The new Camber is a svelte XC and Trail machine.

The new Camber is a svelte XC and Trail machine (click to enlarge).​

What is the Camber?

The Camber is the Trail/XC bike in Specialized's full suspension line. The line-up in order of suspension travel is the Epic, Camber, Stumpjumper, Enduro, and Demo 8. In 2015, the Camber was a 29er with 110mm of travel. There was an Evo version available that sported 120mm of travel and more relaxed geometry. Riders found this bike to be a fast and capable bike that was more descent capable than what its 110/120mm suggested.

For 2016, the Specialized line-up has become even more crowded with the newly revamped Sumpjumpers with 29er and 27.5 wheels. Plus they now have a whole line of Plus (3.0) tire bikes they call Stumpjumper 6fattie. This has squeezed the trail bike real estate that the Camber normally participates in.

It's not ideal for rowdy terrain but it does want to fly.

It's not ideal for rowdy terrain but it does want to fly (click to enlarge).​

What changed?

For 2016, there is a slew of changes, as a new wheel size is added to the line. Travel is increased and the Brain rear shock is introduced as well.
  • The Camber 29er now has 120mm of travel instead of 110.
  • Head angle has been slackened to 68.5 degrees instead of 70 degrees.
  • There is now a 27.5 version to complement the 29er. Travel is increased to 130mm and head angle is slacker at 67 degrees.
  • The Brain shock has been added to to the higher end Cambers. It is now only active at the sag point.
  • The front fork for the S-Works version is now an RS-1 with a Spike valve knob.
  • SWAT door is now included in the carbon models.
  • Front triangle is now shared with the Stumpjumper. The chainstay length has been shortened to from 450mm to 437mm on the 29er.

The Brain shock has been employed and improved on the Camber.

The Brain shock has been employed and improved on the Camber (click to enlarge).​

Models

The Camber line-up is comprised of six price points with each one available in either 29er or 27.5 versions. This creates a huge array of twelve models plus a thirteenth 'Grom' version that accepts 24 and 26 inch wheels.

At the top of the range is the S-Works Camber with its full carbon 'FACT 11m' frame. Both the 650b and 29er versions come equipped with a RockShox RS-1 fork, a Kashima coated version of the FOX/Specialized Brain-equipped rear shock, SRAM XX1 gearing, Shimano XTR brakes and Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels with a 30mm internal rim width.

Like the Epic, the Camber now supports a massive chainstay for stiffness.

Like the Epic, the Camber now supports a massive chainstay for stiffness (click to enlarge).​

The rest of the carbon range, consisting of the Expert, Elite and Comp, features a carbon 'FACT 9m' carbon mainframe and an alloy M5 rear end. Both the Expert and Elite models will offer the new Position-Sensitive Mini Brain equipped FOX/Specialized rear suspension and will use 34mm stanchioned FOX Performance forks.

The Comp Carbon models offer a simpler FOX Performance DPS rear shock without Brain technology. These models will feature the RockShox Revelation RC3 fork. Included alloy wheels will be a 29mm internal width Roval wheelset.

All Camber carbon models feature Specialized's new 10-position Command IRC Post.

Continue to page 2 to find out what we liked and didn't like »

We're not convinced the Brain should be on this bike.

We're not convinced the Brain should be on this bike (click to enlarge).​

What we didn't like

We're not completely sold with the new Camber concept as the flood of Specialized full suspension options seems to have pushed the Camber in to the XC category too much. The geometry changes are excellent but the addition of the Brain rear shock is not celebrated by all. It helps the fast, fire road abilities of the bike but the technical climbing and the descending abilities of the bike are not fully realized. This Brain is much better than any of the previous Brain shocks as it is only active at the sag point. But this bike would be more trail descent capable with the newer RockShox Monarchs or Fox EVOL shocks.

The RockShox RS-1 front fork is a great XC fork but it does hit its limits under rough descending and hard cornering, braking conditions. Again, great for XC but not as good for trail riding or beyond.

We like the SWAT door since riding without a pack is liberating for us. But the market seems to be split on that as this is a system some won't use but it adds a couple hundred grams, adds cost and results in some loss of stiffness to the frame.

Taking berms with the Camber

Taking berms with the Camber (click to enlarge).​

What we liked

The Camber is now an incredible climber. It is lighter than ever and the bb is stiff with the huge chainstays so power transfer is excellent. The addition of the Brain shock has optimized this bike for climbing as the rider can put the power down all times without having to reach for a platform or lockout mode.

Having two wheel size options is good. Supporting both 29 and 27.5 wheel sizes is good for giving riders of different heights and riding styles the ability to enjoy this bike.

Shorter seat stays and slacker head angles are an excellent idea. 437mm stays and 68.5 head angle on the 29er version makes this bike much more capable on corners and descents.

The 30mm wide carbon rims are a perfect complement to this bike as well. Wide rims give the bike better air volume, traction and puncture resistance in all conditions.

The SWAT Door

Camber frames now have an integrated storage chamber in the down tube, accessible by a door under the bottle cage.

2016 Specialized Camber cage and SWAT door.

2016 Specialized Camber cage and SWAT door (click to enlarge).​

And instead of merely cutting a hole in the frame for this purpose, a more accurate depiction of the process is that the frame was designed with this integrated storage cavity in mind. Structural integrity and stiffness could not be compromised. And the insides of the frame needed to be free of clutter and carbon manufacturing imperfections.

2016 Specialized Camber SWAT door.

2016 Specialized Camber SWAT door (click to enlarge).​

Inside the frame, the carbon cavity is nice and tidy. Carbon cable guides have been added to each side of the frame to protect the cables and make installation easy.

2016 Specialized Camber SWAT door with pump.

2016 Specialized Camber SWAT door with pump (click to enlarge).​

The frame cavity can house a lot of supplies and accessories as it extends all the way to the head tube. To make accesss easy and to prevent rattle, special pouches are included with the frame.

2016 Specialized Camber long pouch with tube.

2016 Specialized Camber long pouch with tube (click to enlarge).​

Continue to page 3 for our bottom line and for bike pricing »

2016 Specialized Camber jump front.

2016 Specialized Camber jump front (click to enlarge).​

Bottom line

The Camber is now modernized with wheel sizes, better geometry, wide wheels and the SWAT box. We love the Stumpjumper 6Fattie featured HERE. The new Stumpjumpers are also quite impressive featured HERE.

Pricing

  • SW Camber FSR Carbon 29: $9800
  • SW Camber FSR Carbon 29 Module: $7300 (frame, fork & wheels)
  • SW Camber FSR Carbon 650b: $9800
  • SW Carbon FSR 650b Module: $7300 (frame, fork & wheels)
  • Camber FSR Expert Carbon 29: $6200
  • Camber FSR Expert Carbon 650b: $6200
  • Camber FSR Comp Carbon 29: $3800
  • Camber FSR Comp Carbon 650b: $3800
  • Camber FSR Comp 29: $2500
  • Camber FSR Comp 650b: $2500
  • Camber FSR 29: $1850
  • Camber FSR 650b: $1850
  • Camber FSR GROM: $2200

Our favorite

No doubt, these bikes are expensive with the top end bike at $9800 and $7300 for the frame/fork/wheels package. But if you know how to play the spec game like us, look for the lowest priced carbon frame and check out the components to see if they suit your fancy and if you can upgrade a couple pieces later to optimize the bike to your needs.

To that end, we found this gem: Camber FSR Comp Carbon 29: $3800. It's not ridiculously expensive. It doesn't have the Brain rear shock nor the RS-1. So it's a much more versatile and descent capable machine in our opinion.

The  Camber Comp Carbon  sports a carbon frame front end and SRAM 1x11 GX components

The Camber Comp Carbon sports a carbon frame front end and SRAM 1x11 GX components (click to enlarge).​

It has a carbon frame with the SWAT door and an alloy rear end. The carbon is not as light as the S-Works model but it should satisfy most blind tests. Heck, the SWAT door adds a couple hundred grams anyway so absolute lowest weight shouldn't be the priority anyway.

This build has the SRAM GX group and although we haven't tested it yet, all indications are it should perform just as good as XX1 and it may last a little longer too due to all steel cassette construction. The only downside is it's a few hundred grams heavier.

Here's the rest of the build:

It doesn't have the Brain shock or the RS-1

It doesn't have the Brain shock or the RS-1.​