Update: In the original version of this article, we mistakenly compared the 2017 Butcher with the 2020 Butcher. This update compares the 2019 Butcher tread pattern with the new 2020 one.
The 2020 Specialized Butcher, Slaughter, Hillbilly, and Eliminator MTB tires get improved puncture protection and sidewall stiffness with Specialized’s new GRID TRAIL casing. GRID TRAIL enters the casing line-up between the GRID “all-purpose trail” casing and the BLCK DIAMOND Gravity casing, as a new “aggressive trail” casing. Also new for 2020 is a subtle but important change to the Butcher tread pattern. We’ve ridden it and the Eliminator. Read on to hear what we thought.
Specialized GRID TRAIL tire casing
While the GRID TRAIL isn’t a true bead-to-bead tire casing, it offers significantly more protection to the sidewalls than the original GRID casing. And it weighs just 100 grams more. What does “significantly” actually mean? How about 30% more puncture resistance and 29% more pinch flat protection than GRID. These tires are way tougher. Over a week of riding fast, rocky, technical trails in South Africa’s Stellenbosch region, nobody in our 20+ strong group flatted, and there were some serious shredders amongst us. And we were riding eMTBs. The lightweight Turbo Levo SL, granted, but it’s still much heavier than your average push bike.
Typically you find bead to bead protection applied in one continuous layer across the casing. Specialized believe this ties the tire down, restricts movement and makes the tire too stiff. In designing GRID TRAIL, Specialized wanted a stable casing, without making the tire feel too rigid, asking it to conform somewhat to the shape of the ground.
“Layered, heavy-duty belts offer nearly the pinch-flat protection of a “traditional bead to bead” downhill tire, yet keep the GRID TRAIL casing flexible and supple. You get great rolling performance and a tire that conforms to rocks and roots, boosting traction and control,” says Wolf vorm Walde, Director of Tires and Tubes at Specialized.
Specialized have made the GRID TRAIL casing to cater to riders who are pushing the capabilities of their trail bikes more than ever, riding more technical trails and at greater speeds. Such riding is very demanding of tires, especially when we’re all wanting to run lower pressures for maximum traction, but are still asking our tires to be bulletproof. That’s why you’ll see the 2020 Butcher, with its new tread pattern (keep reading), Eliminator, Hillbilly and Slaughter MTB tires running TRAIL GRID casing.
GRID TRAIL’s new stiffer sidewalls and crown protection are said to allow riders to run lower pressures, improving braking and cornering performance under the toughest conditions. The 2020 tires are also upgraded with a new stickier Gripton Enduro tread compound, designed to damp and absorb vibration to help keep the tires planted. More on this soon.
2020 Butcher tread pattern
Along with its new GRID TRAIL casing and stickier Gripton Enduro compound, the 2020 Specialized Butcher sees a subtle but important update to its tread pattern. Starting with the center knobs, the Butcher retains the dual-knob pattern, alternating between wide and narrow. For every other dual-knob of central tread, Specialized have retained the triple-stepped shape on the outside edges, with the contact area getting wider the further the tyre rolls forwards.
The shoulder knobs share a complementary shape on their inside face, with the triple step oriented in the opposite direction. Specialized told us the new design rolls just as fast if not faster, but has a more predictable transition from center to side knobs thanks to a smaller gap between them.
The shoulder knobs are now much wider, bringing their inside edge closer to the outside edge of the central tread. This should help transfer grip to the tire’s edge in flat corners. The wider shoulder knobs will also better support load under hard cornering.
2020 Butcher GRID TRAIL Options:
- 26 x 2.3″, psi 25-50, ~830g
- 27.5 x 2.3″, psi 25-50, ~870g
- 27.5 x 2.6″, psi 20-40, ~900g
- 27.5 x 2.8″, psi 20-40, ~1100g
- 29 x 2.3″, psi 25-50, ~900g
- 29 x 2.6″, psi 20-40, ~960g
The 2020 Butcher with GRID TRAIL casing is priced at a very reasonable £42 / $60 / €49.90). The BLCK DIAMOND Butcher for gravity riding also gets the new tread pattern and Gripton compound. It’s only available in 27.5″ x 2.8″ and will set you back £58 / $72.