Dirt Rag Magazine

First ride: 2014 Specialized trail bikes: Camber and Stumpy

By Eric McKeegan

Recently Specialized herded a selection of journalists from all over the globe to France for a chance to see the new, 2014 Stumpjumper FSR and Camber models. These bikes are the “trail” models, sitting between the cross country Epic we wrote about earlier and the all mountain Enduro we reviewed in Issue #171.

While there wasn’t anything groundbreaking announced here, the big news is 29-inch wheels. Not that 29er are a new thing—Specialized is well established in the 29er kingdom at this point. But for 2014 both Camber and Stumpjumper will be entirely 29er, save for two Stumpjumper EVO 26 models. For a company late to the big-wheel game, Specialized is obviously converted at this point.

The French arm of Specialized is housed in a former silk factory; a huge stone building built around 1850. It sits up a steep, narrow road outside the small town of Charmes-sur-Rhône. This was a very picturesque setting for our three days of riding the surrounding French countryside.

Camber EVO

The first day I managed to grab the bike that I think is the star of this show: the new Camber FSR Expert Carbon EVO 29. The EVO and S-Works models signalsthat the Camber is now a full member of the Specialized line-up—no longer just an entry to mid-level platform.

The Camber Carbon EVO seems to have gone shopping at the same store as the Enduro 29, with a 120mm travel Pike RC fork up front (35mm stanchions!), and a Butcher/Purgatory tire combo in 2.3. In stock trim it will have the new SRAM’s new XO1 1×11 drivetrain (which doesn’t exist officially but obviously does). The bike I rode was equipped with XX1. The rear travel is bumped up another 10mm to 120mm. A 750mm bar, shorter stem and sturdy Roval Travese wheelset round out the package.

While I was wishing for the same short chainstay suspension design as the Enduro 29, I’ll admit to thinking very little about rear center lengths while riding this bike. Everything here worked in harmony, and the beefy fork and tires allowed me to hang it out more than I expected on the rocky descents. This stock Command Post with internal routing was very helpful here as well.

The main change to all the Camber frames is the addition of a concentric pivot to the shock swing link, meaning the seatstays and the shock yoke share a cartridge-bearing pivot. This may sound minor, but it ended up stiffening up the rear of the bike to an unexpected degree, even for the Specialized engineers.

Camber

The second day was a long ride, and I ended up aboard the S-Works Camber FSR Carbon 29. Yes, that is the official name, which seems a bit redundant, as the Camber is only available in 29-inch wheels, and all S-Works bikes are carbon fiber.

Regardless of overly verbose names, this is a pretty darn nice bike: full Fact 11m carbon frame, Fox Factory 32 fork, Autosag Float CTD rear shock, Roval carbon wheels, XX1 with carbon S-Works cranks, etc, etc, etc. Not much room here to upgrade….

Anyway, the difference between the EVO and S-Works bike was easily detectable from the first few miles of trail. While the EVO felt like a trail bike, the S-Works was much more cross-country feeling. This is probably mostly due to the 1.2-degree steeper head angle (68.8 on the EVO, 70 on the S-Works) and the 32mm vs 35mm fork. While travel was 10mm less than the 120mm EVO at both ends, I didn’t find this to be as noticeable as the geometry, fork stiffness and tire differences. I certainly enjoyed my day on this bike, including a lunch break at a beautiful old abbey.

As can be expected, these super expensive bikes rode really, really well, but don’t despair if you aren’t a Silicon Valley CEO. The Camber line remains true to its roots with the aluminum framed base model coming in at $1,850. There is also an alloy EVO at $3,000, although it gets a 32mm Reba RL rather than a Pike. Full price list for all seven models and the S-Works frame are below.

  • S-Works Camber FSR Carbon 29 $9,250
  • S-Works Camber FSR Carbon 29 Frame $4,250
  • Camber FSR Expert Carbon Evo 29 $6,000
  • Camber FSR Expert Carbon 29 $6,300
  • Camber FSR Comp Carbon 29 $3,800
  • Camber FSR Evo 29 $3,000
  • Camber FSR Comp 29 $2,600
  • Camber FSR 29 $1,850

Stumpjumper FSR

The final day was my chance at a Stumpjumper, and I selected the 130mm S-Works model, mostly because all the large EVOs were already spoken for. The S-Works Stumpy is as well appointed as the Camber, with the fancy Fact 11m carbon frame, Fox Factory 34 fork with Kashima, XX1 drivetrain, Roval Contrail Trail SL carbon wheels and Command Post IR dropper.

I spent a good bit of time on the 2012 EVO version of this bike, and this feels pretty similar—as it should, since the frames are carried over without change. The main thing that stood out from the ride is the incredible composure of this bike just about everywhere. I remember spinning, while seated up a nasty rocky fire road climb, and the FSR rear suspension floated me almost as if I was hovering. And going down both controlled and fun, the addition of a 34 fork over the 32 from last year is a good spec.

Stumpjumper EVO

Here is a pic of the 140mm S-Works EVO, with the blacked-out Pike fork and the same tire and wheel combo as the Camber EVO. I’m glad to see the silver paint, the black/red and black/neon yellow haven’t been my favorite. This bike will also get the full on carbon treatment including wheels, XX1 drivetrain and XO trail brakes. This is a size small, too small for me to even get an idea about how it rides.

Full pricing is below, including the two 26” EVO models.

  • S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 29 $9,500
  • S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Evo 29 $9,000
  • S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Evo $9,000
  • S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 29 Frame $4,500
  • Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo 29 $6,200
  • Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo 29 Frame $2,950
  • Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo 26 $6,200
  • Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo 26 Frame $2,950
  • Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29 $6,500
  • Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon 29 $4,000
  • Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 $4,200
  • Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo 29 $3,300
  • Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo $3,300
  • Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29 $2,900

All these bike use the Specialized exclusive AutoSag , including a first for 2014 RockShox Monarch on the Camber Comp . I find AutoSag to be a bit too saggy personally, and find the suspension more to my liking with closer to 25 percent than the 30 percent that AutoSag seems to settle on. Pretty simple to adjust though, and nothing stopping me or anyone else from setting up sag the traditional way on a bike with AutoSag.

We were also shown a few items from the SWAT system (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) we wrote about earlier. The idea is to enable 2-3 hour rides without a pack, something I’m fully behind. The topcap chain toll is very smart, and reminiscent of the old CoolTool chain tool which mounted inside a seatpost. The SWAT tool with work with all modern chains, including 11-speed, and the spare master link is sweet idea.
 

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