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  1. #1
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    Hey Ya'll, mind helping me decide on something here?

    How are ya'll doing? I am new on the forum and I need some help deciding my next build. If you don't want to read all of this, you can skip to the question here: Should I install gears on my Kona Unit SS or buy myself a Santa Cruz Chameleon and leave the Unit for cruising?

    A little about my past; Have ridden track SS (48x16) from past 14+ years very aggressively. Recently, about 6 months ago I got myself into the world of mountain biking and purchased a Kona Unit SS. I was thinking moving from a 48x16 gear ratio on my track to a much lower ratio on the Unit would be a piece of cake, but was I wrong. Going uphills on trails made me realize how competitive MTB riding really is. I am still capable of doing many trails on my Kona Unit SS with a lot of fun and very less would I complain on the matter of gears. But I feel I can progress further, go faster in some areas, go easier uphill in others. I am looking to get on gears for the first time in my life.

    I love going uphill on the Unit, it's just so much fun, but I wish to progress further in my climbing abilities by using the right gears for it.

    Now guys please help me decide what should I do. Should I just upgrade my Kona Unit and put gears on it (1x11) or should I purchase (what I find to best suit my style) a Santa Cruz Chameleon?

    I do realize upgrading parts on the Unit is not easy because of it's size and there aren't many fork options available unless i spend about 800 bucks on a suspension fork which I don't mind doing in the future. If I stick to the Unit I would be slowly upgrading everything on it except for it's frame. Which leaves me to my next question about frame type, should the unit's 520 cromoly be better than the aluminum on the chameleon? There is a lot of talk about Cromoly vs Aluminum but I hope this doesn't lead to that storm, as to why I have given you the bikes mentioned in this situation. I still do enjoy the Unit and I can always use it as a cruizer around town.

    Any help on this would be well appreciated.

  2. #2
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    N+1. Get a Chameleon. I've been lusting after one for a while. On a bike with mtb tires, frame material doesn't make much difference, IMO, and aluminum frames have gotten good.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    I'd get the Chameleon and keep the Unit for singlespeeding. I have a couple of singlespeed mountain bikes. One of those is a 29er Unit and the other is a Trek Superfly SS (aluminum frame with a carbon fork.) The Unit is much heavier but does have a slightly springier, more compliant ride. I enjoy singlespeeding, but there's only so much I can take of riding a rigid fork, so I put a suspension fork on the Unit and kept my Superfly as my rigid, weight weenie-ish bike. A suspension fork makes a huge difference in comparison to different frame materials. The steel fork of the Unit is pretty heavy, so I didn't take much of a weight hit by switching to a suspension fork. I thought about putting gears on my Unit, but I already have a geared bike and it would make an already heavy bike heavier(and I happen to like singlespeeding), so I decided not to do it.

    A geared hardtail like the Chameleon would be a nice bike to have along with the Unit.

  4. #4
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    The unit is sweet, but it's not really a bike for working on mtb progression. It's more of a 'it's amazing how fast you can go when you ride inside your skills envelope' sort of bike.

    The chameleon is better for progression, but i'd prefer an extra 10-15mm reach and 2* or so slacker to push the front end out so you can really let it fly on the descents. That's assuming you live near some mountains and that's your interest; otherwise the chameleon is pretty awesome.

    Either way, keep the unit. Keep the rigid fork.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestion, I am glad to have asked here.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geralt View Post
    A geared hardtail like the Chameleon would be a nice bike to have along with the Unit.
    Thanks for your reply. I will go with the Chameleon and continue holding on the Unit for some extra fun.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    The chameleon is better for progression, but i'd prefer an extra 10-15mm reach and 2* or so slacker to push the front end out so you can really let it fly on the descents. That's assuming you live near some mountains and that's your interest; otherwise the chameleon is pretty awesome.

    Either way, keep the unit. Keep the rigid fork.
    Thank you. I do really enjoy the the ride I get on the Unit. I will go for the Chameleon then and keep the Unit as well. I live near a trail out here which i enjoy riding on, and I also do cross town biking on flat pavement with some hills. Mind explaining what you mean by that extra 10-15mm reach and the slacker, do you mean to say I should try a bigger size on Chameleon? Thanks for reaching out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    N+1. Get a Chameleon.
    Thanks! Chameleon sure looks nice!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkskyarts View Post
    Thank you. I do really enjoy the the ride I get on the Unit. I will go for the Chameleon then and keep the Unit as well. I live near a trail out here which i enjoy riding on, and I also do cross town biking on flat pavement with some hills. Mind explaining what you mean by that extra 10-15mm reach and the slacker, do you mean to say I should try a bigger size on Chameleon? Thanks for reaching out.
    Not so much a larger size, just that the chameleon is fairly conservative geometry by modern standards, and there's a lot of overlap with your unit. A second bike with a longer front-center (the distance from the BB to the front axle) but the same size cockpit as your unit will be more fun on mountainous, higher speed trails.

    In marketing terms, your unit and the chameleon are 'xc/trail' bikes, and i'm suggesting you consider a 'all mountain' hardtail to further distinguish them.

    But if you're not really interested in seeking out challenging trails, or you live somewhere fairly flat, then it's not worthwhile.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  10. #10
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    ^^^ I expect when he's talking about mountainous and more challenging trails, he's thinking descending. For the type of riding I do, I wouldn't want a longer slacker bike than the Chameleon. You might, though.
    Do the math.

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