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New Bike - Well, Sort Of

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Part 1: Specialized Camber XT Pro

I got a call from Green Mountain Cyclery yesterday. They had completed installation the installation of the new Shimano XT. I dropped by the shop on the way home from work.

I walked in the door of the shop. One of the bike techs ask, "May I help you ?" I see a pretty white bike hanging from the ceiling by the back wheel with about 30 other bikes. "I am here to pick up my Specialized Camber Comp." The other bikes hanging near Little Cam look drab in comparison. The tech calls out, "Hey Sheldon, the guy is here to pick up the Camber." Evidently, Sheldon was the tech that worked on Little Cam.

Sheldon grabs Little Cam from the rack. He rolls out Little Cam and hands him over to me. He proudly says, "This is one sweet ride. Specialized has had the Camber dialed in for years. You are really gonna like the way it shifts now." Another tech working nearby says, "Yeah, that bike has a great frame and righteous suspension. The XT parts were a great choice. How much does the bike list for?" I answered, "$1,850 but I got it for $1,450. I got about $1,100 in upgrades including, the Mavic wheels, new tires, saddle, grips and the XT group." The tech walks over and looks at the tires. "Where did you get the Velociraptors?" I answer, "Brand new at REI." Sheldon chimes in, "Yeah, those tires have been THE tires for ages."

I realize I am talking to guys that work in a shop that does not sell Specialized bikes, Velociraptor tires, Mavic wheels or the Shimano XT parts. We make small talk for a while. Sheldon brings out a box with all my old parts inside. He rings up the total, "That will be $85." I hand over the cash and ask, "Is that all?" Sheldon says, "You brought all the parts. I just put them on."

I wheeled the bike out the door. Sheldon carried the box of bike parts. We shook hands and he said, "I think you are going to like the way the bike is set up." I thanked him profusely.

Part 2: Serious Bike

Here is a photo of Little Cam before his first serious trail ride on August 5th.


I spent a lot of time during this first ride dialing in the suspension. I didn't take Little Cam on anything too difficult. I had a great time. To my delight, I discovered that Little Cam was a ferocious little beast.

But in my opinion, Little Cam looked like a toy , a really pretty toy, but a toy none-the-less.


This factory photo shows the Camber's great lines and frame geometry. Inside all that cutesy white and red over-decoration beats the heart of a tiger!

Here is what Little Cam looks like today.


The bike is still too pretty but is now armed to the teeth. The "blingy" XT group looks good on the bike. I wanted to take some photos of Little Cam looking good. He is going to be heading into rough country and will be getting some battle scars.


Here is Little Cam in his element. The bike is ready for anything the Colorado back country can dish out.


Just jump on and ride. This photo shows the really short rear chainstay. I added a longer stem and flat handlebars. This makes the riding position more aggressive but has the added benefit of putting more weight on the front wheel. The odd Camber geometry works wonders, however, the front wheel gets very light on a steep ascent. The longer stem helps handling a lot.


This is a shot of the XT shifter for the crank rings. I have decided to replace the Tektro hydraulic brakes with XT IceTech brakes. I need to save up some more coin before I can buy new brakes. For now, the factory Tektro brakes work fine.


When I changed the Stem I bought carbon spacers. These really don't cut any weight. I just like the looks. The original stem was 90mm. The new stem is 110mm. I always felt a little cramped on Little Cam before I made this modification. The reach from seat post to handlebar is now 26.5" on Little Cam. Which, by coincidence is identical to the reach on Ultra Stumpy, Little Stumpy and my Allez road bike. Funny how that works.

Part 3: Test Ride

When I got home from the shop I took Little Cam for a ride. I was apprehensive. I spent a lot of money on the XT upgrades. If the shifting was still balky I was going to be really disappointed. Logically, I knew the shifting had to be better. But was it $734.78 better? Although I got a hefty discount on the XT group by shopping around, I still have a lot of money invested in an "entry-level" bike.

I jumped on the bike and headed up the driveway in way too high a gear. I hit the front shifter to drop it down a ring. *Snick* and it was down a ring instantaneously. The old components would never shift under such a heavy load. I rode Little Cam all over. The shifting was so quick and positive the only way I knew the gears had shifted was the difference in pedaling.

The XT components are magnificent! The upgrade was worth every penny! The bike feels so nice. The tech was close on weight reduction. The XT parts shaved 2.5 pounds off Little Cam. Even with the heavier wheels and tires, Little Cam weighs 28.5 pounds. But the real benefit is the way the bike feels. The bike shifts cleanly and quickly under any load. The XT crank also has lower friction bearings so pedaling is easier.

I am a really happy guy.

Thanks for reading my blog.

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