Sure it's a tall order, but the Santa Cruz Chameleon frame may be the basis for the world's most versatile bicycle. Ready for 29 inch or 27.5 Plus wheels, and built to handle everything from bikepacking, to hardcore trail riding, to mid-week cross country races, consider this the starting point for a machine that will cover more bases than any other bikes in your quiver.
The Chameleon has become one of Santa Cruz’s longest running and most beloved models in a large part because of its no-nonsense functionality. Originally conceived as a heavy-duty trail bike that could handle jumping, slalom, and a plethora of build options, the Chameleon has adapted to modern trends, but retains 100% of its trademark utility.
This version of the Chameleon is compatible with both 29-inch and 27.5+ wheels. The change requires different dropouts, which are available separately from Santa Cruz, should you want to get a second wheelset. The dropouts also provide adjustable chainstay length, which can be used both to fine tune handling, and to provide chain tension should you opt for a singlespeed build in the future.
As befits a truly utilitarian steed, the Chamelon is built from aluminum, which is both impervious to rust and highly resistant to impact damage. This choice of materials also results in a fairly modest asking price, which makes the Chameleon both an excellent introductory mountain bike, and a tempting addition to any well-equipped stable.
Geometry plays a key role in the Chamelon’s versatility, with short chainstays, fairly long reach measurements per size, and a relaxed 67.5-degree head tube angle. The 5-inch fork takes the edge off of rough trails without resulting in the dramatic geometry shifts that can occur on hardtails with longer travel forks. And while it’s certainly a jack of all trades, the Chameleon shines in a number of different roles, and practically begs to be reconfigured over time to meet your changing needs.
- Versatile hardtail for trail riding, bikepacking, and adventure
- 67.5-degree head tube angle for confidence in technical terrain
- Swapping dropouts adapts the frame to 27.5+ or 29in wheels
- Aluminum frame is built to go the distance
- Easily convertible to singlespeed with replaceable dropouts