One of the most fitting names for a bike has always been the ‘Chameleon’ by Santa Cruz. A bike of many faces, this hardtail has recently surfaced in Santa Cruz dealers after undergoing a modern-day metamorphosis. What has emerged is a 29er, Plus, singlespeed, bikepacking, rally bike, just to name a few of the possibilities. That is the soul of this bike after all. Affordable, aluminum and versatile enough to be the shapeshifter of bikes.
These photos were taken at a bikeshop and Santa Cruz headquarters will neither confirm nor deny its existence at this point. We suspect the official release will come in a few days but here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- It can fit 29er, 27.5+ or 29+ tires
- Rumored base retail is $1600 in the US
- Comes with 1×11 NX drivetrain
- Easton 40mm wheels and Maxxis Rekon Plus tires
- Comes with Rocker dropouts for geared or singlespeed use
- There will be several Rocker dropout options available to correct geometry with different wheel diameters
- No dropper post included at the $1600 price, but it will be ready for internal dropper routing
- Front fork travel is 120mm
- Front derailleur mount is present
- Head tube angle is 67.3 degrees for a 29er and 67.6 degrees for 27.5 Plus tire bike
- Chainstay length is adjustable between 415mm and 430mm
- Reach is quite long!
- Release date is the Ides of March, aka 3/15/17
Well color us excited. We are a firm believers that hardtails are ideal for Plus tires. Modern day hardtails with geometries that mimic their All Mountain siblings are extremely capable beasts except for one obvious area, the zero mm of travel in the rear. But with the use of a Plus tire sized 2.8 or 3.0, pressures as low as 12 psi will deliver significant comfort to the rider.
The key advantage over other options is price, weight and simplicity. It opens up other possibilities like a singlespeed build, a rigid fork lightweight build or a bikepacking/adventure mobile.
This may seem like the obvious evolution for the Chameleon but it does seem like Santa Cruz has nailed the execution phase once again.
Visit our forums here for more speculation and discussion.