We tested the first generation aluminium FSR Camber Comp over two years ago. At the time, the 29er wheelsize was still quite fresh. We got to ride an updated 2013 model – in carbon fibre – recently, which inspired us to run an updated review.
The FSR Comp Carbon’s main frame is made from Specialized’s FACT 9m carbon and has a tapered headtube (the previous edition we tested didn’t have this) with a steeply swooping downtube. The toptube is cleverly reinforced at the seat tube with an integrated strut, the line of which extends below the toptube to the forward shock mount. The rear triangle is made from aluminium. The back shock mount is actually bonded to a forged yoke that forms the top end of the seatstay assembly. This essentially combines the seatstays with the shock – an efficient piece of design. The other key changes from the first edition Camber we tested are a press-fit BB30 bottom bracket and internal routing for a dropper seatpost. Oh and it now boasts Specialized’s proprietary AutoSag on the Custom FOX Float CTD Evolution rear shock, which smartly sets your sag, well, automatically. The geometry is rather on the steep side for a Trail bike – 70-degrees head tube and 74-degrees seattube.
There’s a Rock Shox Reba RL29 fork with 110m of travel, which doesn’t have a thru-axle, but does have oversized hub end-caps which is said to increase contact area between hub and fork dropouts and therefore increase stiffness for the 12mm axle. The wheelset comprises Specialized’s Roval 29 hoops, which offer sturdiness in their 26mm width, while the brakeset is Avid’s Elixir 3R with a 180mm rotor upfront for maximum stopping power. The gearshift system is a mixed bag, with a Shimano XT rear derailleur, SRAM X7 front derailleur and Shimano SLX 10-speed trigger shifters. The Specialized XC Mini-riser handlebar is 720mm wide for firm control, while the seatpost, stem and saddle are all from the Specialized stable. Overall, it’s very well thought out parts spec on a frame that’s more business than bling in terms of looks.
The Camber Comp Carbon feels quite long and low initially. You get used to this feel quite quickly though and it isn’t a bad thing as it makes you feel very in control and stable on most gradients. The Camber is categorised as a Trail bike, but we found the 70-degree headtube angle combined with the 90mm stem to give us a more racy position than a traditionally more relaxed angle trail bike position. This is obviously great for climbing though. At 12.83kg it’s pretty light and climbs with purpose and agility, even with a double chainring set-up. On very steep, rough descents though, we felt a little inadequate at times and believe a fork with more travel and a through-axle would change that. But to be fair, they were very steep and very rocky descents, unlikely to be ridden by most. Cornering was really impressive. Being a little over the front wheel helps with stability and the wide bars and Specialized Ground Control tyres combined to increase control through corners both tight, low-speed twistys and high-speed bends.
This made singletrack riding a pleasure. Braking was quite adequate and shifting was reliable. Very long rides were super comfortable and we made full use of the CTD settings on the rear shock to ensure optimal efficiency with our pedalling effort on all gradients and trail surfaces. This confirms our long-time view that unless you’re a super serious, highly conditioned rider, marathons and stage races should be ridden on this kind of bike, not an aggressively angled short-travel race steed. The fact that it comes in such a big size range (S, M, L, XL, XXL) is also quite impressive for a 29er platform bike.
Available in carbon and aluminium, the Camber is a 110mm dual suspension bike that’s neither a straight-up XC/Marathon race bike nor a hardcore Trail bike. It falls between Specialized’s Epic and Stumpjumper categories in a kind of crossover type of riding that’s actually where most of our South African riding and racing is positioned. If you’re into your marathons and stage racing and enjoy long, (tame-ish terrain) trail rides, then the Camber Comp Carbon should be among the top options on your shopping list.
Specialized FSR Camber Comp, Carbon
SIZES: S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 590mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 445mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70 degrees
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 447mm
PRICE: R32 999
FRAME: Carbon fibre front with aluminium rear triangle.
COLOURS: Gloss carbon/white
FORK: RockShox Reba RL 29, with 110mm travel and lockout
REAR SHOCK: Custom FOX Float CTD Evolution with AUTOSAG with 110mm travel
SHIFTERS: Shimano SLX 10-speed
FRONT DERAILLER: SRAM X7
REAR DERAILLER: Shimano XT Shadow
CRANKSET: Custom SRAM S-1250, 10-speed XC Trail double 36/22
BRAKESET: Custom Avid Elixir 3R, hydraulic disc with 180mm (front) and 160mm (rear) rotors.
WHEELS: Roval 29 wheelset with 26mm width rims
TYRES: Specialized Ground Control 2Bliss 2.3 front and 2.1 rear
OTHERS: Specialized XC Mini-riser 720mm handlebar, XC Trail stem, Specialized seatpost and Body Geometry Henge Comp saddle.
CONTACT: www.specialized.com; 021 808 7333
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 24, 2013 – All rights reserved