Specialized Camber Comp 29 review

Pleasant-mannered wagon-wheeler with a subtle sense of mischief

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,000.00 RRP | AUD $3,499.00 | USD $2,500.00

Our review

Smoothly efficient, easy speed all-rounder that hides an impressively capable, grin building, quiet riot character
Buy if, You want a personable and effortlessly smooth-rolling steed with a wild side
Pros: Easy-setup, traction-boosting, speed-sustaining suspension; 29er wheels amplify the bike’s effortless cruise character; mild manners hide a capable fast and fun bike
Cons: Wheel flex and soft suspension mean power delivery and handling precision are slightly dulled; desperate for a dropper post upgrade
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Specialized’s quietly quick trail bike range used to be split between XC-friendly standard Cambers and more technical trail happy EVO variants, all with 29in wheels. For 2016 there are 650b bikes to sit alongside the 29ers, and both are based around a tweaked EVO template that makes this deceptively easy speed machine a real grower.


Stretched-out, for a 29er

In geometry terms, that means a relatively relaxed (for a 29er) 68.5-degree head angle to stretch the front end of the big-wheeled bike out. The steep, curved seat tube with ‘Taco Blade’ front derailleur spur allows a short rear end despite the twin chainrings and 120mm (4.7in) of travel, but does limit seatpost drop.

While the carbon models get an auto-lockout ‘Brain’ shock and ‘SWAT’ storage box in the down tube, the alloy frame doesn’t. You do get Specialized’s custom Autosag Fox shock to simplify setup though.

The autosag shock makes initial setup easy. pump it up to your weight in pounds plus 50psi, sit on the bike and hit the autosag valve until it finds the right level:

The Autosag shock makes initial setup easy

There’s a lot of Spesh’s handiwork in the kit too. The impressively light, 29mm wide (internal) Roval wheels are homegrown, as are the 2.3in rubber they’re wrapped in. The wide 750mm bar suits the bike’s trail-focused attitude, and the fact larger sizes get bigger grips and brake rotors shows the detail Specialized goes into.

You still get a quality RockShox fork even on this base model, though the budget doesn’t stretch to a dropper post. While SRAM’s X7 gears aren’t as durable or simple as its renowned 1×11 setups, the lower ratios are kinder on less experienced legs – and even with twin rings this is a competitively light bike.

Easy roller with an edge

The supple start of the Fox DPS shock and the pedalling-neutral FSR suspension architecture mean there’s some softness in the pedal stroke unless you flick the lockout lever, and even then there’s flex in the light, low spoke count wheels. Gaps can appear when other bikes accelerate, but if you keep the pedals turning, the smoothly efficient ride over rough sections will soon wind you back into contention. The further you go, the more the Camber’s easy, fatigue reducing ride becomes an advantage.

Specialized’s roval 29s aren’t the stiffest wheels but they’re light and their extra width gives good tyre support in the corners:

Specialized’s Roval 29s aren’t the stiffest wheels but they’re light and their extra width gives good tyre support in the corners

It’s got the same gradual-grower character once you’re heading down. Again, the smooth suspension and wheel flex slightly dull the edge you’ve got to work with.

The angles aren’t so slack that the steering feels invincible either, and not being able to fully drop the seatpost into the frame inhibits weight-shifting swagger too. Sooner rather than later the deceptively easy speed and smooth, ride-quietening suspension will take you into a corner or rough section too hot though.

Hit the rough stuff and the camber is happy to unveil its wild side:

Hit the rough stuff and the Camber is happy to unveil its wild side

It’s then that you’ll realise that the short back end and ample traction are superbly weighted to surf a slightly tail-happy slide with grin-stretching composure, or notice that it carries speed really well through rocks and won’t buck badly even when a 6ft/2m drop slams the shocks to their stops.


As soon as this registers you’ll start deliberately provoking this deceptively mild-mannered machine to reveal its berm slinging, rock skimming, hop-and-pop wild side at every opportunity, before spinning easily back to the top to do it all over again.

Product Specifications


Name Camber Comp 29
Brand Specialized

Available Sizes S M L XL XXL
Rear Tyre Specialized Ground Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 29x2.3"
Wheelbase (in) 45.67
Top Tube (in) 24.13
Seat Tube (in) 18.43
Chainstays (in) 17.2
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 12.99
Brake Levers Shimano BR-M615, hydraulic
Wheelset Roval 29 wheels
Weight (kg) 13.3
Stem Specialized XC
Seatpost Specialized rigid
Seat Angle 75
Saddle Specialized Body Geometry Henge Comp
Rear Shock Fox Float DPS Performance w/ Autosag
Bottom Bracket SRAM, PF30
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX
Headset Type Hella Flush
Head Angle 68.5
Handlebar Specialized, 750mm
Front Tyre Specialized Purgatory Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 29x2.3"
Front Derailleur SRAM X7
Frame Material Hydroformed M5 aluminium
Fork RockShox Revelation RC3 Solo Air
Cranks Custom SRAM S-1250
Chain SRAM PC-1031
Cassette SRAM PG-1030
Brakes Shimano Deore BR-M506 (180mm F, 160mm R Rotars)
Frame size tested L