First Look: 2016 Specialized Camber

The new Camber leans toward cross country speed

27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Cross Country
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 »
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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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  • Jeff Scanlan says:

    specialized has soooo many bikes in it’s line-up…it’s crazy

    the swat door…idk I use a camelback so to me this is just useless and borderline gimmicky, kind of turns me off since if I got one of these it would stay empty 100% of the time.

    So the upper model Cambers have 30mm wide rims but the 6fattie’s have 29mm???

  • WasatchEnduro says:

    Disagree on the “too xc” statement in the article. Camber fits squarely into the Trail bike category, so much more capable than the Epic. Stumpy is Aggressive Trail. Enduro is….. errrr….. All Mountain (not Enduro!).

    Most riders would do well with either the Camber or Stumpy. My next ride will likely be a 2016 Stumpy 29.

    Interesting point though that the recommendation is to go with a “lower” model to get suspension that handles the downs better, guess that’s where the comment came from.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Valid point. In the context of the Epic and the Stumpy, this bike makes sense. But in the context of the 120mm competition, this bike seems constrained.

      We have been riding the 2015 Mach 4 and the 2016 Trek Fuel 9.9. Both bikes have the same travel but have a much higher quality of initial travel. We’re excited about this new trend of bikes that short travel but give very little up in terms of geometry and quality of suspension travel.

  • dr.zeek says:

    Great review and comments, thanks.

    My view is that the brain was added PRECISELY to make the Camber more XC and less trail, in order to differentiate it from the Stumpy – with which it shares a front triangle.

    What I do find odd is that the seatstay bridge was removed from the Stumpy but retained in the Camber – could it be to make the rear stiffer for longer XC-type rides and races?

    The one thing that no-one comments is that all the Spez trail bikes are now 1×11 – we’ll see how that works for the average rider.

    My next bike will probably be a 2016 camber comp carbon, as the $2,000+ jump to an expert or elite is simply nuts for a rider of my ability.

    • Gregg says:

      Most spec bikes might be 1×11 but they are all compatable with the “taco blade” adapter to fit a front der onto to go 2×11

  • stw says:

    I’m sooooo happy I got my MY2015 version of the Expert Evo Carbon rather than what they are showing for 2016. 2015 model feels so perfect with a Pike up front, the kashima Fox in back, Xo1, Shimano XT brakes. Carbon front triangle, alloy rear. The bike just rocks. It goes up well. It goes down well. So composed. So capable. So straightforward. I want no part of that RS1 up front or the brain shock in back. No thanks. I’m so very happy with the clear, simple package that I have now.

  • Ronnie Kaftal says:

    Thanks for a great and objective review, this one is on my radar and I was looking forward reading a review.
    Was Just wondering, If the $3800 Compromise Carbon is the one to go, how come nobody is reviewing it? In almost every magazine I found they keep reviewing the S-works builds which comes with brain shocks and carbon wheelset. However only few lucky sponsored riders will ever get to own one. The majority of us are riding the sub $4k builds of the rig.

  • Dan says:

    I am shopping for a replacement for my Anthem 29er X0 as my ride crew have moved away from XC and on to 150/160mm travel bikes for faster down and less XC.

    I still love the rollover of the 29er + pedal efficiency but want the flick ability of a 26” 150mm rig. Rode a Pivot Mach 5.7 150mm w 26” wheels and loved it, but 26” wheels are out of fashion so I would be a fashion victim if I grabbed that.

    The geometry has become a real issue to me, 120-130forks, 68deg head angle 74deg seat post angle and 430mm stays seem to be the recipe. Giant are always well spec’d for the price however I think the Maestro cannot be shortened up enough to get 30mm out of the 462mm 29er stays. SO… I am looking elsewhere. Specialized IMO offer low spec for the price but the rear suspension is short at 437, EVIL Following with 430mm stays reads well but not available in Australia and has had warranty issues with Chinese production control, Trek never a fan, and many others don’t offer a 29er in 430mm stays.

    What else is out there that has “the Recipe”?

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