Review: Specialized Women’s Camber

A solid bike for a great price, complete with SWAT and a carbon frame

The Specialized Women’s Camber line replaces the women’s-specific Rumor with a fleet of three 27.5-inch-wheeled models that have the same geometry as the popular unisex frames. Offered in sizes extra small to large, the 130-mil-travel Camber Comp brings a lightweight carbon frame (the rear triangle is alloy) to the front of its women’s Camber line at an affordable $3,800.

We tested the highest-end build, which is stocked with a RockShox Revelation fork, a Fox Float DPS rear shock with Autosag–Specialized’s self-sag-setting system–and a softer tune geared toward lighter riders. While Autosag is a nice feature and certainly serves as a good starting point, our testers found that it usually required a bit of tweaking after the initial setup, which involves pumping 300 PSI into the shock, then hitting the release valve while the bike is weighted. The 1×11 drivetrain is made from a mix of SRAM GX and NX components and worked beautifully throughout our testing. Tires are 2.3 Specialized Purgatory (front) and Ground Control (rear), and fared well on the rocky terrain, with only one flat to report despite the tire-piercing limestone shards littering our test loop. The Shimano M506 brakes provided all the stopping power we needed, though they do require a tool to adjust reach.

Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Gallery Image
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber
Specialized Women's Camber

Testers agreed that the bike provided a fun and lively ride, likely due to the fact that the Camber has the shortest wheelbase (1,119 millimeters, size medium) and chainstays (16.5 inches) of any of the bikes we tested. We were also impressed with its climbing ability on challenging and steep sections of trail. However, the Revelation fork sits a bit low in its travel during high-speed, technical descents. An upgrade to a Fox 34 or RockShox Pike might help shore up the front end, but this would add to the price. We also wished for more travel in the 100-millimeter Command Post dropper.

Noticeably missing from the women’s Camber lineup is a 29er–Specialized says its research shows that more women want a 27.5-inch wheel, and pointed us to its Rhyme 6Fattie, which also works as a 29er. But if you’re set on a solid 650b light-trail rig, the Camber Comp is tough to beat.

MSRP: $3,800

specialized.com


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Q&A with Specialized

Why did Specialized opt to not offer the Camber to women as a 29er?

Katie Sue Gruener, head of women’s PR at Specialized: The decision to do the Women’s Camber in 650b was based on two things.

1 – Rider research showed this rider preferred/is looking for 650 wheel size.

2 – The Rhyme comes in 6Fattie, which is also 29 compatible so it covers the larger wheel size option for women riders.

 

Why is the highest-end spec of the Camber somewhat mid-level? Other brands are offering a full on high end build and they seem to be selling well for those companies. What is the reasoning behind the build spec for the Camber Comp?

Joe Buckley, MTB product manager: In the past when we have made high end bikes, the demand was not there. We wanted to have a capable bike with a competitive price point. The Rhyme is another women’s specific MTB, the bike is intended for a slightly different experience but it does provide riders with the option to have a bike with a higher end spec.

 

How often do men wish they could have that sweet paint job on their bikes?

KSG: Our color and graphics team have really stepped up their game. Something they’ve put a lot of effort into is developing a color palette to provide more unity and consistency between bike families. We want all the bikes to offer sweet paint jobs.

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