Butcher vs. Purgatory for the front?


In the post Early impressions: Specialized Slaughter tire, Tjaard asked:

“What is your feeling on the Butcher vs Purgatory for the front?”


Hey Tjaard,

Thanks for writing.

I ridden both of these tires, in various sizes and models, in varied terrain.

Here’s what Specialized says about these tires:

Purgatory Control

The Purgatory is the standard bearer for All-Mountain tire performance. By applying FE Analysis to the Purgatory, we’ve optimized the tread to result in a faster, grippier tire for any All-Mountain excursion.

Casing: 420/D1 for 15% improved cut resistance
Bead: foldable
Butyl wrapped bead = 2Bliss Ready
Center Compound: 60a / Shoulder Compound: 50a
26″ x 2.3; psi 35-65; approximate weight 685g
29″ x 2.3; psi 35-65; approximate weight 755g

Butcher Control

With a nod to the success of Butcher tires in DH competition, we built this exceptional tread into a tire for All-Mountain riders. The Butcher excels in even the gnarliest terrain with fast rolling, ramped center knobs and perfectly sized shoulder knobs for bite in the corners.

Casing: 420/D1 for 15% improved cut resistance
Bead: foldable
Butyl wrapped bead = 2Bliss Ready
Compound: 50a
26″ x 2.3; psi 35-65; approximate weight 730g
650b x 2.3; psi 35-65; approximate weight 755g
29″ x 2.3; psi 35-65; approximate weight 810g

I’ve written a ton of marketing copy for the bike industry, and I have to say it’s an interesting challenge. You need to differentiate your products without making one seem better than the other. So let’s get practical:

Structural differences

Compound: The Purgatory has 60a rubber in the center, 50a on the shoulders. The Butcher is 50a all the way around.

Tread: The Purgatory has pretty evenly spaced blocks, while the Butcher has an open shoulder channel and more exposed side knobs.

Weight: For a given size, the Purgatory is lighter.

Options: Right now the Butcher comes in 650b, but the Purgatory does not.

Functional differences

The Purgatory lasts longer. This makes it less expensive.

The Purgatory feels consistent from edge to edge. You can ride it easy or hard, timidly or confidently, and it always works. This makes it a great tire for most riders.

The Purgatory is a great all-around trail tire. I’ve run it all over the country in all seasons, and I haven’t had reason to doubt it. But:

The Butcher has more absolute grip, especially in loose conditions, and especially if you lean it enough to make the side knobs dig. If you don’t lean your bike with conviction, you won’t get the most out of this tire.

I recently switched from a Purgatory to a Butcher on my S-Works Enduro 29. On the blown out trails at Winter Park, CO, the Butcher was significantly more connected and confidence-inspiring. On the hard-packed tracks at Valmont Bike Park, the Butcher felt more squirmy and less planted.


If the trail is double red — STEEP AND LOOSE! — the Butcher is your safest choice. Pro enduro racer Curtis Keene always runs a Butcher up front.


If you’re railing hardpack, the Purgatory will hold securely and last a while.

Put simply

• The Purgatory is a tire of practicality. Put it on and forget about it.

• The Butcher is a tire of impunity. Put it wherever you want to go, and it will take care of you.

Have fun out there,

Lee


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8 replies
  1. Wacek says:

    What trails, what bike? I could put purgatory front and ground contorl rear on a hardtail as on such a bike you cant go that fast really, so grip is not as important. If you put Purgatory on front of Enduro29 or Nomad you are either going to waste tons of fun or simply die 😀

    Reply
  2. Brad says:

    Do one of both. Butcher in the Front and Purg in the back. I’mm very surprised how well the Butcher control works on the Dry stuff here in San Diego. I really like the ability to “feel” the shoulder and just push on it.

    Reply
  3. Matt Allen says:

    I recently switched to the Butcher 2.3 Grid up front with an ultra wide Derby carbon rim. Best front combo I’ve ever rode in the loose stuff we have in the front range. Big fan.

    Reply
  4. Anne says:

    Personally, I haven’t liked the Purgatory in any casing, front or rear. The Butcher(SX casing) has been great on either an AM or DH bike. Since the GRID casing came out, I’ll probably try that on the front next.

    Still looking for the perfect rear tire. Will be checking out the Slaughter at some point (if it comes in 26″).

    Reply
  5. MW says:

    I love the added traction of the butcher ( the Purg has been great also) but every time Look down it just seems narrow (29X2.3) When it gets nasty/rocky there is nothing more confidence inspiring than a 2.4 Ardent. I have smacked my rim more commonly with the narrower casting but do appreciate the the grip. Even the Purg seemed wider in volume.

    Reply
  6. Tjaard says:

    Thanks for the reply.

    I do wonder about two lines you wrote:

    •”The Butcher is a tire of impunity. Put it wherever you want to go, and it will take care of you.”
    But:
    ” On the hard-packed tracks at Valmont Bike Park, the Butcher felt more squirmy and less planted.”

    So, should we read that top line as: “…it will take care of you, as long as it’s not hardpack” ?

    Since squirmy and less planted, doesn’t sound like taking care of me.

    Reply

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