Santa Cruz chameleon, D+ R+ or frame up build- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Santa Cruz chameleon, D+ R+ or frame up build

    Hey guys,
    I am in the market for buying or building a new chameleon. Question is, is it worth the extra $600 for the R+ build or should I just get the D+ build and upgrade. I can do all the work on the bike so thatís not an issue.

    Curious if the fox rhythm 34 and the dropper is worth the extra cash. I am also considering running XT drivetrain cause thatís what I like. So crisp. I donít have much experience with SRAM drivetrain stuff.

    Also curious if it would be better to do a frame up, then I can choose good brakes, good fork and good wheels.

    Ride mostly single track with small jumps and drops. Here in the PNW

    Thanks for any advise...
    Tim

  2. #2
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    I always opt for the frame-up build. It will be a bit more expensive, but you will have the exact bike you want. IMHO, the Rhythm 34 is just an ok fork, so not really worth an up charge. As for the dropper, if it is the Race face Aeffect, stay away. I had nothing but problems with that post. Additionally, those builds both come with MTH hubs, which are absolute garbage.

    I am about to pull the trigger on a Chameleon frame and build it with i9 hydras, a DVO Sapphire, and an XX1 drive train

  3. #3
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    So if I were to do a frame up build... where do I order the frame from?!?! Having a hard time finding it in stock...

  4. #4
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    I'll offer another perspective since we have D+ and R+ Chameleons in our house.
    Both are good bikes.
    Comparing the two, the Fox 34 Rhythm on the R+ is a signifacntly stiffer and better damped fork than the Rock Shox on the D+. It's a way underrated fork and can be dialed in to a variety of rider preferences through simple air spring tuning and the available compression damping adjustment. That being said, the D+ suspension works fine.
    I like the lesser expensive SRAM eagle groups. I have higher end Eagle on other bikes and the biggest savings is weight vs performance between upper tier Eagle and NX/SX. The stuff works fine.
    Drivetrains are a wear item= upgrade if you like as you wear out the base level components.
    The Race Aeefect droppers are fine too. the majority of the problems people report with the 150mm RF dropper are due to not enough PSI in the post. Super easy fix that for some reason isn't well known. You can add air to the 150s-valve is in the seat clamp head. Remove saddle- inflate-post- works great. For some reason many of the 150mm Aeffect droppers don't have enough air in them.
    The wheels are fine too. Biggest challenge with the hubs on both builds is bearing preload. Once you figure out how to adjust preload properly on those hubs, maintenance and problems diminish greatly.
    I think the R+ is the beast deal for a complete build currently.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbob22 View Post
    Hey guys,
    I am in the market for buying or building a new chameleon. Question is, is it worth the extra $600 for the R+ build or should I just get the D+ build and upgrade. I can do all the work on the bike so thatís not an issue.

    Curious if the fox rhythm 34 and the dropper is worth the extra cash. I am also considering running XT drivetrain cause thatís what I like. So crisp. I donít have much experience with SRAM drivetrain stuff.

    Also curious if it would be better to do a frame up, then I can choose good brakes, good fork and good wheels.

    Ride mostly single track with small jumps and drops. Here in the PNW

    Thanks for any advise...
    Tim
    I bought the R+ build so I could ride right away. I figured I'd upgrade as stuff wears out/breaks. Overall, I've been satisfied with the components. The fork is fine, the NX stuff shifts great. The Race Face Aeffect dropper gave me a lot of issues. The local shop contacted Race Face and they sent me an upgraded replacement, a Turbine dropper, which I sold to pay for a PNW dropper. I upgraded my cranks to GX, put a DHF up front, and I have a new set of wheels being built right now. It's been a fun process, and I can upgrade at my leisure (as long as my wallet allows it!). Whatever you do, have fun on the Chameleon. It's a really fun bike.

  6. #6
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    Well, that is the question.

  7. #7
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    Just to clarify, as my response might have been vague, my suggestion is to buy the D+ or R+ kit and make upgrades as you go. You can ride now, and the stock builds aren't bad, imho. Cheers.

  8. #8
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    I got it thanks for the input! With the season pretty much here, prolly gonna order the R+ and ride it! Upgrade as time and funds allow. For the amount of riding I do... should be fine... plus itís tough to find frames in stock to do a frame up build.

    Thanks for all the input!
    Tim

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbob22 View Post
    I got it thanks for the input! With the season pretty much here, prolly gonna order the R+ and ride it! Upgrade as time and funds allow. For the amount of riding I do... should be fine... plus itís tough to find frames in stock to do a frame up build.

    Thanks for all the input!
    Tim
    If the D build is the lowest, and the R is the middle, I can offer my experience.

    I choose the middle build for the dropper and fork. Can easily get a dropper, so that's sort of a wash. The dropper works well but I dislike the lever.
    I have the NX (now they spec SX or something like that -I have no experience with it). The NX 1x12 is heavy but works flawlessly. I've had it a year and have yet to adjust anything.
    My other bike is a stump jumper and I wasn't going to get a new bike that is less capable than what I already expect from a bike. So -I was not going to buy an expensive bike on purpose that needs a thousand dollar upgrade to get a good fork. The Rhythm 32 is okay, but I wouldn't want it to be any less good than it is. It depends on riding style and conditions for sure though.
    Biggest complaint I have is that the hub is a Shimano hub and will require replacement in order to get any cassette that is lighter than the brick of the NX 1x12.

    Other than that, the fox and dropper are a good deal, in my opinion. With that said, all of the models are over priced in terms of what you actually get for the money. I paid nearly the same for the Chameleon as I paid for my full suspension stumpy. I got a used carbon stumpy, 6 months old, for $2500. Is the middle Chameleon build worth that much money, nope, not even close. But that's what it costs. The bike should be out the door for well below $2,000.

    It's a nice bike and you will be happy either way. If you ride aggressive, you may find a better fork than the entry level to suit you best.

  10. #10
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    I'll do the build option. It costs more up front.
    Carbon frame. Shop for 20% off.
    Manitou Mezzar fork can be run at 130 with spacers. You can also adjust the sag. Endgame fork.
    https://www.jensonusa.com/Manitou-Mezzer-Pro-29-Fork Jenson will negotiate 20% off by phone.
    BTLOS wheelset. 40mm inner 29 asym. 27.5+ may be better for your terrain if loamy. 350 hubs.
    XT drive and 4 pot brakes.

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