Tested: Specialized’s New Compound Butcher and Eliminator Trail Tires

Testing words by Nathan Kitchen.

Specialized is certainly a consistent name in the bicycle tire market. Through the years the bike brand has produced line-up after line-up of tires; some good, some bad and quite a few excellent. For the trail-bike, Enduro and downhill crowd the Butcher and Eliminator have been respected standouts. This year both versions offer a new and updated casing called Grid Trail. It was released in October and designed to improve traction, puncture protection and sidewall stiffness.

The Grid Trail casing isn’t a bead to bead design, instead it’s layered in sheets across the center of the carcass and mated to stiffer sidewalls. Specialized says this method is just as durable as bead to bead while creating a much more supple tire that conforms and clasps to rocks and roots to improve traction and control at very low tire pressures.  

While both the Butcher and Eliminator are considered trail bike and Enduro tires, they’re ultimately designed for riders in those categories who are pushing the limits of speed on more extreme levels of technical trails, often carrying over to pure downhill riding.   

Tread compound, besides enhanced grip, is designed to absorb vibration and rebound slower than the previous versions for better traction and control, especially during braking and cornering.

Our test tires consisted of a set Butcher T9s and a set of Eliminator T7s, both retailing for $60 apiece and coming in at just over 900 grams each. The Butcher with a T9 casing maximizes grip, stick and slow rebound. On a scale of sticky, it rates a 9 out of 10. That marks it as grip first, fast rolling second.

The Eliminators utilize a dual T7/T9 mixed compound targeted for riders looking for a faster rolling center knob tire on hard pack trails with the extra grip of T9 on the shoulder knobs for increased cornering bite.  

For our trail testing we contacted 15-year-old Nathan Kitchen from Bakersfield, California, to put the tires through their paces on his home turf. Nathan is an Expert level BMX racer and rapidly up-and-coming Junior class CAT 1 downhiller. At 12 he won a BMX World Championship title for his age category. This kid is fast and knows his stuff, here are his thoughts.

Photo by Dwayne Kitchen

Butcher T9

  • Bike: 2021 Specialized Enduro Expert.
  • Weather: Warm and sunny.
  • Dirt conditions: Fresh and maintained, dry, hard packed, slick.
  • Tire size: 29 x 2.3″.
  • Tire set up: 29 psi front and rear.
  • Tire behavior: Rolled great, rear tire tracked well, but felt like it lost traction once I started to lean and the front tire felt like it didn’t want to stick at all.
  • Trail Times: KOM’ed a few trails with the Butchers by a second or two over established Strava times.

“On my first ride it felt like I was on ice, the front wheel felt like it wanted to slide out once I started leaning into corners. Even in really good berms it didn’t want to grip and on off cambers it just wanted to slide out immediately. However, the tires did roll pretty good and the rear tire tracked nicely. Even as I started to get used to their behavior on my dry terrain they still felt a bit slick but I learned to adapt. Having said that, I was able to KOM a few trails by one or two seconds. Overall I would give the Butcher a rating of 6 out of 10.”

Eliminator T7

  • Bike: 2021 Specialized Enduro Expert.
  • Weather: Warm and sunny.
  • Dirt conditions: dry, hard packed then moist two days after a rainfall. 
  • Tire size: 29 x 2.3”.
  • Tire set up: 29 psi front and rear.
  • Tire behavior: Front tire gripped much better than the Butcher, the rear tire tracked well but in certain scenarios felt like it was going to slide out but overall it felt like it had more grip compared to the rear Butcher.
  • Trail Times: Went back and KOM’ed the same trails by a bigger margin. 

“On my first ride when the conditions were dry and slick, the front tire had way more grip than I expected after first testing the Butchers and the rear tire tracked pretty good too. There were a few times when it felt like the back tire was going to slide out but for the most part it gripped well. On off cambers traction was good when it was dry/slick. On the next ride after it rained these tires were amazing. They rolled great and griped very well in berms, fast, flat corners and on off cambers. With these my Strava times improved by quite a bit. In the same dry/slick dirt I was a couple seconds faster on the Eliminators compared to the Butchers. Overall I would give the Eliminator a rating of 8 out of 10.”

Final thought: If Nathan is getting more downhill KOM’s using either of these tires, maybe you will too. Probably not on his home turf though.


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Join the conversation
  1. CKeene says

    Hey Nathan- Rad to see and hear a BMX-er loving the mtb life. You live so close to some of my favorite trails in Kernville. That place is magical in the fall/winter. I was reading your article and some interesting/valid points were made in the review. The Eliminator is definitely better on more hard pack as the knobs are a bitter shorter in height. As for the Butcher, it favors terrain where it can “dig” into the dirt. I also saw your tire pressure. Have you tried lowering it a bit? I weigh 190 lbs and run 22-23 PSI up front and around 26-28 PSI in the rear. So you’re without a doubt on the high side which leads to some of your feedback you’re mentioning. Maybe give 20 PSI up front and 24 in the rear a try and see how that feels? Might be able to smash that KOM again but with bigger margin 🙂

    Curtis Keene

  2. johnrom719 says

    It is wonderful to hear new voices and perspectives on equipment reviews! Great job, Nathan! Thanks for putting this piece together, Cush.

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