First Look: 2016 Specialized Camber

The new Camber leans toward cross country speed

27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Cross Country
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.

  • 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 1×11 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.

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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