Specialized Camber Expert review

Ticks every ‘must have’ box

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,000.00 RRP | USD $2,400.00
Specialized Camber Expert

Our review

The shock can be squishy, but this is a hugely entertaining and enthusiastic trail bike for the money
Skip to view product specifications

Specialized introduced the Camber last year and stiffness increasing frame updates have made it even more fun than it was last year.

Advertisement

Ride & handling: Big trail fun

The immediate difference between this year’s Camber and last year’s is between the pedals and back wheel. However hard we stamped, there was no ghost shifting out of corners from the BB30 crankset. The screw-through axle means the tyre now scuffs and chatters as it lets go, rather than weaving and twanging. This does put the focus back on the front end though, and occasionally the fork twists when you wish it would stick. The short stem and wide bar create plenty of authority to force it out or fish it back in when it starts going astray though.

The Ground Control tyres are very workable rubber too, with ample grip and predictable ‘let go’ at the edges. Having a slideable back end suits the overall Camber character. The relatively slack head angle is amplified by a tendency for the rear shock to sit a fair way into its travel in the ‘open’ damping position, lowering and slackening the bike. Add a short back end and it’s a naturally trail-happy bike, farting in and out of traction between corners with child-like enthusiasm.

The long front and short rear make it easy to manual and drop off ledges too, with a playful feel that you can’t help but enjoy. The low ride height also helps when you’re railing through sweepers and berms too. Aggressive corner-takers will want to use the ProPedal damping for a more solid carving edge. The tendency to rush through its travel when ‘open’ can also make determined pedalling a squishy and bouncy affair, and we found ourselves making more use of the ProPedal and lock settings than normal on mixed terrain rides. The combination of steep seat angle and a fat saddle makes dropping the seat essential to avoid getting caught up on steeper or slower descents too.

Frame: Long front, short back and low belly

Flex issues with last year’s Camber meant we were delighted to see the 2012 model get a fat bottom bracket shell to take 30mm axle compatible PressFit 30 bearings and oversized matching crank axle for 2012. The rear axle has also changed from a spindly quick-release version to a 142x12mm screw-through axle. A kicker link for the suspension, smoothly hydroformed M5 alloy tubes with dropper post clips and a tapered head tube complete the neat-looking chassis. There’s even room for proper bottle placement, although fat tyres will be tight out back.

Advertisement

Equipment: Good spec for the money

The RockShox fork gets a tapered top, but uses Specialized’s unique fat skewer and oversized axle face set-up rather than a proper screw-through axle. The bar is good and wide though, and the short stem sizes change in relation to frame size. A custom SRAM double-and-bash chainset with wide spread 38/24t chainrings restores a bit of clearance to the low bottom bracket. The Fox Triad II shock is a custom damper too, with lock, ProPedal, low-speed compression and open settings controlling the 51mm stroke. The whole package is really light for the money too.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Camber Expert (12)
Brand Specialized

Description Wheels: Specialized Hi Lo disc, QR front, 142x12mm front hubs, Custom DT Swiss 445D rims, Black stainless steel plain gauge spokes, Tyres: front - Specialized S Works Ground Control 26x2.3in, back - Ground Control 26x2.1in rear, Crankset: SRAM S-1250 BB30 Bash/38/24T
Headset Type Tapered
Weight (lb) 27.1
Stem Specialized XC 3D 75mm
Shifters Shimano SLX
Seatpost unbranded 34.9mm
Seat Angle 74.5
Saddle WTB Specialized Henge Comp 143mm
Rear Wheel Weight 2250
Rear Shock Fox Triad custom shock, 120mm (4.72in) travel
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT SGS
Head Angle 68.5
Bottom Bracket Truvativ PF30
Handlebar Specialized All-Mountain low-rise 720mm
Grips/Tape Specialized Grappler lock-on
Front Wheel Weight 1780
Front Derailleur SRAM X7
Frame Material M5 hydroformed aluminium
Fork RockShox Reba RL Taper QR, 120mm (4.72in) travel
Chain KMC X10
Cassette Shimano, 11/36T
Brakes Avid Elixir 5 SL hydraulic disc 180/160mm
Weight (kg) 12.3