Product Test: Specialized Butcher & Slaughter Tires
The Specialized Butcher has long been a staple for enduro and all-mountain bikes and has proven to be a solid choice for a wide range of trail conditions; however, it’s far from the fastest tire in the bunch. The Butcher is the tread choice for Specialized’s World Cup downhill team for a reason: the ramped center knobs and aggressive shoulder knobs bite in the corners and provide traction on even the gnarliest tracks. What happens, though, when the reliability of the tried-and-true Butcher is paired with the much-trimmed-down Slaughter? The Slaughter is a tire that’s designed with speed and decreased rolling resistance in mind rather than all-out traction and cornering. We simply had to find out.
The Butcher tire features an aggressive knob pattern that’s designed to work in everything from dry hardpack to loose and rocky trails. The tire is available in all three wheel sizes in a number of different casing options. Our test tire, which is tubeless ready thanks to Specialized’s 2Bliss system, weighed 760 grams (1.7 pounds) and retails for $55.
The Slaughter tire is also available in a number of widths in all three wheel sizes. The tread pattern is very pared down from the Butcher’s. It tips the scales at a slightly lower weight of 730 grams (1.6 pounds) and retails for $55.
Field test results:
The Butcher sports a squared-off profile that’s both fast-rolling and capable of delivering tons of traction in a wide variety of conditions. It has long been a favorite of Mountain Bike Action test riders, akin to the perennial favorite Minion DHF made by Maxxis. Simply put, there are few substitutes for a tire that rolls relatively fast and hooks up this well; however, on the trail, the Butcher feels like a scaled-down downhill tire, and that’s where the Slaughter comes in. The Butcher is a traction first and rolling resistance second type of tire. The Slaughter is a lighter, pared-down version of this tire designed to deliver more speed with a shortened, closely spaced knob pattern in the center of the tread and a side knob that’s every bit as aggressive as the Butchers it’s paired with.
Our setup included a Butcher 2.3×27.5-inch front tire and a Slaughter 2.3×27.5-inch rear tire mounted to our S-Works Enduro carbon. On the trail, the Butcher’s cornering traction is aided by a relatively stiff casing that keeps it from feeling overly squirmy, even when ridden hard and fast. The Slaughter offers the same confidence while cornering, thanks to aggressive side knobs and the same casing as the Butcher, but with the added bonus of reduced rolling resistance.
We’d be hard-pressed to recommend the Slaughter as a front and back pair for trail riding. Simply put, the short, closely spaced knobs don’t provide enough bite to inspire confident front-end traction. Similarly, while the Butcher makes a fine paired set, most riders will immediately appreciate the noticeable improvement in rolling resistance that ultimately means “free speed” on the trail with a Slaughter rear. The only downside with the pared-down Slaughter is on rocky, loose climbs, where a more aggressive knobby would claw up steep ascents with more traction. For our riding conditions, which involve mostly hardpack and loose-over-hardpack trails, the small trade-off is well worth the improvement in efficiency.
For loose and rocky terrain, a matched pair of Butchers will not disappoint, providing predictable traction that’s appreciated on any enduro bike. The cornering manners, braking performance, relatively low weight and overall feel are right on par with, or better than, that of any other high-end aggressive tire we’ve ridden. The Slaughter takes it one step further, providing quicker acceleration and a snappier feel that doesn’t sacrifice much in cornering traction.
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