Chameleons are one of the most intriguing reptiles in the animal kingdom. They’re adapted for hunting and climbing; with their extremely quick tongues and unique ability to change color depending on their environment. This level of adaptability is the envy of everyone, and as such it makes perfect sense that Santa Cruz Bicycles’ newest trail hardtail mountain bike is named the 2021 Santa Cruz Chameleon A. Instead of changing color, this Chameleon hardtail trail mountain bike swaps wheels, drivetrain, and even usage according to its surrounding.
Chameleon is one of the longest-running names in the Santa Cruz name. Riders loved previous chameleons for their nimbleness and surprising capability on the trail. Over the years, the Chameleon hardtail became trail-oriented and equipped with a 120mm fork. As such, it receives the frame geometry du jour; a slack 67.5-degree headtube angle, adequately long reach with low stack numbers, and super short 415-430mm chainstays (depending on user preference), among the shortest in class. Like the chameleon of the animal kingdom, the Chameleon can switch 27.5”+ wide tires or a lighter 29er wheelset based on desire. The frame offers the ability to swap between geared and single speed drivetrains (as well as wheel size) via replaceable dropouts that maintain proper bottom bracket height and geometry. An external-bearing BB and externally routed brake hose add long-term reliability and easy servicing. The frame is built for an internal dropper post and a front derailleur, plus two bottle mounts in each size. All in, the Chameleon shifts from trail-worthy hardtail to backpacking bike easily.
On the trail, the Santa Cruz Chameleon offers flexibility and technical capability. It big hits and jumps with ease, and the rigid rear end excels in efficiency and keeps weight down relative to full-suspension models. It isn’t as extreme as other modern hardtails, which bodes well for its versatility; it still pedals well and doesn’t require as much weight as possible on the front wheel to feel grippy through a sweeping corner. It’s short chainstays mean the rear end consistently grips and feels maneuverable through all kinds of technical terrain. Perhaps most importantly, the Chameleon (particularly in 27.5” + guise) seems to float over rough terrain better than a normal alloy bike.
Above else, the Santa Cruz Chameleon seems to hit a sweet spot in every regard. Its geometry is capable and well-balanced on the trail, it offers low weight, and is built to be a seriously reliable choice for the trail wizard and bickpacker alike. Santa Cruz offers this bike in four sizes (S-XL), and in three variations:
- D (29er), which receives a Rockshox Recon RL 120mm fork, SRAM SX Groupset with NX shifters (30t crankset / 11-42 cassette), SRAM Level brakes, and a WTB Silverado Comp saddle. It retails for $1949.
- R/R+ (29er/27.5”+), which receives a Fox Rhythm 34 120mm fork, SRAM NX Eagle with a 30t crankset / 10-50 cassette, SRAM Level T brakes, Race Face Aeffect dropper seat post, and a WTB Volt Race saddle. It retails for $2399.
Santa Cruz offers a lifetime warranty for each frameset they sell.
Have any questions about the 2021 Santa Cruz Chameleon A hardtail trail bike? Give us a call during shop hours, or send us an email any time to email@example.com.