The Camber is a bike with a pretty wide application what with its moderate travel and do-all geometry. It is, if you were to honesty survey most 29er trail riders, the type of bike they should be on. What it is not is particularly exciting.
But the S Works Camber seeks to change that up a bit. Off all the bikes I rode at the product launch, the S Works Camber is the one I would bring home. Under 25lbs in my XL size (no hard numbers there, but it is darn light) and sexy looking, it is not your father’s Camber (apologies to Oldsmobile).
The new S Works crank is lighter and stiffer than before, the XX1 gearing is the i-ching of performance gearing…Roval Control Trail SL carbon wheels…custom Formula T1 Racing brakes…quite the package including an IR Command Post dropper post, which, on all the bikes I rode this week that were Command Post equipped, showed a much lighter and smoother action overall compared to older versions.
If you have not gotten a chance to ride something along the level of an S Works bike, then you should just to get an idea of what a bike this light and stiff feels like. It is amazing really, how a 29er wakes up when it is built like the S Works Camber.
I would not be surprised if this was the fastest bike down the trails of all the ones I rode. Nimble, just enough travel…zoom zoom. The Formula brakes were very good, almost Shimano good but they had an annoying habit, when pushed somewhat hard, where the rear brake level would pull farther in towards the grip than you expected, then if you released it and pulled it again quickly, it would not pull in as far. Not awful, but annoying as it would mess up your timing sometimes and just feel odd.
If I had to say something negative about the S Works Camber, and this applies to all the Camber line, is that is getting a bit long in the tooth geometry wise, especially in the shadow of the dynamic Enduro 29er, but also compared to something like an Ibis Ripley which is more nimble on its feet AND has 120mm of travel.
I can only imagine that the Camber would be well served with a bit of length chopped off the chain stays (but not to the extent of the Enduro) and a full 120mm fork travel.
But even so,the Camber line is proven, steady, and versatile and the S Works is all that and one thing more…exciting.