Chameleon 29 D Complete Mountain Bike
In the animal kingdom, the Chameleon represents a shape-shifter of sorts. It blends into its surroundings with impeccable precision, transitioning from rain forests to tropical islands, making themselves at home across vastly different lands. The Santa Cruz Chameleon 29 D Complete Mountain Bike isn't much different in that sense. At a glance is looks like a subdued hard-tail for cross-country cruising, but its geometry will tell you a different story. It's built to be a versatile steed, transcending categories from cross-country to trail riding, with a hunger for backwoods adventures and bikepacking. That's partially due to its modern angles and confident head tube angle, but it certainly doesn't stop there. It comes with the ability to run both 27.5+ and 29-inch wheels, courtesy of interchangeable drop-outs. It's built from 6000-series aluminum that retains high levels of strength and stiffness, without incurring the sticker shock of fancier carbon frames. And it doesn't skip the pleasantries — stealth dropper post routing, bottle mounts, and a threaded bottom bracket that eliminates annoying creaks are just a few of the additional details Santa Cruz doesn't skip over on this pocket-friendly all-mountain steed.
Breaking down 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 squirrelly 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.
Being 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. SRAM's new SX Eagle drivetrain offers 1-by-12 gearing you've long coveted from the higher-end groups, offering you a gear to cover everything from the punchiest fire roads to long and flowy descents — all without messing with pesky 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.
- A versatile 29er that adapts to its surroundings
- Smooth-rolling 29in wagon wheels carry momentum 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 SX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain provides wide range of usable gears
- RockShox Recon RL fork with Turn Key compression damping