Over the last few months, Specialized has released a few new mountain bikes and eMTBs that we’ve been fortunate enough to test. Many of those bikes came equipped with these tires and others, we installed these tires on to see how they would do on a wide variety of terrain and with different riders pushing them. We ran the Specialized Butcher up front with the Eliminator out back as it is a bit faster rolling of a tire and we wanted to maximize efficiency and speed. Specialized mountain bike tires come in a wide variety of tread patterns, casings, a few different compounds, and one of our favorite things about them is, that they are certainly more affordable than many competitors out there.
Butcher – Up front we ran the Specialized Butcher, a tire that is aggressive without being over the top. The ramped and siped center tread blocks aid in rolling efficiency and grip while also offering some decent braking performance. Specialized placed the shoulder knobs fairly close together compared to some other tires with a much wider gap. Still the tires, but nicely and give a very predictive feel throughout. Specialized’s Gripton T9 rubber is slow to rebound and quick to grip, adding to the tire’s impressive feel in the dirt.
Eliminator – The Specialized Eliminator is a pretty solid rear tire, depending on your conditions, and we certainly tested the limits of them. Like the Butcher, the Eliminator tires we ran are a 60TPI, dual-ply construction with a butyl wrapped bead. What differs however is that Specialized also offers a T7/T9 dual compound tire, which is a $10 upcharge, bringing them from $60 to $70.
While the Butcher is a more aggressive tire with larger and slightly more spaced-out knobs, the Eliminator is packed with shorter, tighter spaced knobs that are noticeably smaller. They are not semi-slick short, but they are certainly not tall and will lead to some of our criticisms of the tire’s performance in the loose soil spectrum and longevity departments. The blocks are ramped, siped and if we had to pick a word to best describe this tire it would be fast, but more on that below.
Over the course of our testing, we ran this front and rear tire combo on both analog bikes and eMTBs. Starting with the Butcher, our testers thought it was a very well rounded and predictable tire in all but the softest of conditions. Like the rear however it does not have the tallest or deepest knobs which means the tires lack some penetration and grip in loose over hard terrain or sandy conditions. The Specialized Butcher excels in all other applications, so if you ride on hardpack, well-groomed trails or in any kind of softer, rich soil, the sticky compound combined with predictable tread pattern will make these a winning option. We were impressed with the lifespan of the tire and how it held up to large impacts even with the extra weight of an eBike.
Our testers liked the Eliminator as a rear tire for the most part, however it definitely had a shorter lifespan on our trails and there are certain conditions where it has a hard time delivering traction. Although we did not hate the lack of traction always as it made for a very fun and lively rear end on our bike, we could see it being an issue for riders who desire constant traction or when seconds count. Since the knobs are relatively short the downfall to them is a lack of penetration or ability to find the ground beneath loose obstacles sitting on the surface. For example, when trying to brake on loose-over-hard terrain, the Eliminator surfs on top of the loose rocks rather than digging-in to the ground below.
We found that braking traction was not amazing on the Eliminator, unless the soil conditions were soft or deep. This could definitely be an issue because this tire rolls so damn fast, you’ll quickly achieve Mach speeds on the downhills. Our testers all loved the speed and fun this tire provides out back. Freeride flicks, snapping corners and general trail-hooliganism is effortless on dry or loose trails, and we loved it. The large shoulder knobs provide enough bite so if your hips get a little overambitious and that back end starts getting a little too wide, a simple dip of the bars or tap of the brake will get you stood back up and going the right way. On hard pack terrain, the Eliminator is a weapon that should be in any rider’s arsenal as it offers a great mix of speed and traction. Similarly, riders in the PNW or other lush areas will get some great grip out of this tire and enjoy the combo of faster, firmer rubber in the middle with grippy, T9 rubber on the outside.
As with all mountain bike tires, there is a definite application and rider set that will benefit from the Specialized Butcher / Eliminator combo. In our opinion the Butcher is the more versatile tire of the pair and will perform better on a wider variety of terrain. That being said, it still doesn’t have quite the bite or penetration some other tires in the category possess. We have run the Butcher on many bikes over the years and will continue to do so when the conditions are right.
The Eliminator is also a great tire; however, it has certain conditions where it performs best. It is a very fast tire, and in loose conditions it can provide for a floaty and fun ride which experienced and playful riders will be smiling about. If you are searching for the most traction possible on the marbles, this probably is not your tire. The upside to is the Eliminator will roll way faster than some competitors and if you do not live in an area with deep, loose-over-hard conditions, or regularly encounter baby heads and marbles, it will certainly gain you a few seconds on your race runs. Even if that is just racing your friends back to the truck. The shorter knobs do wear a bit quick for those in really rocky areas, but if you’re looking for a race day heater, or are blessed with nice soil, these are a solid option for either your eMTB or enduro rig.
Price: Starting at $60ea
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.