The Specialized Camber has been a popular and versatile short-travel trail bike for a number of years. Previously only available in a 29in wheel, 2016 sees the Camber range expand with 650b (27.5in) options, wholly redesigned frame designs and the addition of Auto-locked Brain suspension technology on higher-end models.
While the wheel size options seemingly expand the range, the longer travel ‘EVO’ choices are now gone.
Features of the new Camber
Borrowing a handful of design cues from the recently updated StumpJumper FSR range, the new Camber sits as the shorter travel and lighter weight sibling. The new 29er Camber gets a modest boost to its travel, now sitting at 120mm, while the 650b version accommodates the smaller wheels with 130mm front and rear.
Old versus new
For 2016, the Camber’s geometry gets a slacker head angle, shorter chainstays and retains its already low bottom bracket height. For the 650b models, this means a 67.5 head angle, 420mm chainstays and 329mm bottom bracket height. While the 29er versions get a 68-degree head angle, 437mm chainstays and 335mm bottom bracket height.
Specialized has tweaked its FSR layout on the new Camber, mostly notably with a ‘Concentric Link FSR’ that directly connects the seat stay to the shock. This is said to create a lighter and stiffer design.
The top Camber models now feature Brain technology
Perhaps the biggest news for the Camber is the addition of a brand-new ‘Position-Sensitive Micro Brain’ on the upper tier carbon models. The Brain, which provides a locked suspension platform until a bump from beneath activates the suspension isn’t new at all, but this trail-specific version is.
The key difference for this new Brain is that the auto-locking suspension only comes in play at the 25 per cent sag point. This means in the initial suspension stroke, the suspension is free to follow the terrain and should allow for preloading of the suspension off jumps and drops too.
With this, seated pedaling should be met with extremely efficient pedaling as the Brain becomes engaged, with large hits activating the suspension when needed.
It may seem like a gimmick, but we're big fans of the new SWAT Door
Perhaps the most noticeably borrowed feature from the Stumpjumper FSR is the ‘SWAT Door’ for small item storage within the downtube of carbon-framed models. On most models, Specialized will include its SWAT tool wrap for organized and rattle-free storage of pumps, tubes, Co2 and other small accessories.
While most models are now setup stock with 1x11 gearing, Specialized will offer an optional Taco Blade front derailleur mount for those seeking a dual-ring setup.
The Camber Carbon range
For 2016, the Camber range is made up of six price points, with each model offering a 650b or 29er version to create a total of 12 models. A new Grom version adds a 13th model to the new range.
The S-Works Camber headlines the new range (29 pictured)
Sitting at the top of the range is the S-Works Camber with its full carbon ‘FACT 11m’ frame. Both the 650b and 29er versions come equipped with a RockShox RS-1 fork, a Kashima coat version of the FOX/Specialized Brain-equipped rear shock, SRAM XX1 gearing, Shimano XTR brakes and Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels with a 30mm internal rim width.
The rest of the carbon range, consisting of the Expert, Elite and Comp, features a carbon ‘FACT 9m’ carbon mainframe and an alloy M5 rear end.
Both the Expert and Elite models will offer the new Position-Sensitive Mini Brain equipped FOX/Specialized rear suspension and will use 34mm stanchioned FOX Performance forks.
The Comp Carbon models offer a simpler FOX Performance DPS rear shock without Brain technology. Up front, these models will feature the RockShox Revelation RC3 fork. The rolling stock is kept wide, with a 29mm internal width Roval wheelset.
All Camber carbon models feature Specialized’s new 10-position Command IRcc dropper post.
Pictured is the base-model Camber 650B
Keeping with the same geometry and wheel size options as the more expensive carbon siblings, the alloy-framed Camber Comp and Camber models introduce front derailleurs for double-ring shifting.
The Camber Comp will offer the same RockShox Revelation RC3 and FOX Performance DPS rear shock as the Camber Comp Carbon. While the base-model Camber will feature a RockShox Recon Silver fork (15mm thru-axle) and a custom X-Fusion 02 Pro RL rear shock.
The Camber Grom
It seems the little ones haven’t been ignored either, with the introduction of the Camber Grom. Offering 130mm of travel out back and a shorter 110mm up front, the Grom comes stock with 24in wheels. Interestingly, the bike is designed to take 26in wheels in preparation for puberty, with the frame and fork using standard quick release dropouts for simpler conversion.
Up front sits a RockShox Recon Gold fork, while the rear suspension is handled by a FOX Float Performance DPS shock.
- S-Works Camber FSR Carbon 29in/650B US$9,800 / AU$12,999 / not available in the UK
- Camber FSR Expert Carbon 29in/650B US$7,300 / AU$8,799 / £4,500
- Camber FSR Elite Carbon 29in/650B US$6,200 / AU$7,799 / £4,000
- Camber FSR Comp Carbon 29in/650B US$3,800 / AU$5,799 / £3,000
- Camber FSR Comp 29in/650B US$2,500 / AU$3,499 / £2,000
- Camber FSR 29in/650B US$1,850 / AU$2,799 / £tbc
- Camber FSR Grom US$2,200 / $2,999 / not available in the UK
For many, the new Camber will further confuse the decision on whether to choose this or the new Stumpjumper FSR.