A comfy climber and singletrack slayer (after a stem swap), but limited on really rough terrain
Buy if, You want an eager and agile, fast-climbing trail bike, but aren't too bothered about technical descending and don't mind swapping that stem
Pros: Great climber despite relatively high weight; snappy handling once fitted with a sensible stem
Cons: Long stem ruins the stock ride; flexy fork and wheels plus steep head angle limit aggro potential
This review was updated on 22 June 2017 to include our video review, which you’ll find below.
The alloy rear end uses Spesh’s tried-and-true ‘FSR’ four-bar Horst Link suspension system to provide 120mm of travel. This is mated to a carbon front triangle which, excitingly, has a secret hidden door in it!
Lift up the SWAT (Storage, Water, Air and Tools) hatch under the bottle cage and there’s enough room to store a tube, pump and snacks.
A mix of SRAM’s GX and NX makes up a solid 11-speed drivetrain, while non-series Shimano brakes with massive rotors provide powerful stopping. Specialized’s Command IRcc dropper has proven reliable, its saddle and grips are testers’ favourites, and the Purgatory and Ground Control tyres are relatively grippy and fast-rolling.
The Performance series Fox Float DPS shock uses Specialized’s ‘Autosag’ system for super-easy set-up, making the RockShox Revelation fork this bike’s Achilles heel.
Check out our thoughts on the the Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29 in the video above
Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29 ride impression
Fitting a 50mm number took the handling from ‘wayward shopping trolley’ to ‘housefly’Steve Behr
Pump the shock up to 300psi, sit on the saddle, press the red Autosag button and you’re ready to go. That’s the theory, but we found a little more fettling fruitful. More on that later…
The Camber’s 76-degree effective seat angle is steep compared to bikes such as the Norco Optic C9.2. This puts you in a comfy position for tackling steep, technical climbs.
Upping sag towards 30 percent and adding a volume spacer to stop it crashing through its travel helped to improve traction and stabilise the handling enormously
The FSR layout keeps pedal bob in check, delivering an efficient ride without the need to lock out the shock.
The Spesh was performed well when it came to climbing comfort. It sprints along flat ground and trail centre terrain nicely, is stable under pedalling, and feels stiff and responsive, too. But with a 28t chainring and 11t smallest sprocket (as opposed to the 10t found on posher SRAM drivetrains), it runs out of steam easily as speeds pick up.
The 90mm stem fitted to XL Cambers is as welcome as a fart in a space suit. It makes the bike feel nervous and precarious, especially on steep terrain or in tight bends. To avoid the bike running wide or tucking under, a shorter tiller is a must. (Specialized do spec slightly shorter stems on the smaller sizes.)
Fortunately, the frame is relatively roomy. With a long 478mm reach (claimed) there’s room to fit a shorter stem without putting the bar in your lap. I went for a 50mm number. This took the handling from ‘wayward shopping trolley’ to ‘housefly’ and enabled the low bottom bracket to come to the fore, helping the Camber to whizz through tight trail sections with addictive agility.
The steep 69-degree head angle is a little twitchy at speed. It’s a lively, agile ride, if not the most stable and confidence inspiring.
Running the Autosag-prescribed 25 percent sag, the shock wasn’t as sensitive off the top as I’d have liked and the Camber didn’t feel as ‘stuck to the ground’ as bikes such as the Trek Fuel EX 9 29.
Upping sag towards 30 percent and adding a volume spacer to stop it crashing through its travel helped to improve traction and stabilise the handling enormously.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to work similar wonders with the RockShox Revelation fork. It binds and sticks on braking bumps, causing jarring through the bar. Along with the flexy (non Boost, low spoke count) wheels, this makes for a slightly vague feel when cornering hard too. Alongside the steep head angle, this made the Camber feel unwilling to be ridden overly aggressively.
After fitting a shorter stem and indulging in some simple suspension fettling, I was able to tackle swoopy singletrack and punchy climbs with aplomb aboard the Camber. But it still gets out of its depth when the going gets gnarly.
Camber Comp Carbon 29
S M L XL
Specialized Ground Control 29x2.3in
Top Tube (in)
Seat Tube (in)
Bottom Bracket Height (in)
DT Swiss Industry, stainless, 24/28
Specialized Trail, 90mm
SRAM NX (1x11)
Specialized Command Post IRcc 125mm dropper
Roval Traverse 29
Rear Wheel Weight
Fox Float DPS Performance with Autosag
Shimano M506, 200/180mm
SRAM PG-1130, 11-42t
SRAM GX-1000, 28t
RockShox Revelation RCT3 Solo Air, 120mm (4.7in) travel
'FACT 9m' carbon fibre front triangle, 'M5' aluminium rear triangle
Seb's been riding and racing mountain bikes for half his life. Since getting hooked on mountain bikes aged thirteen riding a tiny 24Seven Crosser, he's raced downhill, enduro and cross country, and while no athlete, still enters the occasional race. Seb studied experimental physics at university, and he's now happily using (wasting) his degree experimenting with different bike setups, trying to work out what works best and why. You'll often find him riding the same track ten times in a day, changing just one thing to pin down the differences. Seb's much happier back-to-back testing suspension on a wet Welsh hillside than riding the latest five-figure bikes on some sunny press trip - although he quite likes that too!