Review: 2013 Specialized Camber

29er All Mountain Trail Pro Reviews

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

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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    very cool

  • pimpbot says:

    You keep riding like that, you’ll get bugs in your mouth.

  • wwp220 says:

    No through axle up front? No sale.

  • madsedan says:

    I have loved the 2011 Camber expert I’ve been on since last Summer, I am sad to see they aren’t offering the bike in 26″ anymore. The bike is so perfect for where and how I ride though that I’ll have to test ride one of the new 29er models to see if its worth selling the current bike for.

  • Pringle says:

    So even the high-end models don’t have 15mm thru-axle up front? or just the low-budget alloy version? I could see that for a 110mm travel 26’er but it’s surprising on a 29’er. Then again, people rode 29er’s for years before 15mm TA existed…

  • Francis says:

    Pringle, Specialized has a beefed up front skewer that has big flat axle cups that sit against the fork. Also, they use a bigger skewer that is turned to tighten for extra torque and clamping force.

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