Chameleon Carbon 27.5+ R Mountain Bike
Like the color-changing reptile of the same name, the Chameleon is versatile creature that easily adapts to its environment. This fun-loving, shreddy hardtail has been a staple in Santa Cruz's lineup for over two decades, serving as their do-it-all option for riders that don't want or need a full suspension bike. Depending on setup and skill level, the Chameleon is capable of handling
a wide range of terrain—from aggressive trail riding to dirt jumps to
all-around use. Over the years it has seen a number of iterations, but the one constant has always been its aluminum frame. Now in its seventh generation, the so-called "tin lizard" gets to reap the benefit of Santa Cruz's carbon fiber expertise, boasting a carbon frame that's lighter, faster, and rides better than it's predecessor. This particular version, the Chameleon Carbon 27.5+ R Mountain Bike, is built up with 27.5+ wheels and tires that provide a boost of confidence-inspiring traction on loose, chunky terrain. It features Santa Cruz's "R" build kit, consisting of workhorse components that are made to last, but at the same time won't leave a massive dent in your wallet.
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, but it can also 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 for peace of mind.
- Santa Cruz's do-it-all carbon fiber hardtail
- Carbon C construction sheds weight and improves ride quality
- Plus-sized tires boost traction and cushion on rough, loose trails
- Massive tire clearance allows a wide range of rubber options
- 3-bolt cargo cage mounts make this an ideal rig for bikepacking
- R level build kit with workhorse components and NX Eagle drivetrain
- Backed by a lifetime warranty on the frame for peace of mind
- Interchangeable dropouts let you change wheel size or go singlespeed