Just like people have preferences over smartphones (iPhone or Android) and cars, you can also find people that have favorite tire brands. And, when it comes to rubber, few companies are more legendary than Pirelli and Michelin. Subsequently, both have a huge cult following, which would argue that one brand is better than another.
However, a real enthusiast should only really care that we have the options to choose from. Just like with cars or smartphones, there are many great tire options on the market. And between all brands, Michelin and Pirelli always stand near the top. Both tiremakers are at the top of their game and take pride in their designs.
But which brand has better tires? Well, that’s a good question, but also one that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Pirelli vs Michelin have so many products in their respective portfolios; if you start counting, you might get sleepy fast. Moreover, they even have special tires for particular vehicles, especially supercars.
To give you the answer to which brand is better, I’ll cover both tiremakers’ tire portfolios and give you some insight on their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, I’ll give you my verdict on which brand is better. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the matter!
- Pirelli & C. S.p.A. History
- Michelin CA History
- What are the Qualities that Both Companies Share?
- Are there Advantages to One Brand Over the Other?
- Pirelli Tire Categories
- Michelin Tire Categories
Pirelli & C. S.p.A. History
Pirelli is one of the oldest tire companies in the world, dating back to 1872. The Italian brand always worked with rubber but primarily manufactured scuba diving rebreathers and telecommunication cables.
Unlike Michelin, Pirelli doesn’t have as many large innovations. However, the small improvements the company made, especially in racing, overall improved the tire industry. One of the instances, when Pirelli made such an improvement was for the Lancia Stratos rally car.
Namely, Lancia asked Pirelli to make a wide radial racing tire. Up until then, racing tires were the cross-ply variety since that design was far more reliable. However, although they had great grip, cross-ply tires were also heavy, limiting performance.
Pirelli created a wide radial tire with small sidewalls, giving the Lancia Stratos high cornering grip, excellent performance, and durability. Since then, every racing tire uses radial construction, which interestingly was firstly developed by Michelin.
Today, Pirelli participates in many racing series with its P Zero lineup of tires. The Italian tiremaker also makes tires for Formula 1, which is the fastest form of motorsport in the world.
Michelin CA History
Ever since its inception, Michelin was one of the most innovative companies in the world. That’s because its creators, the Édouard Michelin and André Michelin brothers, were innovators themselves. Throughout the years, the French company gave us many car-tire novelties, which we use to this day.
The first and most important is the removable pneumatic tire in the 19th century. Before the Michelin brothers invented it, when you had a puncture, you needed to replace the whole wheel. After the innovation, well, you probably know, we can replace tires with ease.
Michelin also launched the first run-flat tire in 1934. Yes, those high-end run-flat tires that you see on BMW’s actually date back to 1934.
An even bigger innovation is the inception of the radial tire, which improved the overall performance, durability, high-speed stability, and fuel consumption of modern cars. Today, most tires are of the radial type – bias-ply tires find use only in off-road vehicles.
The brand is also known for the Michelin Guide for drivers, which gives stars to high-end restaurants. A restaurant with one star is a very good one in its respective category. A two-star restaurant means “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” while a three-star restaurant means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”
Today, Michelin has perhaps the most extensive tire portfolio of any manufacturer, providing high-quality tire solutions for amateur and professional drivers worldwide. It also competed in many racing series and was Formula 1’s tire of choice before Pirelli took over.
The things that connect Pirelli and Michelin are innovation, research, and development. The Italian and French tiremaker is in somewhat of a competition, both on the commercial market and in racing series. Subsequently, they invest a lot of money and manpower into making better tire products.
As a result, both companies produce high-quality tires that come at higher price points than the competition. In most categories, Michelin is slightly more expensive, but even then, the differences are small. In other words, both tiremakers are premium brands, commanding a higher price than the competition.
But what does “producing premium tires” really mean? Well, for starters, you can expect that both Pirelli and Michelin tires will give you a safe and reliable drive. Trust me; most cheap tires aren’t worth it since they don’t provide safe driving, especially in slippery conditions. With Pirelli or Michelin tires, you don’t have to worry about that.
You also won’t have to worry about excessive tire wear. Pirelli vs Michelin make long-lasting tire solutions, making them a very cost-effective solution in the long run.
Ultimately, both companies strive to make comfortable and quiet tires, something regular drivers appreciate. However, Michelin has the upper hand here, at least in most categories. On the other hand, Pirelli focuses a tad more on driving involvement and enjoyment, even in passenger-car tires.
Keep in mind, though, that the differences are pretty small, and you might not ever tell them apart.
Are there Advantages to One Brand Over the Other?
Well, it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Both companies produce amazing tires, making it very hard to declare a winner.
Besides, the results are different according to the category. In regular passenger-car tires, Michelin usually wins by a hair, but Pirelli is sometimes better with high-performance tires. Also, Pirelli is slightly in front with its all-terrain or off-road tires.
But I’m really splitting hairs here. You really can’t go wrong with either, since they have no in-your-face disadvantages. Just make sure that you read reviews before you purchase a tire – we already covered the most popular options on the market. Then, choose a tire, Pirelli or Michelin, that suits you best. That way, you’ll be most satisfied with your purchase.
Pirelli Tire Categories
Pirelli produces mostly passenger-car tires and high-performance tires. However, the company also has a detailed motorcycle tire portfolio, a complete commercial truck tire lineup, and even produces tires for classic cars. Let’s revisit each one.
1. Passenger-Car Tires
- Cinturato is a family of all-season tires. It consists of touring and grand-touring produces and is designed for safe traction on dry and wet surfaces, usable traction on snow. Moreover, Cinturato tires are designed with an engaging and luxurious driving experience.
- P Zero is Pirelli’s family of high-performance tires. These tires come mostly with a summer tread compound, but some versions are all-season capable. You can expect very high levels of cornering grip and traction, as well as outstanding driving involvement.
- Scorpion Verde is a family of crossover, truck, and SUV tires from Pirelli. It is available in both all-season and summer tread compounds and is designed for a balance between handling, durability, and comfort. The Scorpion family consists of touring, highway, and all-terrain tires.
- Pirelli also offers a wide range of winter tires from the P Zero, Sottozero, Cinturato Winter, Scorpion Winter, and Ice Zero families. Each model is designed for different types of vehicles, i.e., P Zero is for sports cars, Scorpion Winter is for crossovers and SUVs. Pirelli’s winter tires are outstanding on snow, ice, and slush.
2. Motorcycle Tires
Pirelli has a vast portfolio of motorcycle tires. It includes models for racing bikes, touring bikes, off-road-capable motorcycles, and scooters.
3. Commercial Tires
Although not as successful as Michelin in the commercial category, Pirelli still offers a complete portfolio of tires. You can expect excellent performance, safety, and durability.
Michelin Tire Categories
1. Passenger-Car Tires
- Defender – a family of touring and highway tires from Michelin designed for crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. It is known for its exceptional durability, high levels of comfort, and safe traction on most surfaces.
- Primacy is a range of touring and grand-touring tires intended for highway use. These models are mostly designed for compact cars, sedans, and minivans. They’re known for exceptional driving comfort and high levels of traction in dry and wet conditions.
- Premier is a range of touring and grand-touring tires from Michelin, somehow of a successor to the Primacy line. You can expect excellent drivability and comfort and good performance throughout the life of the tire.
- Pilot Sport is the high-performance lineup from Michelin. It consists of both all-season and summer tread compounds and offers outstanding grip and responsiveness. It competes directly with Pirelli’s P Zero family.
- CrossClimate is a family of all-season tires with a slightly larger focus on winter performance. Your tire dealer might name them all-weather tires.
- Latitude and Alpin is the winter family of tires from Michelin with excellent performance of snow, ice, and slush.
2. Motorcycle Tires
Michelin has perhaps the most comprehensive motorcycle tire portfolio on the market. It consists of tires for Cruiser, Enduro, MX, Roadster, Sport, Sport Touring, Trail, Trial, Rally, Scooter, and Electric bikes.
3. Commercial Tires
Michelin offers a family of van, semi-truck, and bus, which are best-sellers in their respective categories. They are also known for their exceptional durability and performance.
As you probably noticed, we almost never used words like “mediocre” or “poor.” That’s because Pirelli and Michelin make excellent tires. Products from these companies work well across a range of different tests. More importantly, they are very safe, durable, and long-lasting.
So, as always, we leave the decision to you. If you are thinking between a Pirelli Cinturato and Michelin Premier tire, we think that you should read the reviews of those tires and decide for yourself. For instance, people that value driving involvement might choose the Pirelli, but comfort-oriented drivers might choose the Michelin.
But whatever choice you make between these two companies, you can’t go wrong, really.