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  1. #1
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
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    Specialized Camber Comp 29 vs. Kona Hei Hei DL

    So I've had a bunch of life events recently that leave me with a bit more money to play with and a bit less of a priority on race performance of a bike. I'm looking for something more fun than my little 26" hardtail, but without pissing me off on singletrack climbs. I bumped into a Specialized demo day and told them basically that; they put me on the Camber. I liked it. I was surprised to find that I also PR'd both the climbs and the descents in the little loop I tried it on. While I realize that's not much of a sample set, I figure if I can do that, it's at least not slowing me down - a pleasant surprise on the climb.

    Anyway, I have an okay line on Kona and no particular incentive to buy from Specialized. So I wandered over to their web site to see what they have that might be comparable to the Camber. By the numbers, the Hei Hei is very similar - same head angle, but 10 mm less travel and slightly shorter chainstays. Between the bigger wheels and having rear suspension at all, it'll still be a much smoother ride than I'm used to, and I can't say that 10 mm of suspension travel gained or lost has struck me as that important in the past.

    Anyone ride both?

    Any "must ride" recommendations in that same price range and, more-or-less, class? I'm accustomed to 80 mm of travel, and I feel like more than 120 on a FS 29er is really big. So I think I'm looking somewhere in the 100-120 mm range.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  2. #2
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    All I can relay is my experience. I had a Stumpjumper FSR for about 6 months, then rode a Tallboy LT that my LBS got in as a demo bike. I came back from that ride and ordered a Tallboy.
    Everyone likes something different out of a bike, so as you know you need to ride them.

    I felt like the TB climbed better with less bob in full open than my SJ did in propedal, but the Tallboy isn't going to come in that price range.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  3. #3
    Team Velveeta™
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    ... surprised to find that I also PR'd both the climbs and the descents in the little loop I tried it on. While I realize that's not much of a sample set, I figure if I can do that, it's at least not slowing me down - a pleasant surprise ...
    First thing: I think it's not surprising but interesting that your actual climbing performance was better than you expected. I rode hardtails for years because I believed the dogma about full-suspension being necessarily slower on the climb. And I had ridden a bunch of full-suspension bikes and they felt slower climbing. Then I got one and started riding the stuff I ordinarily ride. First time I rode my favorite ~3 hour sustained climb I was thinking it felt slow-ish, but then I beat my PR by ten minutes. "Oh" I said to myself "perhaps it feels slower but is actually faster"

    I won't say full-suspension bikes are faster, or especially that there aren't energy-sucking full-suspension bikes out there, but I think it's worth considering that some of that stuff is dogma. When you are climbing anything less smooth than pavement, a full-suspension bike allows you to just focus on pedaling.

    Second thing: I've had 6 full-suspension 29ers so far. First one was a 3x3, then two 4x4, then a stumpjumper 5x130mm, then a 5x5. Now I'm back to a 4x4. If you care about efficiency, I think modern 4x4s are the sweet spot.

    Hated my stumpjumper. Squishy squatty low and slow. In order to keep it from squatting way down and pedal striking the shock had to have enough air to keep me from ever getting full rear travel. Camber seems better, but my opinion is that the FSR/4-bar design is dated, and it desperately needs some kind of platform to even be tolerable.

    Current bike is a Giant Anthem. I recommend you trying one of those. Not necessarily the funnest riding of any of my bikes ever, but plenty fun and responsive, and the quickest climbing of any mtb I've ever had. The Maestro linkage is very sophisticated. Mine has Fox CTD front and rear. I don't notice much difference between trail and descend in the rear. I never use climb in the rear, only the fork. Even on pavement, climb isn't necessary with the Maestro linkage, IMO. I often leave it in descend mode in back all day long.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

    "I like my wimmen like I like my beer--cold and bitter!"

  4. #4
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    I can't speak about the specialized as I've not ridden one, but I've got a little over 500 miles of single track on my Kona Hei Hei and it's working great for me.

    http://irun100s.com/daveharper/?p=439

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloriDave View Post
    I can't speak about the specialized as I've not ridden one, but I've got a little over 500 miles of single track on my Kona Hei Hei and it's working great for me.

    http://irun100s.com/daveharper/?p=439
    I really respect that bike, my buddy uses it for years now, I tried it a few times and all I can say is WOW!!

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