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)
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 seatpostAndrew Christman
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 slackAndrew Christman
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 singlespeedCourtesy
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 derailleurAndrew Christman
Other frame features include internal routing for a dropper seatpost and dual water bottle mounts on the top and bottom of the downtube.