This new Specialized Butcher might look familiar, but it represents a completely new direction with a new factory, fresh compounds, logos and casing lay-ups.
This new Specialized Butcher retains the familiar old tread pattern with its tightly-packed complex knobs and siping, but the T9 label on the side describes the new rubber compound and its softness and damping characteristics – a firmer and faster T7 is also available that’s more like the older Gripton blend (which we weren’t huge fans of).
What’s immediately striking with the new T9 tyre is the sensational damping characteristic, with only rival brand Hutchinson coming close to this much ground-hugging, squelchy control. The new Butcher literally glues itself to the earth and is so slow-rebounding it doesn’t bounce or vibrate over even fairly rough surfaces, root webs and rock gardens; in turn delivering exceptional confidence and grip at all angles in the dry.
The 1kg-ish weight and 2.3in version’s inflated size is bang on the money for an aggro 29er tyre with good toughness and casing stability. The new GRID construction feels less springy too and, unlike the previous model, doesn’t flex excessively when really leaning and loading forces into it on rock hard ground on a long-travel enduro bike.
One area that the T9 can act weirdly is in the ‘wrong’ type of moisture or at lower temperatures – it’s just not that stable, predictable and assured in slimy (not muddy) conditions. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what’s happening, but the tyre floats a tad across wet dirt and leaf litter on top of hardpack. It could even be that Spesh’s rubber blend reacts poorly with certain types of soil or dirt.
Being reasonably light in GRID casing means it isn’t a total dog climbing, but the sticky knobs routinely firing up little stones and twigs at your downtube hints at this not being the fastest rolling rubber around, and it doesn’t turn over quite as well as something like the Maxxis High Roller II here.
We love certain performance aspects of this new super-supple, 10psi-lower-feeling Butcher. It’s £15 cheaper than rivals and, if you’re after almost unlimited, hero-making, cornering grip and are generally blessed with dry conditions, this is the model for you. There’s no escaping it can ‘surf’ on top of surfaces a little in the wet though, where other tyres are more predictable, and that’s quite a drawback when you live in the UK.