The new Santa Cruz Chameleon is more versatile than ever

Modern geometry, wheelsize versatility and affordability in this new hardtail

Santa Cruz has redesigned the Chameleon with 27.5+ compatibility and given riders the option to run it as a singlespeed.

Frequent BikeRadar readers may have noticed that we've already covered the debut of this bike through spy shots from a local bike shop.

It turns out that Santa Cruz was so efficient in getting this new bike to dealers that it shipped them a few weeks earlier than expected, which isn’t a bad thing in our book.

Now that we have additional details directly from Santa Cruz, we've updated this article. Here’s what you need to know about this new shape-shifting hardtail.

Santa Cruz Chameleon details

  • Compatible with 27.5+ and 29er wheels and tires
  • Offered in sizes S,M, L and XL
  • Rocker dropouts for geared or singlespeed use
  • Boost axle spacing
  • Complete bike pricing starts at $1599 / £1599, frames retail for $749 / £549 (Australian pricing TBC)
  • Available now

The Chameleon was already the trail hardtail in the Santa Cruz family, with a slack head angle and short chainstays. The previous iteration was based around traditionally-sized 27.5in wheels. Fun fact: this is the seventh generation of the Chameleon.

There's a port on the downtube as well as the seat tube for an internally-routed dropper seatpost
There's a port on the downtube as well as the seat tube for an internally-routed dropper seatpost

The new bike is a true changeling, offering riders the option to run 27.5+ or standard 29in wheels and tires. The chainstay length is adjustable between 415 and 430mm.

In keeping with its trail-oriented nature, the Chameleon comes spec’d with a 120mm suspension fork. It has a 67.6-degree head tube angle as a 27.5+ bike which slackens to 67.3-degrees in 29er guise. 

The 67.6–67.3 degree head tube angle (depending on wheelsize) is refreshingly slack
The 67.6–67.3 degree head tube angle (depending on wheelsize) is refreshingly slack

This minor head tube angle change is a result of the four different modular dropout options for this new bike. Like the chip system Santa Cruz uses on the Tallboy and Hightower, these interchangeable dropouts are intended to preserve the geometry as much as possible between wheel sizes. 

The Chameleon comes with uses modular dropouts that allow it to be set up with gears or as a singlespeed
The Chameleon comes with uses modular dropouts that allow it to be set up with gears or as a singlespeed

There are geared 148x12mm versions for 27.5 and 29in wheels and singlespeed versions for 27.5 and 29in wheels in the 142x12mm axle spacing.According to Santa Cruz, the reason the company went with a dedicated singelspeed dropout in 142x12mm is the fact there are very few singlespeed-specific hubs offered in the wider Boost axle spacing. 

To be clear: all versions of these dropouts can be used to tension the chain for singlespeed applications, but the two dedicated singelspeed versions do away with the unsightly and unused derailleur hanger that may affect the chi of some singlespeed purists. 

The Chameleon can accept a low-direct mount front derailleur
The Chameleon can accept a low-direct mount front derailleur

Other frame features include internal routing for a dropper seatpost and dual water bottle mounts on the top and bottom of the downtube.

Chameleon geometry

Chameleon 27.5+            
Frame
A3
ReachStackHT HT STSTRC/FCBBBBWheelWheelTTStandover
Size  AngleLengthAngleLengthChainstay HeightDropBase (short)Base (long)  
S41561567.510073390415-4307043155011151130596689
M44061567.510073420415-4307293155011401155621705
L46061467.510073450415-4307493155011601175642721
XL49062467.511073490415-4307833155011931208674739
F Travel ACR SpacingFDHeadsetBBISCG05Wheel Size      
120530.0148x12Low DirectISThreaded 73mmNo27.5+ 
  
Chameleon 29er 
FrameReachStackHT HT STSTRC/FCBBBBWheelWheelTTStandover
Size  AngleLengthAngleLengthChainstay HeightDropBase (short)Base (long)  
S41261767.310072.8390415-4307033155511151130601689
M43761767.310072.8420415-4307283155511401155626696
L45761767.310072.8450415-4307483155511601175649721
XL48762767.311072.8490415-4307823155511941209682740
F Travel ACR SpacingFDHeadsetBBISCG05Wheel Size      
120 530.0148x12Low DirectISThreaded 73mmNo29      

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