Chameleon Carbon 27.5 Plus S Complete Mountain Bike
The Chameleon has long been a staple in the Santa Cruz lineup since its introduction over 20-years ago. Long revered for its overbuilt stature and its ability to adapt to its owner's need, the Chameleon has been a favorite of aggressive riders who do not want or need a full-suspension bike. Over the years, the frame has evolved from 26-inch wheels to plus and 29-inch varieties, rim brakes to disc, quick-releases to thru-axles, 3 chainrings to 1x, and geometry tweaks making it capable of handling more technical trails, one constant has been its frame material: aluminum. Well, that all changes with this carbon update to the seventh generation Chameleon. Leveraging Santa Cruz's mastery of carbon fiber construction, this latest Chameleon drops some weight and improves the ride quality and this particular version, the Chameleon Carbon 27.5 Plus S Complete Mountain Bike, adds a shred-ready SRAM GX Eagle group with the plushness and traction-hungry ride that can only come from plus-sized tires.
This fun-loving, do-it-all trail bike is compatible with multiple wheel sizes and is also on our short list of bikes we'd pick for long-distance bikepacking missions over rugged terrain. It's offered here as a 27.5+ trail bike offering excellent grip and floatation over loose trails with its plus-sized tires, and it can be run as a fast-rolling 29er with its interchangeable dropouts. The dropouts also allow you to swap out the gears for single-speed use, should you desire a near-maintenance free drivetrain, live in an area without major elevation changes, or you just enjoy flogging yourself from time to time. Please note we carry the separate dropouts for plus and 29-inch wheels and the singlespeed spacing is 142mm while the geared version is Boost 148mm.
What we love so much about the Carbon Chameleon is it can jump in a singlespeed race one weekend, hit the berms in the bike park after work, and load up with a week's worth of camping gear for a bikepacking vacation next. Eagle eyes will notice two bottle cage mounts, including a triple-bolt cargo cage mount under the downtube for carrying large water bottles or various other items for bikepacking.
The Carbon Chameleon uses Santa Cruz's Carbon C, its second-tier carbon, which boasts identical construction to the higher grade CC carbon but uses a different modulus that adds a tiny bit of weight while saving big on cash. The method remains the same, with unidirectional carbon plies wrapping between tubes, adding strength and long-term durability. An inner bladder applies outward pressure against the mold while the carbon cures to reduce resin pooling and virtually eliminates imperfections. This results in a frame that is so tough, Santa Cruz backs it with a lifetime frame warranty.
This S build kit gives you a premium selection of parts, including a 130-millimeter FOX Performance 34 Fork for stiff, confident tracking while braking and turning and plush absorption through the rock gardens and drops on the trail. SRAM's GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain gives you a massive gear range with its 10 to 50-tooth cassette, so you can tackle a wider variety of terrain. It's finished up with a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper for getting the saddle out of the way on those steep descents where you'd benefit from a more aggressive body position.
- Santa Cruz's venerable Chameleon, now in carbon
- Carbon C construction drops weight while improving ride quality
- Plus-sized tires add traction and cush over rough and loose trails
- SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain offers plenty of range for the hills
- Huge tire clearance and 3-bolt cargo mount lends well to bikepacking
- Backed by a lifetime warranty on frame
- Interchangeable dropouts allow for wheel size swaps and toggling between gear or SS use