In The Stand: The 2013 Specialized Camber Was a Sign of Things to Come
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This is a blast from the very recent past, but it’s still packed with relics. The Specialized Camber was an early version of what we might today call an “aggressive short-travel trail bike,” and others might call “downcountry.” But we don’t use that term.
The 120mm Camber was not simply a short-travel Stumpjumper, though it technically would become one when it got folded into that model as the Stumpjumper ST in 2019. It also wasn’t just a long-travel Epic, Specialized’s XC race model. No, it slotted right in between the two, with its own frame and everything. And on that frame in the 2013 version was an attempt by Specialized to make suspension setup easier. “Autosag” was a second valve that, after pumping your shock up to a whopping 300 PSI, you would release while in the riding position to automatically reach the bike’s optimal sag point. The shock worked completely normally otherwise, but Autosag added confusion to something mountain bikers kinda need to understand without the help of gadgetry.
Also in the frame was a pres-fit 30, or “PF30” bottom bracket. The second evolution beyond the problematic BB30 bottom bracket standard, the also problematic PF30 bottom bracket added plastic cups around the bearings to account for imperfections in frame manufacturing. And it succeeded, but it didn’t solve the whole problem. BB30 introduced the 30mm crank spindle, which has made it possible for e*thirteen, Cane Creek and (sometimes) Race Face to make some pretty neat cranks. But the BB30 shell was a standard designed for the road world, where the narrow bearing stance actually complimented the narrow frames. Mountain bike frames are not narrow, so neither are the cranks. PF30 frames suffered a lot of lateral load on the bearings because of the wider cranks. But in an interesting twist, the next evolution of the 30mm bottom bracket is SRAM’s DUB, which is designed to work with familiar, 90mm-ish-wide outboard bearing setups, but there is also a plastic shim inside the bearings to further help accommodate for frame imperfections. This makes sense because PF30 was also a SRAM invention.
The Camber also came out of the box with oversized rotors, a 2x drivetrain, putting it at a turning point in what we believed that bikes of this travel were capable of. 2013 was a big year.