We had the opportunity to ride the 2013 Cambers in the heavenly trails of Bend, Oregon. This is a trail bike with 110mm travel in the rear and 110 in the front.

The big stories are:
  • Camber is now 29er only. There's no 26ers and no 650b
  • Autosag is included on all models
  • There's new M5 aluminum models that offer great value
  • Standover height is now lower
  • There is a new rear shock linkage that is 26.3% stiffer torsionally. It's also lighter and has better action.
  • There is a new Crown Stop that allows smaller frame sizes without damaging the frame as the fork crown hits it.
  • Roval rims on all models are now lighter.
The bikes rode like champs at Bend. The Cambers are so fast and easy to ride that they almost disappear into the ride. They climb very well and carve well. Compared to the 2012 Camber 29 that I've been riding, The new ones feel a hair smaller, lighter and more agile.

One of the really cool revelations as I rode three models of Cambers is the new entry level Camber (under $2000) is a very capable bike. I was sporting the budget model and was carving and keeping up with the steeds ahead of us with carbon/carbon everything. Mtbr says get one of these cheaper steeds, put some lightweight or carbon Rovals on it set up tubeless and this bike will not hold you back at all.

Climb Trail Descend

The Cambers are using the new 3-position shocks and forks from Fox and it is a great match. The Camber rear end climbs best with a platform shock so when a significant climbing is called upon, the 'Climb' position on the rear will get you up efficiently. Match the front to that if it's a smooth fire road and you are on a nice, stiff platform. With the Specialized Blacklite post's three positions, the highest climbing position is a perfect match. Start descending and carving up and down singletrack and you can switch all three (shock, fork, post) to the 'Trail' position. The Blacklite post has middle position which is about 75% of max seatpost height. This is where most of the fun business is taken care of. The rider can descend, carve, jump, climb and all three adjustment points are well suited for it. Get into some high speed, steep technical parts and the 'Descend' position will be the right call on all three points.

New Rear Linkage

The new rear linkage looks desceptively obvious and simple but it is a very welcome improvement to these bikes. It stiffens up that linkage torisionally by 26% and this Camber carves and corners even better than before. Couple that with the stiff 142 rear axle and the PF30 BB and you have a rear triangle that is stiff and responsive.

The Details

The depth of the Camber is really in the details. Having used one for the last six months, a fairly reserved spec will continue to impress month after month. The stuff just works and all the pieces work well together. As I look to upgrade something, it's really pretty hard because there's really no weak link at each spec level. You can go with carbon bars, or a carbon post on the lower spec'd bikes but it really won't save weight or add performance. The only exception is the wheels as any rider can always benefit from the most expensive wheels that one can afford.

Video: Riding the 2012 Camber Pro in Sedona, Arizona

Cable routing is something you don't think about but with most other bike brands until they cause trouble They start making noise, causing binding, rubbing the frame, etc. But with the Camber, the cables are just down there, working smoothly out of the way under the downtube. In fact, they're actually doing a secondary job of protecting the downtube against sharp, flying rocks on big downhills. This system is like having internal cable routing without the installation/maintenance nightmares.

Gearing is well-conceived too. The front is 22-36 and the rear is 11-36. This is a modern 2x10 gearing specific to this kind of 29er trail bike. There really is no better combination for the vast majority of riders. If one is very powerful with an ultralight Camber, maybe a switch to 24-38 front is appropriate.

No bike is perfect right? So let's talk about some things folks might not like about the Camber.
  • Front fork/wheel is skewer type. Specialized solves the stiffness equation with their big skewer and extra large cup flanges but compatibility with other forks and wheels in the stable can become an issue as most modern trail bikes have switched over to 15 mm thru axle. The thru axle is much easier to install and remove too.
  • Suspension design has no stable platform. The Camber can bob when the shock is wide open and the rider is mashing the pedals or out of saddle. The rear shock has been finely tuned now for the frame but flicking the lever once in a while will be required for optimum climbing
  • Specialized, saddle, tires, grips. Some folks see this as a downside as they go single brand for the whole bike. The good news is every single component can hold its own and are worthy of putting on other dream bikes of different brands.
  • No 26er models. Specialized has pushed the limits of fit for full suspension 29ers. But if you're close to 5 feet tall, it is a stretch.
Bottom Line:
So that's really the Camber in a nutshell as it's the right amount of bike for most applications.

Models and Pricing