Strengths: Climbs like a cat and desecends very well at the price point. Platform is excellent, especially with upgrades.
Weaknesses: Stock crankset and cassette are heavy. Front fork is good for price point.
I bought Camber Elite used on Craigslist from someone who had ridden it less then 10 miles (so as good as new). Purchase price was very good at $1k. After riding stock for a short while, I decided quickly on upgrading the cranks and rear cassette, but since this was 9-speed stock and Shimano is no longer making 9-speed in the high end, I decided to do entire drivetrain in XT 3x10. After shopping around, I bought xt shifters, Front and rear DR's, Crank, Chain and Cassette for less then $400 total. Total price in with installs about $1500 for a SMOKING bike. The XT crankset and BB make all the difference in the world. Never expected to feel this different and now I'm in love with the bike. I will continue to play with dialing in the suspension and will probably upgrade the fork in the future, but the platform for me is amazing. Ride the Camber if you're test driving bikes! Climbs like a cat and descends with the best of them. This is my first 29er, and for me - I won't look back!
Bike Setup: Stock with upgraded Drivetrain (shifters, crankset, cassette, Front and rear DR, Chain) to XT 3x10
Date Reviewed: February 5, 2013
Strengths: Overall value for the $$. FSR makes a comfortable ride. Plenty of suspension for the South Florida Slop they throw at us on these trails.
Weaknesses: Could drop a few lbs but so could I. (weighing in at 190) The tires are bit slick down here in Miami with the dry, dusty trails. Often getting sniped! 1111
I love this bike. I have owned many hard tail 26 inch bikes and one hard tail 29er. Now that I hit 40 I though I should think about saving my back on these, "throw as much $h@t in front of you"south Florida trails. After doing my research with in my price range, the Camber 29er Elite was the winner. I have been so happy with it after a year if riding, I thought it was time to post a review. Best part is, my fellow riders ride more expensive bikes, yet I'm always on their rear wheel. Upgrade the tires and as parts need replacing upgrade them. This frame is going to be with me for many of miles.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: December 14, 2012
Strengths: Buttery smooth ride, climbs like a goat, once rolling will keep rolling, creates a smile every time I ride and is the color - moto-ski orange
Weaknesses: Stock tires, tad heavy,
This is a follow up after a full season of riding this steed. Still love it. It has been abused, put away dirty, run through mud, snow over ledge and still riding fantastic. It is bomb proof and can handle more than my mind and body can handle. Sure you could get a better bike, better shock, lighter parts and what not but this ride is great to start at a decent price point. Upgrade the tires at the shop and then upgrade when things wear out. Parts to install this winter just arrived for me. Cassette (upgrade to xt and saving over a third of a pound), chain, pedals (due to a bent spindle) and a new set on mavic crossmax st when they come in. This will be my ride for several years, smiling the whole time.
Similar Products Used: Kona explosive, motobecane cx bike,
Bike Setup: Stock except tires
Date Reviewed: August 28, 2012
Strengths: Fast, awesome on climbs and descents! this thing tracks well on tech rocky climbs. Open the rear suspension and take advantage of the rubber staying glued to the ground! love it. Got a great deal!
Weaknesses: Little heavy would love it to be around the 26lbs range even with the added stans flow wheels it weighs 30lbs but getting stronger so this is becoming more manageable with time!
Won't be disappointed!
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 8, 2012
Strengths: CLIMBIMG ! Rolls over EVERYTHING! Plush, Great geometry, strong brakes, excellent suspension for the $$!
Weaknesses: Tires lack Grip for experienced riders, upshift not as smooth as downshifting, a little on the heavy side.
Highly Recommend this bike if considering a 29'er for the price and overall setup. Rides Fast, can easily be upgraded to be faster and smoother. Climbs LIKE A CHAMP, Decends gracefully ! Best Bike I've owned thusfar !
Similar Products Used: Haro Hardtail XC, Specialized XC Comp full susp, Specialized Stumpjumper 26" Comp, Specialized Epic Stumpjumper, Specialized Big Hit.
Bike Setup: Stock.....so far
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 13, 2012
Strengths: Price point, available frame sizes, FSR suspension
Weaknesses: Specialized spec components keep the cost down and the weight up, but everybody upgrades bars/stems/saddles/wheels anyway.
I'm 6'9" and 240 before breakfast. You don't see too many riders out there like me, and for good reason. A couple years ago the only way to get a proper-fitting mountain bike frame was to have a guy like Leonard Zinn build you a custom frame that would run you nearly twice as much as this complete bike. I used to get by riding 19" and 20" freeride and downhill frames since you typically want a smaller frame for that kind of riding anyway. However, I don't live in Salt Lake City anymore and downhill tracks are not as plentiful in San Diego. Plus, I've grown older and learned that riding up a hill can be almost as fun as riding down a hill. Imagine that. But I digress.
These days, Specialized, Santa Cruz, and a couple of the other big brands have started offering XXL versions of some of their hardtails and full-suspension bikes. You can walk into your LBS and buy a 23" or 24" frame off a rack (or at least have a Specialized dealer order it for you since a lot of them don't regularly stock bikes that are sized for the upper 1% of the population, height-wise). God bless you Specialized, God bless you.
I won't extol the virtues of 29-inch wheels, plenty of others with more knowledge than I have already done so. However, I will say that for tall riders this new trend is fantastic. Matter of fact, the XXL Camber 29er frame is so big that the 29 inch wheels don't appear oversized. As an added bonus, watching the midgets at the LBS trying to pedal this monster around can provide some high-quality entertainment.
For the money, there is no better trail bike out there. I paid less than $2,000 with sales tax for a 2011 Camber Elite 29er in February of 2012, but I would have happily paid the full price without complaint. As for the component list, Specialized keeps the price down by using their own aluminum bar, seatpost, and wheels. These components are pretty strong but pretty heavy. While I've spent about a grand replacing all of these peripheral components and the wheelset, I should point out that these upgrades were all preferential upgrades and none of them were strictly necessary. I'd echo some of the other reviewers and recommend that you replace the stock cassette before you leave the shop, but an XT cassette will only set you back $100 or so so this isn't a deal-breaker. If you pick up last years' model at the right time, you can get a completely ride-able trail bike with reliable air-sprung suspension and a good rear derailleur for under $2,000 out-the-door. For a full-suspension trail bike, that's incredible. The take-away is that the quality of the Camber's frame and suspension are high enough to justify upgrading the peripheral components, but none of those upgrades are essential and you can ride this bike the instant you walk out of the shop.
As for weight, if memory serves correctly then the XXL frame weighed about 32 lbs as spec'd. Keep in mind that the XXL frame weighs 2-3 lbs more than the small frame, so if you are not the size of an NBA forward you can knock off those extra lbs just from the difference in frame size. My bike is down to 27 lbs, which is not race-weight but is frankly amazing given its size. A lot of the super-lightweight gear out there is not recommended for riders above 200 lbs anyway, so that's probably about as good as it's going to get unless I drop some serious dough for some carbon wheels and a new fork. That being said, my 6'8" 300lb dad has ridden this bike on plenty of Northern California trails without any problems, the suspension and components have held up to some rigorous riding by very heavy riders without complaint.
In conclusion, if you are looking to try a full-suspension cross country bike but don't want to take out a third mortgage on your home to do it, then this is the bike for you. If you have been biking for a while then you probably have a parts bin that you can use to replace the peripherals you don't like. If you are new, then buy this bike and ride it for 100 miles or so before you start to think about replacing parts. If you are an experienced rider who likes to dial in and fine-tune your air suspension until it suits your fancy, then I could not recommend the Elite 29er as the suspension set up is very straightforward and doesn't leave a lot of options. Of course, if you are that type of rider then you probably wouldn't be looking at bikes in this price range anyway so the point is moot.
Strengths: Value, versatility, comfortable, upgradeable, rolls over everything.
Weaknesses: weight, brakes, grips, sometimes goes where it wants
I've got the 2012 Camber 29er. I haven't owned a real mountain bike for almost 20 years, but I've been itching to get one forever. When I started my search, I hadn't even heard of a 29er, but it became apparent that at my price range, this was about as good as I was going to get, and I'm pretty pleased.
I ride rocky, rooty trails with lots of ups and downs, and so far this bike is perfect for what I wanted. I'd considered a 29er hardtail, but looking at my age, and the gnarliness of local trails, I decided to go with a full suspension, and I don't regret it at all. I do wish it was a little more all mountain capable, but that's not really what the bike is designed for, so I can't complain. It's handled everything I've thrown at it, and I can see my skills increasing. At first, the geometry and the 29 inch wheels gave me a little bit of a hard time in corners, but it's getting better as I'm getting better. I've had to learn this whole thing from scratch again. Each ride, I feel a little more confident, and as a result the bike performs better as well. It's a great all around trail bike, and looks great too.
As far as weaknesses, as the price dictates, there are certainly components that could be lighter. The XT rear derailleur is nice, but it's mated to much cheaper shifters and cranks, with the other parts falling somewhere in the middle. The Recon front shock has a loud sort of whooshy sound that takes a little while to get used to. The stock grips were shredded within weeks, and I'm not that hardcore. The biggest problem I've had is with the Avid brakes. They were silent and effective for about a month. Before long, they were making the turkey gobble noise, and vibrating both front and rear, which is apparently common with these brakes on Specialized bikes. I took it back to the shop, and they improved the problem, but they're not silent again. I'm hoping some bedding in and a couple more weeks help. If not, I'm going to replace the rotors to start. The thing is, I shouldn't have to. The weight for my medium, with XT pedals is 31 lbs. First thing I'm going to do when I get a chance is upgrade the wheels and go tubeless. Then I'm gonna look at that rear cassette as well, and shifters.
End of the day, I'm very happy with the bike. When I look at it in the garage, I just want to get back on it and go ride. None of the upgrades (except the brake rotors) feel urgent, and right now I can just enjoy the thing.
This is my first FS bike, as well as my first 29" bike, and I'm very happy with it thus far. I was looking at both a 2012 and 2011, and they are essentially the same bike, just different paint jobs. The 29" wheels combined with 100mm of suspension really help this bike perform well in the XC trails in my area (XC, roots, rocks, etc). I was hesitant to go 29", but they really do roll and climb as advertised and I'm glad I made the move. I've been a Specialized rider for a while now, and am very happy with the FSR suspension, it tracks well and I notice very little pedal bob when climbing. I was wanting to go with a bike that had Fox on the front and rear, but the RS shocks have been good thus far. They are basically set it and forget it, don't have to muck around with adjusting it all the time. Both shocks have lockout which helps for flats and pavement. This is not the lightest bike, but once out on the trail I honestly haven't noticed it and is about what you'd expect in the price range. Much of the weight is in the wheels and components, but the frame is definitely upgradeable, so is a good starting point for those who want to get on a FS bike and upgrade as you go along.
Only problems I've had with the bike have been with the rear brake, there is very little clearance between the calipers and any warping or bend in the rotor is going to rub. Otherwise It has been maintenance free through the first couple hundred miles.
Upgrades thus far have been seat, stem and handlebars, which were mostly related to fit, and seats are always a personal preference. I've also upgraded the rear cassette to an XT cassette, I would strongly recommend this to others purchasing this bike, if you can get them to upgrade it before taking it home, do it. The stock cassette is a brick, and the upgrade to the XT really improves the shifting with the XT rear derailleur. Other than that will probably replace parts as they need it as everything else is pretty servicable. Lighter tires will probably be my next purchase.
Bottom line, if you are in the market for a good XC 29" FS bike in the $2000 range, take a serious look at this bike.
Bike Setup: TruVativ Holzfeller handlebars
WTB Laser V saddle
All else stock
a Cross Country Rider
from Squamish, BC
Date Reviewed: March 4, 2012
Strengths: Expert 29er carbon: ultra-stiff carbon frame for a very precise feel. I Iove the Formula brakes which I've used for over a year on my AM bike: light, powerful but modulate well. Gearing feels right on and the X7/X0 combo gives seamless shifting so far. Fox Triad II shock feels similar to but easier to use than the RP 23 and has the added plus of a full lock-out. Command post responds faster than any other post I've used - dependibility yet to be determined. Also very impressed by the Specialized tires. I thought I'd switch them out for my usual Ardent / Crossmark choices but I prefer these tires.
Weaknesses: I don't like the feel of the alloy mini-riser bars stock on the bike. It would have been a very cheap upgrade to carbon bars. They feel too wide and all-mountainy to me. I'll probably switch them out for Easton EC 70 XC risers.
The best small bike I've tried for a 2 bike XC/AM quiver where I live. Handles technical climbs well and descends beautifully for a small bike. The bike is spec'ed almost perfectly.
Similar Products Used: Stumpjumper 29er, Altitude 29er, Anthem 29er, Epic
Bike Setup: stock Camber Expert Carbon 29er
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2012
Strengths: Price, suspension ride, design.
Great deal for the price. I swapped out a few parts that I had and dropped some weight. It's a little portly stock but that is reflected in the price. The bike rides great and handles very well. Turning is sharp and suspension keeps the bike in line. I was doubtful about the Ario shock but I know that Rock Shox redesigned it and it is much better than previous versions. They should have changed the name so people know that it's improved. Overall I think it is a great trail bike and would not hesitate to buy again. I looked at all others in the catagory and none were this good. And it also looks great. Lots of compliments on the trail.
Bike Setup: So far swapped cassette, crank, tires, bar and post
a Weekend Warrior
from Las Vegas, NV, USA
Date Reviewed: February 3, 2012
Strengths: Comfortable and durable.
I have tried and bought bikes such as Specialized and Trek over the years. I was looking for a full suspension 29er under $2,000 and gave the Camber 29er a try. It is a good bike and rode comfortably. However, Specialized increased the price of the Camber for 2012 which jacked up the price $200 or $2,200. Considering the current economic crisis, people do not much have disposable income. Specialized doesn't seem to be willing to help reach those under the $2,000 bracket plus the fact that they tend to manufacture less FSR bikes than the demand. So there is a wait time on orders for both the Camber and the Stumpjumper. Luckily, after a very thorough research, I found the 2012 Scott Spark 29er Comp which rides similar to the Camber but weighs about the same if not less. At $1,650 OTD, the Scott Spark is a much better alternative to the more expensive Specialized bikes.
a Cross Country Rider
from Phoenix, AZ
Date Reviewed: November 13, 2011
Strengths: 9er, rear RS and front suspension are fully adequate for my weight. Like air-type suspension, in general. Lock outs for both suspension and on the fly adjustment for rear recoil - NICE technology.
Weaknesses: Nothing. No creaks, squeaks, or expectations unanswered, except the stock grips are thinner than I prefer. Will replace with Oury lock ons.
Again, I got a GREAT deal. I don't care much about the weight, given that each pound cut from your gross weight (at this level) cuts your wallet by 100s of dollars. I like the fit. I'm 6'3" - 210 and the suspension works great on a XXL frame. I am brand new to FS and love it.
Bike Setup: 2010 Specialized Camber Elite 29er, stock, Spclzd Fast Track Grid and Purgatory...
a Cross Country Rider
from Williston, VT, USA
Date Reviewed: October 6, 2011
Strengths: Great ride. Very smooth and fast. 29er just rolls over everything. Travel is enough to smooth out just about everything but not too much to induce lots of bob while climbing.
Weaknesses: Traction from the stock tires is weak in softer conditions. Could go on a diet but so could I.
This is a huge improvement over a 10 year old hardtail racing bike. Able to clear just about anything with the wheel size and FS. Does not seem to have that "wow my bottom bracket is way in the air" feel you hear about from 29ers. Tires are ok but not great for northern new england slop.
Bike can take some abuse. A couple rides have been very muddy and nothing ever creaks or grinds.
Brakes work well but did have a squeal after a few hours. Stopped after a good cleaning.
a Weekend Warrior
from San Diego
Date Reviewed: October 4, 2011
Strengths: -Very tough bike
-Handles well on trails (both uphill, downhill in various terrains
-Excellent landings on small/large jumps
-Gears shift smoothly
-29er setup rolls over large rocks quite nicely
Weaknesses: -A bit on the heavy side
-Tires could use a better treadwear
-Wheelset is not tubeless ready
This is an awesome 29er mtb for the small price tag you pay. Worth every penny and there isn't another bike better within the $2000 price range. Love this bike!
a Cross Country Rider
from Monterrey, N.L., Mexico
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2011
Strengths: climbs in the rocks really well,and great perfomance in downhills, the shimano xt rear derailleur works very good, the full suspension is great to. A friend told me the avid elixir 3 breaks wont be good, but he is wrong, they have a great break response.
Weaknesses: Front derailleur Shimano SLX it´s not a good option for this bike, also the crankset I will change it for a shimano XT because bouth the derailleur and the crank have a poor development.
The camber 29er elite is great!I really liked the development in the hills, the 29 inch wheels are a great option to risk a litle more in the downhills except in short or inmediate turns, you will experience a slower response. It really feels a great diference in the climb. In my case I bought this for recreational use only, so it fits awesome for me. Its the best bike I ever bought. Is my first 29er and it didn´t disapointed me. In a short term I will change the front deraileur, crankset and seat. In a longest term I plan to upgrade the front suspension and shifters. it feels a little bit heavy but itsnot big deal for me.