyre production in 1992.
Nevertheless, 25 years later, the company returned to the cycling industry with its groundbreaking P Zero Velo tyre. Since then, the company has resumed bike tyre production in Italy at the revamped Bollate plant, producing high-performance tyres such as the P Zero Race 150.
Pirelli is currently the tyre sponsor for pro cycling teams Trek-Segafredo and AG2R Citroën.
1909 - Pirelli rubber-stamps its place into cycling
The company’s pro cycling journey began all the way back in 1909 with the inaugural edition of the Giro d’Italia. Given the challenging conditions of Grand Tours during the early 20th century, the fact that over half of the finishers were riding Pirelli tyres demonstrated the company’s high-quality products on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
1992 - A demanding reorganisation project
As the 20th century drew to a close, Pirelli was forced to sell off several of its sectors, with the plug also pulled on the bicycle tyre division. Pirelli then underwent a recovery phase where it focused on launching new products and technologies into untapped markets such as the Far East and Africa.
2017 - Pirelli returns with the P Zero Velo
After multiple decades away, Pirelli re-entered the bike tyre market with its performance tyre, the P Zero Velo.
“For our bike tyres, we draw on a unique heritage of knowledge, technology and sporting experience. Pirelli’s offer today is completed with tyres made for those consumers who look for innovative and technological bike products as they do for their cars and bikes.”
Road: The company’s road tyre range, the P Zero, is performance-focused but still offers the handling and grip required on the tarmac. Both tubeless-ready and tubular choices are available. Pirelli also offers a few Cinturato road tyres that are better suited for long-distance riding over various terrains.
Gravel: Pirelli’s Cinturato range is designed to perform on both tarmac and uneven terrain. The gravel models are available in a selection of sizes from 35mm upwards.
Mountain Biking: The Scorpion range is Pirelli’s dedicated MTB tyre offering. There are models of the Scorpion suitable for cross country, trail, enduro and downhill.
Whilst Pirelli is now highly regarded for its tyres, it has also manufactured some surprising products over the years. One of these products was scuba diving rebreathers.
© Velo Collection / Getty Images
Current sponsorships: AG2R Citroën, Lidl-Trek
Previous sponsorships: Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates, Team BikeExchange
The first women’s winner of Paris-Roubaix, Lizzie Deignan, is one of the all time cycling greats. She's a former world champion, a winner of La Course, the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, among many other top races. With Lizzie currently in Britain racing the Women’s Tour for Trek-Segafredo, we were lucky enough to get our hands on her beautiful Trek Emonda SLR for our latest pro bike check!
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