Help me understand my ride last night – Spec Camber Comp 29er

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  • Help me understand my ride last night – Spec Camber Comp 29er
  • Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    Hi I have a Camber Carbon Comp and it’s a little sensitive to set up, particularly the rear shock in my mind.

    I have the 2012 with a Fox fork and although the Camber has a tapered steerer it has a QR not a bolt through axle which I find somewhat odd specing. The front certainly never feels too flexy to but I do think that it’s easy to burn through the travel, so maybe you need some extra pressure. Also at Swinley the tight little berms on Stickler aren’t the best place for a 29er compared to a fast 26er. Physics dicates that you won’t be able to get around as easily on a 29er and although you possibly didn’t realise it, you may have been going into the corners quicker on a 29er?

    I stick with the Camber, properly set up it’s a great bike. Oh and yes the specialized tyres are a bit heavy.

    Trimix
    Member

    I would expect the front to wash out if the bars/stem are higher than your used to. Which then in turn puts your weight further back from the front tyre.

    Some tweaking can alter that, but might not as the bars have to be higher as the front wheel is bigger.

    Also, given the wheels are bigger, they are going to be heavier. Thats why they carry the speed well, more momentum. But you have to get them up to speed, which is harder.

    GaryLake
    Member

    Tbh, sounds a lot like 29er first timer technique coupled with poor setup… there is an adjustment period and if you’re not getting the bike over and you’re braking mid-corner, the 29er wheels just exaggerate what’s happening on the 26er but to a greater degree.

    That ‘understeer’ is normally a body position thing and mid-corner braking which causes the bike to try and stand up and run wide in the turn.

    For what it’s worth, when I get back on a 26er I tend to override the thing, crossing the front up from manhandling the bars too much. It’s just different…

    b r
    Member

    No idea on the ride etc, but for the brake issue they just need moving inboard then you can’t catch your fingers even if they needed bleeding.

    Premier Icon Chainline
    Subscriber

    Agree with Gary here. I have a 68deg HA Cove Handjob 26″ I ride as well as my 29. It feels positively steep and super twitchy when I ride it. I frequently over compensate on steering/leaning when swopping onto it from my 29.
    It could be tyre and any number of other things but most likely technique from your description.

    Counter steer the bike rather than ‘steer’ it to lean in and pick up. You will need to use more body English than on a 26 without doubt.

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Wanted to talk through my ride on the Camber last night and to try and understand what I felt on it to see if it’s just the bike itself or perhaps setup. I’ve ridden my current Cotic Soda for the past 5 years so don’t have much experience on other bikes.

    I borrowed the demo Camber Carbon Comp from a shop and have it for a few days. Annoyingly, I think the rear brake on it needs bleeding. It was very soft and I couldn’t lock it with one finger as the lever hit my middle finger on the bars! Caused some confidence issues and I had to use the front more than I’d like. I did find it had a lot of brake judder on the front though, it was strong, but I think the Reba is just a bit flexy?

    I found the rear to be a bit bouncy initially, but I slowed the rebound a bit and this sorted that out. Didn’t really have any issues with the rear though, it was the front.

    Not sure if it was tyres, frame geo or just the fact it’s a 29er, but the front end was a bit shit. The best way I can try to describe it is that it was trying to understeer? Riding a long tight bermy section (Stickler @ Swinley), the front would slide a little coming out of corners which was annoying and lowered confidence in it. One thing I thought may be contributing, is that the saddle is probably a bit too far back on the rails for me, I wondered if shifting my weight forward a bit more might help with that?

    110mm on the front seems a bit low too. I think the shop set the pressure in them too low for me as I was bottoming them out too easily.

    The extra weight in the wheels was noticeable too. I guess this is partly them being 29, but also not the lightest items in the world.

    I’m back again Wednesday so will tweak a few bits before then and try again.

    Any thoughts on what I’ve described and how to interpret them?

    I definitely need to ride a few more options before deciding on what I buy though, I don’t want to rush into a purchase. Not really sure quite what I want to buy yet.

    Premier Icon flange
    Subscriber

    I had a Carbon camber comp and ended up selling it because I didn’t get on with it. The front always felt very vague, to the point where I’d never have any faith in it whatsoever compared to my previous bike. All the crashes I had were low sides where the front just let go with no warning. This was running a decent front tyre at low pressures, swapping stems, playing with shock pressures and so on.

    The crunch came when I swapped bikes with a mate (his a 26er) whilst on the DH part of Cannock. Having not ridden his bike before I immediately felt more at home on his and felt much more confident cornering.

    I agree with Gary that this is more than likely down to technique more than anything, however even when I compensated by weighting the front more (which did help) I still didn’t seem to enjoy riding it as much as I did my 26 inch bikes. So it went…

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    _daveR – Member

    …the front end was a bit shit…Riding a long tight bermy section…the front would slide a little coming out of corners which was annoying and lowered confidence in it. One thing I thought may be contributing, is that the saddle is probably a bit too far back on the rails for me, I wondered if shifting my weight forward a bit more might help with that?

    eh? – did i read that wrong? – if you’re sitting down in the corners, you’re not doing it right.

    specialized bikes (i’ve have/ridden a few) seem to be quite long, and often have long stems too.

    what forks do you have on your hardtail? – the handlebars may be higher than you’re used to, and the BB may be lower, all making it a bit more difficult to get comfy/confident.

    (a shorter stem isn’t an automatic fix for every bike, but it’s not a bad place to start tinkering on a longish bike like a camber)

    …I couldn’t lock it (the rear brake) with one finger as the lever hit my middle finger on the bars!

    move the levers towards the stem, so that your index finger sits in the kink at the end.

    (won’t solve the softness, but it sounds like they’re in the wrong place anyway)

    Premier Icon Paceman
    Subscriber

    Tbh, sounds a lot like 29er first timer technique coupled with poor setup… there is an adjustment period and if you’re not getting the bike over and you’re braking mid-corner, the 29er wheels just exaggerate what’s happening on the 26er but to a greater degree.

    That ‘understeer’ is normally a body position thing and mid-corner braking which causes the bike to try and stand up and run wide in the turn.

    For what it’s worth, when I get back on a 26er I tend to override the thing, crossing the front up from manhandling the bars too much. It’s just different…

    +1 Completely agree, there’s a period of adjustment and you need to be more dynamic with your changes in body position / leaning the bike through corners. Seated cornering will also exagerate the issues you’re experiencing.

    rootes1
    Member

    I have the 2012 with a Fox fork and although the Camber has a tapered steerer it has a QR not a bolt through axle which I find somewhat odd specin

    does the camber come with specialized’s large axle flange hubs? this is meant to stiffen a std QR up

    i was hoping to test a camber and epic at QECP demo day, but specialized decided not to bother turning up on the Saturday with no warning…

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Firstly, thanks to all for the replies, these are exactly the sort of comments I was after. I was sure that a large amount of it was going to be technique and adjustment to the different dynamics of the bike.

    My Soda has 100-130mm Revelations on and I quite like them. Not a huge amount of flex and they behave well.

    I’m going to take all the comments on board and try again tomorrow to see how I get on.

    The next thing is to decide what other bikes I want to demo. Most of my riding is at Swinley, so thats the sort of terrain it needs to be suited for. I am happy to have the balance more towards XC than AM/DH stuff so I’m not thinking I need anything more than 130mm of travel at the most.

    Any suggestions for alternatives around the £2500 mark?

    GaryLake
    Member

    Anthem X1 but you’ll be lucky to find one. Tallboy and Superfly should be up there on your list. TB will obviously be a frame only and classifieds job on that budget. In which case, check out a Gyro as a frame only option too

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Anthem X1 was my starting point, but then found out it was going to be incredibly difficult to locate one. Plus, I need to demo anything I buy.

    Just reading up on the White T-129s too.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Trance X29er might be worth a look too. It’s closer to the T129 than the Anthem.

    I’d second Gary’s advice to look at a Gyro too as I enjoyed the one I tested. With the recent release of the Five29 there might be a few popping up from those keen to “upgrade” too I guess. Not sure whether Orange plan to bring some of the “innovations” from the Five29 (forward shifted seat tube etc) to the Gyro either. If so that could make it an even more attractive option.

    Premier Icon Paceman
    Subscriber

    You can demo a Tallboy at Pedal & Spoke in Peaslake, Surrey Hills. It’ll be a good benchmark to judge others against.

    The Tallboy and Gyro would be top of my list.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    I’ve found 29ers can sometimes take a HUGE time to get used to.

    I bought my Spearfish 5-6 months back and due to riding in the wet etc for 90% of it’s life i hadn’t really got to grips with the handling as such.

    It’s only now that i’m starting to corner properly and be able to match speed with some faster riders i know, but it’s taken a hell of a long time.

    rootes1
    Member

    Anthem X1 was my starting point, but then found out it was going to be incredibly difficult to locate one

    Dave Mellor Cycles was offering to upgrade X2’s to the same spec as X1 for the same cost as the X1. They are a large Giant dealer + top shop

    My experience of Specialized Purgatory and Ground Control tyres , 1 of which you will have on the front of the Camber is that they are very poor in turns or on off camber stuff . Swapping to a Bonty 29-3 made a massive difference to the handling on my bike . Strangely most people seem to get on really well with the Spesh Tyres , my own theory is that a good 26 tyre doesn’t automatically become a good 29 tyre and most of the best 29 tyres are those that have been designed from the ground up .

    Tom Zesty
    Member

    I have recently got an alloy Camber comp 29er. Coming from a zesty, I too found 29 inch wheels took a while to get used to. As someone said above, Specialized bikes are long and low, and my xl frame came with a 110mm stem as well, which made it handle awfully. However, one month on, after fitting a 50mm stem and wider bars and getting used to the differences of riding a 29er (for me this has mainly involved leaning the bike over more when cornering and staying in a more neutral position on descents) I love it! It is faster everywhere (for me) and I find it handles really well.

    I would give it some time and try a shorter stem.

    One thing I would like change would be a slightly longer fork (120/130mm) because the confidence the bike inspires could do with more! As a light lanky rider 110mm at the back is enough. Not sure what would happen to the warranty if you did want a bigger fork though… Anyone know?

    Premier Icon Paceman
    Subscriber

    for me this has mainly involved leaning the bike over more when cornering and staying in a more neutral position on descents

    Me too.

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Been reading up on the Whyte T129 and quite like the sound of that. The S is all sold out, but my LBS are happy to tweak a 129 to up the spec (basically shifters and brakes)

    The problem is that there aren’t any Demo versions available! Does anyone near Reading have a large T129 I could have a quick pedal of?

    GaryLake
    Member

    For what it’s worth – for general trail riding, I actually preferred the M-109 to the T-129! The lower front end (mainly due to the shorter fork) but still relatively slack geo meant it was much keener to get turned in and was happier to be hustled about.

    This was just round Cannock and I’m sure if I was in Wales on a big rocky descent, I’d have preferred the T-129. My point being, give the M-109 a go – hugely and unfairly being overshadowed by the more aspirationally-travelled T-series.

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Will see what my few LBS have in and available to try. Thanks for the advice.

    Premier Icon Trekster
    Subscriber

    Have demoed 2 29ers, Trek Rumblefish and Orange 5-29.
    The trek was the easiest to get on with, just got on it and rode it without even noticing it was a 29er. The 5 felt big, heavy and ponderous in comparison. Rode both for around 2hrs on and open moorland trail. Until I try a few more on trail centres and Lakes bridleways the jury is out on whether they are an improvement on my old bikes.

    GaryLake
    Member

    Trekster – not a suprise given the Five29 has more travel and ‘bigger’ intended use. Trek have got a Remedy29 coming out which will be a better comparison to the Five29.

    The Gyro is much closer to the Rumblefish.

    Carax
    Member

    I think you will always feel ‘understeer’ when going from 26 to 29er until you adapt your conering technique. However tyres also have a marked effect. On my Spesh Stumpjumper 29er I find the understeer effect greater with Spesh Renegade upfront, less so with Spesh Fast Track, and the least with Rocket Rons.

    You soon adapt after a few scares exiting a corner too fast.

    Premier Icon Chainline
    Subscriber

    Agree with Gary on Rumblefish vs 5-29 the Five is a steam roller compared to the Rumblefish.

    I’m sure you’ve read it before on here but a day with Jedi is soon worth it. Changed my cornering world forever!

    I would consider the Norco Shinobi too. Very good indeed, under considered in this country and good value too, only from Evans but definitely worth a look.

    On other one would be the Bandit 29 from Transition.

    heihei
    Member

    TBH I found the Camber very easy to jump on coming from 26″ bikes. So much so in fact I bought one and haven’t ridden a 26″ bike since. To me, it just felt like another bike and I mean that in a good way, allowing you to get on with riding the trail. It is only afterwards you realise the impact of bigger wheels when your mates are way behind on the rooty slippery sections! By comparison, I found the SC Tallboy LT and Intense Spider Comp 29er took much more getting used to.

    Re: not being able to lock the rear wheel – that will be the extra grip from 29er tyres 😉
    Re: alternatives – if you want something a little slacker, go for the Stumpy FSR – awesome bikes but just don’t expect to climb as quickly.
    Re: wheels – carbon wheels make an amazing difference on 29ers – much more so than on 26″ bikes. Yes they are expensive, but in terms of hom much they improve the ride, it’s a big step up.

    steve_b77
    Member

    I’d definitely try and get your hands on an Anthem X 29 as part of your demo testing session.

    I’m more than impressed by mine, it’s a cracking bike for doing it all within the realms of covering ground quickly, single track riding, XC / trail type stuff, climbing, trail centres and natural peaks & Welsh kinda riding.

    Tyre wise, i really get on with Spesh 29’er tyres and run Purg on the front of my HT with a Ground Control on the rear and a 2.3/2.1 Ground Control combo on my Anthem.

    pjm84
    Member

    My Scalpel 3 29er suffers with “understeer” at Swinley over the shiny hard packed stones and I struggle to stay with my Mate’s SC Tallboy. Once the trail have a bit of “dust” I have grip again and there’s not much between us.

    I think the issue is more related to tyres having looked at the geometry specs of both bikes.

    You sound like a poor sound bite from cumulative bike mag reviews of 29ers from three years ago, coupled with an absolute inability to separate the triple factors of user error, equipment variability and bike setup geometry.

    Heihei +1

    On demo day last year. Lots of bikes, Only one that everyone enjoyed – the camber!

    Re the roots: I demoed 3 26 and 3 29ers on the day. Never noticed roots (Peaslake graveyard to CP, for reference) on the 29ers, but noticed them every time on the 26ers! That alone converted me.

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    To update this a bit, took the Camber back last night, the more I think about it the more I think it just felt like a bit of a barge!

    I popped into Banjo Cycles in Newbury last night and they let me have a quick peddle on a Whyte T129 and an Orange Gyro Pro.

    Both of them felt much more like a 26″ bike than the Camber did, I was very surprised. Ok, there is a big price difference between the two and neither were set up for me, but the Gyro felt very nice after just a lap around the block. The HA is slighlty between that of the T129 and the Camber and it feels to be around where I want it. The Whyte felt significantly cheaper than the Gyro and even though I think it weighs less, felt much slower to accelerate (both felt faster than the Camber though!)

    Need to get a demo on a Gyro Pro and see what it’s like to ride properly.

    GaryLake, is it your long term Gyro reviews I found online?

    GaryLake
    Member

    daveR – yes, that be me 🙂

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Gary’s blog is excellent. My own more rambling observations can be found here if you are interested:

    gyro-test

    A month after the test I’m left with two abiding memories of the Gyro.

    First was the way it rolled over stuff and the extra confidence that gave me on tricky sections. I cleared one rocky section (first time) that have never managed to clear before or since (despite at least a dozen attempts) on my 26″ Trance.

    Second was the way I struggled with it up long draggy climbs when I was tired. It’s not that it’s a bad climber. When I was fresh and able to stay on top of it it seemed to climb very well and I set a few personal records on local climbs that I’ve still yet to beat. But when I was tired and grovelling up a climb at walking pace it felt harder. That could just be that the bottom gear was 10 higher than on my Trance (and I’m talking about climbs where I’m in the bottom gear and still struggling to keep the wheels turning) or it could be the heavier wheels and tyres (the tyres alone weigh a ton).

    It’s interesting that you found the Gyro Pro easier to accelerate than the T129. I think Dan in, the CTC review of the two bikes, came to the opposite conclusion. But he was testing a base model (not Pro) Gyro against a T129S, which suggests that the things hanging off the frame are just as important as the frame itself.

    Premier Icon _daveR
    Subscriber

    Chatting with Gary on email now 😉

    I had read your post already and found it very useful. I don’t think there was a huge amount in it acceleration wise, both were notably better than the camber though. I definitely need to get one on demo to see how I get on with it and climbing. I’ve no love for climbs, but I don’t want to be making life too difficult!

    I’d have the Continentals off straight away for something lighter and switch to tubeless too. So that would help.

    I’m going to get to a few LBSs and see what options there are on a frame build or tweaking a Pro to get the balance. A wheelset under 2kg is going to be important I think.

    Premier Icon Chainline
    Subscriber

    I have to support what was said earlier. Good wheels on a 29er offer such an improvement. I would recommend that over any drivetrain or bar/stem/ano bling. Tubeless, sensible tyres also help a lot.

    I sucked it up and went carbon rim with cxray spokes o get a sub1800g stiff wheel set. I run 2.4s OnOne/Maxxis tubeless at around 850g per tyre. I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it. I would compromise on weight elsewhere and focus money on the wheels anyday of the week on a 29. Something like a FlowEX with a good light hub (Hope/DTSwiss) and cxray spokes would not be silly money and deliver great results.

    Dare I say it looks like Superstar are bringing out some good value carbon wheels in AM flavour soon?

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    I guess that makes sense. The advantage of a bigger wheel is the way it rolls over stuff but the downside is the greater inertia. If you are prepared to spend a bit more to get lighter wheels then you should be able to get the advantages while minimising the downsides.

    Of course, you have to wonder what you could get by spending that cash on a 26″ bike, but that’s a different discussion. Whenever I hit a tricky rocky section these days I do find myself missing that big wheel.

    I’d still like to know whether Orange intend to use the same “forward mounted” seat tube idea from the Five29 on the Gyro, to either increase travel or shorten the chainstays. If nothing else it would tell us whether they see a future in the Gyro now the Five29 is out and are prepared to keep developing it.

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