When it comes to off-the-shelf 29ers, I’ve been impressed with the offerings from Specialized. New this year is the Camber line and the Camber Pro 29er that I’ve had the pleasure of riding over the past few months. No question… this bike is a winner.
2011 Specialized Camber Pro 29er Features:
- M4 alloy FSR frame with 29er-specific geometry, new suspension design, and sealed cartridge bearing pivots for confident handling and smooth trail performance
- Custom Fox Triad II rear shock tackles all trail conditions with its 3-position, on-the-fly adjuster that includes lockout, fully open, and efficient ProPedal settings
- Fox F100 RL 29 fork with lockout and adjustable rebound complements the big wheels to further smooth out rough terrain
- Super light, custom SRAM Carbon S-2200 10-speed double crankset with GXP spindle and removable spider offers stiffness, performance, and durability
- Custom Avid Elixir R SL hydraulic disc brakes with G3 Clean Sweep rotors for maximum stopping power and Elixir levers with reach adjust
- Shimano Deore XTR Shadow rear derailleur with carbon cage delivers ultra-light, top-of-the-line shifting performance and legendary durability
- MSRP: $3000
2011 Specialized Camber Pro 29er Review
New for 2011, the Specialized Camber 29er lineup offers a ton of bang-for-the-buck. The top-end Camber Pro 29er I tested is really an amazing value at $3000. All things considered, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find its off-the-shelf equal. Lets dive into some of my thoughts.
When the Camber Pro 29er rolled out of my local bike shop, Timpanogos Cyclery, I was immediately impressed. The white/rootbeer color scheme looks sharp and the entire package really makes sense. The one thing I tend to give Specialized a hard time about is the SRAM-mano drivetrain. Over the years I’ve given them guff, but in this instance, they have cherry picked quite a hodgepodge package that has proven reliable and predictable. Rounding out the package is a great set of Specialized/DT Swiss wheels.
Setup was a breeze with both the fork and shock offering stiction-free performance right out of the box. I quickly dialed both in at about 30% sag and left it. The only item I swapped out were the Specialized lock-on grips. I personally prefer the added comfort of Ergon GX1 grips, but other than that I was completely satisfied with every part on the Camber Pro.
Unlike most 29ers I ride, I opted to keep the stem in its positive rise position. The combination of that with the flat, wide bars proved to put me in the perfect riding position for both technical, steep climbs and challenging descents. I also elected to go with the size Medium, which some may consider borderline too small for my 5’10” frame, but for me it made the bike much more playful and fun. That said, the cockpit really felt comfortable, not cramped. Specialized does have odd sizing on paper since I typically prefer about a 23.75″ top tube (the medium is 23.2″). I either have to size up or down, but in the case of the Camber 29er, sizing down proved to be an excellent choice.
My personal steed is the Niner RIP 9, which sets a very high bar in the 29er trailbike market. Honestly, after spending time on the Camber, I’m completely impressed and feel that this bike can give the best trailbikes a run for their money.
Ascents are a breeze with the 29er-specific 2×10 drivetrain. On most climbs, I’ve been able to keep it in the large chainring. Only on steep, technical terrain did I drop into the cheater. At no time did I feel like the 2×10 drivetrain made me sacrifice any seemingly-lower gears offered in a 3×10 or 3×9 setup. Only once did I experience chain suck while dropping to the small chainring under load. Rear shifting was always superb and crisp — thanks to the XTR rear derailleur (makes me wonder how a full XTR drivetrain would perform).
The SRAM-mano drivetrain is a bit Frankenstein-ish, but it performed extremely-well on the trails. I quickly forgot about the unlikely combination and went on with my rides — completely confident in the accuracy and speed of the shifting.
I did tend to use the ProPedal switch in the rear a little more than on other bikes. For most riding, I left it on since it blows through the valve when needed, but for fun-filled descents, I turned it off and was always well-rewarded.
When pointing this bike downhill, the Camber really performs well. Rolling through rocky sections, the bike remains composed and confident with no noticeable flex in the front or rear-end. It tracks smooth and is able to handle the gnarliest terrain you can throw its way.
I’m a huge fan of the Captain Control 2.2 tires and really appreciated how well they rolled and hooked up in all terrain. There’s a reason why I have them on my own personal ride (yup, they are THAT good). Another highlight of this bike is the Specialized BG Henge Comp saddle. This one just fits my anatomy perfectly for a numb-free ride — gotta get me one of these.
One of my favorite traits of this bike is its ability to carve through winding singletrack. 29er nay-sayers will scoff, but a capable rider will power through tight, twisty and technical terrain while smiling like a little kid. This bike sure makes a case for the obsolescence of 26ers — it’s that good.
- Perhaps the best off-the-shelf full-suspension 29ers on the market
- At $3000, this is a killer overall value
- FSR suspension design is always smooth and predictable
- Love the tire selection… really makes this bike shine in all terrain
- Feels comfortable in all terrain and conditions
- Carves up twisty, turny singletrack
- Carries its speed so well, you will be grateful for the 203mm front rotor
- No tapered head tube
- The paint lines between white and root beer could have been done better (yeah, being picky)
The Bottom Line: 2011 Specialized Camber Pro 29er
The Camber Pro 29er should inspire you to put your 26er up for sale right now. I’m long sold on big wheels and will not consider anything other than a 29er for my own bike. This bike makes that argument easy. Give it a whirl… this bike will amaze you.
Buy Now: Visit Your Local Specialized Dealer
how much does it weigh?
I’ll hit the scales tonight and let you know. It feels like it’s in the 27 lbs range.
I’m off by a bit. My bathroom scale says 30 lbs. Seems lighter than that. Let me check at my LBS.
Then you should really try the Epic29 then.
Yeah, I do need to swing a leg over the Epic. I’ve heard great things about it. Next time.
How big of a drawback is this bike not having a tapered head tube? I recently test rode the Giant Anthem X2 and the Trek/Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29ers (which are in the same price range as this Camber Pro) and both have tapered head tubes.
No doubt, a tapered head tube will create a stiffer front-end, but is it the end-all-be-all? Well, if you like the bike and it happens to have a tapered head tube… great. If you like he bike and it has a standard head tube… great again.
I don’t feel this bike lacks in steering precision, tracking or lateral stiffness at all.
I have been looking at 29ers lately. I have demoed them enough to believe they have a smoother ride and carry a lot of momentum. My concern is how do they work on an extended slow climb such as “Puke Hill” at the Wasatch Crest.
I am presently able to climb it on my Epiphany but I am not so sure I could turn the 29er wheel on that type of climb.
What is your opinion of a 29er versus a 26er on a long slow climb?
Absolutely no worries, my friend. I’ve tackled “Puker” on my Niner RIP 9 in the same way I did on my Ibis Mojo 26er. You’ll crush it like its never been crushed before.
I am considering the Camber 29er and the Stumpjumper FSR 29er. Have you tested the Stumpjumper FSR 29er? How would you contrast the two?
John… sorry, man. I have not ridden the SJ FSR 29er. I’ve heard lots of good about it, but have yet to ride one.
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I bought a XL Specialized Camber 29er used last year and went through it. Basic tune up and a new wheel set for it.. I live in the Colorado rocky mountains! This bike fits me and my trails just about , , , AWESOME ! Excellent on the climb. A real pleasure on the downhill!! I wish it was just a little bit lighter but , it is a XL. 29.5 lbs. Very Happy with my purchase!!