Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29 review

All the easy speed of 29er wheels in a user-friendly package

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £3,000.00 RRP | AUD $5,799.00 | USD $3,800.00

Our review

A superbly thought-out high-speed, low-stress all-rounder for fans of traditional handling
Buy if, You want a fantastically well-rounded trail bike that oozes traditional virtues
Pros: Capable and consistently controlled considering its travel and initially twitchy feel, neutrally-efficient pedalling, low weight and 29er wheels maximise speed and shrink distance, outstandingly user-friendly details
Cons: We’d like it even more with a slacker head angle and stiffer fork for opening up its aggro potential
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Specialized’s Camber 29er has always been a top-rated bike among our testers and the new carbon mainframe takes it up another notch, taking it into the top five bikes in our sister mag What Mountain Bike‘s recent Trail Bike of the Year 2016 shootout.

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There are two unique standout innovations. The first is the extra Auto Sag balancing valve on the Fox Float shock, which makes setting the correct pressure a push button piece of pssssst.

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Specialized’s camber comp carbon 29 blends mile-munching speed with surprising rough-stuff strengths:

Specialized’s Camber Comp Carbon 29 blends mile-munching speed with surprising rough-stuff strengths

But that’s only one facet of the Camber’s outstandingly user-friendly personality. The carbon-framed bike also gets Specialized’s unique SWAT internal storage compartment, accessed through a sealed door under the bottle cage.

As befits the mega-brand it is, the Big S and its minions also supply much of the gear. You get alloy Roval wheels with a 29mm internal width, which provide an incredible profile to the Specialized rubber combo. You also get one of our favourite droppers, Specialized’s Command Post IRcc, and a host of quality finishing kit.

The 130mm-travel Revelation fork can get flexy under heavy loading
The 130mm-travel revelation fork can get flexy under heavy loading:
Russell Burton

The 130mm-travel Revelation fork can get flexy under heavy loading

Elsewhere there’s the welcome sight of a 1×11 SRAM GX drivetrain, while Shimano’s Deore brakes are a budget but trusty option. A 130mm-travel RockShox Revelation fork rounds out the package and helps impart the Camber with a light, flickable feel.

Surprising aggro capabilities

While the 68.5-degree head angle makes for steering that feels steep and twitchy at first jump, it also keeps the 29er wheels agile and manageable and that hint of nervousness soon melts into the broader experience of what’s an impressively chaos-capable machine. In fact, several of our testers didn’t even realise it was a 29er at all and if you’d rather have smaller wheels there’s a 650b version for the same price.

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The swat compartment under the bottle cage is one of a series of thoughtful details: the swat compartment under the bottle cage is one of a series of thoughtful details

The SWAT compartment under the bottle cage is one of a series of thoughtful details

The FSR rear suspension is similarly ‘invisible’ from a ride point of view, tracking impeccably over rough trails for consistent traction and comfort. It’s easily firmed up with a flick of the compression lever if you want to push hard on the pedals or drive hard through corners or off hips and lips.

While the Revelation fork flexes noticeably if you’re carving or leaning on the 200mm rotor Deore front brake hard, the low BB and dependable Specialized own brand tyres on broad Roval rims keep the Camber surefooted.

Efficient long-distance ride

Lighter kit choices such as the fork contribute to an impressively low overall weight that makes the Camber an efficient distance machine. Epic rides give you the chance to appreciate details like the size-specific grip diameters, spin-friendly 28t chainring and the shifter-style remote lever on the Specialized Command Post dropper.

In fact, the whole bike reduces fatigue so well it stands a good chance of taking sprint finish wins from under the noses of dedicated XC bikes, but it’ll still buzz the back wheels of longer travel, more aggro bikes on fast, rough descents.

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Considering its relatively steep and twitchy front end, the camber shines on the downhills: considering its relatively steep and twitchy front end, the camber shines on the downhills
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Considering its relatively steep and twitchy front end, the Camber shines on the downhills

Product Specifications

Product

Name Camber Comp Carbon 29
Brand Specialized

Available Sizes S M L XL
Weight (kg) 13.12
Saddle Body Geometry Henge Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm
Seat Angle 75
Seatpost Command Post IRcc, cruiser control technology
Shifters SRAM GX, 11-speed, trigger
Stem Specialized XC, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise
Trail 9.7
Brake Levers Shimano BR-M615, hydraulic
Rear Tyre Specialized Ground Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 29x2.3"
Spoke Type DT Swiss Industry, stainless
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 12.99
Chainstays (in) 17.2
Seat Tube (in) 18.43
Standover Height (in) 29.61
Top Tube (in) 24.13
Wheelbase (in) 45.67
Rims Roval 29, alloy, 29mm inner width, 24/28h
Rear Shock FOX Float Performance DPS, AUTOSAG, 205x53mm
Bottom Bracket SRAM, PF30, OS press-in bearings, sealed cartridge
Frame Material FACT 9m carbon, Trail 29 Geometry
Brakes Shimano Deore BR-M506, hydraulic disc, dual piston
Cassette SRAM XG-1150, 11-speed, 10-42t
Chain KMC X11L, 11-speed, w/ reusable MissingLink
Cranks SRAM GX-1000, 11-speed, PF30, 28T X-Sync ring, 94mm BCD spider
Fork RockShox Revelation RC3 29, Solo Air spring, 120mm travel
Fork Offset 4.6
Front Hub Specialized, Hi Lo disc, sealed cartridge bearings, 15mm thru-axle, 24h
Rear Hub Specialized, Hi Lo disc, 4x sealed cartridge bearings, 12mm thru-axle, 28h
Front Tyre Specialized Purgatory Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, folding bead, 29x2.3"
Grips/Tape Specialized Sip Grip, light lock-on, half-waffle
Handlebar Specialized, butted 6000 alloy - 750mm, 10mm rise
Head Angle 68.5
Headset Type Hella Flush
Pedals Nylon, CEN std., w/ toe clips
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX X Horizon, 11-speed, alloy cage
Frame size tested L