2017 Santa Cruz Chameleon first look

Slacked out aluminum hardtail accommodates 27.5+ or 29er wheels

27.5 29er Cross Country
Santa Cruz Chameleon

The new Chameleon accepts 29er or 27.5+ wheels.

What is it?

The new Santa Cruz Chameleon does not disappoint with its versatility and value. It is 29er or 27.5+ wheel compatible with rear dropouts that adjust to each task. It can also be geared or singlespeed (again thanks to the adjustable rear dropouts). This makes it a great first bike for some and an N+1 bike for others. Below are some of the advantages for each class of rider.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

SRAM NX 1×11 is employed to simplify the drivetrain.

Newer Riders
  • Great first bike with good value
  • Relaxed trail geometry
  • Plus tire traction ups confidence
Experienced Riders
  • Great N+1 bike
  • Are you plus curious?
  • Bikepacking
  • Hardtail trail bike
Santa Cruz Chameleon

Dropouts are specific to wheelsize and gearing type.

The Chameleon’s elevator pitch is a combination of price, weight, and simplicity. It opens up other possibilities like a singlespeed build, a rigid fork lightweight build, or even a bikepacking/adventure’mobile.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

A bit of tech is in its wheelhouse as well.

  • Trail bike geometry
  • 67.5-degree head angle
  • 120mm travel fork
  • Internal dropper routing
  • Two bottle mounts
  • 6000-series aluminum
  • Low direct FD mount
  • Threaded 73mm BB
  • Geared or singlespeed
  • Olive green paint
  • 27.5+ compatible
  • 29 compatible
Aluminum Frame Only

This bike is only available with an aluminum frame and that’s not about to change. Thus, it can be considered heavy and harsh compared to a carbon option. But Santa Cruz is choosing to stay true to form and keep this as an affordable Swiss Army knife and make not a fancy, expensive hardtail.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

SRAM NX 1×11 is employed to simplify the drivetrain.


Geometry is decidedly modern with a 67.5-degree head angle and 440mm reach size medium. For comparison’s sake, the medium 27.5 Santa Cruz Nomad has a reach of 415mm. Bikes have gotten longer and the Chameleon is keeping up with the times. The chainstay length is adjustable between 415 and 430mm and the bottom bracket height is at 315mm.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

There are two builds options (R1 – $1999, D – $1599), or you can go frame only for $749. For more info please visit www.santacruzbicycles.com.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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