Beautiful Bicycle - A Santa Cruz Chameleon That Stands Out
We don’t see chameleons all that often in Utah, so it's a treat when we do. While they’re known for their thousand-mile stare, the chameleon is best known for their ability to change their look between tones both bright or muted, purely based on environment and mood. That’s how we see the new Santa Cruz Chameleon: an extension of the rider’s desire to change up its looks, mindset, and capabilities to suit its needs and environment. Our very own Jack sought to make this Chameleon his own, with a dedicated set of choices that make this Chameleon different from everything else out there.
Let’s cover a bit of background on the Santa Cruz Chameleon. This alloy hardtail is available both as a frame and as a complete bike. Complete builds are available with 29” wheels front and rear or a mullet option with a 29” front wheel and a 27.5” rear wheel. It also has the option of a geared or single speed drivetrain option. While it is naturally geared toward trail riding with a 130mm fork, it has three bottle cage mounts and reasonable pedaling geometry. That makes the Chameleon capable of shapeshifting from a trail hardtail, a single speed 29er, or even a big tire bikepacking rig.
On to the build, which is far nicer than any of the Chameleon standard builds, even the top-spec Chameleon S-Kit. The most obvious choice is probably the bits of gold on the bike, or rather, Kashima coat. Regardless of whether or not you think that Kashima coat makes a difference in suspension performance, it is hard to deny just how smooth the new Fox 34 is, especially once mid-stroke support is dialed. The Fox Transfer has also been recently revised, and it too is plenty smooth. Oh, and the matching gold coating looks cool. Nothing wrong with that.
One might find some Fox Factory parts on a stock bike, but you’re unlikely to find the smattering of parts from Chris King and White Industries. The Chris King MTN30 wheels are also a relatively new release. The FusionFiber carbon rims are made here in Utah. King claims that this choice was made to keep up their B-corp certification, as FusionFiber says their carbon rims are recyclable at the end of their lifespan. For the rider, however, they are decently light for what amounts to a trail or all-mountain-oriented wheelset. The matte grey Chris King Boost hubs here are what they’re best known for, however, and are also made in America. And no, that isn’t someone using a chainsaw from a mile away, that’s just how it sounds when a Chris King hub is freewheeling.
White Industries is perhaps a less-common sight around here. They’re perhaps best known for their hubs; while not as loud a King hub, they’re similarly durable and made for the long haul. But rather than hubs, Jack chose White Industries M30 cranks and a White Industries headset. Both are made in Petaluma, California and offer a matching anodized finish with etched and inset logos. Both options are quite robust, and to us, are quite easy on the eye.
Of course, the build doesn’t end there. 29 x 2.6” tires are, in our eyes, a happy medium of rollover, grip, and cornering support for those looking for a bit more comfort out of their bike. The Hope Tech 3 E4 four-piston brakes will take full advantage of those tires; Hope makes brakes with a whole lot of power and finishes that feel in line with the White Industries, King, and even Paul components on the bike. All-in, this Chameleon is a well-considered mingling of the coolest stuff made in America, built as a well-balanced hardtail just as capable of nailing a sunset Bonneville Shoreline ride as it is ready to load up for all-day backcountry fun.
See the complete build sheet below:
|Frame||Santa Cruz Chameleon - Yellow|
|Suspension||Fox Factory 34 - FIT4 - 130mm travel|
|Headset||White Industries - Black - for IS41/IS52|
|Drivetrain||SRAM GX AXS shifter and derailleur, White Industries M30 crankset - Anodized Black - 170mm|
|Gearing||White Industries TSR Boost 1x chainring - 30T, SRAM GX XG-1275 cassette - 10-52t|
|Wheelset||Chris King MTN30 29” 28/28 - Boost hubs in Matte Slate hubs|
|Tires||Maxxis Forecaster 3C Maxx Speed - 29 x 2.6”|
|Brakes||Hope Tech 3 E4 - Braided Hose|
|Handlebar||Renthal FatBar - 20mm rise - 35mm clamp, ESI 34mm Extra Grips - Black|
|Stem||Renthal Apex 35 - 50mm length|
|Seatpost||Fox Factory Transfer - 31.6mm - 175mm travel, Paul Dropper Lever|
|Accessories||e*thirteen TRS+ ISCG05 Chain Guide, Deity TMac pedals, Muc-Off V2 Tubeless Valves, Syncros Trail 2 Fender|
Words by Alvin Holbrook. Photos by Cody Wignall.