First ride: Specialized Butcher 2.3 Control

This just in: New 2.3 Butcher Controls tested out on steep Front Range home trails — deliver quick feel, good grip and extra braaap.

2.3 Butcher Control specs

• Casing: 420/D1 for 15% improved cut resistance
• Bead: Foldable
• Butyl wrapped bead = 2Bliss Ready
• Compound: 50a
• 26″ x 2.3; psi 35-65; approx. weight 730g


• Specialized Butcher 2.3 Controls, Specialized 2.3-3.0 trail-thickness inner tubes, 33 psi in front, 35 in back
• Rider weight: 175 lbs (of pure muscle!)
• 2010/11 Specialized Enduro carbon
• 2010 Fox 36 Float, 43 psi, stock high speed compression, low speed compression two clicks out from stock
• Fox Float RP2 shock with 190 psi, ProPedal open

Compared with

For the past year, I’ve been running mixtures of Butcher 2.3 DHes and SXes. Most recently I ran a 2.3 Butcher SX in front and an 2.3 Eskar Control in back. The Butcher Controls went on yesterday.

Today’s ride

Two loops at Left Hand Canyon OHV Area. About 3,800 feet of climbing and descending in only about 11 miles. A variety of little rocks, medium rocks and big rocks. A mix of pretty steep, very steep and extremely steep. LHC is a great test of bike setup, as well as mountain manhood.

I’ve ridden these trails on Butcher SXes and DHes, as well as all flavors of Chunders, Clutches, Eskars, High Rollers and Minions. I feel I can make an informed comparison.

Before we dig into the 2.3 Butcher Controls, let me tell you the SXes and DHes work as well or possibly better than the other downhill tires I’ve used. So, when we compare the Butcher Control to the Butcher SX and DH, we’re comparing it to proven, well received downhill/big mountain tires.

The 2.3 Butcher Controls

2.3 Butcher Control

• Feel way lighter and quicker than the SXes and DHes. Post-ride stats check: At a claimed 730 grams, the Controls are 220 and 520 grams lighter than the their freeride and downhill cousins. And: They’re only 30 grams more than my beloved Eskars. Grams, grams, blah. The Butcher Controls don’t feel heavy.

• Roll way faster! I noticed a huge difference on the flatter sections of the climbs and descents. This is compared with the Butcher DHes and SXes, as well as the Butcher SX/Eskar Control combo. Today I found it way easier than normal to carry speed. Speed is fun.

• Climb just fine. They delivered plenty of traction on rocks, muck and even loose over hardpack. The limiting factor today was not equipment; it was the aerobic capacities of my parents.

• Feel really smooth. I assume it’s the more pliable casing. These tires feel less “pingy” than the SX and DH. They make my plush Enduro feel even plusher.

• Grip things. Off-angle rocks, no problem. The bike went where I pointed it, with minimal lateral settling or deflection.

• Grab in the corners. Wet, dry, hard, loose, all corners felt great. I was nowhere near the limit.

• Are nothing to worry about. Today, when things got hectic and the world focused into that line and that rock and my heavy feet and light hands, I did not think about my tires.

CAVEAT: At today’s moderate “trail” pace, the Butcher Controls worked great. If you pin it harder, you might want the burlier SX or DH models.

That said, Curtis Keene is running a Butcher Control on the front of this Stumpjumper EVO, and it seems to work OK:

FINAL THOUGHT: If the Butcher Controls are lighter and faster than their burlier brothers, and they’re grippier and more confidence inspiring than my beloved Eskars, they could be pretty awesome for aggressive trail riding (and winning 2012 Sea Otter Cat 1 dual slalom. Yeah, I said that).

I’ll keep you posted as I get to know these tires.


Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

18 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:

    Yes, pretty much. Control is a light casing with added tear resistance. It’s more durable than an ultralight XC casing, but lighter than the freeride/downhill casings. Living in rocky Colorado, I’ve had great luck with Control tires.

  2. max says:

    The Butchers are awesome! I am totally addicted to them. I’ve been running the SX casings for a while, and they have been bullet proof. I keep toying with the idea of putting on some lighter weight tires for the longer days in the saddle, but I just can’t seem to resist the allure of the Butcher SX.
    I’m tempted by the Butcher control, but at 220lb(also of solid muscle!) I have not in the past had the best luck with the Control casings. I seem to always rip them (my Eskar Control lasted all of 5 rides). Except for a old Chunder Control 2.2, for some reason I cannot kill that tire.

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    The Chunder Control is an angry tire. That’s why it won’t be killed.

    I too had 100% success (no flats) with the SX casing. We’ll see how the Control holds up to more aggressive/stupid riding.

  4. jgusta says:

    Hey Lee, loving my Eskars this past season on my AM bike (Banshee Rune) here in the PacNW, but things are getting wet again now and I washed them out last night a couple of times pretty good and thinking about throwing the Clutches back on for the wet season. Before, I do should I strongly consider the Butcher Control instead? I having a hard time deciding between just running my trusty, but a bit slow roller on the long hard surfaces climbs, or go Butcher front/back, Butcher front/Clutch back, or even Butcher front/Purgatory rear. Any suggestions between these? Thanks!

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    In those conditions, it seems like a Butcher would work better than the Clutch. It’s more open and suited for slop, plus I think it rolls faster.

    Butchers front and rear would be solid. A Purgatory in the rear would give you faster rolling, I think. In the vid above, Keene is running Butcher front/Purg rear.

  6. jgusta says:

    Thanks Lee!

    Thinking of picking up a Butcher C for the front and maybe just slap my beloved Clutch out back for the great braking and tracking control it offers in the wet stuff. If feels too darn slow on the road climbs up, then will try the Purg out back instead (not sure how much faster they would be though?). It looks like Spesh specc’ed all their Enduros with Butch front, Purg back, so they must work well together. I do love the Clutch for some aggro loam or loose riding though.

    Spesh makes my favorite tread to date and I have ridden a lot of different stuff over the years. Love the Control casing ran tubeless for pretty much all things on the trail from XC/trail riding to lite FR/DH. I’ve been running them for over 2yrs now and only ripped one pair from hitting a really sharp rock in a unexpected water bar on pretty steep slope at speed, my fault. Thanks again!

  7. Bill says:

    Glad to see you got a chance to use the Butcher Control. I am currently running an Eskar2 2.3 (rear) and Purgatory 2.4 front on my 2007 enduro SL Carbon. I usually like a bigger tire in front for comfort and added cornering AND braking traction, but that Purg 2.4 tends to be a bit sketchy in high-speed corners – especially in the harder-packed soul and even if I concentrate hard on weighting the front tire.

    I picked up a Butcher Control 2.3 a week ago and have been struggling about swapping out my Purg 2.4 and if I should go Control or SX on the front. BTW, a friend picked up a Butcher SX so we weighed her tire versus my Butcher control (both unmounted) and there was only a 127 gram difference in weight (Butcher Control was 775 grams and a second Butcher control was 665 grams!), which made me want to go with the SX, but I thought that thicker casing might ride more rough.

    So THANKS for posting your results and if you’ll excuse me,I have a Butcher Control to mount up front 🙂

    Should I also swap out MY beloved Eskar2 rear for another purgatory Control?

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    If you like the way your Eskar rolls, run it until it dies. If you want more bite, step to Butchers front and rear.

    I’m about to try the Butcher/Eskar combo on my Stumpy. Stay tuned.

  9. Bill says:

    Mounted up the Butcher Control 2.3 tonight and unfortunately it only measures a 2.1 on my 19mm internal rim @33 PSI. The eskar2 Control on the rear measures a true 2.3. I’ve never run a smaller tire on the front than the rear. And it weighs more than the Purgatory Control 2.4 it’s replacing. We’ll see how it goes. Too bad – I liked that Specialized tires were true to size for the last couple years.

  10. max says:

    I ran the Butcher SX 2.3 front and Eskar2 control rear, and that combo railed. The Butcher SX in the front tracked so predictably and the Eskar just tucked in so nicely in the corners. That combo made for cornering bliss.
    Unfortunately, I put a nice slice in the Eskar coming over some shaley rocks, so that put a premature end to that combo.

  11. Bill says:

    Went for a ride on some local trail loops that I know well and I rode the route twice for 15 miles and 1800 footies. Despite it’s relatively small size, the Butcher Control 2.3 RULES. I have never ridden as fast and as aggressive on those loops as I did today on the Butchers. They rolled fast at 31 PSI, hooked up in the corners and didn’t let go. They are just in a whole different league – dangerously fast! And this was on loose over hardpack mostly. The Eskar 2.3 Control is a great compliment on the rear. The Purgatory 2.4 Control will NOT make it back on my bike. I could write an essay on how much I like the same size tire front/rear now versus staggered with a huge tire on the front, but that’s a whole different subject.

  12. leelikesbikes says:


    I thought the 2.3 Butcher Control looked smaller than the 2.3 Butcher SX and DH* — but it sure does work, eh? Glad to hear you had a great ride.

    *With a tape measure, the 2.3 Butcher DH measured 1/8 inch narrower than a 2.5 Minion DHF; the 2.5 Butcher DH measured 1.8 inch larger than a 2.5 Minion DHF.

  13. leelikesbikes says:

    Max: Butcher SX in front, Control in back? Or stock up on Eskar 2s while they’re available. And: There’s always the 2.2 Purgatory rear option. As I recall, that’s a quick tire.

  14. max says:

    Lee: I don’t think you could go wrong either way. The Butcher SX 2.3 will never ever leave the front of my bike. I really like it in the rear as well, but because of the rubber compound it can be a bit slow rolling in certain conditions, which is why I experimented with the ESKAR2 in the rear.
    With the Eskar2 in the rear the bike tucks in really nicely in the corners. I think with the Eskar on the rear it gets on the edge faster and locks in a little better than the Butcher SX. I have yet to try out the Butcher Control in the rear.
    With rounder profile tires like the Purgatory or Maxxis Ardent, I find they just beg for lower tire pressures in order to “feel” right. This leads to other problems for me, like burpage, folding over, and tires blowing off the rim.

  15. max says:

    I put the Butcher Control on the rear of my Mojo HD with the SX still holding down the fort up front. Mine weighed in at 735grams vs the SX at 928gr, and mounted on a Flow rim the casing was equal in size to the SX. The SX knobs have a slightly different profile and stick out a little farther.
    As a rear tire I think the Butcher control pretty much matched the SX in every category. It was a bit faster in accelerating out of the corners than the SX and felt very controlled in all situations. We will see how the casing holds up.
    My only gripe was given the almost 200gram weight savings over the SX, I was expecting a faster feeling tire on the long fire road climbs, but I really didn’t feel much of a difference than the SX in that instance. I felt it more in pumping situations and quick bursts of acceleration. Go figure?

Comments are closed.