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Specialized Camber Carbon Comp review

Posted by Tony | January 12, 2013 | 6 comments so far

29er bi(cycle) curious

Having ridden 26inch MTB and 700c road bikes for ages it seemed like the right time to try something different. Changing wheel size – was I “curious?” according to the bike shops I went into – seemed be the best way to try something different. Well it wasn’t crit racing on a penny farthings (like I’d done previously), so on impluse I decided to give 29ers a go!

Specialized Camber Comp 29er in carbon

Having decided that a 29er was the thing for me I did all the “wrong” things. I didn’t go to a demo day, pour over the MTB magazines or ask the hive wisdom of the MuddyMoles forum which bike to choose. Instead I went on impulse into to a bike shop and tried a few bikes for size.

My initial first choice (being somewhat of an Orange fanboi / multiple Orange owner over the last 20yrs!) was an Orange Giro, their 29er version of a 5. However it just didn’t fit me and it wouldn’t ever have been right. Next were a couple of Specialized bikes, the Epic and the Camber. Again the Epic just didn’t feel right, mainly too short in the top tube, so it was the Camber.

In the flesh – it’s a 2012 – it’s a long bike, although not heavy. Dominating the look is the front triangle. It looks like it’s been liberated from some sort of huge industrial spar, it’s massive. The aluminium rear triangle looks skinny in comparison. The headtube is also oversize, as is the BB30 bottom bracket (which the bike shop admitted aren’t the most reliable of units and which almost put me off). Hence with the OS theme you won’t be finding any flex. Also strangely it had a QR front axle and a 142mm rear through axle. I would have preferred a front Maxle or similar, but it never seemed to cause an issue.

The drivetrain is 10speed (a first for one of my MTB) with a dual ring front chainset, with Fox fork / shock and Specialised wheels, a wide bar and stem finishing things off. The only changes made were the addition of a Specialised mechanical dropper post (with very neat through the frame cabling), bottle cage and mudguards. The gears have been fine although the chainset is a bit basic looking.

Normally the thing to do when you have bought a new bike is to take it out on a short test ride to make sure everything is working and bedded in. However not doing things the expected way seemed to be the theme for this bike. The first ride was a +50 mile epic across the Surrey hills (see picture of us at the Leigh Hill tea stop) with Barrie, followed the next week by another 50 mile ride. Big first test rides for sure.

In fact since I bought this bike, with the exception of a day at Peaslake, I’ve average +40 miles on every ride. So what’s it like? Well everything that you possibly expected of a 29er. Fast to cover ground, somewhat slow and clumsy to accelerate in tight singletrack or short climbs. Although maybe a lighter set of wheels/tyres might improve this. The sheer speed that you sometimes pick up, as the wheels skip over small trail obstacles, can certainly lead to issues with using up all of the available 110mm travel. I can honestly say that I used the full travel on this bike every ride, which is quite unusual for me. It is very comfortable and cushioning, with the excellent Fox suspension and 4 bar linkage set-up, up until the suspension hits the stop. Drop offs and trails strewn with smaller rocks were no problem. Basically it’s fast, almost too fast for its own good at times.

Where would be it’s ideal use? Maybe on a 100 miler of fast trails like the South Downs Way in a day (sometime this summer, if it’s not like last year) or on one of the smoother trail centres like Brechfa, or the North Downs. Where is it least suited? Tight gnarly tracks. After a day at Peaslake I was wishing for my Orange 5 or Trek Fuel. Either of which would have been much more fun.

Any other points to note? Well saddles are highly personal and although there are some Specialised Henge devotees amongst the Muddymoles, I’m not one! A Fizik XM will replace the Henge at some point. Also the Specialised stem the Camber came with was an affront to anyone’s views of good aesthetics. It was changed for a Ritchey item. I’m now very much a fan of the Specialised Command post. Not quite as nice to use as my Joplin4 but the best mechanical post I’ve used.

Usually I can make my mind up about a bike very quickly. It’s either love (and I keep the bike for a long time) or hate (and I move the bike on). It’s been 4 months since I bought the Camber and it’s only now that I feel absolutely “right” on it. I think that’s because it’s not a “do everything” bike and it took me a while to figure it out. To be honest it’s not the first bike that I’d pick out of the garage unless it’s going to be a big day on fast trails. Hopefully the summer of 2013 will have plenty of days for me like that on the Camber.

FRAME M5 hydroformed tubing, 29″ geometry, tapered HT, PF30 BB, Command Post routing, 142mm dropouts, 110mm travel
REAR SHOCK Custom Fox Triad II, custom for 29er on-the-fly 3-position compression switch 1) Lock out 2) Open 3) ProPedal, rebound adj., 200x49mm
FORK Fox Float Evolution RL 29, open bath damper, tapered steerer, LO and reb adj., standard drop-outs, 110mm travel
HEADSET 1-1/8 and 1-1/2″ Threadless, Campy style upper with 1-1/2″ lower, cartridge bearings
STEM Changed to 100mm Ritchey WCS alloy in black.
HANDLEBARS Specialized XC Mini-Riser, 7050 butted alloy, 720mm wide, 10mm rise, 10º backsweep, 6º upsweep, 31.8mm
GRIPS Specialized lock-on, S/M: Grappler, Others: Grappler XL
FRONT BRAKE Custom Avid Elixir 7 SL, hydraulic disc, alloy backed semi-metallic pad, HS-1 rotor S/M:180mm, Others: 200mm
REAR BRAKE Custom Avid Elixir 7 SL, hydraulic disc, alloy backed semi-metallic pad, HS-1 rotor S/M:160mm, Others: 180mm
BRAKE LEVERS Custom Avid Elixir 7 SL hydraulic, tool-less reach adj.
FRONT DERAILLEUR SRAM X7, 10-speed, S3 direct mount for DMD, top-pull
REAR DERAILLEUR X9
SHIFT LEVERS SRAM
CASSETTE SRAM PG-1030, 10-speed, 11-36t
CHAIN KMC X-10, 10-speed, w/ reusable Missing Link, nickel plates
CRANKSET Custom SRAM S-1250, 10-speed XC Trail double, PF30 spindle, S: 170mm, Others: 175mm
CHAINRINGS 36/24, w/ alloy guard
BOTTOM BRACKET SRAM PF30, OS press-in bearing, sealed cartridge
PEDALS SPD 535
RIMS Roval 29, alloy disc, 26mm wide, 32h
FRONT HUB Specialized Hi Lo disc, laser-etched logo, OS 24 end caps, sealed cartridge bearing, RWS, 32h
REAR HUB Specialized Hi Lo 142+ disc, laser-etched logo, double-sealed cartridge bearing, 12mm thru-axle, 32h
SPOKES
FRONT TYRE Specialized Purgatory Control, 60 TPI, aramid bead, dual-compound, 29×2.2″ Run tubeless
REAR TYRE Specialized Ground Control, 60 TPI, aramid bead, 29×2.1″ Run tubeless
SADDLE Body Geometry Henge Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm width
SEATPOST Specialized Command

Filed under Bikes in January 2013

Tony

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There are 6 comments on ‘Specialized Camber Carbon Comp review’

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  1. LordOnOne says:

    You picked my kind of bike right there…a wise choice!

  2. AJkiwi says:

    Good write up and agree with you when I first got my 29er it took me a few months to get used to it and I couldnt make up my mind on them until I got my Ellsworth Evolve it was so comfortable and easy to manoeuvre. I did spent a bit of time getting the set up right in terms of stem choice, handle bars, tyres and wheel set does really make a diffrence. Again agree with you Tony this is definately a bike for the long haul rides and races as the pick up on them is a bit slow but once you reach speed it is definately faster, but on the more twisty trails I always reach for my Epiphany 26 inch as much more fun and responsive.

  3. Dazzler says:

    I’ve just gone & got a 2nd hand 29er Stumpjumper Evo 1×10, let’s just say, it’s never been out side!! bargin.So I’m going to put my opinion to it also. I aggree 29er are for long haul. So I’ll make this short because my spelling is shocking.
    Good points.
    1 Roll easy “great for long rides, fire roads”
    2 Not as harsh as a hard tail 26. but harsher than a 26″ 4 inch travel Full Sus.
    3 Good handeling for a big ish bike, roll over thing easy
    Down side
    1 No way as nimble as a 26″
    2 Slow for acceleration when you want to pass quick
    3 not as fast up hills, also when you want to put the hammer down. Seem to put a lot of effot for little return
    4 Ghost Shifting when your peddling hard into corners, at speed, Chain stays are longer so it seems to flex under load. Adam & I suffer the same problem when going fast. he has the carbon Stumpy, i have the Alu Stumpy, both have the same problem. 142mm bolt thur & no dish on the rear wheel might solve the problem.
    5 when hitting corners at speed & tyres lose grip “both tyres” I feel because I;m higher, it’s harder to keep control. It’s harder to regain control coming out of the corner on a 29er. on a 26″ I feel i find it easer to keep my speed & control & don’t come off as much on a 26″ could it be because center of gravity is much higher?
    6 can;t wheely, it’s dam hard.
    7 jumping off table tops is shocking, it feels like a brick in the air, thats if you can get it off the ground….

    It will be intresting as I’m about to tour South Africa from Port Elizabeath to Cape town off road on this bike with in the next 4 weeks, So i’ll get to see what this bike is like for the long hual, which is why i got it. I still think a 26″ will always be in my heard of bikes, just because they are fun & nimble. Until someone shows me diffrent…. but for touring it’s got to be a 29er. I’ll do a review when i;m back, by then & have over 1500ks under the belt.

  4. Dandy says:

    I should be joining the 29er brigade soon, will be adding my two pen’north to the discussion. The intention is to use it for longer XC oriented rides, assuming I’m capable of one !

  5. Matt says:

    That picture is very funny Tony, it looks like Barrie’s bike is a toy one with that Camber looming over it.

    You know where to go when your son needs something racy…

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