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.
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.
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.
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.
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.