First ride: Specialized Butcher DH tires

I’ve done an interview about and a ride on Specialized’s answer to the Minion DHF.

Specialized Butcher

Specialized tire guy Chris Wyatt gave me the scoop on the Butcher tires. They are available in 2.3 and 2.5 widths, in DH (downhill) and SX (freeride) casings.

Why do this?
The Monster guys (some dudes named Sam and Brendan?) liked the Clutch, but said its knobs were too tightly spaced for World Cup wetness. So Specialized wanted a DH tire with a more open pattern.

Random Clutch anecdote from Specialized rep Jason Emmanuel:

When they signed with Specialized for frames, but not yet tires, Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough were testing all sorts of tires on one of their test tracks. Every run was filmed.

They said they liked the feel of the Clutches, but they both crashed in the same corner. Strange, they said, because they felt like they were in control. Upon review of the film, it turns out … they hit their handlebars on the ground!

Seems like a good problem to have.

Maxxis Minion DHF

Hmm, the Butcher sorta looks like …
… a Maxxis Minion DHF. Yeah yeah, Chris knows.

Everyone knows the Minion DHF is popular. It’s also pretty darn effective in front and in back.

Chris said he sat down to see what he could do better (or at least different).

Compared with a Minion DHF:

• The Butcher is more open. Better in wetter/looser conditions.

• While Maxxis 3C tires use a hard base with a medium center and soft sides, the Butcher uses a hard base with soft rubber on the entire tread. This eliminates the squirm of completely soft knobs (like the Maxxis), but gives the tire a more consistent feel than the Maxxis.

Goals of the tire

Per Chris:

• Open tread for mud shedding and confidence in loam.

• Predictable cornering. Throw it in and it won’t let go all of a sudden.

• Maintain straight-line braking and setup into corners.

How does it ride?

I have one ride on a set of 2.3 Butcher DHes. Left Hand Canyon near Boulder, CO is steep and rocky. Yesterday’s surfaces included hardpack, sand, big rocks, medium rocks, little rocks, mud, snow and ice.

The Butchers replaced a 2.5 Minion DHF (front) and 2.5 High Roller (rear). I’ve been running these tires all season on my Enduro, and I’m pretty in tune with the setup.

I am not going to bullshit you with all kinds of hype and euphemism. For now I’ll leave it at this:

• Compared to the Maxxi 2.5s, the 2.3 Butchers are 1/8 inch narrower.

• At 25/28 psi the tires did not flat.

• The Butchers roll fast enough.

• They corner well. I got nowhere near the limit of these tires.

• They packed up in the slowest muddy parts, but they cleared as soon as I regained speed.

• They felt light and quick. That’s probably the smaller size.

• They are useless on sheets of ice. Ha!

• I did a pretty gnarly, fairly fast ride on unfamiliar trails, and I did not notice the tires. I didn’t even think about them. When Alex and Farid asked how they worked, I was like … uh … just fine, I’m not worrying about them.

That is a good sign.


• Butchers look like a good all-around tire.

• The open shoulder channel tells me the Butcher needs to be leaned aggressively in corners, much like my beloved (and doomed*) Eskar.

• I hope to try some 2.5 DHes for downhill and 2.3 SXes for trail.

I can’t wait to get out and really push these tires.


— Lee

*Yeah man, looks like the Eskar will be discontinued. More on that soon.

Know more. Have more fun!

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7 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:

    From Facebook:

    Sean wrote: “I’ve been running these in the 2.3 sx ply for a few months now and if you like the Minion DHF then you’ll dig these! I’m running them on my trail bike for rockier trails I normally pinch on. Good size for a 2.3 also vs say the tiny maxxis 2.35 offering. Overall they are very predictable. Slightly taller tread blocks when new so I’m hoping they’ll offer some extra life, I don’t notice any negatives (squirm) to the slightly taller blocks..”

  2. slyfink says:

    you say the butchar has a hard base, and an even soft layer over top… similar to 42a durometer? I suppose that means they would wear faster too, but grip better on wet rocks?

  3. Scott says:

    So what replaces the Eskars? I’m disappointed, since I just switched to them from Nevegals and like them a lot. They are much easier to use tubeless and feel like they roll better with similar grip.

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    Most trail riders will adopt the Purgatory. It has a rounder profile than the Eskar and, for that reason, works better for most riders. Available in 2.2 and a big 2.4.

    For riders who like — and know how to use the edges on — Eskars, the replacement will be the 2.3 Butcher SX. That what Chris W us hoping. I can’t imagine the Butcher will be as fast as an Eskar, but it will have a lot more grip (and it will be even more durable).

  5. UK neil says:

    Hia Lee,

    Thanks for all the work on the site, LeeLikesBikes is a great resource.

    Those Butchers sound great. The Super Tacky Minion was always a bit draggy on the back for Alpine trailriding (“DH lIte”) but the MaxxPro compound seemed too hard, and the 3C amazingly expensive! The Butcher sounds like a cool compromise.

    Have you tried the 2.3 Hillbilly, I’m sure you know them? (didn’t come up in a search so I guess not). Be great to hear your opinion on those. – I read they are designed for loam. I tried them for razzing in the woods on my 05 Enduro with a coil and flats (of course).

    Readers might like to know they have a similar soft over hard base compound as described on the Butcher, I found totally amazing grip even when it’s soggy, better than a Swampthing SuperTacky in mud I thought, and no harder to pedal around. (and we have sticky, chalky, mud here in the South)

    Some have said they are kinda like a cut down spike. Interestingly, mentioning cutting, they also have “cut here” markings on the treads, apparently to show how Jaycee cut them for Sam and Brendan. Once cut they have very High Roller like “chamfers” on the middle knobs. Bet they’d wear through to the harder compound underneath pretty quick tho.

    Decent grip on wet roots from a tyre that sheds mud, yep!

    Be great to hear what you think

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    I’ve never run the Hillbilly, but the tire makes a ton of sense for looser conditions — whether wet or dry. I’ve seen videos of Curtis Keene railing this tire in Canada. It seemed to work very well.

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