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  1. #1
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    Chameleon Build?

    I orginally posted this in the Bike and Frame section with no responses so I thought I'd try it here.

    I'm thinking about building up a HT this winter. I've never built a bike before, but it looks like it could be fun. I was thinking about a Santa Cruz Chameleon 4 frame. Does anyone have any experience or reviews of this frame? I'm not sure what year the Chameleon 4 was made, but I'm thinking between 2010-2012?

    I'm looking to add a HT to my collection which include: 2012 Trek EX8, 2012 Trek Slash 9 and a 2005 Specialized Roubaix. I'd like the HT to able to handle some aggressive riding but mostly single track / technical rides. I'm also hoping keep it at 26 inch wheels, not sure I want a 29er just yet.

    Any advise would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Same here Hobbs305. Next project would be a AM aggressive hardtail that would handle different fork lengths... the Chamelion have great reviews when it comes to it's versatility. Have you looked at the On One evo 456? this might be a contender with ICG o5 tabs, able to take 4-5-6 inches forks (456 namesake) and half the price compared to the Lizard... unless you get the one in SCB sale... still weighing options here as well... maybe someone have already tried both and have a sensible comparison of the frames... thanks!!!

  3. #3
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    Good deals on Chameleon 4 frames at the VPLS ($350):
    Santa Cruz Bicycles

    That said, the new version of the frame (5) has some major changes though. I have not ridden a 4, but have owned the one with track ends since 2001. It's been a great bike, but at this point the 5 appeals to me much more than the 4.

    These would be my pro/cons of the 5:
    Pro - No more ecc bottom bracket on the 5
    Pro - Longer and slacker
    Pro - Choice of dropouts
    Con - Currently $400 more expensive due to VPLS
    The 5 has ISCG05 tabs as well as a tapered headtube if that matters.

    Your pros/cons list may be totally different.

    You might want to add some other info so that people can expound they thoughts on bike building. What area do you ride in? Do you have a budget? Any particular components you want to use/already have?

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the advice!

    Saddle Pimp - thanks for the information on the On One, I'll be looking at that frame now as well. Looks very interesting!

    Robsetsfire - thanks for the comparison between the 4 and 5. Yes, I saw the Chameleoon 4 on sale for $350 on the Santa Cruz web site which made me decide to try a build. I'm not too familiar with all the technical aspects of bike (i.e. ISCG05 tabs, tapered headtube, etc.) as I'm still new to the sport.

    For further information about me:
    I ride in the SF Bay Area (East Bay) and consider myself an advanced beginner/low intermediate (been riding for about 12 months). I climb what I descend and want the bike to be able to do both well. It does not need to bomb DH as I have my Slash for that. I'd like the bike to be able to complement my collection of bikes and have a "different" ride. Also a thought of possibly making it a single speed (just not yet though).

    Budget, I'd like to keep the build under $2200 total. I'm looking at purchasing parts on sale from various places. I'd like it to be a Shimano build if possible. I do not have any components on hand, I wanted to get a frame first and then plan the build around it

    Thank again everyone, this is a place to get information!

  5. #5
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    I'd start a list/spreadsheet of the build that you're considering, and fill in what you are looking at. As a benchmark you might want to compare it to SC's kit price of a Chameleon w/ RAM (Shimano SLX mostly) and Fox 130 Float at $2099. That's for the current generation Chameleon.

    Honestly, looking at the kit and some general prices online, I'm not sure you could piece a similar one together for much less. I've seen several threads where people start a build with component choices and sometimes prices and people help them fill in the details and steer them away from mistakes. Here is an example: Butcher 650b build by know nothing noob.

    I like building my own stuff, mainly because there are certain components I like to have. I will just keep telling myself it saves money, although I'm sure it doesn't. If you've never pieced a bike together from parts, I'd say that's worth something in itself.

  6. #6
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    ISCG Tabs aren't necessary if you don't plan on running a chain guide of any kind.

    Tapered HT....again not necessary....have ridden old Chameleons with 6" forks and straight 1 1/8" steerers...no issues.

    If you wanna run singlespeed, the EBB does make that pretty simple.

    Parts wise, it's gonna depend on what you want out it. I have had them built from 23 lbs. weight weenie race rig to 32 lbs. DH rig.

    With that being said....I recently built up a Highball Al, it rides like a Chameleon with 29" wheels.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

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    Robsetsfire - I just looked at that build online and the only thing that I would change immediately are the brakes. I have XO's on my Slash and they aren't what I expected. I'm in the process of changing them out to XT's. But overall, I think you might be right, I will probably not be able to make a similar build for less then what is asking.

    However, the reason for the build was to build a bike and learn how to build/repair/understand bikes better. Now I've really got to think....save $$$ or learn to build.

    Mtnbikej - I'd like the bike to be between 26-29 lbs if possible. Do you like your Highball AL? What made you jump to the 29" wheels?

    Thanks again all, this is really opening my eyes.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbs305 View Post
    Robsetsfire - I just looked at that build online and the only thing that I would change immediately are the brakes. I have XO's on my Slash and they aren't what I expected. I'm in the process of changing them out to XT's. But overall, I think you might be right, I will probably not be able to make a similar build for less then what is asking.

    However, the reason for the build was to build a bike and learn how to build/repair/understand bikes better. Now I've really got to think....save $$$ or learn to build.

    Mtnbikej - I'd like the bike to be between 26-29 lbs if possible. Do you like your Highball AL? What made you jump to the 29" wheels?

    Thanks again all, this is really opening my eyes.

    I really like the Highball. Waited a long time for SC to make an aluminum HT that could be run SS. In fact it has kept my Tallboy on the wall instead of out on the trail.

    Been riding 29ers since 2004.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbs305 View Post
    Robsetsfire - I just looked at that build online and the only thing that I would change immediately are the brakes. I have XO's on my Slash and they aren't what I expected. I'm in the process of changing them out to XT's. But overall, I think you might be right, I will probably not be able to make a similar build for less then what is asking.

    However, the reason for the build was to build a bike and learn how to build/repair/understand bikes better. Now I've really got to think....save $$$ or learn to build.
    I agree about learning to repair bikes, it's nice to understand what you are riding. I'd probably price out what you can put one together for, but it's very hard to beat the kits that are listed in red on the website. This is true for either the Chameleon or the Highball.

    I would recommend demos or finding people in your area with bikes to try. East Bay has to be crawling with all of these bikes you've discussed. No amount of internet speculation is going to replace a good demo ride. I don't have a 29er, but if you are trying to differentiate your stable, the highball might be a good bet and I know people love them.

    At the point SC is marketing the Chameleon as a trail/all purpose bike on 26 inch wheels. On the other hand they sell the Highball as more of an XC machine. To me a 29 lb Chameleon seems like it would serve the same purpose as your Fuel.

  10. #10
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    I was thinking about what you wrote about the Chameleon at 29 lbs might be similar to my Fuel. I'm starting to think about making the Chameleon into a SS from the beginning now. Good idea or bad?

    I'm going to demo the bike, if I can find one. I'm not sold on the 29ers yet, still having too much fun on 26" wheels. When I have time, I'll try and list and price a built compared to kits offered by SC.

    Thanks everyone for your advice, it's greatly appreciated.

  11. #11
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    SS off the bat will reduce cost a bit. Do you want a SS?

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    I wouldn't say I wanted a SS right away, but it was something I wanted down the road. My thought about the possible build was to build the bike and learn. But with the SC build in my budget, my plans might change.

    I would not want the Chameleon to be too similar to my Fuel, but I feel a HT bike would help my riding skills as well. And once my skill increased, change the HT into a SS for more challenges. Make sense?

    I'm going to make a parts list and see what the overall cost would be. And that will help with my decision. But I also need to find the bike in the area to demo.

    Thanks again for the advice.

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    Man this thread is making me want a chameleon again! It was my first real bike back in 2003 built frame up with help of some knowledgeable friends and i learned allot cost was ok and would do it again.
    I was a beginner then and still am i sold about a year after never really developing any good skills and back in the saddle in 2012 with a superlight but still wanting a hardtail. Good luck with the build.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCFast View Post
    Man this thread is making me want a chameleon again! It was my first real bike back in 2003 built frame up with help of some knowledgeable friends and i learned allot cost was ok and would do it again.
    I was a beginner then and still am i sold about a year after never really developing any good skills and back in the saddle in 2012 with a superlight but still wanting a hardtail. Good luck with the build.
    I'm excited too just ordered the 2013 tennis ball yellow!!! Will be SS you guys think I can keep it under 22lbs? also how does it ride with a 150mm fork?

    Parts I have so far

    I9 AM wheelset
    reverb seatpost
    Xo with hbc ring crankset
    XTR trail brakes
    Revelation Worldcup xx 150mm
    Chromag bars and 50mm stem.

  15. #15
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    I have the outgoing version of the Chameleon set up as a SS with an old fox 130 fork. For me it feels like a cruiser bmx bike. It's a second bike and more for just messing around on. It had been years since I'd been on a HT and its good to experience one again. If you are looking to improve your skills than the 26 HT is a good way to go.

    If you are just trying to learn about building a bike then buy a good tool set and wait for rapairs to come along on your current bikes. Since you have more than 1 you don't have to worry about not being able to ride since one bike is in pieces being worked on.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by robsetsfire View Post
    I'd start a list/spreadsheet of the build that you're considering, and fill in what you are looking at. As a benchmark you might want to compare it to SC's kit price of a Chameleon w/ RAM (Shimano SLX mostly) and Fox 130 Float at $2099. That's for the current generation Chameleon.

    Honestly, looking at the kit and some general prices online, I'm not sure you could piece a similar one together for much less. I've seen several threads where people start a build with component choices and sometimes prices and people help them fill in the details and steer them away from mistakes. Here is an example: Butcher 650b build by know nothing noob.

    I like building my own stuff, mainly because there are certain components I like to have. I will just keep telling myself it saves money, although I'm sure it doesn't. If you've never pieced a bike together from parts, I'd say that's worth something in itself.
    I'm the know nothing noob who built that FS Butcher with a lot of good advice and direction from the guys here on the forum. I was scared a bit at first since I knew nothing and my only experience with mech things is my 2 stroke motocross bike.

    I will never buy a bike fully built after learning how it's done and gaining the satisfaction of building my own. Spreadsheet planning and buying from ebay ( I hate ebay), pricepoint, etc...is the way t stay on budget. In fact, I saved enough by thorough planning and frugal shopping that I was able to splurge on a couple of items like the CK headset.

    Now, coincidently, I am starting my next bike planning too which is how I found this thread.
    A xc 1 x 10 ( or maybe even 1 x 8 Alfine) hardtail with 80-100 lightweight fork like an SID.
    The Chameleon, Yeti ARC and maybe even a Highball ? Looking for frame options balanced against cost at sale. The Alfine intriques and I've been lurking threads about Nickels with Alfines, ARC with 650b's, etc...

    I'll have to look into this OnOne 456. Any more frame recommendations. Is carbon fiber out for clydesdales ?
    roxo56
    Surly Troll 650b

  17. #17
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    This

    Quote Originally Posted by westeast View Post
    I have the outgoing version of the Chameleon set up as a SS with an old fox 130 fork. For me it feels like a cruiser bmx bike. It's a second bike and more for just messing around on. It had been years since I'd been on a HT and its good to experience one again. If you are looking to improve your skills than the 26 HT is a good way to go.

    If you are just trying to learn about building a bike then buy a good tool set and wait for rapairs to come along on your current bikes. Since you have more than 1 you don't have to worry about not being able to ride since one bike is in pieces being worked on.
    I just bought a Chameleon 4 on closeout and intend on building it up as a second bike for jumping, cruising around at the beach, hopping curbs, manualling and generally just horsing around on... I grew up up BMX Bikes, progressed to Mountain bikes took a few years off and now have been riding again for about a year.. I built up a pretty burly TallBoy, Fox, XT/XTR, King Flow EX's, ENVE, etc and despite loving the ride find myself missing the agility I have always had on 26" and below bikes at times...

    I have been collecting the parts and am trying my best not to let this build get too out of control... I have the frame (TicTac), Thomson post and stem, a set of Easton riser bars, and am eyeing a set of 36 Hole XT Mavic 819 wheels that I can buy cheap to keep cost down (Vs a hand spun set of Kings of DT's).. XT Discs are a no brainer as I have found them beyond bomb proof on my Tallboy.. The only issue I am running into is with the fork.. I am not really feeling the cost of another Fox and generally have never liked the Rockshox products... I would really like to hunt down a rigid fork with the correct axle to crown length but that has been a little trickier than I had first thought.. Even using a rigid 29'er fork from Surly or Salsa is srill a bit shorter than the height of a 120 or above suspension fork.. I guess I'll sort it out shortly and have it built up... Pics to follow of course!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel8810 View Post
    Even using a rigid 29'er fork from Surly or Salsa is srill a bit shorter than the height of a 120 or above suspension fork.. I guess I'll sort it out shortly and have it built up... Pics to follow of course!
    Remember the listed a-to-c lengths are unsagged. A 120mm fox 32 running 20% sag will be at 467mm (461mm @ 25% sag).

    A Surly Karate Monkey fork is 468mm. You're right though, anything in the 140mm suspension corrected range may be hard to find.

    I ran a Surly Instigator (26") fork on my 2001 Chameleon and loved it.

    Have fun with your build.
    Last edited by robsetsfire; 12-22-2012 at 08:27 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by robsetsfire View Post
    Remember the listed a-to-c lengths are unsagged. A 120mm fox 32 running 20% sag will be at 467mm (461mm @ 25% sag).

    A Surly Karate Monkey fork is 468mm. You're right though, anything in the 140mm suspension corrected range may be hard to find.

    I ran a Surly Instigator (26") fork on my 2001 Chameleon and loved it.

    Have fun with your build.
    Thanks for the input!..

    You know what's funny?... I had attempted to make this exact same point with a buddy of mine (Sagged A-C height : Rigid A-C).... and he insisted that the sag did not matter (He is a very well respected LBS Owner)... But after you brought it back up and I got to thinking about it I went back over the logic with him and we agreed... You have to take into account the sag... I am really only looking for a 120mm suspension corrected fork... So a Karate Monkey fork is on the way!... Truth be told I will probably do a Fox 120 as well down the line and keep the ability to swap back and forth....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel8810 View Post
    Thanks for the input!..

    You know what's funny?... I had attempted to make this exact same point with a buddy of mine (Sagged A-C height : Rigid A-C).... and he insisted that the sag did not matter (He is a very well respected LBS Owner)... But after you brought it back up and I got to thinking about it I went back over the logic with him and we agreed... You have to take into account the sag... I am really only looking for a 120mm suspension corrected fork... So a Karate Monkey fork is on the way!... Truth be told I will probably do a Fox 120 as well down the line and keep the ability to swap back and forth....
    Found a little spare time to start the build this afternoon.. Could have finished up but ran into a crankset issue... I decided rather than buy a new SLX or XT crankset for this build it would make more sense to upgrade to XTR on my Tallboy and use its XT cranks on the Chameleon... So it is left sitting as pictured until tomorrow when I bring the Tallboy in to do the swap.. Otherwise it is ready to rock.. Not a crazy high end build but some nice parts for what I am using it for....Considering how Shitty our trails have been lately with all the rain I can't wait to get out for some urban ripping...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel8810 View Post
    Found a little spare time to start the build this afternoon.. Could have finished up but ran into a crankset issue... I decided rather than buy a new SLX or XT crankset for this build it would make more sense to upgrade to XTR on my Tallboy and use its XT cranks on the Chameleon... So it is left sitting as pictured until tomorrow when I bring the Tallboy in to do the swap.. Otherwise it is ready to rock.. Not a crazy high end build but some nice parts for what I am using it for....Considering how Shitty our trails have been lately with all the rain I can't wait to get out for some urban ripping...
    Thread revival: I would like to know how your C4 ebb held up for the season? Did you develop a squeak in the ebb/bb-shell?

    I want to build this frame for the same reason, mostly urban ripping with some trails and downhill here and there, using a 130mm travel fork.
    Observe, report.

  22. #22
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    I got the Chamelion at last... the one in the VPLS tictac orange... have 2 builds, a SS and a AM 1x10... in both set ups it was both fun... EBB held up well no creaks so far but I have a knack with preventive maintenance cleaning ang greasing every couple of rides... give your bikes TLC and they will work fine... here's some pics to go with...

    SS build, Float F series RLC 120mm 32x19
    Chameleon Build?-320932_429998620401716_435462384_n.jpg

    AM build Float RLC 160 mm 1x10 XT with E13 guide
    Chameleon Build?-dsc_0513.jpg

  23. #23
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    Thinking about the new chameleon frame myself, yellow one....jsut concerned about having to break the bank on a fork with enough travel..

    JREED

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