Menu

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon

XC-plus or Trail-light?

Words by Morgan Taylor. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
January 21st, 2013

The Specialized Camber is a bike we don’t see too often here on the Shore. Whether it’s because the longer-legged EVO series Stumpjumpers are more popular or just the fact that the local shops don’t bring as many of them in, this is a bike that flies under the radar. With that said, when the box arrived from Specialized Canada last week and I saw what was inside, I was indeed excited. Cam McRae attended the Camber launch in Bend, Oregon last year, and he came away from that experience raving about the 110mm 29er.

As my own riding style is leaning toward longer and longer loops on the Shore, a shorter travel bike with big wheels seems logical. The 110mm Camber is bigger than a pure XC race bike but not quite by enough to put it in the Trail category. Let’s call it XC-plus or Trail-light – or let the ride do the talking. I’ve put three rides into the Camber so far and am very happy with its performance. From here on I’ll let photos and captions take you on a tour-de-Camber. You can scroll through or click to make the photos big (recommended!) and sequence through.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Starting at the front. A big fat tapered carbon head tube and an aesthetically pleasing 10mm riser bar. 720mm wide and a sweepy 10×6º bend. I’ll likely swap this out for a wider bar, but that’s merely a personal preference; the shape of the stock bar is great.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Matte carbon with gloss red and gloss black. The paint on the Camber Pro is reminiscent of the 2013 S-Works bikes, and since there is no S-Works Camber, this is the end of the line.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

There’s that gloss black again.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Tidy under-downtube cable routing and internal dropper post routing in the top tube.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

What every pedal bike needs: a bottle cage mount. Time to join the weenies with the CO2 inflators.

Direct post mount on the M5 aluminum rear end. The larger Camber Pro Carbon models are spec’d with 200mm front and 180mm rear rotors.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

SRAM XX 11-36 cassette, and a dork disc to prevent gapers from wrecking a wheel on a test ride.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Remove the pie plate after you’re absolutely certain the derailleur limits are set properly… a pair of sidecutters will do.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Roval Control SL 29 142+ rear hub with DT star ratchet freehub.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

XO Type 2 clutched rear derailleur aka the sound of silence. Standard clutch derailleurs will be an OEM highlight of 2013.

An XX spider and 22-36 rings with bash – hurrah! Did Specialized know this bike was coming to the Shore? Carbon S-Works cranks in the press fit BB.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Fox’s Float CTD Kashima shock with AutoSag controlling the 110mm of FSR travel.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

AutoSag sounds good on paper, but this is the third bike I’ve ridden on a longer-term basis with it and it doesn’t seem to leave enough air in the shock for me. Not a big deal, but also not a highlight. Maybe I’m a heavy bastard.

mt-2013-camber-pro-14

Another look at that 10×6º bar and tidy XO matchmaker clamp. The Pro Carbon comes with a 100mm Syntace stem – too long for this guy, hence the 75mm unit seen here.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Shiny reflection.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Fox 32 Float CTD at 110mm – within the comfortable range of the 32 platform and the new damping cartridge feels good.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

The 29″ Ground Control tires are not available in the aftermarket just yet, so this is our advance chance to do some skids. So far, so good. 2.3″ front and 2.1″ rear.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Roval Control Trail SL carbon rims look the part. The Ground Control tires are 2Bliss Ready and the bike comes with valve stems.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

200mm front rotor and XO 2-pot caliper. Happy to see real brake rotors spec’d on an XC bike.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

My only real spec complaint on the Camber Pro is the 9mm QR fork. Specialized’s system with the big cones on the hub is quite stiff, but I still question speccing a QR on a top end 29er with a big rotor. Not a deal-breaker, and the bike rides just fine.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

Blacklite Command Post and yes, that is a tail light – thanks for asking. The Command Post was sticky for the first two rides but seems to have settled into its groove now.

2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29 XC Trail 29er North Shore Morgan Taylor bike gear review test

The 2013 Specialized Camber Pro Carbon in all its glory. 27 pounds flat with the pedals shown. The Camber Pro Carbon runs for $7999 CDN, but you can get into an aluminum Camber for as little as $1900.


Edit: Specialized just uploaded a video with some more info about the Camber – enjoy!


All in all, the spec of the 2013 Camber Pro Carbon is very Shore-friendly for what is essentially an XC race bike with a bit more travel. Smart gearing, bash guard, clutch derailleur, dropper post, decent tires… could this be your all day bike?

  • cam

    I rode the Camber Pro in Bend OR back in April. I liked it too. A lot. It rallied on some challenging terrain and made me smile. http://www.nsmb.com/5369-2013-specialized-camber-and-stumpjumper-evo/

  • Jerry-Rig

    You can get Ground Control tires aftermarket. I got a 2.1 (which I thought was too small for the NS) from a local shop.

  • Jerry-Rig

    you might be right there.

  • apak

    27 pounds for a $8000 XC ride?

    The lower end models are good value, but that Pro Carbon version makes no sense whatsoever at that price. Too heavy for the XC racer, too dainty for the aggressive trail rider.

    • morgman

      Put me in the aggressive trail category – I’ll let you know how it goes but with 3 rides behind me so far I wouldn’t describe the Camber as dainty.

      • apak

        Wouldn’t you agree that for $8000 there are much better buys?

        For example, in that same high end market, why not a Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 29er? If I am not mistaken, that fellow is some 3-4 pounds lighter, and some $1000 cheaper… with only slightly less travel, but with all the awesomeness that is a Lefty.

      • morgman

        This particular Camber’s spec is much different than the pure XC race bike you’re comparing it to. The dropper post, bash guard, big rotors and heavier tires all add up, but they are features that I’m happy to see on a bike that is all around slightly bigger than a normal XC racer.

      • apak

        Fair enough. Specialized seems to make a dozen variation for all their specific models so everyone is bound to find exactly what they want at a given price point.

  • Jerry-Rig

    I think the Stumpy EVO would be better suited for North Shore riding IMO. 130mm rear and a 34 140mm front. QR and 32mm going to be noodles. 70 degree head angle is pretty steep as well.

    • morgman

      I’ve found the 34 140 equipped bikes to often be sluggish climbers. Could be the tires that end up on those bikes but in general I wouldn’t choose a long travel bike for all day XC or the occasional race.

      With that said, this is a long term test platform, so if the QR 32 isn’t up to the task, it can be changed. Maybe go to 120 on a 34? Who knows…

  • bobbyc

    I’m on a 2012 camber pro carbon…it’s been a good bike for long days in the saddle. It tends to feel a bit skittish when pushed hard on tech terrain but overall it handles well for what it is. My only complaint is that the front end tends to easily lift and wander when climbing anything remotely steep. I have a Fox 32 120 w/ 15mm axle up front, zero stack h. set and low rise bars???

  • boomforeal

    bike’s a beaut. though had i known it retails for 8k i might have been more gentle while helping you put it together…

    qr front axle / 142+ rear is a head scratcher