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Long Term Test: Specialized Camber Carbon Evo 29 Review

Specialized modestly describes the Camber as the „perfect bike“. The 5.199 Euro, 120mm 29-er should cover everything that a trail biker wants: fast after-work blasts and epic weekend rides, the Camber cuts a good figure everywhere. Enduro Chief Exec Max Schmitt has been aboard the trail rocket for a few months now, after 500km of local trail rides it’s time to draw some first conclusions.

Specialized Camber Expert EVO 29 for € 5199

Specialized Camber Expert EVO 29 for € 5199

Specification and set-up

With a weight of 78kg I ride the Pike with 74 PSI, quite soft. The FOX Float shock is set with the value determined by the Auto-SAG feature: 130 PSI. The only change to the standard spec until now was swapping the Command Post IR 100 for a Command Post IR with 125 mm adjustment range. As the first post wasn’t reliably locking into place I took the opportunity of an upgrade to swap for a longer travel version and gained more room to move around on the bike.

ENDURO CEO Max with the Specialized Camber 29.

ENDURO CEO Max with the Specialized Camber 29.

Troublesome child: the original Specialized Command Post IR became defective after a few rides and was swapped for a longer travel version.

Troublesome child: the original Specialized Command Post IR became defective after a few rides and was swapped for a longer travel version.

Handling

Unpack, climb aboard, feel at home – the Specialized Cambers geometry felt spot-on after just a few meters on the trail. The short reach of 432mm (size L) creates a markedly central position on the bike. The 68.8 degree head angle and, for a 29-er, quite short 451mm-chainstays makes for an agile and playful handling. The US-Bike is convincing on the climbs too: thanks to the balanced pedalling position you can get a lot of power through the pedals and the efficient rear end doesn’t waste much energy. I ride most of the time with the rear shock set open, if you prefer it firmer you have a choice of switching the Fox Float CTD shock to the climb-mode. At 12.01 kg the weight is acceptable.

The Fox Float CTD shock combines with the well-executed rear end for a potent suspension system.

The Fox Float CTD shock combines with the well-executed rear end for a potent suspension system.

Specialized Butcher tyres on the front are juggernaughts, but they certainly deliver solid grip.

Specialized Butcher tyres on the front are juggernaughts, but they certainly deliver solid grip.

The 120 mm-version of the RockShox Pike is also an outstanding performer.

The 120 mm-version of the RockShox Pike is also an outstanding performer.

If the trail starts to point downward you notice immediately why the “Evo” tag is part of the Camber’s name: for a bike of this travel range you can really let it rip downhill. On flowing trails the Specialized feels especially at home. The stiff Pike fork at the front is especially good. It harmonizes perfectly with rear end and always gives the rider a feeling of security and plenty reserves to spare. The Specialized Butcher front tyre isn’t exactly a light roller but supports the fork with plenty of grip.

The Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29 is a perfect companion for the classic after-work-ride.

The Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29 is a perfect companion for the classic after-work-ride.

The active chassis irons out bumpy trails reliably and feels like it offers more than 120mm travel. It constantly tempts less able air-acrobats like myself to jump over the next obstacle – just like trailbiking should be!

The Specialized Camber loves to climb.

The Specialized Camber loves to climb.

Its only on steep descents with really rough turf where the Camber Evos steep head angle finds its limits.

Disappointing: the Formula T1 S specced lacks power, the bite point noticeably worsened during the test period.

Disappointing: the Formula T1 S specced lacks power, the bite point noticeably worsened during the test period.

The specification is chosen sensibly and work well during the test, apart from the already mentioned seat post problems. Just the fitted Formula T1 S brakes weren’t a match for the downhill capabilities of the bike. The bite point is already vague and the power decreasing – a real shame!

Let’s go! More trails and test kilometers with the Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29!

Let’s go! More trails and test kilometers with the Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29!

Specialized Camber Expert Evo Carbon 29 enduro mountainbike magazine review test testbericht 2014-3

Conclusion

The “Evo” -tag on a Specialized bike is given to mean an extra portion of fun – our first weeks with Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29 confirm this 100%. If you can overlook the brakes you get a potent and versatile trail bike with in-built fun guaranty. Made-to-measure for the classic local trail rides.

More information www.specialized.com

Pictures: Robin Schmitt

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