Santa Cruz Chameleon Frameset

4.8/5 (74 Reviews)
MSRP : $750.00


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Product Description

Chameleon


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Reviews 1 - 15 (74 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by surfzombo a Downhiller from Smogtown, California

Date Reviewed: August 18, 2008

Strengths:    Still a good strong frame after 11+ years.

Weaknesses:    none

Bottom Line:   
I've been running this frame fer a long, long time (her frame No. is 328). She's a great workhorse, but loves being set free and pointed down hill. Matter of fact, and not to pat myself on the back, just yesterday the bike and I smoked some guy on an Ibis Mojo on the local downhill. I don't know how the newer Chameleon's ride. I hear they're made in Taiwan. (mine was made in the USA). RIDE ON!!!!!!!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Up 7th

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $499.00

Purchased At:   Hacienda Schwinn (RI

Bike Setup:   Dedicated single speed for at least 10 years. Old '97 Marzocchi Z2 Bombers that have been rebuilt time and time again and are still (kinda) plush. I've a short stubby CNC'd stem to set me back on the bike because this Chameleon just loves STEEP.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by gager5000 a Cross Country Rider from England

Date Reviewed: August 14, 2008

Strengths:    Sold ride, strong frame, looks gorgeous

Weaknesses:    No rear disc brake mount, paint.

Bottom Line:   
I have this bike for 7 years now and I'm still not bored of it. It still gives me the same buzz now as when I first rode it. Granted, the paint works past its best but its seen off several groupsets, done many thousands of miles and I still get people talking to me about it on the trails. Its not the best XC bike in the world, or the best racer but it'll be very good at anything you try on it. Guess thats why the call it the do it all hardtail.

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Favorite Trail:   anywhere

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Purchased At:   North west MTB centr

Bike Setup:   SID 100's, LX groupset, Hope wheels

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by wardo a Cross Country Rider from calgary canada

Date Reviewed: July 14, 2008

Strengths:    well i just picked this frame up from beside my local dumpster lol! what kind of idiot throws out a perfectly good frame! so i stripped it down no cracks or dents anywhere! i was pretty stoked from there on in! painted it white with a chameleon stenciled on it (it really looks sweet) and am now starting to build it up im going to love this bike its super light and looks strong!

Weaknesses:    i cant complain with a free frame!

Bottom Line:   
i cant wait to ride it! im going to use it for my xc ripper and commuter because i allready have a stinky for everything else!

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Favorite Trail:   ickysticky

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Purchased At:   local dumster

Similar Products Used:   stinkys norco 4x

Bike Setup:   fox vanilla RLC, single track rims, bonerager cranks and bash guard, xt drivetrain, stroker trail brakes,

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Manuel Araica a Cross Country Rider from Rowland Heights

Date Reviewed: March 23, 2008

Strengths:    super strong

Weaknesses:    none

Bottom Line:   
I just finished building up this used frame from ebay and I cannot be happier. This a do it all bike. I love the horizontal drop out and my surly chain tensioner. I took for a ride and to my surprise and I was still passing all the geared boys in front of me. I have an s-works as single speed and it is more agile and faster than my lizard, but I got the lizard to do technical single tracks and take it to more uneven terrain. A+. I called Santa Cruz to complain about the fact thay they are not building more horizontal dropout and you will have to deal with EBB.

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Duration Product Used:   3 months

Purchased At:   ebay

Similar Products Used:   s-works

Bike Setup:   thompson-kk set-single speed 34/18 white industries-

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Kyle Hewitt a Weekend Warrior from Manchester, England

Date Reviewed: April 5, 2004

Strengths:    Handling, strength, durability.

Weaknesses:    Will not accept larger than a 2.1 rear tire.
Disc adaptor is a bad design.


Bottom Line:   
Im trading this bike in after 5 years of sterling service and will be sad to see it go. I have riden everything on it-BMX tracks, Welsh Forestry commission trails, dirt jump trails, XC, DH, commuting to work when snowing etc etc and its never let me down.
The handling was a revelation from the first time I built it up and rode it to the last ride.

Pity there now made in Taiwan.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Hardsough

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $650.00

Purchased At:   Leisure Lakes

Similar Products Used:   Norco Sasquatch, Cannondale Chase2, Spooky MetalHead, Gt Zaskar.

Bike Setup:   Series1 (1999) Large polished frame, 2002 Marzocchi DJ1's, 8speed cassette, DH wheelset, 2" riser bars, Avid Supreme Arch rear brake (possibly the best rim brake ever made), Hope Mini disk front.

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:5
Submitted by David Jewett a Downhiller from Hacienda Hgts., CA, USA

Date Reviewed: February 19, 2004

Strengths:    Besides being a blast to ride, it's conversation starter.

Weaknesses:    None

Bottom Line:   
I've been beating this bike senseless for over 5 years now. She started out with gears but was soon converted to SS. She has been my car and recreation vehicle the whole time and takes what ever abuse that I can dish out. I'm proud to own such a great bike. I know this sounds like a lot of gushing clap-trap but it's how I feel about my Cal-Trans orange Chameleon. Sure, the paint jobs got some dings, but that's just a bikes way of showing age wrinkles. Good strong welds. NO cracking that I can see and I take good care of this bike maintenance wise. Be the first on yer block and buy one TODAY !!!!!!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Anywhere in the Puente Hills

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $499.00

Purchased At:   Hacienda Schwinn

Similar Products Used:   Nothing compares

Bike Setup:   SS, Paul WORD hubs laced onto Rhyno lite rims, IRC Mythos 2.10 front tire on the rear,IRC Kujo 2.65 on the front hooked up to my old '97 Marzocchi Z-2's,XTR V's, Race Face cranks w/ platforms, Chris King head-set with wide ass Powertools handlebars, Thomson seatpost w/ Crossbow seat

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Steve from Boise, ID

Date Reviewed: February 11, 2004

Strengths:    Feels lighter than it is, Built like a tank, fun as heck-fire. Forces you to enjoy riding a bike again. It's a Santa Cruz.

Weaknesses:    Hmmmm, if I really had to pick something, I'd say the chain stay sticks out to much/or is too wide/thick. Every once in a while the heel of my shoe will clip it. But, that usually only happens if I'm not clipped in, and no, I don't have big feet (9.5). But ironically, the beefy chain stay is what I love about this bike.

Bottom Line:   
After being on full suspension (SC Heckler) for a while I was a little nervous about this purchase, but I needed a back-up bike. I was amazed at how fun this bike is, it’s so quick and stiff. Climbs much better then I expected. It tracks really well, jumps great, and I never have that fear that I’m going to break it.
After my Heckler, I never thought I could fall in love again, but the fact is the Chameleon is my new love (more stiff in the rear than my FS, but my Nokians take up the bumps nice). To show my complete obsession with this frame, I’m buying another one for single speeding. And holy crap, it’s only 500 bux! For that price why would I waste my time converting it back and forth every weekend?
After riding a hard tail again, I realized that I got lazy because of the FS. A lot of riders think hardtails are a thing of the past, Which just means they are old and lazy, and have lost the fun-factor in riding a bike.
Go get this Frame, and put the Fun-Factor back in riding.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   LBS

Similar Products Used:   Skykomish!

Bike Setup:   XT/XTR, Thompson, CK hubs-n-head, Magura Free Ride disc, Psylo, Mavic F219.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Gary a Cross Country Rider from Phoenix, AZ USA

Date Reviewed: January 14, 2004

Strengths:    Stiff, stiff, stiff. But very smooth. Corners like crazy. I can bury the front tire in turns, it holds tight and I can launch out of the corner without hesitation. That's what I love most about this bike, it is so much fun on the slalom and fast, rolling downhills. It's strong. I can't imagine breaking the frame. It doesn't flex a bit, no matter how high I jump.

Weaknesses:    It's stiff. My fatigue factor went way up with this bike. An hour and a half to two hours and I'm done (it's set up as a single speed - so I'm done anyway). There are no other weaknesses. It's geometry is perfect for me.

Bottom Line:   
What a great SS frame. Mine is an '03 model, before the extra gussets at the headtube. Mine seems plenty strong, but a little extra beef can't hurt. I can ride the crap out of this thing with no worries. It has nice tight geometry. You can throw it around and it responds instantly. It would be questionable as a geared hardtail. I think the long rides might beat me up too much. It's great for a quick - go out and beat yourself to death and then have a beer - type of ride. I wouldn't race it. I race locally at the beginner/sport level and my Titus Riddler is far more well suited for the task. I will, however, keep it as my dedicated SS. No frame does everything perfect, but this thing is just damn fun to ride. But maybe I just like SS too much.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Hawes Loop

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $499.00

Purchased At:   Adventure Bicycle Co.

Similar Products Used:   Specialized M2 Pro, Titus Riddler, a couple FS's

Bike Setup:   Easton Monkey Light, SLR Saddle, Syncros carbon fiber post, Fox Float 100 RLC (adjusted to 80mm), Chris King headset, Avid Single Digit 7 brakes, TruVativ Stylo cranks, White Industries hubs (Eric's Eno on the rear) laced to Mavic UST tubeless rims.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by w. a Cross Country Rider from North Carolina

Date Reviewed: January 11, 2004

Strengths:    have the new design and really love it. the bike is as stiff and tough as other reviews state. it is made by santa cruz -- quality is better than a good warranty

Weaknesses:    i am comming from a heckler so the stiff rear is taking some getting used to (see below)

Bottom Line:   
so far the bike has been great. i had to free up some $$ so I sold the heckler and picked up a chameleon. took it out for a trial and totaled my rear wheel on a fairly small drop (guess I showed my rider skill that day). the frame took the rider/ cheap rear wheel error without complaint. the bike is light and strong -- the gussets (esp the headtube) and disc mounts are enough to warrent selling your old on and buying the new one. I don't want to be a banner boy for sc, but they make the toughest bikes on the market for a trail rider not looking to take out a loan. get the newer versions -- the chameleon and heckler and almost different bikes than they were a few years back. If I have any problems or complaints, I'll let you know

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Tested or demo'ed only

Price Paid:    $325.00

Purchased At:   new from classifieds

Similar Products Used:   I have owned a cannondale hardtail, sc heckler (new one)

Bike Setup:   switch between psylo (for adjustment) and vanilla (for buttery smooth strength), balanced light vs strong components, disc brakes

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dave a Weekend Warrior from West Chicago, IL, USA

Date Reviewed: December 20, 2003

Strengths:    Tricked out tubing, aggressive geometry, awesome paint job, versatile uses.

Weaknesses:    None as of yet...I'll post if anything surfaces

Bottom Line:   
Sweet bike, scuba yellow w/black components. So far the bike exceeds my expectations. Was turned on to the frame after talking to a wrencher at local bike shop. Great reviews on MTBReview pushed me to get one and I'm not disappointed. The frame is well built, beefy, yet light. Get the 2003.5 or later frame set for nice improvements. Bike handles very well on tight singletrack and climbs especially well (duh, compared to my 30 lb plus hardtail). Psylo fork is great, easy to set travel from 85-125 at the turn of the dial and the handlebar quick release lock-out is a nice feature. Purchased the bike from Richards Bicycles in Palos, (check 'em out on the web at www.richardsbicycles.com) Great group of guys and a ton of high end bikes...they'll ship anywhere and have killer prices! Look forward to the upcoming season so I can put it to the test!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Kettle

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   www.richardsbicycles.com

Similar Products Used:   Trek, Specialized, Schwinn, Litespeed, Cannondale

Bike Setup:   TruVativ crankset and BB, XT, Hayes Disc, Ritchey bars/stem, Ritchey wheel set, Thompson Elite seat post, Crank Bros Candy peds, Rock Shok Psylo SL

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jason from tx

Date Reviewed: September 30, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This is a follow up to my previous post. After sending my frame to SC they charged me $200 for a replacement frame. I opted for the polish finish which put the total to $250. The redesigned frame looks great! 2003.5 and newer frames are now beefier than the 2002's newer design and the 2001's and older original design. Cool BMX style gussets where the toptube and downtube meet, beefier headtube, and ovalized downtube! They even changed the rear end from the previous 02' redesign. FINALLY some integrated disc mounts on top that work with the bike setup the way it should be, SS!! Also, SC changed the seat tube diameter from 27.2 to 30.9, hmmm wonder why!! I have to say that I still love the bike and will probably keep riding the SC Chameleon till the day I die. I still wish that SC had a better warranty but $250 isn't to bad for this sweet a$$ ride. 5 turds for the new design!!!!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $250.00

Purchased At:   direct from SC


Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jeff a Cross Country Rider from Greenland, NH, USA

Date Reviewed: September 26, 2003

Strengths:    Stiff, Strong, Light, Fast, Great geometry, attractive.

Weaknesses:    none yet.

Bottom Line:   
tight bike! anyone looking for the best climbing singlespeed frame on the market should look no further than the Santa Cruz Chameleon. i've been riding this bike hard for over 2 years now, and have seen no frame faults or paint issues that have been listed in other reviews. i've never set it up with gears, so no comments on the issues with chainstay width and clearance issues. maybe i just got lucky? anyway, get one of these frames and build a SS or geared bike that will elevate your game. frame is definitely confidence inspiring, considering the super stout rear-end. long top-tube is good for descents, and wheelbase is still relatively short with tight chainstay length for sprinting. Probably the most agile Singletrack bike i have ever ridden.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   anything

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $350.00

Purchased At:   Hoback Sports

Similar Products Used:   Dean Jester, Voodoo team ti, and various other late 80's, early 90's hardtails

Bike Setup:   SS: Paul Hubs, Mavic X517, Hutch Python-Lite 2.1, Paul Brakes, Zokes MX-Comp, Easton Monkeylite bars, Thomson stem, King HS, Easton Carbon post, Raceface cranks & BB, Spot chainguard, 32T front with 16T Sun-Race clutchless freewheel, speedplay frogs. everything is black and NO Shimano parts to be found on this backwoods rig!

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by D-Money a Weekend Warrior from Houston, Texas

Date Reviewed: August 26, 2003

Strengths:    Light and strong, handles like a pi$$ed-off spider and stiff as a brick. Awesome bright apple-green color.

Weaknesses:    little room for the rear tire and gears, had to one-off the fitting for the disc brakes

Bottom Line:   
Great little rig and a value to boot. Could have used more room for the rear gearset and tires, plus disc mounts, but I understand they fixed that with the new redesign. Bike does not rattle or shimmy when it takes my 220 pounds over drops and declines, very tight handling

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Ant Hills

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   West U Schwinn

Similar Products Used:   some overpriced trek from a chain store

Bike Setup:   ritchey crank, deore/XT shifters/derailleurs, bontrager wheels, hutch tires, disc brakes

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by jason a Cross Country Rider from tx

Date Reviewed: August 13, 2003

Strengths:    -stiff
-light
-horizontal drops
-looks cool!!


Weaknesses:    -stupid attachment for rear disc doesn't allow you to use disc brakes on the rear when setup SS.
-paint doesn't stand up to much
-frame cracks where seat tube meets with the top tube
-crappy 2 year warranty and a$$hole customer service!!




Bottom Line:   
This is a great bike! However, after riding the bike for a little under 2 years the frame has cracked. The bad thing is my buddy's Chameleon cracked a few weeks ago and now mine's cracked in the same spot, (seat tube just over the top tube!) I think the enormous amount of seatpost you have to run may have contributed to this failure. Seems like it might be a design flaw. SC has a 2 year warranty on this year model and a 1 year for older frames. This SUCKS! Not to mention the customer service guys are real jerks. My buddy was treated badly and ended up having to pay $250 for a new frame since it was a 2000 and out of it's 1 year warranty. Mine is just now getting to SC and I'm sure that I'll end up getting screwed and have to pay $250 for a new one. I love the bike but it should have a better warranty. Warranty issues and crappy customer service keep me from giving it 5 flaming turds!!! When I find out what SC does with mine I'll update this review.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $300.00

Purchased At:   LBS (employee purchase)

Similar Products Used:   lots

Bike Setup:   2001 Chameleon SS, King headset/hubs, XTR levers, Truvativ Stylos, WTB 2.24s, Fox 125 RL

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by claudio a Weekend Warrior from ITALY

Date Reviewed: June 20, 2003

Strengths:    Integrated disk mount
huge space for rear tyre
gusset bullit style


Weaknesses:    maybe i will find in time? I think not

Bottom Line:   
Just finished building the day before yesterday.
I have only had the time to familiarise with it yesterday, so i cannot be very precise with my impressions.
Anyway first riding impression is great. Feels like the old one,that i liked a lot, maybe a bit more stable, the same light handling.
It has solved the problems of the old model, that are disk adaptor and poor space for rear tyre. It is also more beautiful than the old one.
I am only surprised that i could'nt find any advertising about the re-design of a bike like the chameleon.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   technical

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Similar Products Used:   cannondale sm500, kona chute, chameleon 99-2k

Bike Setup:   z1 drop-off 2k2 130mm, xt, dt onix hubs w. mavic f519 and michelin hot-s ( or nokian nbx rear, gazza core front ), formula b4

Reviews 1 - 15 (74 Reviews Total) | Next 15

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


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