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The Santa Cruz Chameleon has always been one of the most versatile hardtails on the market, due to its aggressive design giving it well-balanced composure on technical trails where you'd normally leave the hardtail at home in favor of a full-suspension bike. For 2018, the Santa Cruz Chameleon 29 D Complete Mountain Bike upholds its adaptable namesake with the ability to run both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels courtesy of interchangeable drop-outs, as well as modern trail geometry that's longer, low-slung, and relatively slack. 6000-series aluminum retains high levels of strength and stiffness without incurring the cost of fancier carbon frames. Nice-to-have frame details include stealth dropper post routing for future upgrades, multiple bottle mounts, and a threaded bottom bracket that eliminates the annoying creaks of press fit bottom brackets.
Delving into the Chameleon's geometry in 29er form, you'll find a relatively slack 67.3-degree head tube angle offering the stability for dropping into steep descents littered with rock and root impediments. This slacker head tube angle is desirable if you're an aggressive trail rider looking to conquer steep, technical trails without the bike feeling squirrely on the descent like racier XC bikes with steeper head tubes. However, the head tube angle isn't the only geometry cue that's telling of the Chameleon's personality, so you'll be delighted to know its longer reach and wheelbase figures create a roomier cockpit that maintains stability when you're opening it up at high speeds. And because the front end is longer, the engineers at Santa Cruz kept the chainstays short at only 16.3 inches, allowing for quick maneuverability and easier lifting of the front over trail impediments standing in your way.
Seeing it's one of the most versatile hardtails on the market, it only makes sense that Santa Cruz equipped the Chameleon with interchangeable dropouts, so you can swap out the provided 29-inch wheels for 27.5+ fatties, should you desire voluminous traction and bump compliance. Bringing another benefit, the interchangeable dropouts allow you to swap out the gears for single speed use. This is a great feature for trail riders in elevation-challenged areas where a singlespeed is far more efficient and much lighter than a geared bike. 15 millimeters of fore and aft adjustment manages chain tension and chainstay length for swapping between wheel sizes and changing between different wheel sizes.
This particular Chameleon 29 D is hooked up with the obstacle-rolling abilities of 29-inch wheels, making it a great choice for tackling trails with bigger bounders and speed-robbing roots. Not only do the bigger 29-inch wheels roll over obstacles with ease, but they carry momentum with greater efficiency than 27.5-inch wheels. This makes them a great candidate for fast, flowy terrain where carrying momentum is essential and riding across large swaths of terrain where efficiency equates to less energy expenditure. Looking at the build kit, you'll find it's equipped with budget-friendly components that emphasize reliability over weight savings. The SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain gives you plenty of gear range for conquering everything from steep climbs to long descents—all without messing with a front derailleur that needlessly clutters your bars. It's also hooked up with a RockShox Recon RL fork with 120-millimeters of smooth travel and turn-key compression adjustments that span from fully open to locked out.
- Santa Cruz's most versatile 29er hardtail
- 29in wheels carry momentum and roll-over obstacles
- 6000-series aluminum frame is strong and lightweight
- Modern geometry lends a balanced feel and descending stability
- Interchangeable dropouts swap between 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels
- Boost axles increase tire clearance and improve wheel stiffness
- SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain provides wide range of usable gears
- RockShox Recon RL fork with Turn Key compression damping
- Item #SNZ00DP
- Q & A
Awesome bikepacking bike!
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Rode the Continent Divide on this bike and was really impressed with frame. This is the best hardtail bike I have ridden on single track and especially on the downhills sections. The frame seems to dampen out trail noise and makes for a comfortable ride (for a HT). The only negative for bikepacking is the small frame triangle.