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i’ve been waiting for a chameleon with updated geometry for what feels like forever now, but I didn’t expect the move to exclusively aluminum frames and mixed wheels. Does anybody have experience with a mixed wheel Hardtail yet? Wondering how they handle…


edit: I have an MX Bronson, but I basically just use it for going down. Haha
Tire Bicycle Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Bicycle wheel Wheel
 

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The bike builder on the Santa Cruz website currently only shows 29er builds, not mixed wheels.

I bought a Chameleon frame last year to replace my old 1st gen. SIR9 with something that had a more modern geometry. Maybe I should have waited for this new one, but the previous geometry works pretty well for me. I do miss the feel of a nice steel hardtail, though.
 

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The alloy frame doesn't surprise me at all. I think carbon is a hard sell for most buyers of HTs. Even with a HT, carbon is so expensive. Transition did 2 carbon HTs (29 and 27.5) and they lasted two seasons I think. But you can still buy alloy HTs all over the place, and of course some ST here and there.

No experience at all with mixed wheels. I'm still not sure if it's just another bike-selling gimmick. Others know better than me.
 

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I have been running my 2019 Chameleon 29 for nearly 2 years and just put on some 27.5 x 2.8s. The bike is a hoot, man a lot of fun with the chubbies on it. However I’m noticing it getting hung up a lot in roots and rocks (lots of those locally) so just last night I had put the 29er wheel back up front to try out the bike as a MX.

You can imagine my surprise to wake up and see a new MX Chameleon! Can’t wait to try out the mixed wheels and see how I like it.

I love the geo updates on this new bike. Not sure I’ll fork up the $950 to replace my frame but maybe…
 

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I have been running my 2019 Chameleon 29 for nearly 2 years and just put on some 27.5 x 2.8s. The bike is a hoot, man a lot of fun with the chubbies on it. However I’m noticing it getting hung up a lot in roots and rocks (lots of those locally) so just last night I had put the 29er wheel back up front to try out the bike as a MX.

You can imagine my surprise to wake up and see a new MX Chameleon! Can’t wait to try out the mixed wheels and see how I like it.

I love the geo updates on this new bike. Not sure I’ll fork up the $950 to replace my frame but maybe…
For the MX setup, are you running something like a 29 x 2.3 front and 27.5 x 2.8 rear? I have a Chameleon 29er with 29 x 2.35 tires, and I just got a used set of 27.5 x 3.0 wheels and tires to try on it. If I wanted to try a MX setup, should the front and rear tires be about the same width? I'm more used to the front tire being the wider one -- I ran a 29 x 2.6 front with a 29 x 2.35 rear for a while.

For the new '22 Chameleon, what tire sizes are spec'd for the MX setup?
 

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Ran my generation 7 aluminum Chameleon with 27.5+ rear , 29 front for a few rides here on the rocky, rooty trails here in CT.
I loved it - the fatter rear tire seemed to make wheelieing(sp) over trail obstacles easier and the traction was better. I eventually switched back to 29/29 but would definitely try it again.
 

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R build available also. For anout 400 more than I just paid for my '21. For someone just getting back into mountain biking, the pricing is the hardest thing to wrap my head around now. What 2500 got me in 07 was insane compared to now.
I got a D build Chameleon just 8 months ago for just under $2k. SC bumped up the price a month later to $2,200 (so I lucked out). Now the new one goes for $2,400. That's a 20% increase in 8 months time. I love the bike and I know there is an "SC tax" but even I have a problem swallowing that one. Though given the price increase I could probably end up selling my Chameleon for more than I paid for it at this point.

I like most of what they've done on the new bike, but the HTA seems too slack. Weird to say with everything getting longer and slacker these days, but the Chameleon was always a "do everything" bike and a 65 HTA doesn't quite give me the same vibes. Instead of going from 67.2 on the old bike to 65 on the new, I wish they would have split the difference and went with with 66.1 or something. Would have fit the character of the bike more. Tho given the price maybe it doesn't matter.
 

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For the MX setup, are you running something like a 29 x 2.3 front and 27.5 x 2.8 rear? I have a Chameleon 29er with 29 x 2.35 tires, and I just got a used set of 27.5 x 3.0 wheels and tires to try on it. If I wanted to try a MX setup, should the front and rear tires be about the same width? I'm more used to the front tire being the wider one -- I ran a 29 x 2.6 front with a 29 x 2.35 rear for a while.

For the new '22 Chameleon, what tire sizes are spec'd for the MX setup?
I have 29x2.6 and 27.5x2.8, close enough I’m thinking?

the new bike comes with 2.5 front and rear in the MX set up.
 

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I bought my Chameleon frame from my LBS 2 years ago for $750, then when the plastic version came out the alloy went to $850, now the new gen at $950, it’s going to be hard to stomach an alloy hard tail frame breaking 4 digits before long…
 

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I have two Chameleons, the first being a 26" the year before it switched to 27.5" (around 2014) and the other being last year's 27.5". A few months ago I slapped a Lyrik and 27.5" wheel onto the front of the older lizard and left the 26" on the rear as the axle size is hard to match now with a larger wheel size. It went from light to mid duty with the switch.

On DH oriented flow trails with berms, rollers, and tabletops the 26"/27.5" mullet bike rips, especially on cornering. It's a HT so rolling through chunder is still the same game of aiming and not plowing. The BB is slightly higher, and even wheel adjusting the seat angle, there's a more DH-oriented feeling to the bike. maybe it's in my head, but it's very easy to wheelie... although I feel that way on all Chameleons that are set up properly. Light, lively, flickable.

I love the feeling of the 2020 Chameleon and imagine this latest iteration would also be fantastic. Lizards just seem to get better, although it's hard to imagine improvement on the 2020. I can't really find a fault with it myself.

I live in Shanghai currently and have taken the older bike to enduro race trails in Thailand. I've taken the newer to a few proper DH trails in China and can manage all but the roughest tech stuff. Local riders are always shocked to see a HT... they all jumped straight to FS and Santa Cruz is huge in China. Everyone riding Bronsons and Nomads it seems. In Thailand Polygon and YT are most popular. These frames are all made in Indonesia and Taiwan nowadays so prices can be good. Component are super cheap.

BTW also have a 27.5" Marin San Quentin HT (frame made in Indonesia) I've taken on these tracks and it is a beast. Haven't run it with a 29" upfront yet.
 

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Looks alsmost as good as my 2019 Chameleon :)
The updated version looks good - especially the dropouts seem to be an improvement with markings to adjust the length on the inside. I'm not a huge fan of the internally routed cables. Yes, looks neat but makes changing cables a major PITA. Not a big fan of the colours either.

I don't quite get why people keep complaining about the price tag. This is a premium brand that comes at a premium price. When you start looking into SC you know that "value for money" might be better with other brands. I recently baught a new set of dropouts for my frame and they set me back around 80 USD. Yes, that is absurd! But on the other hand there's lifetime warranty and a customer support that is available and responsive. If I want a 250 USD Frame I can get any no-name product from ebay....
 

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I really like the geometry here. But I've broken 14 aluminum frames over the years, and have sworn it off altogether--lifetime warranty or no, it's not worth the hassle nor opportunity loss. Steel or carbon for me. And I really would have like to seen a steel option here!
 

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How can you brake 14 aluminum frames? Guess I just don't ride hard / often / far enough. Or maybe because I don't do jumps. Doesn't seem like Santa Cruz will offer steel frames anytime soon. It's my impression that most companies that offer steel frames have been doing so for years and years. Luckily for you there are tons of companies that offer really nice steel frames. I've had a few nice steel frames myself. In my case for ride quality and because they look nice - not because they break less.
 

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For an aluminum bike there's a lot of less expensive better equipped alternatives. The UK builders compete locally where aggressive hardtails are very popular. Stanton, Ragley, Moxie.
RSD(Canadian) aluminum Middlechild at $2700 with dropper comes with GX and a DVO Diamond fork.
 
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