I am fairly new to mountain biking and own a specialized 2015 camber comp 29er. It has 110 mm of travel on the front fork as well as the rear suspension. I read that the bike is extremely upgradable. I want to make it more of a downhill bike than a cross country. I was wondering what a good fork would be and how many mm of travel I could add without totally messing up the bike.
The specialized website shows the Camber Comp 29 as having 120mm suspension.. but even so. with a 68 degree head tube angle you could probably go to a 140mm or 150mm which would raise the front a little and give you about a 67 degree head angle, closer to the 63/64 degree of true downhill bikes. If you decide to try this I would suggest the Rock Shox Pike 150mm fork. http://www.jensonusa.com/Rockshox/Rockshox-Pike-RCT3-29-Fork?cs=White
Certainly there will be some nay sayers that will insist the extra length will cause extra stress and possibly break the frame. Sorry, but cast aluminum is not that fragile. It will change the handling a bit. You also may feel like you are sitting too high and have tilt the seat forward and lower the bars 20mm to get it back to the same cockpit ergonomics you had to start with. Then again you may like the new ergonomics.
29er is a bit large although you can run with Alvin’s suggestion. Depending on where and what you are riding, 29er isn’t near as agile, but if you’re freeriding or hitting open spots, you should be fine. As for the travel, you should have 120mm stock as Alvin mentioned and a RockShox Pike is a solid fork. You won’t be disappointed in that. I wouldn’t go any bigger than 150mm on a 29er (just me) without something that you could open up for descents and then set it back to something shorter for trail/climbs, say like a Fox TALAS, going 130-160. Really its all up to you. What I can say is that the guys I session with have experimented a lot and either tailored their bikes to their riding style and liking or simply built their own. Really, I think if you go with what you like and whats comfortable, you’ll be happy either way. You could also check the Pinkbike crowd for added input.
I’ve ridden many bikes, not as much as some on here perhaps, however, what I think others here can add as well is that, an AM/Enduro setup is capable of hitting downhill and freeride just fine. If you’re looking to get really serious, then yes absolutely more travel. I run mainly a Trek Fuel EX9 with 120mm and I’ve ridding many mountain ranges and have done just fine for years now. Bikes these days are very capable, so too much travel may not be necessary.
When it comes to suspension, more travel isn’t always better. Check for the capabilities of the fork, because this is where they shine. Wish you the best and when you figure it out let us know and share the know.