2014 Bible of Bike Tests Roundtable Reels: Specialized Camber 29

Find out why you should know about this versatile 29er

Most mountain bikers are well aware of Specialized’s flagship Stumpjumper and Enduro models. But hiding in the shadow of these standout bikes is a less-celebrated yet equally capable beast: the Specialized Camber Expert Carbon EVO 29. Watch this video to find out why some of our testers picked the Camber as their favorite bike of the entire 2014 Bible of Bike Tests.


Price: $6,000
Contact: specialized.com
Direct Link: specialized.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/camber/camber-expert-carbon-evo-29

Final Take: This beast proves that the 'Big Red S' actually stands for 'Slayer.'

Specialized Camber Expert Carbon EVO 29

Specialized Camber Expert Carbon EVO 29

This bike rocked our worlds. And it has a strong case for being the overall favorite of the 2014 Bible of Bike Tests. It certainly was my favorite.

With Specialized already known for game-changing steeds like the Stumpjumper and the Enduro, one could be forgiven for asking how the wagon-wheeled Camber could rank so highly. The hard part in explaining this is deciding where to actually begin.

Let's start with how well this stiff, lightweight bike pedals, which is better than an Enduro or Stumpjumper--the Camber's beefier FSR brethren, which gobble up meaty descents like Jabba the Hutt coming off a fast but are known for pedal bob while climbing with the shock wide open. Not so with the Camber, which has less travel and employs a lower leverage ratio, allowing for more efficient pedaling than other FSR models.

And while the Camber didn't feel as plush on the downhills as an Enduro or a Stumpy, it was eminently capable compared to many of the bikes in our test--a strength that could partially be attributed to the enlightened choice of a RockShox Pike fork with its travel reduced to 120 millimeters. The Pike's stiff, 35-millimeter stanchions and bump-slaying proclivities, combined with the steamroller tendencies of 29-inch wheels, made the Camber a veritable Wehrmacht when pointed downhill.

The downside to this descending speed was the presence of Formula T1 S brakes, whose stopping power didn't measure up to the Camber's penchant for speed. However, this was easily offset by the rest of the parts, including a SRAM X1 drivetrain, Roval Traverse wheels, Specialized tires and 750-millimeter-wide Specialized XC Mini Riser bars. For the well-rounded trail rider who appreciates a taxing technical climb almost as much as a descent, the Camber could never steer you wrong. -Brice Minnigh

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Looking for reviews of the most promising mountain bikes for the 2014 season? Bike magazine's fifth-annual Bible of Bike Tests is the mountain-bike world's most comprehensive gear guide, with honest, balanced reviews of 34 new models. Each review is a consensus of our seasoned crew of testers, who put every bike through its paces on the challenging trails of Sedona, Arizona. We've also included a video of our often-heated 'Roundtable Reels' discussions on each bike to give you a clearer idea of what each tester thought. Expect the unexpected.