Another brand reworking its tyres is Spesh. Bigger, meatier rubber is on the menu, like this Specialized Butcher 2.6 served up with Gripton compound.
Specialized’s Butcher has been around ages, but this latest version is significantly reworked. The tyres now come in bigger sizes, like this 2.6in version and Spesh has recently switched its rubber blend to a compound called Gripton, originally developed for the brand’s road racers. This model uses a tough, cut-resistant GRID casing and tips the scales over a kilo, but a cheaper, 2.3in version, and lighter Control carcasses are still available.
Retaining its deep cornering channel, the Butcher’s tread gains sawtooth cuts on the inside of the shoulder knobs and alternate central lugs. The idea is the little edges provide additional surfaces to bite into the ground and then break away more smoothly. We found the older Specialized rubber compound less surefooted than some in certain soils when wet, but Gripton claims to improve mechanical grip levels and increase high-frequency vibration reduction, without effecting either rolling speed or wear life.
With its bigger treads, this 2.6in version has stubborn grip in loose dirt and a glued-in-place stability on rock-flecked trail centres surfaces or gravel. The Butcher corner knobs hold nicely in turns to rail with minimal drift and hold off-cambers with a solid locked on feel. The Gripton rubber feels surefooted in greasy conditions too, and predictable on wet edges and roots, but is arguably marginally less sucker-like than some rival’s soft compounds.
Spesh’s big Butchers mount easily and last pretty well. The ride quality is well cushioned, but there’s a perception of a slightly bouncy feel to the damping character, and less control in terms of tracking from either the tread blocks or the sidewalls hammering through really rough stuff. The Gripton rubber rolling speed is mid pack at best in this test too. Specialized tyres have traditionally always been good value, but the bigger volume size here costs £15 more, which reduces this price advantage.