Santa Cruz Chameleon #Chameleonclub

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews' started by Cyclotourist, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    There are at least five Chameleon owners on here. Single speed, geared, 29er, 27.5+... the whole gamut of options! What are you thoughts & opinions on the bike?

    37999916386_476c4b138f_b.jpg
     
  2. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    I am guessing they like it?
     
    jaime, Danmtchl and Cyclotourist like this.
  3. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Edward Bottorff
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO Plus
    Don't have one. The bike or an opinion on it.
     
  4. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    To be determined!
    I'm sure you have an opinion!
     
    Danmtchl and UPSed like this.
  5. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Cyclotourist and Danmtchl like this.
  6. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Cyclotourist and Danmtchl like this.
  7. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    LOL, what took you guys so long to start this club?! :rolleyes:
     
    Cyclotourist and Danmtchl like this.
  8. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Dustan Baker
    Current Bike:
    Foes Mixer Trail
    Not feeling welcome here
     
  9. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Why? Your bike can handle both 27.5 and 29 too!
     
    Cyclotourist, Danmtchl and UPSed like this.
  10. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Edward Bottorff
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO Plus
    But can it SS?
     
    Cyclotourist and Danmtchl like this.
  11. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Dustan Baker
    Current Bike:
    Foes Mixer Trail
    I used to SS, but now i identify as a FS. I am undergoing DVO hormone replacements now.
     
    Faust29, mike, MrGreedom and 6 others like this.
  12. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    I'm gonna post a pic of my Timberjack in this thread tomorrow wearing it's new treads. :whistling:
     
  13. Andy

    Andy Member

    Location:
    The OC, Calif
    Name:
    Andy
    Current Bike:
    Some type of Santa Cruz...

    Photo Feb 23, 9 05 12 AM.jpg


    whistle.jpg
     
  14. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Andy's out of the closet! :thumbsup:
     
    mike, Old&InTheWay, herzalot and 3 others like this.
  15. Andy

    Andy Member

    Location:
    The OC, Calif
    Name:
    Andy
    Current Bike:
    Some type of Santa Cruz...
    Wow. You could’ve phrased that better! No, seriously, you could’ve :Roflmao
     
    mike, Old&InTheWay, herzalot and 4 others like this.
  16. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    Well this is going about as well as could be expected...
    :bang:;)

    How about this: Andy, what make/model of frame bag do you have there?

     
    Faust29, mike, Danmtchl and 2 others like this.
  17. kioti

    kioti iMTB Rockstah

    Name:
    Jim Jennings
    Current Bike:
    ibis ripley
    I had chameleon a when I was a kid. He lived in a glass house. With a heat lamp. Kinda like Dallas Raines.. Can I be in the club?
     
    scan, Faust29, jaime and 9 others like this.
  18. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    IMG_3436.jpg

    Ok, so most of you know that I'm kinda new to this bike. I'm about 1 month in. So for those that don't know, here's the deal.....

    I have been riding a SC Highball Al since 2014. Well, I have been riding a few SC Highball's since 2014. End of January 2018 I found a crack on my 2nd warranty frame. Unfortunately, SC no longer offers the Highball in aluminum. Since the Carbon Highball doesn't have the SS dropouts...I only run it SS, I had to make a change. That change, was a move to the Chameleon. So now you are caught up.

    The Build:
    Large frame
    2014 RS Revelation RCT3 130mm
    Cane Creek 110 HS
    Answer Carbon Pro Taper DH bars
    Race Face Ride Stem 60mm 31.8
    ESI Chunky Grips
    Chris King BB
    Shimano XT 1x Cranks
    Renthal 1X Ring 34t
    Niner Ti RDO Cog 22t
    KMC x10.93 Chain
    Shimano XT Pedals
    Chris King / Arch MK3 Front Wheel
    Chris Kng SS / Arch MK3 Rear Wheel
    2.35 x 29" Maxxis Forekaster EXO/TR Front
    2.35 x 29" Maxxis Ikon EXO/TR Rear
    Shimano SLX 7000 Brakes
    Shimano RT-66 Rotors 180mm
    Truvativ T40 Seatpost
    WTB Volt Saddle
    weight: 24.68 lbs


    Thoughts:
    I'm about 400 miles into my Chameleon. Fortunately, I was able to ride one before I bought it, so I was already familiar with how it would fit, and how it would ride.

    I bought mine as a frame only then transferred all my parts over from the Highball. I also knew that the factory 50mm stem felt a bit short, so I ordered up a 60mm. My Highball Al was 24.01 lbs, the Chameleon is 24.68 lbs.

    First thing I noticed is that the size/fit of the bike, feels the same as the Highball that it was replacing. Longer top tube, shorter stem, but a similar feel. On the bike, you notice that the top tube slopes down quite a bit. So much so that on a L frame with a 400mm post, I am nearly at the minimum insert line. However, it is a 31.6 post, I don't notice any flex. The chain stays are shorter, thus I was able to remove a full chain link when I built it up.

    With the seatpost so long, and the top tube so low, it looks like you are way up on top of the bike. It does not feel that way.

    Now I am a SS'er and a climber. So it needs to do both of these things really well. When climbing on the SS, you stand alot. Thanks to the longer TT, the bike didn't feel short even with the shorter stem. The bike climbs as it should.....efficient. Push the pedals, it goes. Long fire road grinds are not a problem. Technical climbs allow it to shine. The short rear end makes it easy to get it up and over trail features/obstacles. The head angle is a little more slack than the Highball, but the front end doesn't wander on steep climbs. The weight is close enough, I don't really notice the difference. I don't notice much flex at the BB. The SS dropouts are simple and effective. It is a fun climber.

    Now I like to think I am a competent descender. :rolleyes: Again with the low TT, the weight on the bike feels low. The slack HA makes the bike really stable at speed. On wide open roads you can just let it go. On fast flowy singletrack the bike comes to life. It loves to be leaned into the turns. It changes direction with ease. The bike is playful, and manuals seem to come without any trouble.

    Once you get it on techy/chunky/rough singletrack.....the bike likes to be plushed. It seems to enjoy the rowdyness of the trail. It does a good job holding its' line.

    The frame is not harsh, it is overbuilt, but you don't get that feeling that you are getting beat to death, especially in the rough. Again, it is a fun descender.

    Since you can run 29 or 27.5+ there is a ton of tire clearance.


    The bike isn't perfect....some things I have issues with. While minor, it is still some things that bug me:
    Lack of 2nd bottle cage inside the triangle. I know, with the lower TT, it's not possible. You can mount a 2nd bottle under the down tube...just not a fan of it.
    Since the rear of the frame is wide to run 3.0 tires, my calves hit the seat stays all the time. My heels also continuously hit the chainstays. I see my shoes rubbing the paint off in no time.
    The really short seattube makes fitting a seatpost tough. Granted, running a dropper post, since they are longer, would likely cure that problem.
    The non drive side BB shell needed to be chased.

    Again, these are just minor little annoyances. Definitely not make or break issues.

    The best way I can describe the Chameleon would be, it is a really fun bike.
     
  19. Andy

    Andy Member

    Location:
    The OC, Calif
    Name:
    Andy
    Current Bike:
    Some type of Santa Cruz...
    C2C657CD-8882-45D6-8738-45370E1901A0.jpeg


    Got it on ebay, stupidly cheap, around $5 inc airmail from China
     
  20. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    Thanks. I have a Revelate Jerrycan right now for tools. Works fine, but I don't have a tube in it. I like that this is a little larger, and tucks away inside the triangle instead of on top.
     
    Danmtchl, Faust29, mike and 2 others like this.
  21. MrGreedom

    MrGreedom Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Name:
    Ryan
    Current Bike:
    BH Lynx6
    Let's start the pool for when J-Zilla gets the Chameleon to submit to him. I'm taking July of 2019; DDD holds the money.
     
  22. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    Great review Jason. :thumbsup:

    Luckily, my spindly lil' legs do not make contact with the seat stays. :rolleyes:

    I too hit the chain stays with my shoes, though. I trained myself to ride with that in mind so a micro adjustment eliminated the issue for the most part. I also clear taped the areas of concern. Have you tried moving the cleats on your shoes inbound a few mm's to allow for a tiny bit more clearance?
     
  23. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    :laugh::laugh::laugh:
     
    Danmtchl, Faust29 and mike like this.
  24. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    Here's a quick overview of how I decided on a Chameleon, not really a review yet. Several friends had plus bikes, and were really talking up the wheel/tire size. Sounded good, so I wanted to give it a try. I probably spent a year thinking, planning, and saving up. I really wanted a few specific things on this bike: Boost spacing, modern geometry, an internal dropper. This would be my first new bike since 2001, so was going to do it right, and not go for incremental change, but jump into this brave new world!

    I was initially leaning toward one of steel bikes like the Cotic Solaris or a Jamis Dragonslayer. I ended up looking at aluminum bikes through the process, and narrowed it down to the Timberjack and the Chameleon. I like Salsa bikes and brand a lot, but ended up going with Santa Cruz as it was speced just a bit more like I wanted right out of the box. Talking w/ @Faust29 and his very positive experiences pretty much put me over the top!

    Along the way, I found only very positive reviews like this early one from the UK as well as Guy Kesteven's glowing video review. I decided to commit, and after a bit of a wait, I received my new bike in October!

     
    Andy, Danmtchl, SnakeCharmer and 6 others like this.
  25. jaime

    jaime Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Corona, ca
    Name:
    jaime
    Current Bike:
    '15 Giant reign advanced 1
    s780_IMG_5768.jpg

    Chameleon + Floop
     
    Danimal, rossage, Torrent77 and 12 others like this.
  26. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS

    Wait a darn minute.......did you join the club without notifying us?
     
  27. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    That yours, or spotted in the wild???
     
  28. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    @jaime - I was wondering where you've been. Squishy bike rehab? Decided to quit the rear shock cold turkey? :eek::D Herz won't approve, but we'll still talk to you. :thumbsup:

    Well... I came to the Chameleon looking for a complement to the Highball, and as a replacement for the short travel (120/120) GT 29er I had hanging on the garage wall- something a little more aggressive than the XC race hardtail, but without the headache of suspension maintenance. My original plan was to keep one geared, and one single speed. I hardly ever ride my local loops (Rwanda stuff, Ladera stuff & Caspers), because they are just too flat for the single speed. I spin like a hamster on crack. But, I got tired of the gears, and they have both been single speed for the last couple months...

    When I got the Chameleon, there was a learning curve. The frame is much more forgiving than the Highball, even with comparable tires. It's just a heavier bike, and handles like one downhill. Even today on Motorway with the Highball, I was thinking how much more "planted" the lizard is through the scree. Whereas the Highball floats on top and dances, the Chameleon wants to dig in, plow, and chew up the rocks. Modern geometry isn't a gimmick... And the slight penalty climbing is more than worth it.

    As far as the bike itself, there are some things I absolutely love. You geared guys will probably never change or adjust the dropouts, but they are 1000 times better than the Highball and the el Mariachi I had. All of the adjustments and bolts are a 5mm hex. On the trail, I can loosen the dropout bolts and adjust the chain tension in a minute or two with one tool. On the Highball, there are two different size bolts (4 and 5mm), and two different dropouts to go from single speed to geared. And... no 12mm thru-axle for single speed on the Highball. Major design flaw. :confused: I only have one set of dropouts for the Lizard, and I've run it geared and single speed for both wheel sizes, plus and 29er, all with 12 x 148 spacing. :thumbsup:

    In terms of tire clearance, the Chameleon can run just about any tire you can think of. There are reports on-line of people fitting 29+ tires in the rear, with the dropouts set back all the way. Not supported by Santa Cruz, but nice to know it can be done. Even a 27.5 x 3.0 inch tire will fit with the dropouts adjusted all the way forward. The Highball, on the other hand, has a hard time with a 2.2 Ikon with certain single speed gear combinations. Not great for mud clearance, as I found out in VQ last year. :thumbsdown:

    The location of the second bottle cage isn't an issue for me. I wouldn't change the design of the frame, and take the change in characteristics, to get the bottle inside. If I have to wear a pack, I'll usually take the second cage off... More for weight than anything else.

    All in all... She's an awesome bike and really comes alive in the chunkier stuff, but is still light enough to be fast and nimble. She's just as much at home on something twisty like SART as she is on the hours of chunk on Cannell Trail.
     
  29. jaime

    jaime Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Corona, ca
    Name:
    jaime
    Current Bike:
    '15 Giant reign advanced 1
    @mtnbikej @Cyclotourist @Faust29 sorry guys but my squishy addiction is here to stay forever and I downloaded/posted this pic just to make you guys wonder about my absence on the forum ! sorry my friends !! :thumbsup:
    Edit : when I got back to the website and read the alerts I was LOL amd wifey is like "are you all right?" :Roflmao
     
    scan, rossage, Torrent77 and 9 others like this.
  30. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Edward Bottorff
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO Plus
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