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TLDR: the latest Specialized Hillbilly is like a halfway house between a Schwalbe Magic Mary and a Maxxis Shorty, and is thus brilliant. The price tag is an added bonus.
- Brand: Specialized
- Product: Hillbilly GRID T9 tyre
- From: specialized.com
- Price: £45.00 GRID Trail, £50.00 GRID Gravity
- Tested: by Benji for 9 months
- Excellent on loose terrain but copes with rock ‘n’ root too
- Gravity version is impressively tough
- Unbeatable value
- On the heavy side
- Wish there was a version between GRID Trail and GRID Gravity!
I’m going to go straight in and deal with the weight issue first. Specifically as regards the GRID Gravity Hillbilly. Whilst part of me wouldn’t say no to losing 100g or so of this tyre, another part of me realises that when the conditions require a tyre like this, weight just isn’t so much of issue. When the ground is slow, when the weather is poor, when the roots are shiny, when the rider and bike are soaking and covered in filth … I can live with a ‘heavy’ tyre.
The GRID Trail Hillbilly is a nice weight but, in pure performance terms, if I’m riding terrain/routes/attitude that’s a bit more XC-traily, then I’d stick with my go-to Schwalbe Magic Mary. Having said that, £45 is pretty flipping great for a tyre that’s almost-a-Magic-Mary, so in performance-for-pound-sign terms I probably would go Hillbilly GRID Trail (instead of a Mary) if it was my money.
Do not get the T7 Hillbilly. Actually, you can’t even if you wanted to. At time of writing at least, Specialized don’t offer the Hillbilly in the fimer T7 rubber compound. Very wise. Mud/winter/loose tyres make zero sense in slippery compound rubber. It’s not like the T9 compound is actually super duper sticky/soft. Using no-science-whatsoever (apart from my ‘feel’) I’d compare Specialized T9 rubber to Schwalbe Addix Super Soft (AKA purple Addix). It’s not as soft as Maxxis 3C MaxxGrip in my opinion. And that’s fine. MaxxGrip is often OTT. And T9 is waaay grippier than Maxxis 3C MaxxTerra compound.
The Hillbilly that I’d buy is the GRID Gravity T9. It’s just the more versatile tyre in terms of PSI; you can run it firm, you can run it stoopid soft and it deals with it. The GRID Trail feels a bit weedy when you begin to want/need to let PSI out of it (for lattice root and green rock madness, for example). And at mid-pressures the GRID Trail carcass does lack a bit of ‘damping’; it’s a bit pingy. The extra 240g of Gravity GRID is worth it.
Speaking of versatility, I’m tempted to say that the Hillbilly is more versatile than the Maxxis Shorty 2. There’s a bit less squirm. A bit more accuracy. And I think/feel that it is faster rolling everywhere (compared to a MaxxGrip Shorty 2). It’s a close run thing between the two tyres. But this tyre costs £50. So it wins.
In terms of rolling speed, the new Hillbilly is actually very impressive. Sure, almost anything rolls faster than Maxxis 3C MaxxGrip but the Hillbilly is one of those tyres that you really don’t mind leaving on even when the weather/terrain is drier.
Durability wise, it’s been pretty good I think. I’ve had no issues with fragility. And the levels of wear are very fair I think; you can just about make out the original sipes after an extended winter of riding (on a Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL e-bike no less).
Some actual weights for those who like that sort of thing (and it does matter a bit for once because: wheels)…
- Specialized Hillbilly GRID Trail T9 29×2.4in: 1,070g
- Specialized Hillbilly GRID Gravity T9 29x.24in: 1,310g
The previous version of the Specialized Hillbilly was always a “good tyre for the money“, the new Specialized Hillbilly is a “great tyre”. Full stop. The relatively cheap price tag is the icing on the cake. It’s still fifty quid for a bike tyre but you just need to glance at the prices of premium tyre brands’ offerings these days (£84.99 anyone?) to see how impressive the value is. The latest Specialized Hillbilly T9 has earned a permanent place in my tyre pile. It’s not a very big pile (Schwalbe Magic Mary, Maxxis Minion DHR II, Specialized Hillbilly). You could call it a podium in fact. The new Hillbilly is a medal winner.
|Product:||Hillbilly GRID T9 tyre|
|Price:||£45 GRID Trail, £50.00 GRID Gravity|
|Tested:||by Benji for 9 months|
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