Camber Expert Carbon EVO 29
ourselves wanting slightly more sag—about 30 percent—
than what the shock defaults to. We set the Pike fork to
match. Autosag is a great starting point for most, but don’t
be afraid to experiment.
Ergonomics: The Camber EVO’s blend of cross-country
and trail-ready traits means that the cockpit feel strikes a
balance between a full-fledged race bike like the Epic and
the more upright feel of a Stumpjumper FSR. While the top
tube feels fairly compact for a size-large frame, the 29.5-inch
bars helped give us plenty of room.
Pedaling: Specialized’s FSR rear suspension benefits
from Fox’s three-position, platform CTD shock. In the
open Descend mode, the suspension is fairly active, but
flip the lever to Climb and the Camber EVO does a great
hardtail impression, perfect for turning the pedals up long
fire-road climbs. The middle Trail setting was perfect for
technical climbs where we looked to the rear suspension to
keep the back tire hooking up and to keep our bodies from
Climbing: Since the bike is designed for all-day adventures, that’s exactly the type of riding we did—up and down
the mountain. Compared to a cross-country race bike, the
Camber EVO doesn’t necessarily leap out from underneath
you; however, on long and steady climbs, we had no problem settling into a rhythm and staying glued to buddies who
opted for lighter rigs.
Cornering: A precise fork, meaty tires, dialed suspension
and more aggressive geometry imply that the Camber EVO
likes to be pushed hard into rough and fast corners. The
EVO’s relatively long wheelbase keeps it from being as flick-able as we’d like through tight switchbacks, but with a bit of
extra rider input, the rear wheel is happy to oblige.
Descending: Though on paper the Camber EVO has less
than an inch more suspension travel than most cross-coun-
try bikes, you’d never know it from the way it handles
rough sections of trail. The Camber EVO is truly a sum of
its parts, which allows it to be ridden as aggressively as any
4.7-inch-travel bike we’ve tested. Drop the saddle, point and
Braking: While we do like the tool-free lever and
pad-contact adjustments, from a lever-ergonomics standpoint, the Formula T1 brakes didn’t win any awards from
us. When it comes to getting the bike stopped, however, the
T1s and the massive 8-inch front-brake rotor got the job
done without breaking a sweat.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The first thing we did was ditch the tubes. The last thing
you want to be thinking about when pounding through a
rock garden is a pinch flat.
The spec’ed, 32-tooth chainring is a good option for stronger riders or those not dealing with very steep climbs; however, for the rest of us, a 30-tooth would offer a more usable
range of gears.
The SWAT group allowed us to ditch the hydration pack
on rides under two hours. Using the SWAT feature, a rider
only needs a jersey pocket or two for some food and that
ever-important cellphone. Losing the hydration pack is a big
benefit on shorter rides.
Most riders would be hard-pressed to find a trail where
the Camber doesn’t feel at home. Thanks to its balanced
geometry with a slight bent toward downhill aggression and
a parts package that is good to go right out of the box, the
Camber EVO simply rips—up or down the trail. ❏
A healthy dose of aggression: In a
nutshell, the Evo feels like a scaled-down trailbike. For riders who like to
ride aggressively, but don’t have trails
that require a full 6 inches of travel, the
Camber is a great choice.