The Eskar is dead, long live the Eskar

Hi Lee,

I’ve been getting my cornering kung fu on, diligently following your bible of a book, and putting the Specy Butcher 2.3 SX to task. Things have really started to come together.

For todays ride I slapped an Eskar2 Control on the back to lighten things up, and I was amazed at how well that tire corners. Better than the Butcher, the Eskar rails. There are a series of turns that I use as a benchmark, and man on the second corner I could of sworn I was Curtis Keene on page 91 of your book. It was a blast.

I remember reading on your site that Specialized is ditching this tire for 2012. Is this true? And if yes is there anything that can be done to save it? The updated version of the Eskar with the higher side knobs is just about the best cornering tire I have ever used. I mean if it can make me feel like Curtis Keene, even for a split second, thats a tire that can perform miracles!


Specialized Eskar. Low center knobs, open shoulder, exposed side knobs.

Hey Max,

Thanks for writing. Ah yes, I too appreciate the Eskar 2 Control. It’s pretty light, pretty fast, pretty grippy and pretty durable. A good all-around tire.

But: The Mighty Eskar is indeed being discontinued.

The thing that makes the Eskar rad — and the thing that’s killing it — is its open shoulder channel. You have the low center knobs, then an open shoulder, then the exposed side knobs.

Pro: If you lean the tire a lot, you get great bite.

Con: If you don’t lean the tire a lot, it feels kinda vague.

Fact is, very few riders corner like Keene. Most are stiff and apologetic, and they don’t lean their bikes. If you don’t ride an Eskar aggressively, it doesn’t feel great, and that’s why it hasn’t caught on in the market.

Specialized Purgatory. Knobs everywhere!

Another factor is the evolution of the Enduro. The 2006-2009 Enduro the Eskar was created for was envisioned as a pedaling bike that ripped downhills. So the Eskar was meant to be a fast-rolling tire that, in the right hands, could be railed. The new generation of Enduro is more of a downhill bike that can be pedaled. That de-emphasizes rolling speed and demands more all-out grip.

This bums me out! I’ve been running Eskars on most of my bikes for several years. I picked them because they’re pretty good everywhere. (Example: At this year’s Sea Otter I rolled them on pump track, trail rides, downhill and dual slalom. Have I mentioned my 2nd in Cat 1 DS?) At least I have a crate of Eskars in my basement.

For you non hoarders, Chris Wyatt, Specialized tire genius, says you have two choices:

Specialized Butcher. It has an open shoulder like the Eskar, but the huge center knobs will help minimize that vague spot.

Purgatory. This tire has a much rounder profile and sweet transitional knobs. I’ve used this tire in various conditions, and I find it very consistent, very easy to ride. Pinners rock the 2.4 in front, 2.2 in rear. Wyatt expects typical riders to like the Purgatory. (But go to Youtube and watch Keene, Matt Hunter and others kill it on that tire.)

Butcher. You already know about the Butcher, Specialized’s burlier answer to the Minion DHF. This is a factory-DH-certified, seriously meaty hunk of traction, especially in the DH and SX casings. In 2012 we’ll see a 2.3 Butcher Control — and that’ll be Specialized’s tire for aggressive trail riders. When I say aggressive, I mean people who lean their bikes in turns. Keene has been rallying his. Chris says he’s sending some my way. Learn more about the Butcher.

Stay tuned.



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9 replies
  1. Bummed says:

    I’m also bummed. The Eskar has been my “jack of all terrain” tire for awhile. But since learning of its demise, I started running a Purgatory rear & Clutch Control front. No complaints about the Purgatory – pretty decent rear tire other than the weak sidewalls (just switched to the heavier Grid casing).

    But now what is the future of the Clutch Control? I just tried to order more from my LBS and they can’t get any. Seems like Specialized is pushing the Butcher. Is the Butcher replacing the Clutch?

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    I have the sense Specialized is moving away from the Clutch and embracing the Butcher. I’m told the DH pros like the grip of the Clutch, but they wanted something faster. Plus, they need something that works well in loose/wet.

  3. olijay says:

    Sad that they are discontinuing it. It works really well for the rear on my Mojo. It works for pretty much everything, xc, bike parks, muddy trail rides. I will definitely look out for the Butcher Control for next season.

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    Yes! I just got some Butcher Control 26×2.3s in the mail. I’ll let you know how they roll.

    Also got some new Renegade 2.3s. Thinking they will be great on the pump track and general hardpack.

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    From Chris Wyatt at Specialized:

    — — —

    Read through the Eskar page, nice job, exactly the point, although I also like the Eskar, trying to simplify our line as well. Cool! You can actually write that the Butcher Control 26×2.3 Control 2BR are in stock. We call it 2012, but like the bikes tires are released early. If they search with our Experience Guide, just look under the “Freeride/DH” category. I am not sure if this link works to go direct to the tire page, but will try

  6. jojotherider says:

    I wish the same could be said for the Butcher SX. Couldn’t find them anywhere locally and was out. My LBS said March arrival. 🙁

    anyhow, so I picked up a Minion DHF 3c. Its strange. I also just picked up a Butcher Control for my rear tire. The 50a durometer on the Butcher feels softer than the 42a durometer on the Minion. I still kept the Minion for upfront as the footprint is slightly wider on the 2.5. Not sure if I’ll get to ride them before next saturday, but i’m looking forward to it.

  7. stripes says:

    Took a pair of Butchers on recommendations from someone about the DHF 2.35s being too small (they measure closer to 2.1). On the front I’m running the Butcher SX 2.3 on the front, whoa body! It’s what I want: a wider, more balloony DHF without such heavy casing. Tried the Butcher Control 2.3 on the back and it just felt slow for XC/AM/Trail.

    For DH riding, I’m going to do the Butcher 2.5 SX on the front, 2.3 on the back. But for XC/AM/Trail, I’m currently rocking the Captain 2.2 control rear and the Butcher SX 2.3 front. Thanks for the suggestion. Totally digging the Butcher.

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