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Pirelli Tyres

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      30.07.2009 09:33
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      Could compromise safety for convenience

      I should say straight away that this is a relatively technical overview of the Pirelli Eufori run-flat tyre, based on my own personal experiences.

      'Run-flat" technology:
      These 205/45x17 tyres came as standard equipment on my BMW MINI Cooper S, and - on paper at least - have quite a bit going for them. In essence, Euforis have extra rigid sidewalls which mean that they can support the weight of your car even when fully deflated. Pirelli market this as a safety feature, and BMW use it as an excuse not to supply a spare wheel - not even one of the skinny 'space-savers' that many manufacturers now use.

      The reality of all of this is actually rather different.

      It's true that a punctured car tyre is an inconvenience and can - in some circumstances - be dangerous too, so let's tackle the safety issue first.

      In a bygone era, car tyres had inner tubes and a puncturing object (say, a nail) would pierce the tyre then pop the tube, a bit like a pin in a balloon. The result could be a very sudden and catastrophic 'blow-out' and, at high speed, the car could veer violently and uncontrollably towards the punctured side.

      Modern cars use tubeless tyres, and the puncturing object usually stays in the tyre causing a much more gradual deflation: even if it comes out, the air escapes through a relatively small hole, rather than through a shredded inner tube. So punctures nowadays are unlikely to be the terrifying prospect that they were fifty years ago.

      Which leaves us with 'convenience'. Changing a tyre at the side of a rain-swept dual carriageway is certainly no fun, so the appeal of the run-flat technology is pretty obvious: but modern tyres are commendably puncture-proof and I've driven almost a million miles without ever having to change a wheel at the side of the road. That said, if Pirelli can offer the convenience of run-flat technology without any downsides, then of course I'll have it.

      Trouble is, there is a big downside - several, in fact.

      A compromised design:
      A car tyre works by pressing a small patch of rubber onto the road, which then resists the forces of steering, braking and acceleration, all of which are trying to make the tyre slip. The cars springs, dampers and flexibly-walled tyres are all designed to assist in keeping the tyre on the road, as otherwise it can't do its job: this is what engineers call 'compliance' - making the tyre tread 'comply' to the undulations and contours of the road.

      Pirelli have accepted a huge performance compromise with the Eufori, because the extra-stiff sidewalls play a much more limited part in keeping the rubber patch uniformly pressed against the road. Think what would happen if you put solid rubber tyres on a racing bicycle and rode it fast around bumpy corners, and you'll start to understand the problem: less grip, especially on wet, uneven or undulating surfaces, and a harsh and uncomfortable ride.

      Handling:
      Another issue with these run-flat tyres is the day-to-day handling. The designers have tried to ameliorate the problem of the very stiff sidewalls by making the tread blocks relatively soft and 'squishy' - essentially putting back a little bit of that missing compliance. Unfortunately though, the tread blocks squish sideways as well as up and down which robs the car's steering of all its feel and immediacy.

      This is particularly noticeable during the initial turn-in to a corner, as the soft tread resists the steering's order to turn. It makes the car feel as though the steering wheel has been fixed to the column using a block of rubber and also makes the Euforis 'tramline' quite badly as they are deflected by the grooves worn in the road: this is memorably bad once the tyres are more than half worn.

      Any 'press-ahead' driver will find these handling characteristics deeply frustrating and at times unnerving, because it makes the car's behaviour less predictable.

      An inconvenient convenience:
      There are yet more reasons to avoid these tyres: Pirelli say that you can only drive about 90 miles on a punctured Eufori, and then only at 50 mph. They also recommend that you fit it only to vehicles with a tyre pressure monitoring system (because you need to know when they're punctured, and drive accordingly), and a Eufori that's been run whilst flat has to be discarded as it cannot be repaired.

      In 40,000 miles of driving on Pirelli Euforis I had two puntures: perhaps an ironic consequence of the soft tread. In contrast, a conventional radial ply tyre can often be safely repaired if cleanly punctured near the centre of its tread.

      Since there is specialist equipment needed to fit run-flat tyres (not all tyre dealers have a suitable machine) and only a limited number of cars that use them, you could have trouble getting your tyres replaced at short notice.

      Sum-up:
      I finally gave up on these tyres when I had to discard two half-worn Euforis that were less than six months old, in order to get my (then) three year old MINI through its first MOT test. I was horrified when the test technician showed me that the tread on each rear tyre had split down the middle and round the entire circumference, virtually dividing the tyre into a left and right half. Not an easy fault to spot (there was lots of tread left on these tyres and superficially they looked fine) so I remain exceptionally grateful to that MOT tester for his skill and diligence.

      As if all this wasn't enough, the Euforis cost about £120 each. I now use Falken's excellent ZIEX 512 (it's now called 912) which provide loads of grip, compliance and comfort for £72 per tyre and outperform the Pirellis in almost every way. I've also made a one-off purchase of a tyre inflation kit for £25 which has a bottle of tyre sealant and a mini air compressor, just in case I get a puncture one day.

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        16.01.2009 16:09
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        Excellent performance tyre, will continue to fit these to any performance cars i own.

        The Pirelli p-zero rosso is a very good tyre. I have had Pirelli tyres before in the shape of the P6000 and I have to say I wasn't impressed so I had some reservations when I looked at the Pirelli range again. I was reassured by the tyre company that I was buying them from that the P-Zero was a totally different tyre and made for a totally different purpose than the P6000.

        So I had the tyres fitted let them bed in over 100-200 miles. Once the tyres were properly scrubbed in, I found that the recommendations had some truth to them; in all honesty I was very pleasantly surprised just how good these tyres are.

        I have since had this tyre on both of my performance cars, both of which were 300+bhp RWD cars where grip really was very important.

        Some tyres I have had including the Toyo Proxies were good in the dry but not in the rain and vice-versa.
        The Pirelli P-Zero Rossos amazingly managed both. They provide amazing dry performance as well as very good wet performance. I have used these tyres for fast road applications as well as track days and every time they never fail to amaze me. They also managed some excellent launches on the ¼ mile.

        Overall the entire tyre is one I will be using for many years to come on all my performance cars. These opinions / results were based on 235/45/17 tyres.

        The P-Zero Rossos are and excellent medium compound tyre which means they last longer than all out sports tyres but provide enough grip for the most spirited driver. Road noise is also very low, as is tyre roar that you experience from harder compound tires.

        The Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyre can be purchased for around £90 per tyre (based on 235/45/17 sizes).

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        24.08.2006 15:25

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        There is very little feedback through the steering wheel of just where the car is going.

        I've had two MINI Cooper S's, a 2003/03 & a 2004/54 both of which, as standard, have runflat tyres.
        There is very little feedback through the steering wheel of just where the car is going and how much grip you've got when you're nailing it.
        These tyres are perfect for those that potter around in their cars but if, like me, you actually want to drive you car the way it was designed - please switch to a different tyre!
        I've taken the runflats round tracks, they are fine, they'll suffice and get you round in the dry - in the wet? forgot it!

        This tyres are twitchy in the wet under medium acceleration and cornering, where you'd really need them to be good!

        Yes they are great if you get a puncture, you can drive for about 50 miles (I have driven far longer on them - brilliant) but the cost of the tyre is horrendous, you're looking at upwards of £110.00 per tyre and £160 from BMW themselves.

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        12.07.2006 12:22
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        Good grip in both wet and dry conditions. Excellent safety record.

        ~ ~ The total ignorance of a lot of people when it comes down to choosing tyres for their cars never ceases to amaze me. They’ll go out and spend tens of thousands of Euros/Pounds to buy the latest model from their favourite car manufacturer, but when it comes down to changing their tyres it’s often a case of the cheapest will do! After all, they’re all made from rubber and do the same job, don’t they? WRONG!!!!!

        ~ ~ The tyres, along with the brakes, are two areas of car maintenance that nobody should ever try to save money on by purchasing inferior or cheaper components. My late father drummed this into me when I was only a wee fella.
        “The tyres keep you on the road son, and the brakes stop you!”
        It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, even if it’s one that has cost me a fair bit of extra dosh down through the years, as I only use tyres and brakes from tried and tested manufacturers. Currently, my favoured tyres are Pirellis, although this often comes down to personal choice, and there are many other good manufacturers.

        ~ ~ So why do I prefer Pirelli tyres to many of their competitors?
        I don’t know if any of you remember a recent controversy in the USA back in 2000 where there was over 200 fatalities caused when the Firestone tyres on Ford Explorer SUV’s failed during cornering, causing the drivers to crash and in many cases turn over the vehicle? On investigation this was found to have been caused by the tread on the tyre separating from the tyre body, which subsequently caused a catastrophic loss of control. I have to be a wee bit careful here, as many cases are still in litigation, with both Firestone and Ford frantically trying to shift responsibility onto each other in order to minimise the damages they’ll have to pay out. But one thing that is beyond dispute is that the accidents were all caused by tyre tread separation.
        One almost sure way to prevent tyre tread separation is to use nylon “caps” or bands when making the tyre. These nylon bands are fitted over the steel belts which make up the thread on the tyre. They shrink when the tyre heats up in use, and tighten the grip that the steel belts have with the main body of the tyre. They’re in common use in Europe, but in the USA tend only to be used on high performance tyres.

        ~ ~ Pirelli were the first tyre manufacturers to use nylon belts, first introducing them on racing tyres as far back as the 1950’s. They now use them almost as a matter of course, and they are certainly on the two different sizes of Pirelli tyres that I currently use on my BMW 525, the Pirelli P4000 and the Pirelli P6000.
        It’s a simple enough matter to check whether your own car tyres have these nylon bands fitted. If you read the bumph on the side of your tyre, it’ll tell you somewhere how many steel belts and nylon bands are fitted. (You might have to look carefully, as it’s usually fairly small print.)
        This is one of the main reasons I purchase Pirelli tyres. Add to this the fact that they’ve been in the business of making top quality tyres around the world since 1872, have an outstanding safety record, and make tyres that are both safe and which last for ages.

        ~ ~ I currently have two different sizes of Pirelli tyres on my BMW, the P6000 and the P4000. They are slightly different in size, (5mm) the P4000’s measuring 225/65/15, and the P4000’s slightly smaller at 225/60/15. I inherited the P4000’s from my old Jaguar XJ6 which I sold back in January, 2006, when I “transplanted” my expensive Pirellis onto my BMW. Since then, two of the tyres have become worn, so I recently replaced them with the correct size of tyre for the car, the P6000’s. It’s OK to have slightly different sizes of tyre on your car by the way, so long as you don’t mix different sizes of tyre on the same axle.
        The two P4000’s clocked up around 29,000 miles when fitted to my Jaguar, and since then I’ve added a further 10,000 miles on my BMW. There’s still plenty of tread left on the tyres, and I would estimate that I probably wont have to consider changing them for at least another 30,000 miles or so. That’s good mileage from a car tyre in anybody’s language! If the P6000’s wear half as well then I’ll be more than happy.

        ~ ~ Pirelli claim that their “P” series tyres (including the new P7 tyres) give excellent grip in wet conditions, and grip like leeches when accelerating, cornering and braking. I have no cause to argue with that statement. In all the time I’ve used them I’ve never at any time felt unsafe, I’ve never lost the car on a corner, and I’ve never even came even close to aquaplaning. (This is where the car “skates” over the surface of the water in wet conditions. It’s deadly dangerous!) Given the often wet weather we invariably suffer here in Ireland, it was important to me that I have tyres that performed well in wet conditions, and Pirelli are those tyres. They’re especially good when braking hard in the rain, and you can clamp down on the brakes in the knowledge that it’s highly unlikely you’ll go into a skid.
        I have also been known to drive fairly quickly on occasion, (speed cameras not withstanding!) and these Pirelli tyres are speed rated for use up to speeds in excess of 145 mph! Not that I ever go THAT fast mind you (heh, heh) but it’s comforting to know that the tyre isn’t going to blow out on you at high speed, something that happened to me years ago on a motorway in Scotland and which frightened me half to death. (Luckily I didn’t crash!)
        Road noise is another factor. With some tyres it’s very intrusive, and can become tiresome especially on a long journey. As I’m a taxi driver (among other things) I tend to spend countless hours in my car, and with the Pirelli tyres I never even notice any annoying road noise.

        ~ ~ Of course, there’s a price to pay for all of this. Pirelli tyres are not the cheapest on the market; in fact, they’d probably rate as one of the most expensive. I paid €179 each for my two P4000’s, and €120 each for the P6000’s at my local (small) tyre fitter. (Free balancing) You might manage to get them a wee bit cheaper if you shop around at either the large tyre fitting shops or on the Web. But whatever price you pay you can rest assured that you’re driving around on tyres that one day just might be responsible for saving your life. And it’s very hard to put a price on that! So think on the next time you’re considering buying that “bargain” tyre from some unknown and unheard of manufacturer!

        ~ ~ Highly recommended.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~

        © KenJ July 2006

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~

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          16.09.2005 20:55
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          i like most people these days have to look at cost

          i too bought a new car MONDEO 53 reg and it had pirelli p6000 fitted to my car. it has just been in for the two year service and i was told i required two new tyres on the front. i have only done 20280 miles in my car and i am NOT a boy racer. i will change to some other brand this week end when i purchase my new tyres. is this a normal thing with pirelli p6000 tyres ?????

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            09.09.2003 01:39

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            The Pirelli P700Z tyres were standard on my Fiesta Zetec and around 18 months ago I decided to stick with them when replacing, mainly because at the time my experience of tyres was quite limited. The P700Z's were not cheap tyres either, two for the front alone cost me £110 which, ironically, was considerably more than the Yokohama's which I have on now. The tread on the tyres did not look anything special but it appeared quite deep. Even so, they were only average to good at best in the dry weather, they would grip to a fair degree until a long, winding bend and then I would feel them starting to slip without any real warning. Admittedly they did give a nice feel on the tarmac, I could tell exactly what was happening on the road but this was no good as they just couldn't grip properly at speed. In the wet quite frankly they were very poor, there were numerous occasions on roundabouts when the car nearly span round despite me driving at a conservative speed. When braking in the wet the tyre grip seemed to loosen even more, especially on roundabouts and bends. This gave me no confidence at all. The wear rate was also very disappointing for the money paid, they just about lasted 12,000 miles and that was with just normal driving, not good enough in my opinion. Compared to the Yokohama A539's I have now, the Pirelli P700Z's were inferior tyres in every way.

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            05.10.2000 18:13
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            These tyres were standard issue on my 206 GTi. I've had the car for 14 months and 18k miles the tyres are due for a change already! They have not lasted very long. Now, I won't be changing back to these tyres ever again for several reasons. The first thing I noticed about them is the road noise they generate. On smooth surfaces the noise is minimal, but take it on a road with rough tar and the noise just bellows through the cabin. The wear of the tyres is below average, even for the power the car generates. After about nine months, I had to change the front tyres to the back because the wear was too much. Now all four tyres are almost down to slicks, which is not good coming in to the Winter season. The final reason I do not like these tyres is because they tramline a lot on heavy breaking. This was something I had to get used to though. The tyres do have good points though. I found that they were very effective through standing water. They dispersed the water very well, even a speed. The steering wheel would never be jerked out of my hand if I hit water. The grip in the dry was very good also. Although since the thread has worn away the grip is very very poor, especially in the wet. I now must drive quite gingerly in the wet. So if you were considering P6000s, I would recommend buy them if you have a well insulated cabin. If you don't have a car with huge power they'd be perfect since they may not wear as much. But I have not tested these tyres on other cars so I don't really know. I have mixed feelings about the tyres, but they have swayed me towards changing to a different make.

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            09.09.2000 01:54
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            I've recently changed all four tyres on my car for Pirelli P700Z's. This cost a not inconsiderable sum of £220. I would have to say I have never spent £220 and been so dissapointed!! These tyres are good, but not exceptional on dry tarmac, and they do tend to squeel if the car is pushed moderately hard in to a tight corner. Also, on close inspection the tyres seem to be wearing quite quickly. I think maybe the tyre sidewalls are quite soft, causing the outer edge of the tyre to dig in when taking fast corners, thus wearing the outer edge very quickly. The wet weather performance I feel is very poor. On a wet roundabout there is just no grip whatsoever. 3rd gear wheelspin should not be possible in a Punto, but it is with these tyres on!! The only good thing I can say about them is that they seem to clear standing water very well, and you don't have to worry about aquaplaning through puddles.

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