Chameleon 27.5+ D Complete Mountain Bike
These days versatility is the name of the game, and Santa Cruz isn't about to let that stop at full-suspension rigs, which explains a lot about the Chameleon 27.5+ D Complete Mountain Bike. This jack-of-all-trades hardtail stands as one of the longest running bikes in Santa Cruz's lineup, and is a perennial favorite among us here in the office. In 2017 it was hit with a massive geometry update that went by way of the longer-slacker trends, making the Chameleon the ideal shapeshifter for charging down a variety of trails from rocky descents, to flowy wooded singletrack, and even a couple smatterings of backcountry bikepacking thrown into the mix. Its crafted with a low-slung 12.4-inch bottom bracket, a moderately slack 67.5 head tube that doesn't compromise confidence for agility, and robust aluminum that's designed to handle it all. This year Santa Cruz ups the game on the D+ build, with new SRAM SX Eagle groupset that keeps your budget in mind, while offering a whopping 12-gears to hit the trail.
Originally conceived as a heavy-duty trail bike that could handle the rigors of bike parks and slalom courses, the Chameleon has evolved into a fun-loving trail bike that's compatible with multiple wheel sizes and moonlights as a practical solution for long-distance bikepacking missions. It's offered here as a 27.5+ trail bike for voluminous traction and greater compliance over rugged trails with its 2.8-inch Maxxis Rekon Tires, but it can be run as a fast-rolling 29er with its interchangeable dropouts. Also, these interchangeable dropouts allow you to swap out the gears for single-speed use, should you desire a no-nonsense drivetrain or live in an area without major elevation changes. Note, you'll need to purchase separate dropouts if you'd like to convert it to singlespeed use or a 29er.
Seeing the Chameleon is designed to be a more utilitarian, low-maintenance trail bike, it's made from aluminum for optimal strength-to-weight, but without the added cost of carbon. This gives the Chameleon broader appeal than many of the full-suspension bikes, which is great considering it lowers the bar to entry for riders on a budget. This D-spec build is the most affordable build offered by Santa Cruz, offering a nice selection of parts for reliability and performance, but without incurring significant cost. The RockShox Recon RL 130-millimeter Fork smoothly tracks over rocky, root-latticed trail sections by soaking up all the bumps along the way. It's finished with a SRAM NX 1x11 drivetrain that offers a wide selection of gears for long climbs and descents, all without requiring a 2x drivetrain that only clutters your bars and adds unnecessary complexity.
- A do-it-all hardtail that balances confidence and agility
- 67.5-degree head tube angle boosts stability at high speeds
- Longer front end pairs with short chainstays for nimble feel
- 27.5+ wheels offer total traction and compliance over rough
- RockShox Recon RL fork offers 130mm of plush control for rowdy trails
- Interchangeable dropouts enable you to switch 27.5+ for 29in hoops
- SRAM SX Eagle offers 12 speeds without X01 pricing
- Aluminum frame maximizes your dollar while optimizing strength-to-weight