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  1. #1
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    Camber elite or Salsa spearfish

    So it's that time of year again, the new stuff comes out and the "old" stuff goes on sale. I wanted to get a a full squish to compliment my Fisher SS rig ( which rocks by the way) I ride southern Az single track in Tucson area and ride a few local " races" for fun in the high country. I like to climb a lot but also like to descend too. I can get either the elite or the spearfish for the same price of $1500. Either one is a good deal at the price but I can't pull the trigger. I rode them both at the shops and I think I felt a little better on the elite but I also was blinded by my first ride on a full squish 29er. The spearfish felt like the wheelbase was shorter and the rear felt stiff but the shock could stand to be adjusted a little more. I also like the shop where the spearfish is a LOT more than the elite. I am 5'11" and weigh 185 with gear. I rode a large in both, 19" in elite, 20" in spearfish. The 80mm of travel on the spearfish scares me a little compared to the 100mm on the elite. I just don't want to be disappointed, I can only talk the wife into letting me buy a full suspension this one time........

    Done rambling, any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    There's been no adjusting the stiffness out of my spearfish. I was hoping for a little better small bump compliance, but I'm also a heavy rider and have a hard time with stock suspension designs. Your luck may be better.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckley29er View Post
    The spearfish felt like the wheelbase was shorter and the rear felt stiff but the shock could stand to be adjusted a little more.
    The suspension is intended to be stiff on the Spearfish. You might be able to adjust it towards the plush end of the spectrum, but I think then that you'd be fighting against one of the design goals for the bike.

    FWIW, I just a built a Spearfish last week. My goal was for a bike with a stiff rear suspension that would respond well to out-of-the-saddle pedaling. So far, I seem to have gotten exactly what I was after. I actually ride it more like I would a hardtail, but the suspension does take the edge off and helps keep the wheel planted for good traction.

    Maybe test ride the two bikes a second time. Ask the shops to let you set up the suspension properly this time. Take the time in the parking lot to get the suspension right. Then test ride and see what you think.

  4. #4
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    Another option in that price range would be the Santa Cruz Superlight 29.

  5. #5
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    The Camber is 110mm, yes? Quite a different feel between the two. If you like to have more 'fun' on trail, especially the rough area of Tuscon, the Camber is more of a trail bike. So air time, fast runs through rock gardens, etc, the Camber will not hit its limits near as soon as the Fish will. Both are good climbers so I would not worry about that. The Fish, as mentioned, is a tighter, more XC oriented feel to it. I would not hesitate to have it in the Tuscon area for an endurance race bike, but as my only trail bike? Maybe not.
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  6. #6
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    I'll second what those above have said. I bought my Fish because I preferred my SS hardtail but just couldn't ride it daily or for epic rides without being in pain. It's stiff and efficient enough that I can pedal it like a HT/SS but still feel fresh after a two hour ride. With that said, I did drop the shock oil to 2.5 weight and reduce the IFP pressure by ~25 psi. This softened it up enough on small bumps while not sacrificing pedaling or bottoming.

    I'd say if you're looking for a chunky trail bike, 100mm travel is the minimum. I doubt there are any Horsethiefs on closeout, but it's worth asking your Salsa dealer if you really like them.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replies. I feel like the elite would be a little more forgiving but I really like a hard tail but feel like I would enjoy a plush decent. I like the idea of the fish but am afraid after reading these posts that it would be too stiff still. I will admit the fish is a little nicer bike though.

  8. #8
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    I loved my Camber, the FSR rear layout is great.
    For $1,500 I assume you are looking ar 2012 models and not the 2013's coming into the dealers right now. Camber got a new frame and is a couple pounds lighter than the outgoing model.
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
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  9. #9
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    The camber is a 2011 left over and the salsa is a 2012. I like the salsa for how nimble it felt but am having a hard time with the rear travel. I am used to a hard tail so anything will be much nicer, but like the idea of a plush ride. Now with all this said, I will most likely be ridding my $325 fisher rig 80% of the time but want this other bike as another option and also for the few races we do every year. I am going to go ride them both again tomorrow and see what I can do as far as getting the salsa a little more to my liking. I am nervous about the wheelbase on the salsa though. My last 29er was a medium frame (which I figured out was too small) and was very endo happy, The salsa felt short and I don't want to have to deal with that again.

  10. #10
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    So I went and rode them both again today. Spent a little more time getting them set up more for me. The spearfish is tight, light and quick. The elite felt slower, softer and a little more cumbersome. But that being said, I was already hitting a little hip out behind the store on the elite and it felt awesome (even in flip flops). I guess I like the idea of jumping and plowing through rock gardens but I really don't do that much. I just don't want to get the wrong bike for what I ride I am leaning spearfish but am scared I will regret not getting the elite.

  11. #11
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    I would go with the Camber, I actually have been racing the PRO model the last couple of months and do not feel it being slow or that much trail. First bought an Epic and regretted it.

  12. #12
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    Which version of the spearfish are you looking at? I'm assuming a 3 at that price. I'm guessing you will get a big upgrade in components going with the Fish. I'm a big fan of the Monarch rear shock. It's fully servicable without any special tools or nitrogen charging equipement. It is also pretty easy to revalve and get a plusher ride (I'm currently working on this).

    Looks like the Camber has a shimano drivetrain with a triple crank vs. SRAM with a 2x on the Fish. Something to consider. Both has similar brakes. Wheelset is probably a wash too.

    My setup is similar to you in that I have rigid SS and a Spearfish. From the way you describe your intended use, I think you would be happy with the SF. But, I am highly biased toward Salsa and I'm not a Specialized or Shimano fan at all.

  13. #13
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    Neither. Keep saving and riding that SS.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilsjg View Post
    Neither. Keep saving and riding that SS.
    haha thanks for the help......If I were a stronger rider I would just stay with the Fisher SS, but for 35-40 mile rides no can do. I like the idea of having the SS hard tail and a full squish so depending on how I feel that day or where I am going to ride I can choose my weapon. I think I want the spearfish but just dont want to tax it too much; thats why I like the idea of the elite ( more travel and a little more stout). I am afraid of the spearfish being too stiff and the elite being too soft.

  15. #15
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    Ive looked at upgrading my current 29HT setup to another 29HT and the spearfish caught my eye... stiff, little suspension, might be a little nicer than riding the HT. However, my friend (who works at a shop selling salsa) explained to me that the 3" travel on the spearfish is almost not noticable, as the spearfish is really meant to be an endurance/racing bike (50-100 miles/24 hour races/etc), not for your every day 2-3 hour ride on the local singletrack. For the price point you can get an excellent 29HT with great components, or you can go for something with 4" or more of travel (a horsethief) that will allow you to access more goods, and be more fun all-around. He said he does not suggest anything less than 4" travel unless you are racing or doing endurance.

    Go with the Elite.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckley29er View Post
    If I were a stronger rider I would just stay with the Fisher SS, but for 35-40 mile rides no can do.
    What wheels/tires are you running? What is your weight?

    New bikes are cool, but think about it a little more, you might be better served by some changes to what you are running now. Get some wheels with wider/lighter rims, they will increase your tire volume and improve the ride and traction as well as letting you run lower pressure, which again increases ride and traction. Run more tire, try something ~2.2-2.25" with a lightweight carcass (reinforced if your terrain calls for it), again.. lower pressures possible, more volume, better ride, better traction. Also you are steering less weight around up front, so your arms/shoulders will be good for more miles.

    Which fork is on there? Fox RL? If so drop in an FIT RLC cartridge, save some weight and you will get low speed compression damping adjustment. You can tune in more small-bump compliance that really helps take the edge off on long rides.

    What seatpost and saddle? Go to a Bontrager Rhythm Elite (oval casting) or Thompson or something else with more compliance than most stock posts and a better version of your saddle with Ti rails.

    Are you running a stock heavy alloy bar? Higher-end alloy bars ride better than most OEM ones and also save weight (again, weight that you don't have to steer is a big deal as the miles add up). Are you running decent grips? Try some ESI Chunky's or some Ergon's or etc. A set of Ergon's can make a trail that is untolerable on a rigid into a trail that is "not that bad".

    I ride a Jet9, it's a little faster on technical climbs than a hardtail because I can stay seated more of the time. It's a little faster on technical descents because I don't have to be as careful with line selection. On the other hand I loose time on smoother climbs because I'm dragging more weight up them. For longer rides I could go either way, HT or FS, and it would be entirely terrain dependent, not length or duration dependent. The more important bits in having a comfortable long ride are the cockpit, how much weight you are steering around, how much wheel/tire weight you are continually spinning back up and how compliant the front and rear end are over the _small_ bumps. Unless the 40 mile rides you do are session'ing a super-d course then it probably isn't littered with hits the whole way, just little bumps. If, on the other hand, the 30+ mile rides you do are reminiscent of riding over a cattleguard the whole way (we have some rocky local trail that can legitimately be described this way), then trade that fisher in on a f/s in the $2500 range. Just my $0.02, some people think i'm nuts so keep that in mind.

  17. #17
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    Everybody (myself included) worries about the 80mm on the fish. It's a non issue. I ride mine all over western co. I don't even ride my 6" bike anymore unless it's a shuttle!

    Very happy with my spearfish. I also agree you'll probably get more component for the cost. Also I think the fact you like that shop better is a big bonus!

  18. #18
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    I have ridden my Spearfish all over Colorado and I must say to enjoy you need to be realistic with how it is suppose to work, it isn't a 6" trail bike ready to bomb. However, with a Fox RP23 it does mold itself to many tasks well. I believe the bike comes alive after 2-3 hours / 25-30 miles in the saddle, up to that point it just doesn't stand out from the crowd to me - unless you really want a stiff platform FS 29'r. I am looking at adding a dropper post to mine for a little more all-aroundness.
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  19. #19
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    I have 2013 Camber on order, I but wanted more suspension then an epic or spearfish.
    If the path ahead looks dangerous ------- it probably is!

  20. #20
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    So after much back and forth and many test rides I ended up going with the camber elite. Went for my first ride today and all I can say I'd full suspension is awesome! It took a little air pressure adjusting but I got it to have good small bump compliance and little pedal bob. I was not happy on the first part of the ride ( all climbing) with the rear suspension but with just 10 more psi it was like a different bike. And now I am really glad I got the 100mm rear travel over the 80mm since I already cycled it allmost to bottom out on the first ride. I am very happy with it and appreciate all of the advice from my fellow riders. Thanks!

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