Strengths: Rolls well over terrain, don't have to use as much suspension as I did on my old 26er. Climbs quickly, Agile - carbon frame noticable.
Weaknesses: Brakes - Avid 3R, 2 x 10 SRAM 36/22, Maybe the HTA...
Had this bike a little over a month and initial impressions are that its a solid bike but different to the 26 FSR XC Expert I had before obviously, which is an incredible bike. Having said that, I haven't had the opportunity to ride the Camber in max attack mode yet and in the full range of conditions I expect to encounter over time.
First the pluses: 29ers really do iron out the terrain. I can run this bike in Climb mode lots of the time, Terrain for tougher stuff and Descend when its knarly. On my 26er I would have been in Terrain or fully open more of the time even with 10mm more travel. It shoots up hills and you can feel the effect of the carbon, it makes the bike very responsive, not to be confused with twitchy, but it rewards if you know how to handle it. It rolls quickly but you don't notice it but your Endomondo or Strava will prove it. I bought my girlfriend a Cube 29 hardtail a few months back and she was instantly much, much quicker; now I have a 29er the playing field is levelled. It's that much of difference versus a 26!
I added a dropper post when I bought it and thats a great addition and I got one in a red and black paint scheme which I'm very pleased about.
Weaknesses/personal preferences. I spin out using the 36T. I do fast smooth tracks as well as rough trails, so I need a bike that 'does it all', so Im going to probably put a 38T chainring on it as a minimum to see how it goes. I think that will make it just 5% lower geared than a 26 running 44T. Upgrading to a triple I'm told means new derailleur and shifter as well as whole new crankset. Not cheap.
The Avid 3R brakes - not sure if they need more bedding in but i've done 100+ miles on them and they don't feel as strong as my previous Juicy 4's....yet. Front brake was squeaking last weekend and tonight its making some weird grinding noise with lack of power. I will ask the bikeshop to look at it when it goes back for its 6 week checkup.
So I haven't yet ridden this bike in full max attack mode yet and I'm still getting used to the geometry of the 29er but I wondering if the HTA at 70 degrees should have been a little slacker at say 69. XC's and Stumpjumpers both used to be 68.5. 29 SJ now 69 but Camber now 70, so the Camber seems to have been made closer to an Epic at 70.5. I guess you have to trust the brains at Specialized, as its more than just about HTA, I suppose..its trail, seat tube angle, chain staylengths,etc,etc
Reviews I've read said that Camber still decends great, so time will tell.
Would be great to hear of other peoples impressions too.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: November 21, 2012
Strengths: I love everything about this bike. I am coming from off a 1991 Rocky Mountain Hammer needless to say that this bike is better in every way. I really works well in flowing trails and find that it climbs really well. It doesn't matter if the rear is locked out or not I have not found that it makes much of a difference. The parts spec on the bike is strong as well.
Weaknesses: It's a pretty big bike with a long wheelbase so it doesn't work really well in tight twisty stuff. It works ok but definitely not where it shines.
Overall really happy with this bike. I find it a fast and good handling bike. Since this is my first full suspension bike it feels like I riding around on my couch, it's that plush. It takes a bit to get used to the gearing on the bike. The 29's get up to speed quick and if I haven't grabbed enough gears I am spinning the cranks and not caught up to the rear going up the next climb. I figure this is an issue with most 29ers but caught me a bit off guard.
Strengths: I am coming off of a 26er so the strengths are many of those associated with 29 in wheels. Apart from that, what I liked is the geometry. I feel the handling is better than my 26 in Stumpjumper. The feel of the carbon frame is nice also. Bike feels forgiving going over gnarly stuff. Part of that is the high bottom bracket and 2x10 front chain rings. I measured and I have almost an inch more clearance on my Camber than I do my 2008 Stumpy FSR Comp 26er. Very confidence inspiring. I was able to clear rock obstacles I never could before on my Stumpy. Handlebars feel suited well for bike. Overall nice components.
Weaknesses: I think brakes are a little weak. I feel the rotors might be a little too small. 110 mm travel might be too little for some, but seems good for me, especially on a 29er. I am not a big fan of the 22/36 gearing up front. Might drop to 34 or 32. I seem to be missing the sweet spot I had on my Stumpy on the climbs in the middle ring. Not much room for a large bottle down below. Geometry makes putting bike on frame mounted car rack difficult w/o an adapter.
Overall I love the bike. Some of the compromises I have discussed don't really effect my riding. I am riding faster (you don't feel you are going faster at first on a 29er but you probably are), and more technical. My technical skills I feel have improved the most. Going down steep stuff or over intimidating rocks is relatively easy. I am new to carbon frames and so far I like the stiffness and the way it absorbs hits. Handling and geometry are great. I think this is a great bike for anyone who wants to ride technical trails and XC trails.
Strengths: One of the best designed full suspension trail bikes I have been on. Plenty of pedal clearance for pedaling through the gnar, and a slack enough head angle to take on what the trail throws at you. With the carbon frame the bike feels snappy and has been perfect for me and southern Colorado trails.
Weaknesses: I had trouble with the rear bearings in the rear wheels hub, maybe a month after really riding the bike. Now that was almost 600 miles of riding, but the rear hub got loose and the bearings were shot. Specialized and my shop replaced them within days, which is great service. The frame is designed to run full housing on the cables and uses cable housing clamps down the bottom of the down tube, if you don't get those little clamps tight enough the housing will slide around and mess with your shifting. The shop, which I am sure torqued to the appropriate spec, didn't get them tight enough so I had some time before I figured out the housing was sliding around. As with any carbon frame, probably best to get a torque wrench.
So I won the Specialized Camber on the MTBR contest on Feb. 29th this year. I was pretty pumped about it, but still was wanting to upgraded to carbon. I worked with Specialized through my local shop and was able to upgrade to this bike. I had also just found out that I had gotten into the Leadville Trail 100, so I am just a few days from that race and have put about 2500 miles on this bike. I know it well by now! I have upgraded the wheels to the Roval Carbon Trail SL and that brought the weight of the bike down to about 1.5 half. Went to a zero off set Thomson set post, the seatpost that came on the bike was nice, but had a little offset and for the perfect fit had to move away from that. Carbon bars that I won in the drawing at the Growler in Gunnison. I am setting about 26.5 pounds while running tubeless. I have hammered this bike and it is doing great. The only concerns out of the shop would really be the rear hub, everything else is really ready to ride right out the door with no upgrade, besides the quick conversion to tubeless. If you are ever in Southern Colorad and passing through the San Luis Valley check out my blog for some riding, I am just getting started, but there will be a bunch of trails added after I get done with this race this weekend. ridermick.wordpress.com