Editor’s Note: Grannygear has this report on a new for 2011 29″er model from Specialized that he got to check out at the recent Press Camp he attended in Colorado. You can check out his other reports from this link. Here are Grannygear’s impressions on the Camber Pro 29″er……..

Impressions of the Specialized Camber Pro 29 FS: by Grannygear

There was a bit of a gap opening up in the line-up of 2011 FS mountain bikes that Specialized wanted to fill. There was the latest version of the Epic, now in aluminum and carbon and sitting with 100mm of travel all around, and there was the even bigger travel FSR Stumpjumper, now with 130mm of travel F/R.

The angles of the Epic are a bit quick in the head tube for rougher trails, even though it is not all that scary, and the slacker FSR does feel like a bigger bike in most conditions. As well, the Brain and the 142+ rear ends of the Epics, not to mention the carbon, has to keep the price of the Epics just a notch up.

Not too many folks really need the travel of the FSR Stumpjumper.

So what about the typical weekend warrior? What does Joe Average buy (or Jill Average, for that matter)? Being average is not a bad thing. You want a bike that can ride across a wide variety of terrain, climb well, even if you are not that racing focused (although there is that team 12 hour coming up); take on trips with the buddies and feel good with the 5” travel 26ers that they likely ride; you would like it to be reasonably light and if it was not terribly expensive, that would be good too.

Well then, if this is you, you may just want to toss a leg over a Camber FSR 29er.

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Quite possibly one of the best looking bikes of the line-up, the root-beer and white/creme color is very nice and the shape of the bike has a good balance to it. This, being a very new bike, has the latest in hydro-forming applied to it. Notice how the shock mount on the underside of the top tube is not a welded on piece? It is formed into the tube. This type of detail needed some time to refine as keeping the tolerances exact for wall thickness, etc, is a bit of a daunting task. All other things being equal, less welding on a tube is a good thing as heat does affect things a bit and likely keeps production costs down.

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I rode the Pro model, a $2900.00 mix of Shimano and SRAM, and boasts an XTR rear der. 10 speed, of course, with a 22/36 carbon S2200 double crank with removable spider. At 100mm of travel, you do not get a Brain shock on the Camber, a tapered HT, or a through axle anywhere. It does have the RWS skewers and a slightly oversized end cap on the hub.

REAR SHOCK
Custom Fox Triad II for Specialized, custom on-the-fly 3-position switch 1) lock out 2) Open 3) ProPedal, rebound adjustable., 7.875×1.9”
FORK
Fox F100 RL 29, air spring, alloy steerer, rebound adjustable., Lock Out, standard drop-outs, disc only, 100mm travel.

Tire clearance is good, and the geometry is pleasant with a 70* head tube angle and just barely over 17.5” chain stay length (447mm). I believe this is a 2.0 Captain Control in the pic.

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There is an Elite model as well, priced at $2050.00, the frame being the same, but the suspension is just a notch down:
REAR SHOCK
RockShox Ario RL, air spring, rebound adjustable. and Lock Out, 7.875×1.9”
FORK
RockShox Recon Gold TK 29, Turn Key damper, Solo Air, alloy steerer, rebound adjustable. w/ Lock Out, disc only, 100mm travel

The same for the components on the Elite, mostly Shimano, but it tops out at XT and SLX and comes with a triple crank and 9 speed (22/32/44 and 11-34). The brakes are Juicy 3 SL’s instead of the Elixir R SL’s on the Pro, etc. Both frames have cable routing for Command Posts.

So, all that aside, is it a good bike? After all, no brain, no 142+, no tapered head tube! Can I even enjoy a bike that is not ‘state of the art’? Oh sure I can! The slightly relaxed HT angle and 100mm of travel felt really comfy on the trails at Keystone. I did not feel much twist in the front end, although I am sure it will give way before the burlier set-ups in other bikes do (remember…no tapered HT or through axle fork). Pro Pedal is what it is…did I miss the Brain? Only once when I was pedaling seated up a sharp rise in the trail, then I felt the typical pedal induced movement that I have been missing on the Epic. Annoying, but it is what it is. For quite a bit of the trail I actually ran the PP on and the Fox fork about 50% closed, very similar to the way I used to ride my Lenz most of the time. Obviously it was not plush, but it felt very good and I would ride it that way if I was trying to get efficiency over squoosh. The bike was a very nice compromise between the tighter and steeper feeling Epic and the much bigger FSR. It reminded me of the universal MTB, before things got all niche-y.

Add a Command Post and go ride an all day with the buds. Pro Pedal on for the climb, off for the down hills. The bike did not feel heavy at all…I would say it is under 29lbs. Get some light tires, keep the Pro Pedal on and go race a 12 hour.

The Camber FSR is not the highest tech bike out there, but I bet it would meet the needs (and budgets) of 80% of the riders out there looking for a 29er FS. For this reason, and the way it made me smile, it was my favorite bike of the weekend.

Here is a bit of video on the Camber Pro 29″er FSR