Santa Cruz Chameleon: Stop Riding XC. Ride this Instead.

I won’t butter you up with a lush, descriptive introduction for this recent build in the shop. Instead, I’ll just say this: stop riding your XC bike and get a bike like this.

The Santa Cruz Chameleon has been in the line-up for some years now as a regular hardtail option. However, in 2017, it got a reboot. Santa Cruz had this to say about it:

Dirt or asphalt, mountain or urban, geared or singlespeed—the moniker Chameleon has never rang more true than on this updated-for-2017 Santa Cruz classic. Upsized to either 29-inch or 27.5+ wheels, the Chameleon shifts from trail-worthy hardtail to bikepacker to garbage-weather weapon of choice with simple, elegant aplomb. The wheel change is accomplished via interchangeable dropouts, and there’s a singlespeed version for each wheel size. –https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/chameleon

The bike was easy to build up, easy to find the correct build specs for headset, bb, etc… More importantly, the frame came prepped so I could start throwing parts on immediately! This bike went together like a beginner Lego kit.

We spec’d out this particular build as a 27.5″ wheel size with 2.35 tires. More specifically, we built up a custom IWC alloy wheelset for it.

  • IWC House-Branded Boost Hubset
  • Stan’s Arch MK3 Rims
  • Sapim D-Light Spokes
  • Sapim Brass Nips
  • 1,625g
  • $680ºº

For the cockpit, we went with a full complement of PNW Components*: a matching handlebar, stem, and dropper post.

*A brief side note – I highly recommend this company. Their parts are fairly light, very durable, they look great, AND they’re easy on the budget when doing a full build, without cutting any corners.

For the parts group, we took took an XT/XTR group off an existing XC bike and transplanted it with white brake/shift housing to this bike. The end result? A wide range of gears, excellent shifting, solid braking; all with Shimano XT & XTR.

For the fork, we ran a Rock Shox Reba with 120mm of travel. The bike wouldn’t be taking big jumps or abrupt hits, so having a lighter option was more ideal as it will still be used for climbing.

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This bike was all dressed up with somewhere to go… for its first test ride! As soon as I stepped onto the bike, I had the feeling that I wanted to immediately try to wheelie it. From the first go, it was magic. Big tires, a nimble frame, and little wheels made this bike feel like a bmx bike. I was impressed and, quite frankly, jealous that it wasn’t mine. It was a great build, and I am happy with the final result; a bike that just wants to have fun in the woods.

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