deniz merdano tim leatt evil snow 46
Review

The New Specialized Hillbilly Tire

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jan 10, 2023
Reading time

Specialized quietly released its new version of the Hillbilly GRID T9 cut mud spike tire a few months ago. The new Hillbilly comes from a new supplier, using the same casings and compound as the Specialized Butcher GRID T9. The tread design is all new too.

deniz merdano tim leatt evil snow 44

The Hillbilly GRID Gravity T9 mounted to the front of an Evil Wreckoning LS being tested in appropriate conditions.

Specialized Hillbilly Summary

  • Cut mud spike intended for softer trail conditions
  • Available in 2.4" width only with T9 High Grip / Slow Rebound Compound
  • 27.5" and 29" tire diameter
  • Two casings available; Trail 60 TPI and Gravity 2-Ply
    • Trail casing tires are 95 CAD and weigh 985 / 1,070 grams (27.5 / 29")
    • Gravity Casing tires are 115 CAD and weigh 1,240 / 1,340 grams (27.5 / 29")

Riding Impressions

One word summary: impressed. I've ridden the new Hillbilly through a variety of conditions now: mud, wet trail and hero dirt. That said, I've only been using the Hillbilly as a front tire because these cut spike type tires roll significantly slower than "normal" tires, and we don't shuttle as much this time of year.

With the knob profile, it's no surprise the Hillbilly penetrates softer surfaces and delivers wonderful levels of grip. Both braking traction and cornering is superb with the Hillbilly in soft conditions but it really starts to shine in conditions outside its intended purpose. On harder packed surfaces, the Hillbilly was surprisingly supportive, and had a wider operating window than expected at the limits of traction.

The casing isn't as stiff as a Super Gravity Schwalbe, but not quite as soft as the Maxxis casings. I ran an appropriate tire pressure, liked the feel of the casing, and didn't have any issues with flats. The tire compound is soft and provided plenty of traction on wet rocks and roots.

deniz merdano tim leatt evil snow 47

Swapping ends in lethal conditions, yet the Hillbilly up front delivered a surprising amount of confidence.

Comparisons

The Specialized Hillbilly has a few direct competitors, and one of them is the Maxxis Shorty II I reviewed last year. The Gravity casing Hillbilly feels very similar to the DoubleDown Shorty II, which is a massive compliment, as I really liked the Shorty II. I didn't test the lighter Trail Casing Hillbilly, but I think it could be an excellent all round winter front tire for around these parts.

The new Specialized Hillbilly Grid Gravity T9 is a great step forward from the previous version. It excels in softer conditions, but also surprisingly good in firmer conditions. I probably wouldn't run it year round, but the Hillbilly on the front paired with a Butcher rear would make for an excellent winter tire combo in our wetter climate. The price, performance, and quality of construction are all excellent.

Specialized Hillbilly GRID T9

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman

Age: 40

Height: 183 cm / 6'

Weight: 89 kg / 196 lbs

Ape Index: 1.055 / +10 cm

Inseam: 81 cm / 32"

Preferred Riding: Enduro and Downhill

Bar Width: 800 mm

Preferred Reach: 500 - 520 cm (but this is stack and head angle dependent)

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Comments

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
3 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Tim Coleman Andrew Major

I've had that tire in the rear and it was the best rear tire I've ever ridden but the T9 in the rear wears really quick.  I have a Grid Trail T7 that'll I'll run later on with Tannus.

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
3 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I should have mentioned that in the review. With all the extra traction a soft tire like the HillBilly offers, it's going to have a shorter life, especially as a rear tire.

Reply

lev3000
lev3000
3 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 imnotdanny

It’s good for UK slop and good value!

Reply

PowellRiviera
PowellRiviera
3 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I’m running a previous generation on the rear this winter that I picked up for $30. It’s has the DH casing, rolls surprisingly well and is quite supportive with the tougher casing. Wouldn’t want the old version up front though for our winter riding.

Reply

roil
roil
3 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I'm running the new butcher t9 up front and eliminator t7 in the back. Great tires.

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
3 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 roil

Everyone seems to be liking the new Specialized tires around here too!

Reply

mtmc99
mtmc99
3 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Picked these up in DH casing for use at the bikepark this summer. Haven't switched the Butcher back out because I liked it so much. They seem to go on sale for $55 somewhat regularly which is an awesome price

Reply

tashi
tashi
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Super happy with my T9 2.6” Butchers front and back. 

Finally tapped into the additional climbing traction recently and was scampering up wet rock faces and roots like they weren’t even there. Sticky rubber and a fatter casing is 🤌🏼🤌🏼. 

Also, skinwall for max style points.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Can Spesh tires be purchased directly from the Specialized website? From my quick first attempts, it appears that option is only available in the US... Can anyone confirm?

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

I’ve got some off the cdn site.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

Thanks! Not sure how I didn't find that the first time...

Reply

a.funks
a.funks
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

I’ve had a new style T9 Hillbilly Grid Trail 29x2.4 on the front of my Moxie 160mm singlespeed hardtail for about a month - snow, mud and wet, plus a few mixed on and off road commutes as my other bike has been out of action.

I had a Magic Mary Snakeskin Soft 29x2.35 on there before. I presume this rolls slower but it’s hard to tell in these conditions. It feels very calm, even when I’ve taken the pressure up to 30psi for commuting. On the sodden trails I’ve been running about 17psi with a foam insert in there. I’m really impressed. 

I have the old style T7 Hillbilly Grid 29x2.6 on the front of my other bike - that’s definitely more fussy about pressure and skitters more on wet roots. I presume the new one will be better in the dry - I don’t think the knobs are shorter but the side ones are far thicker - if it ever stops bloody raining I hope to find out!

(T7 Butcher 2.3 makes a good rear tyre to go with it).

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
3 weeks, 5 days ago
0

I have a Grid Trail T9 ready to go on the front wheel before my next ride. Quite excited to try it out. This is the first tire I've ordered immediately upon learning it was available.

Reply

andrerav
Andreas Ravnestad
1 week, 1 day ago
0

Nice review @Tim, and highly enjoyable photography to go along with it. I was wondering if you happened to measure the actual width of these tires?

Reply

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