specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

There’s something to be said for getting a kid started on a fully rigid hardtail. But if your local trails are super gnarly, there’s also a pretty darn good argument for getting them suspended as quickly as possible. Traction aside, it’s more about comfort and safety, assuming the weight penalty isn’t too grand. If you a) have a little tyke at home that’s itchin’ to keep up with you, and b) are already thinking this might keep them from bouncing around uncontrollably, then the Specialized Camber Grom might be worth a look.

First up, Specialized didn’t continue this model into their 2017 lineup. But they’ve still got inventory, which you can find if you search past models on their website. If you’re fine with that, read on why their FSR suspension is ready made for smaller riders…

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

We tested the Camber Grom under my son, who weighed in between 75lb and 80lb during the test, and measured 4’9″ to 5’1/2″ during the test (yes, they really do grow that fast). Prior to this, we had already moved him off a 24″ Raleigh youth hardtail to my wife’s old Kona 26″ hardtail, both with front suspension. He was markedly faster upon moving to the 26″ bike, but a little stretched out. So, fit was slightly better going back to the Grom, but I could tell he wasn’t rolling over things quite as quickly with the 24″ wheels.

Which brings up the first highlight of this bike: It can grow with them for some time because it also fits 26″ wheels…albeit, probably with nothing more than a 26×2.0 tire from the looks of it. But, as you scroll through the pics, that explains the longer chainstays and standard 26″ Rockshox fork. If you’re starting them out small on this one, you’ll probably have to cut the seatpost down. This is as low as it gets and was borderline too tall when he started riding it, and too tall for my daughter to ride it even though she’s already on a 24″ Trailcraft hardtail.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

Weight for the complete bike is 25.15lb (10.95kg), which is at least as good as most budget hardtails.  And it should be for the $2,200 asking price. That gets you an M5 alloy frame with 26″ wheel geometry; Rockshox Recon Gold fork and Fox Float Performance DPS shock; SRAM X5/X7 shifting, 155mm GX cranks and PG-1020 cassette, Tektro Gemini hydraulic disc brakes, Alex rims and Maxxis tires. Cockpit is all Specialized, including a Body Geometry saddle.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

The bars are 750mm wide, but can be cut down for smaller riders.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

Tires are Maxxis Snyper 24×2.0, and you can see that adding 26″ wheels would likely mean you need to keep the tire size to about 2.0 in order to maintain proper clearance. Depending on how long Specialized lets us keep the bike, we might try to find some 26″ QR wheels tires and see how it goes (I was going to include that in this review, but I just don’t have any wheels or tires like that laying around anymore).

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

The fork is set at 110mm travel to match the rear end.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

Compared to the adult Camber, the Grom uses a different linkage that mounts the shock yoke between the two linkage pivots (as opposed to sharing the upper pivot).

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

That, and it also uses totally different geometry, designed specifically for smaller riders and wheels. Read that to mean you can’t simply buy the smallest frame size in a regular Camber and put the smaller wheels on it to achieve the same effect (we asked).

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

An 11-36 cassette and 32-tooth X-Sync chainring provide a good range for kids, but you could always add aftermarket oversized cogs to expand the range or fit a 30-tooth 104bcd chainring.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

The included chain guide is a nice touch, and the 155mm crank arms definitely seemed to fit my son a little better than the 175mm ones on the 26″ Kona he was riding.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

Other than being QR front and rear, the Grom looks every bit as pro as Specialized’s adult bikes.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

At first, I definitely noticed he was slower having transitioned from 26″ wheels. But, presumably, most people looking at this bike for their kids aren’t going to be regressing in wheel size, so ignore if irrelevant. But, after a few rides, I noticed he was ripping through rougher, rootier sections faster. I attribute that to the rear suspension taking the hits that normally would be bouncing him around. And that highlights why the FSR design is particularly good for kids: It’s very active.

Specialized puts a lot of effort into designing motion control into their shocks (BRAIN, platform damping, etc.) on adult bikes because (in my experience) their FSR design is otherwise overly active. For larger riders like me, that control is mandatory for any semblance of efficiency. But it took a conversation with an ex-pro World Cup DH racer (who’s very thin and light and not affiliated with Specialized in any way) to illuminate why this hyper active suspension is such a good thing for smaller riders. I’ll paraphrase it as going something like this:

ME: It’s really active, I can see it moving when he pedals. It seems like it’s just too active.

PRO: Yeah, but do you know how hard it is to get a suspension to work well under really light riders? I struggled with that for years. So that’s really impressive.

And with that new perspective, I paid more attention to the rear suspension on our next ride. Indeed, it’s active, but it worked over roots and rocks and compressed into G-outs and returned in a controlled manner. In other words, it did exactly what a good suspension should do: It helped him maintain control.

specialized camber grom 24-inch youth mountain bike review and actual weights

Our biggest technical ride was Rocky Knob Bike Park in Boone, NC, which is not lift served. We earned our turns by pedaling up before hitting the rock strewn descents and bermed turns, and the bike worked well in both directions. The 110mm travel seems like a good number for the XC to Trail we typically ride. It’s a shame this model’s discontinued, but at least you can still nab one and give your kid a solid five years or more of shredding.

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PFS
PFS
5 years ago

750mm bars on a kids bike? Its all about matching the bar width to your shoulder width for maximum control and comfort. I cannot see how any child could have shoulders wide enough to be happy with 750mm bars.

Flatbiller
Flatbiller
5 years ago
Reply to  PFS

You are aware that kids come in all shapes and sizes, right? Wouldn’t you rather them ship a wider bar that can be cut down to meet most kids’ sizes, as opposed to a narrow bar that can’t be modified to go wide (deleted).

PFS
PFS
5 years ago
Reply to  Flatbiller

I really dont think that most kids (or most adults for that matter) benefit from bars much wider in the 740mm range. Specing bars this wide ona kids bike means that youll have to cut down the bars, the brake lines, and the shift housing. Where if they speced a wide bar for a kid (perhaps 710mm max) would mean that the controls probably wouldnt need to be shortened as well.

Colin
Colin
5 years ago

further proof that in spite of what specialized says, the camber is a beginner bike

Maneesh
Maneesh
5 years ago
Reply to  Colin

Is there room for discussion or is your point irrefutable? If the latter, I do have damning evidence (as in a kid who wins high-level BMX races on this very bike).

Colin
Colin
5 years ago
Reply to  Maneesh

That bike in a 24 is pretty much the only game in town. My point was that the adult version is a beginner bike. The fact that they chose the Camber for a kids’ bike instead of, say, the Stumpy or Epic, reinforces the fact that the Camber is a beginner bike. Also, just because they make a sworks version, doesn’t change the target market.

padrefan
padrefan
5 years ago
Reply to  Maneesh

@ Colin… this “beginner bike” idea makes absolutely no sense. Your logic seems to consist of “I think its a beginner’s bike, so it is a beginner’s bike.” The Camber fits well in Spec’s line. There a bunch of riders out there that A) don’t need/want the travel of a Stumpy, but aren’t racing or XC guys either. In that instance, a bike the Camber makes a lot sense. I looked long and hard a Camber EVO a while ago… this makes me a beginner now after riding for 15+ years?

Are there entry level Cambers? Sure… but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t or wouldn’t go out and rip on one given the chance.

Colin
Colin
5 years ago
Reply to  padrefan

100, 110, 105mm travel makes perfect sense? Specialized can’t make up it’s mind as to what the bike is (other than a bike for beginners) so how can it make sense? It’s geometry is slack as hell, to make it impossible to get corners wrong, Wide tires so noobs don’t slide, and 203mm rotors to make it brake so you feel safe. Beginner bike.

Also “beginner” has nothing to do with how long you’ve been riding, it has to do with skill level.

Seb
Seb
5 years ago
Reply to  Colin

I’ve been riding 20 years, had a few mtb podiums a decade ago, love my s works stumpjumper hard tail to go fast (and straight) and my s works enduro to go down gnarly stuff. I rode an epic for five years and switched to the camber and never looked back. a well piloted camber will rip the legs off a fsr on any trail any day. you don’t know what you are saying.

Mike
Mike
5 years ago

I’m a luddite, but I don’t even have 750mm bars on my bikes (the biggest I rock is a 630). And I’m 6’1″. That’s crazy big for a grom.

padrefan
padrefan
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Yeah, but so what? 🙂 Always amazed at how we love to look and criticize what other riders run. I LOVE my short travel FS rig, but I wouldn’t mind looking at something ‘bigger’ next time I’m bike shopping.

And to focus on this bike– there are kids out there who could use and abuse this ‘much’ of a bike. Spending a week in Whistler is always a good reminder to me that there is a huge spot for good high quality kid bikes. I just hope I can afford them when my twins get to be that age.

padrefan
padrefan
5 years ago
Reply to  padrefan

UGH… hate commenting system here– that one should be @ Ryan’s comment.

Ryan S.
Ryan S.
5 years ago
Reply to  padrefan

We agree on the commenting system at least! lol

Ryan S.
Ryan S.
5 years ago

96% of suspension bikes I see being ridden are overbuilt for 98% of the trails they’re used on. It boggles my mind how many spend so much on equipment they don’t need just to end up cursing the upkeep, weight, and frustrations associated with it. But who am I. Go ahead, jump on the trends. Get an 800mm bar, 28t chainring, and 50mm wide rims for your +++tires.

Chris
Chris
5 years ago
Reply to  Ryan S.

Need?? Since when is cycling about need? You don’t NEED front or rear suspension or even multiple gears and for many decades people rode off-road with none of that. If someone wants to ride their super plush full suspension bike on groomed trails that’s totally cool just like it’s totally cool when I ride the same trail on my road bike. My kid doesn’t need a suspension fork on her bike but when it came time to move her up a size she absolutely wanted one so I caved and got her the bike with the suspension fork on it.

Antipodean_eleven
5 years ago
Reply to  Ryan S.

It’s funny…. I have the occasional opportunity to go back and ride trails I did when starting out well too long ago; trails that existed when, here, mountain biking was fringe and Shimano was rocking Biopace and thumbies. What’s more I’ve ridden those same trails on various bikes over the years.

Riding those trails, while yes, they have changed and become much, much better, is no more fun now on my ‘current’ technology bike than when I first started. And the same can be said of the generations of bikes I’ve ridden there. The bike is only a small part of the fun factor.

Bike sales have become about telling people about what they should want, not need, in order to have more fun; and if they don’t have it, they can’t have fun. It’s understandable, the industry’s a machine, almost a monster, and it needs to keep on feeding… but it’s not healthy.

Rob
Rob
5 years ago

You may run 630mm but you really should try stepping into this decade with your equipment

Bikethrasher
Bikethrasher
5 years ago

Can we Please get some real 24″ tires for our kids bikes. Like a 2.3 Butcher and a 2.3 Slaughter or Purgatory.
I bought my son a 24+ Rip Rock and the plus tires seem to be more of a draw back than an advantage for him. We’ve played with tire pressures and finally found a sweet spot. But the giroscopic effect of those wheels makes it really hard for him to lay the bike down in the corners. It also just seems to suck up all his energy as well. He was noticeably quicker on his 20″ bike.
He rode a Trailcraft on one of our regular loops. He loved it and absolutely ripped on it. Over 10 minutes faster than his previous best. All he had to say was. Dad can you put skinner tires on my bike so I can go faster?

Maciej Gólski
4 years ago
Reply to  Bikethrasher

Good to know! I’ve to buy new bike for my kid and think about Riprock… maybe I should reconsider…

G
G
5 years ago

Fun fact: the Camber Grom frame is actually the old women’s specific bike Safire – https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bike-archive/2013/safirefsr/safireexpert/39752

For all we know, Specialized overproduced the 26″ frame in 2012/2013 (right as the industry started shifting to 650B) and decided to re-brand as a kids bike.

Chris
Chris
5 years ago
Reply to  G

Wow, no doubt it sure looks like the women’s Safire. That explains the wide bars and 11-36 cassette with 32t front ring. When your bike is 1/3 your body weight, a 11-42 would be ideal.

Where does it end with the pricing of these kids bikes? The Trailcraft really looks like the perfect kids bike, though out of reach for most in terms of price.
http://www.trailcraftcycles.com/
Well worth it if your kid is really into riding with you though.

Matt
Matt
5 years ago
Reply to  G

Yes, marketing and branding at work again. I am 1.49m short and ride a woman’s XS bike. Nothing wrong with kids riding a woman’s bike if right size frame (if they can ignore the branding and color choices) and can therefore also have option of 27.5 wheels.