Specialized have created two EVO models for their popular Camber trail bike for 2014. The Expert EVO sports a carbon front triangle and aluminium rear end, while the more affordable EVO has a full alloy chassis. We took the Camber EVO for a spin.
Ride and handling: confident and capable
It doesn't take long to see just how capable the Camber EVO is, and that's is underlined by its ability to maintain momentum, flow and speed on natural, technical singletrack. On trail centre trails, this thing is a proper little rocket ship.
During slower, high-torque climbing situations there is some pedal bob. This can be tamed using the shock's CTD lever, which deals with it effectively and lets you get back to the task at hand. Climbing on the EVO is a comfortable, traction-rich affair though, thanks to the cockpit proportions and decent rear tyre, with no front wheel lift on steeper trails, even with the stumpy 60mm stem fitted.
At just under 30lb, the bike actually feels more agile and playful than its weight might suggest. The low, planted feel on the bike wards off any of that tall, teetering 29er stigma that can affect handling confidence, especially in steeper, more technical terrain. The wide bar and short stem certainly help handling too, letting you really carve turns with confidence.
The 120mm of travel front and rear feels well balanced and well controlled in most situations. It's only when you excitedly push the Camber EVO that bit harder that you start to feel the flex in the big wheels, or take the Reba fork out of its comfort zone. But that is partly down to just how capable the Camber EVO feels.
The frame and equipment: statement of intent
There are no big changes to the Camber's FSR layout for 2014, following a significant overhaul in 2013 that included the concentric link and shock shuttle, which are now mirrored on all the carbon Camber frames for next year.
Being part of Specialized EVO line-up means the Camber EVO is a shade slacker in the head and seat angle than the standard version, and sports 120mm (4.7in) of travel, rather than the 110mm (4.3in) seen on the non-EVO Cambers.
A tapered head tube, 12x142mm rear axle and internal cable routing for a dropper post gives you a good idea of what the EVO is capable of. To help ease any setup woes, the Fox Float CTD shock has Specialized's Autosag treatment, which is a doddle to use.
Fox's CTD rear shock gets the Specialized Autosag treatment, making it easy to set up
The Formula C1 brakes give a punchy, on/off feel, which might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the improved lever feel does make a difference.
Specialized's own Butcher Control and Purgatory Control tyres are predictable in most situations and are tubeless-ready, which is great at this price. The lack of dropper post soon becomes apparent though – fitting one would really make the most of the bike's potential.