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Specialized Camber Comp. VS Trek Fuel EX | MBR

Specialized Camber Comp 29 £2,100

Multiple test winner, across multiple wheel sizes, the Specialized Camber has long been the short-travel trail bike against which all others are measured. And specifically it’s the measurements of the Camber that Specialized has tweaked for 2017. The chainstay length has shrunk, the front centre stretched, and the reach has grown. It’s a different proposition to previous test winners then.
Part of that transformation has come about because the Camber now shares the same front end as the Stumpjumper. It’s what sets the two bikes apart, however, that’s more interesting. The Camber still gets 120mm travel, so that’s 15mm less than the Stumpy. The back end also has the older 142x12mm dropout spacing, so it’s not Boost or Plus compatible. There’s a traditional seatstay bridge too, and a much smaller rocker assembly with a co-pivot design for the shock yoke, which helps saves weight compared to the beefy back end found on the Stumpy. In that respect, the layout of the rear end on the Camber is much more in keeping with Specialized’s Epic XC race bike, even if the suspension response is very different.

Trek Fuel EX 7 29 £2,200

The Plus version of the Fuel EX is an impressive bike, but it has had to contend with being bridesmaid, not once, but twice this year already. In 29er guise however, Trek has delivered a marriage made in heaven, where the Fuel EX 7 29 finally gets to toss a bouquet over its shoulder and leave its rivals scrambling to be next in line.
Both versions of the Fuel EX share the new 130mm-travel Alpha Platinum aluminium frame, where double-pass smooth welds and complex hydroformed tubes make it almost indistinguishable from the carbon versions.
How does Trek account for two different wheel sizes with one frame design? Easy. It uses its longstanding Mino Link geometry chip and different travel forks. So while the Plus version of the Fuel EX ships in the high geometry setting with a 140mm fork, the 29er comes slammed in the low position with 10mm less travel up front. The real beauty of the Mino Link, though, is that you can choose which setting you want to run it in.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. I'm not even remotely surprised the Trek won. I used to be a huge Specialized fan since my first Enduro in 2003, but the last few years all I've seen for innovation is increasing prices or lower end components compared to similar bikes, and a big hole in the down tube. A couple years ago I started going to demo days from other manufacturers to ride bikes for free on actual trails rather than around a LBS parking lot and discovered that there are so many other brands that are so much better. I doubt I'll buy another Specialized again.

  2. The welds on the Fuel EX are simply beautiful! From a distance you could easily mistake it for being a carbon frame

  3. Specialized is consistently showing me how sad it is that a big 3 company continues to cheap out year after year on innovation and components spec! A joke really… Glad I've moved on..

  4. I just wanted to say you guys are doing the best job out of everyone in the bike industry…By doing these comparisons between the biggest bike brands that have similar bikes. For some reason most bike magazines and reviewers avoid doing this. But its what I really like see.

    Keep up the good work

  5. Definitely go one up in the range for the Camber to the Comp Carbon. It fixes all these problems. 1×11, dropper, beautiful carbon frame (with SWAT integrated under bottle holder). Still has a too long stem though. But $40 fixes that.

    I love mine!

  6. 29ers are the shit. Go into something too hot – it has you. The bonus. I have never inadvertently endoed a 29er. It's time for 650b to beat the dust like garvin forks.

  7. I'm riding the Fuel EX7 for 2 months now and it is a blast! Ok, there is not much left of the original build but even with the heavy stock build, it worked surprisingly well up and downhill.

  8. Specialized gives you less for more money. I once owned a Specialized Camber Comp and once I started seeing what other bike manufacturers offered for around the same price, I left and I'm glad I did. They love to sucker novices with their crappy builds.

  9. Got a fuel ex 8 29 yesterday, so far so good! I really appreciate that you´re comparing the more budget friendly models. Other channels tend to only look at carbon 9.9 or whatever. Thanks!

  10. Thanks for doing a review about beginner level/budget full suspension bikes! For those of us that aren't yet ready for carbon, the top-of-the line reviews make us wary b/c we don't know if the model we're looking at will have the same performance characteristics! A review like this from a site like yours really helps first time buyers choose among the bewildering array of budget full suspension bikes. Also I've been on the Fuel ex8 27.5 plus since last year and it really builds confidence and climbs much better than my Excaliber7 frame. Even though it is nearly $1000 more than the Fuel ex 7, it comes with a 1x drivetrain and the nice chucacabra tires. thanks

  11. I bought the camber 29 on sale last year and got a free Fox shock upgrade. Since then I've put Easton haven gen 5 wheels on it SRAM Guide RS brakes a pike 130mm fork and a cheap es10 drop post. I think it rides pretty well.. been using it at bike Parks and hucking it off jumps I don't think it's meant for haha

  12. Rode both of these bikes last week out on the trail in long track settings and short-technical stuff. The Trek is tons of fun in the technical areas but it has to much suspension bob for my liking. The specialized seemed to get every bit of downforce to the wheels and the trek seemed to lose a lot in the bob. This is just my personal opinion so don't take it to heart. I wish the specialized came with a dropper post likes the trek, but I'm okay with finding something a little more reliable than a KS. Either bike choice is a solid choice. Just get out and ride.

  13. Great fan of the Trek, but I must say, there is one gripe; the cable routing as it flows from the downtube and onto the chainstays. It rubs the chainstays, so make sure you add some protection to that area – I cut a ferrule down to act like a spacer. Apart from that, it's only really the slightly more awkward 17x28x6 ABP bearing that is a little harder to find, but not drastically so. Warranty is pretty good too; lifetime on the front end and 5 years on the rear (although, it's not as good as Giant).

    Love the way it rides too!

  14. Thanks for the video, Im actually in the middle of this choice right now. I was already leaning Trek, but this helped a lot. If only they weren't so popular, then I could find a model from last year and save a few $$$.

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