Still a rapid, fun bike.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Specialized Camber Comp

Pros:

  • Fast, fun ride.

Cons:

  • Rear suspension lack support.

Product:

Specialized Camber Comp (2017) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,100.00
This product is featured in: The best mountain bikes under £2,000.

specialized camber

Multiple test winner, across multiple wheel sizes, the Specialized Camber has long been the short-travel trail bike to which all others are measured. And specifically it’s the measurements of the Camber that Specialized has tweaked for 2017.

The chain stay length has shrunk, the front centre stretched, and the reach has grown. It’s a different proposition to previous test winners then.

Part of that transformation has come about because the Camber now shares the same front end as the Stumpjumper. It’s what sets the two bikes apart, however that’s more interesting.

The Camber still gets 120mm travel, so that’s 15mm less than the Stumpy. The back end also has the older 142x12mm dropout spacing, so it’s not Boost or Plus compatible.

There’s a traditional seat stay bridge too, and a much smaller rocker assembly with a co-pivot design for the shock yoke, which helps saves weight compared to the beefy back end found on the Stumpy.

In that respect the layout of the rear end on the Camber is much more in keeping with Specialized Epic XC race bike, even if the suspension response is very different.

Suspension

At the opposite end of the Camber the RockShox Revelation pumps out 120mm of travel to match the rear suspension. Again, it’s not Boost, making the Camber a strictly 29in only bike. While the external proportions differ from the Revelation on the Trek, the internals are identical so the action of the suspension fork is supportive and sensitive in equal measures.

The Fox Float rear shock sports Specialized’s signature Autosag feature to help with the initial set-up. It super easy to use but as we’ll get to in a minute, it doesn’t guarantee a perfectly balanced setup on the Camber we’ve with the three on-the-fly compression settings.

specialized camber

Rangy stem puts the dampener on aggressive riding

Components

It’s in the build kit that the Camber starts to loss ground to its rivals though, the most obvious shortcoming being the lack of a dropper post. Worse still, you don’t even get a quick release seat collar, so you’ll need an Allen key to hand if you want to lower your saddle height before dropping into a technical descent.

specialized camber

Lack of a dropper post sullies the Camber Comp’s spec sheet

Because the Camber gets the Stump front end, the also get the tall head tube, where the height of the front end is exacerbated by the 6deg rise, overly long 75mm stem.

There are some high points in the specification though: the 750mm handlebar has a great profile, the Henge Comp saddle is supportive and comfortable, and the size specific Sip grips are a revelation for riders with bigger hands.

With a 2×11 SRAM drivetrain the Camber has no shortage of gear choice, but the action of the NX shifters felt more laboured than the Shimano set-up on the Trek Fuel EX 7 29 and the 1×11 SRAM gearing on the Norco.

specialized camber

Taco Blade mech allows seamless shift to single ring

Performance

It should come as no surprise that changing the vital stats of the Camber has changed the balance of the bike. It still delivers a fast, fun, dynamic ride, but we struggled to find the optimum set-up that allowed the rear suspension to work in harmony with the fork.

Yes, the super supple action on the Camber offers great small bump sensitivity and grip, but the lack of support from the rear shock meant that the bike feel like it was hinging in the middle of the frame, rather than both wheels tracking the ground independently.

Running the Fox Float shock in the mid-compression setting helped restore balance, but the increased threshold required to get the rear shock to react noticeably increased the transmissibility of bump forces though the frame to the rider.

A better solution then, would be to add a volume reducer to air can of the Fox shock, as this would give the support needed to balance the ride without the harshness.

The Camber never felt as sold as the Trek Fuel EX either, even though both bikes were rocking the same fork. Factor in the less modern geometry, overly long stem and the lack of a dropper, and the Camber was fighting fires on several fronts.

specialized camber

Verdict

The new Camber looks like it combines aspects of the Stumpjumper with the Epic to give a best of both worlds short-travel ripper. Unfortunately, it also rides like a bike of two halves. The 120mm rear suspension is out of sync with the fork and the long stem robs you of the confidence needed to really attack the descents. Factor in the lack of a dropper post and the non-Boost hub spacing and Specialized has been caught napping. It’s still a rapid, fun bike though, and with tweaks to the specification the Camber Comp 29 could bump it’s rating up a notch. It will need more work though, if it’s going to win back its title from Trek.

Details

Frame:M5 aluminium, 120mm travel
Shock:Fox Float Performance DPS w/Autosag
Fork:RockShox Revelation RL, 120mm travel
Wheels:Specialized hubs, Roval Traverse rims, Specialized Purgatory/ Ground Control 29x2.3in tyres
Drivetrain:Race Face Aeffect 36/26t chainset, SRAM GX mechs, NX 2x11 shifters
Brakes:Shimano M506 200/180mm
Components:Specialized alloy riser 750mm, 3D Forged stem 75mm, alloy seat post, BG Henge Comp saddle
Sizes:S, M, L XL, XXL
Weight:13.73kg (30.23lbs)
Contact:www.specialized.com
Size tested:L
Head angle:68.4°
Seat angle:69.8°
BB height:322mm
Chainstay:436mm
Front centre:729mm
Wheelbase:1,165mm
Down tube:715mm
Top tube:600mm
Reach:445mm
  • Rik Boland

    Can you upgrade the gearing?

  • DaveCarter1000

    Crummy components on a bike this expensive.

  • Danny Milner

    We’re the same height and we ride a large. Hope that helps.

  • Seed

    Good Day Sir! I’m planning to buy a Specialized Camber 29 2015. I’m 5 10″, what size should i get? Medium or Large? Thanks in advance!