2021 Chameleon 29er build thread- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread

    My main bike is a Tallboy 3 that I bought in June 2016. My backup bike was a Niner SIR9 from around 2011 that I usually ran as a singlespeed. I wanted to upgrade the hardtail frame to something with a more modern geometry and a dropper post, and I wanted something that I could run either geared or SS. My first choice was a Specialized Fuse, but they are sold out and no word on when they will be available again. My second choice was the Chameleon. My LBS said they had one ordered and it would arrive in 2 weeks, so I ordered it on July 22. After multiple delays it finally arrived today.

    The plan is to swap parts from the SIR9, and also to upgrade some parts on the TB3 and put those old parts on the Chameleon.

    The hardtail is a backup bike that I use for riding with my son, NICA team coaching, camping trips, mellow trails, and sometimes singlespeed.

    The fog color alloy frame looks like off white on the website, but in person it is more light gray with maybe a bit of yellow-green tint in it.

    Frame weight is 5.4 lbs. I was expecting more like 4.5, but that's okay.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-frame.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-frameweight.jpg  


  2. #2
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    they didnt change anything right? just color

  3. #3
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    Fork

    I'm using the fork that came on my Tallboy3. It is a Fox 34 Factory FIT4, originally 120mm. I wasn't happy with the small bump compliance, so I had a 130mm air shaft installed and had it custom tuned by PUSH. It was better, but I still wasn't totally happy with it, so I had a Luftkappe air spring installed, and I like it now.

    I got a new Fox 34 with the Grip2 damper for the TB3, and it feels good right out of the box.

    I got some yellow/gray stickers for the old fork, but the yellow doesn't match the yellow Santa Cruz on the frame, so I might just go with some stealth stickers on the fork -- not sure yet.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-fork2.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-fork.jpg  

    Last edited by jabrabu; 10-13-2020 at 06:45 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by senorbanana View Post
    they didnt change anything right? just color
    Yeah, just color. I actually like last year's slate blue, but couldn't find one.

  5. #5
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    Bars and stem and headset

    The stem and bars also came from the TB3. The stem is an Easton 55mm, and the bars are Santa Cruz carbon flat bars 750mm wide. I'll adjust the spacers later to fit.

    I upgraded the TB3 with a Race Face Next 760mm low-rise bar and Race Face Turbine R 60mm stem. I started with a 50mm stem, but felt like I couldn't pressure the front tire enough, and the 60mm feels good.

    The headset is a new Cane Creek 40.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-stem.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-bars.jpg  

    Last edited by jabrabu; 10-13-2020 at 06:46 AM.

  6. #6
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    Dropper post

    The Reverb dropper also came off the TB3. It is almost 4.5 years old and has never been serviced, but it still works. This last winter it stopped working, and I thought it failed, so I got a new Fox Transfer post for the TB3. Then I bled the Reverb hydraulics, and it's working again, so I'm putting on the Chameleon. I like the Fox better, but the Reverb is fine for the hardtail, especially since my old hardtail had no dropper at all.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-reverb.jpg  


  7. #7
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    Wheels

    The wheels are Roval Traverse SL Fattie. They are light, with carbon rims, 30mm internal width. Rear hubs have DT Swiss DT240 internals. Instead of rim strips, they have plugs for the spoke holes in the rim, which are lighter than rim tape.

    I've had these wheels for about 10 years -- they were on the SIR9. They were non-boost, so I got an adapter kit to convert them to boost. I took the wheels to the shop to get the rear wheel re-dished and a broken spoke fixed on the front wheel, and the alloy spoke nipples were all brittle due to their age, so all the nipples were replaced.

    I still had the original rim decals that came with these wheels. They came with blue, red, and yellow decals, and the neon yellow actually matches the Santa Cruz logo on the frame pretty well, so I put the stickers on.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-wheels.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-wheelsticker.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-frontwheel.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-rimplugs.jpg  


  8. #8
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    The Reverb hydraulic hose routing was a little tricky. There is no inner channel in the frame, so getting it out of the lower downtube hole was not easy.

    The frame came with these foam sleeves, so I put one on the hose where it is inside the downtube to hopefully keep it from rattling.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-hoserouting.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-foamhose.jpg  


  9. #9
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    Cranks

    The cranks are Truvativ X0 carbon cranks. I've had these for over 10 years with no issues. I've used them on multiple bikes with multiple types of drivetrains, including 2x10, 1x10, 1x11, and singlespeed.

    I installed a new SRAM GXP bottom bracket. The headset (Cane Creek) and bottom bracket are the only brand new parts I'm putting on this frame.

    Chainring is an Absolute Black oval, 30t.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-cranks.jpg  


  10. #10
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    Brakes

    The brakes are some old XT brakes. I'm pretty sure they're the M785 model, and I think they're about 10 years old. They still work well, though.

    The Chameleon is obviously longer than my old SIR9, because the rear brake hose is too short. So I need to install a new rear brake hose.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-brakelever.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-brake-.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-rearbrake.jpg  


  11. #11
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    Drivetrain

    The drivetrain is XX1 11-speed. This is the drivetrain that came on my Tallboy3. I upgraded the Tallboy drivetrain to Shimano 12-speed, which works great, but the 11-speed is actually lighter and has always worked well too.

    The cassette is a Garbaruk 10-48t. I also have the original XX1 10-42 cassette, but the Garbaruk gives me a little lower climbing gear and shifts just as well.

    I installed a new grip cover on the twist shifter because the old one was getting pretty worn. And, of course, a new shift cable and new housing.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-derailleur.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-shifter.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-cassette.jpg  


  12. #12
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    Saddle is a WTB Volt, which has been my saddle of choice for several years.

    Pedals are previous generation Shimano Saints. These are thicker and heavier than I need, but I got them at a really good closeout price and they have been bulletproof. I have some thinner, lighter RaceFace pedals on the TB3. I also have some XTR Trail clipless pedals, but I've been riding almost exclusively on flats the past few years.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-saddle.jpg  


  13. #13
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    Tires

    Tires are Nobby Nic 29x2.35. I also have a 29x2.6 that I used on the front of the SIR9. That bike only had a 100mm travel fork and a steep head angle, so I used the bigger tire to try to get some more cushioning and to slacken out the bike a little, but I prefer the steering response and feel of the 2.35, so I'm using the 2.35's front and rear on the Chameleon. These have a lot of volume for a 2.35 tire.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-tire.jpg  


  14. #14
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    All done

    Build is complete.

    It weighs 27 lbs with Saint pedals and a bottle cage. Not terrible, but that's heavier than I expected, especially with carbon wheels, carbon bars, carbon cranks, and an XX1 11-speed drivetrain. That's the same weight as my full-suspension Tallboy. The steel framed SIR9 was about 24 lbs, but that was with a 100mm Fox 32 fork and no dropper.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chameleonweight.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chameleon4.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chameleon3.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chameleon2.jpg  

    2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chameleon1.jpg  


  15. #15
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    Build looks awesome. I ordered this same frame for a build for my daughter. Already have a bronze 2020 build for me. Still waiting on it to arrive and its a 27.5 plus build. The frame colors do throw me off a bit. Like you said, the site pics look almost off white and even in your pictures it comes across light in some and darker gray in others. I did notice that they changed the chain stays a bit compared to my 2020 frame.

  16. #16
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    The color is fairly light, but it does depend on the light. Sometimes it just looks white, sometimes light gray, and sometimes seems to have a greenish tint in it. The color is closer to the complete bike photos above, and not as gray as it appears in the frame-only photo at the top.

  17. #17
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    My L weighs in at 27 lbs....and it only has 1 gear.
    Bicycles donít have motors or batteries.:nono:

    Ebikes are not bicycles :nono:

  18. #18
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    I finally got to ride this bike on actual technical singletrack trails, and here are my initial impressions.

    These trails have a lot of roots, so fairly bumpy. There was an annoying rattle over the bumps, which I assume is the dropper hose rattling inside the frame. I put the foam cover over the portion inside the downtube, but I guess this wasn't enough. I can't recreate the rattle just bouncing the bike on the ground, so I can't pinpoint whether it's rattling inside the downtube or the seat tube. Any suggestions?

    My previous hardtail was a first generation Niner SIR9. It had a steep head angle (I think it was 70 degrees) and a 100mm travel fork. I expected the steering of the Chameleon to feel slower due to the slacker head angle, but it actually felt very quick. It was not twitchy, though, and felt very stable.

    I've always liked lightweight steel or titanium for hardtails, and I've avoided aluminum because it tends to feel harsh to me. I do miss the springy, lively feel of the SIR9, but on that bike I could also feel the frame wiggle and flex. So there are pros and cons. The alloy Chameleon feels a little dead and harsh compared to a steel bike, but the steering is more precise and the power transfer during hard efforts is more direct.

    Overall I'm liking it. I love the way it corners, it's more stable and less twitchy than the SIR9, I like the extra fork travel, and I especially like having a dropper post. I just have to get rid of that annoying rattle.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    I finally got to ride this bike on actual technical singletrack trails, and here are my initial impressions.

    These trails have a lot of roots, so fairly bumpy. There was an annoying rattle over the bumps, which I assume is the dropper hose rattling inside the frame. I put the foam cover over the portion inside the downtube, but I guess this wasn't enough. I can't recreate the rattle just bouncing the bike on the ground, so I can't pinpoint whether it's rattling inside the downtube or the seat tube. Any suggestions?

    My previous hardtail was a first generation Niner SIR9. It had a steep head angle (I think it was 70 degrees) and a 100mm travel fork. I expected the steering of the Chameleon to feel slower due to the slacker head angle, but it actually felt very quick. It was not twitchy, though, and felt very stable.

    I've always liked lightweight steel or titanium for hardtails, and I've avoided aluminum because it tends to feel harsh to me. I do miss the springy, lively feel of the SIR9, but on that bike I could also feel the frame wiggle and flex. So there are pros and cons. The alloy Chameleon feels a little dead and harsh compared to a steel bike, but the steering is more precise and the power transfer during hard efforts is more direct.

    Overall I'm liking it. I love the way it corners, it's more stable and less twitchy than the SIR9, I like the extra fork travel, and I especially like having a dropper post. I just have to get rid of that annoying rattle.
    I get the rattle in the DT from the dropper post. Before that, I would get a rattle from the rear brake hose under the TT.
    Bicycles donít have motors or batteries.:nono:

    Ebikes are not bicycles :nono:

  20. #20
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    Jumping in this thread because I wanted a 2021, but they're super hard to find right now. I did end up finding a 2018 (2017? The green one with purple lettering) frame and snagging that. I don't think much, if anything, has changed from 2018 to 2021 in terms of geometry.

    My trusty Tallboy LT finally died, and the plan is to swap over as many parts from it as I can. This means I'll be running the Chameleon with non-boost 29er wheels and a 140mm fork - hopefully that's not a bit too much out front. Using a boostinator and redishing the rear to make it work, and a shim for the seatpost to get that to the correct diameter.

    Question though - How are you setting up the dropouts since they are adjustable?

  21. #21
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    I slam my dropouts forward which makes for a very agile bike thatíll carve and rail corners. The dropouts are fairly short in any position which makes manualing over stuff and lifting the front end pretty easy. The longer setting will provide a little more stability at higher speeds and be a bit better for keeping the front end down when climbing.

  22. #22
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    Thanks, that's what I was thinking. I'll try them slammed forward to start, and dial them back if the front wanders too much on climbs due to the 140mm fork.

  23. #23
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    The frame (with 29er dropouts) came with the dropouts all the way forward, and I just left them there. I tend to like short chainstays.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillridge View Post
    Jumping in this thread because I wanted a 2021, but they're super hard to find right now. I did end up finding a 2018 (2017? The green one with purple lettering) frame and snagging that. I don't think much, if anything, has changed from 2018 to 2021 in terms of geometry.

    My trusty Tallboy LT finally died, and the plan is to swap over as many parts from it as I can. This means I'll be running the Chameleon with non-boost 29er wheels and a 140mm fork - hopefully that's not a bit too much out front. Using a boostinator and redishing the rear to make it work, and a shim for the seatpost to get that to the correct diameter.

    Question though - How are you setting up the dropouts since they are adjustable?
    I run mine with a non Boost 140mm Pike....no issues whatsoever.

    My dropouts are almost all the way forward, but since it is run SS, they are about 3mm back.
    Bicycles donít have motors or batteries.:nono:

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  25. #25
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    What is your chain line measurement 52mm or 55mm. I am building an XL with Shimano 12speed and trying to figure out what cranks I need M8100 or M8120. Thanks

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker4life View Post
    What is your chain line measurement 52mm or 55mm. I am building an XL with Shimano 12speed and trying to figure out what cranks I need M8100 or M8120. Thanks
    I'm not sure. I haven't measured it. I'm using some old X0 cranks that are non-boost, with an Absolute Black direct mount chainring, so the chainline measurement for these cranks might only be 49mm. I've actually found the non-boost cranks work fine on a boost bike. They actually reduce problems with backpedaling in the large cogs, and I haven't had problems with noise in the smaller cogs, and I use small chainrings (28 or 30 tooth) so frame clearance is not an issue.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    There was an annoying rattle over the bumps, which I assume is the dropper hose rattling inside the frame. I put the foam cover over the portion inside the downtube, but I guess this wasn't enough. I can't recreate the rattle just bouncing the bike on the ground, so I can't pinpoint whether it's rattling inside the downtube or the seat tube. Any suggestions?
    Have the same problem...mine is definitely from the dropper cable. It sounds like the noise is coming from where the cable enters into the frame, rather than noise within the actual tube of the frame. I've considered wrapping some electrical tape around the entrance point to keep the cable taut and seeing if it'll help, but mostly I just try to ignore it.
    Trek Domane SL5
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadift View Post
    Have the same problem...mine is definitely from the dropper cable. It sounds like the noise is coming from where the cable enters into the frame, rather than noise within the actual tube of the frame. I've considered wrapping some electrical tape around the entrance point to keep the cable taut and seeing if it'll help, but mostly I just try to ignore it.
    Mine actually ended up being a loose water bottle cage. After adding more foam sleeves around the dropper post hose I finally discovered it was the bottle cage. The bike is silent now.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    Mine actually ended up being a loose water bottle cage. After adding more foam sleeves around the dropper post hose I finally discovered it was the bottle cage. The bike is silent now.
    Which additional foam sleeves did you use around the dropper hose? I'd like to have it in my back pocket in case my solution doesn't pan out
    Trek Domane SL5
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadift View Post
    Which additional foam sleeves did you use around the dropper hose? I'd like to have it in my back pocket in case my solution doesn't pan out
    The frame came with some foam sleeves. Post #8 above shows a photo of one. Jagwire makes something similar, called internal housing damper.

  31. #31
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    jabrabu may i ask what frame size your Chameleon is?

  32. #32
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    I got my first ride in yesterday and it felt pretty good. I forgot I was on a hardtail about halfway through. I swapped over everything from my old bike (Tallboy LT), and haven't changed any setup yet, but I think I need to.

    The Chameleon has a shorter effective head tube due to the IS headset (vs an EC on the LT), so more steer tube was above the headtube. I had to add a couple spacers to take up the extra, and kept my stem on top of the stack.

    Even with that, I felt a little like I was being push forward, and had more weight on my hands than I would like. What's the recommended fix here?

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillridge View Post
    Even with that, I felt a little like I was being push forward, and had more weight on my hands than I would like. What's the recommended fix here?
    Itís weird that you feel pitched forward, I had a 140mm fork on my Chameleon and I always felt like I was about to fall off the back of it.

    Whatís your seat position like? The Chameleon had a pretty slack seat tube relative to other ďhardcoreĒ hardtails, so you should be able to bump your seat back a touch to take some weight off your hands.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElbSkipper View Post
    jabrabu may i ask what frame size your Chameleon is?
    Medium.

  35. #35
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    Edit.
    Last edited by Deadift; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:14 PM.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    Medium.
    ok thanks for info.......good looking Chisel

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElbSkipper View Post
    ok thanks for info.......good looking Chisel
    I actually built up a Chisel for my son when he outgrew his 24" bike. It was an XS 29er, but I put 27.5" wheels on it and 152mm cranks to fit him better. I also swapped the heavy SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain for an XX1 11-speed drivetrain I had. I got the weight down from 26 lbs to 22 lbs. I wish I could get my Chameleon that light - it weighs 27 lbs.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2021 Chameleon 29er build thread-chisel-comp2.jpg  


  38. #38
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    I gave the new (to me) bike a proper thrashing yesterday (19 miles, 2300' elevation, lots of tech), and absolutely love it. There was nothing that I felt underbiked on, even coming from a full suspension. On the contrary, the slacker front end (old FS was 69.4į) made a lot of it less sketchy. The only issue I had was the seatpost slipping due to the shim, but some carbon paste should sort that out. No regrets on building up this one with a 140mm fork either.

  39. #39
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    The Headangle is still the same as the 2020 Model?
    Or did something change on the 2021 Frame? Chameleon

    The other thing im thinking about is. My friends are riding XC bikes but i like the Chameleon with 27,5 Wheels more. On the ride will i be able to keep up with my friends or are they forced to slowdown because of me?

    best regards the MtB newbi

  40. #40
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    I donít think anything changed geometry wise from 20-21 (although some components did). As for slowing your friends down, the bike is plenty fast and the limit is definitely the rider. I use mine for gravel, XC and trail type riding and it just wants to go fast. Iím sure a lighter bike and better rider could always be faster

  41. #41
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    I don't think the geometry has changed much, if at all since 2016, though there are some slight differences between the aluminum and carbon versions. Santa Cruz lists the 7th gen Chameleon as 2016-present for aluminum and 2019-present for carbon.

  42. #42
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    Speaking of geometry, has anyone tried a 200mm dropper in this frame? Max insertion is 300mm, and it looks like it should have room before the seat tube starts to curve, but I'm not 100% on that.

  43. #43
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    Answering my own question:

    I called SC and asked what the max insertion is for an XL aluminum Chameleon. They told me 225mm. This made no sense because I'm already running a seat with 265mm of insertion. So I borrowed a 400mm (non-dropper) post from a friend, stuffed it in until it hit the curved part, and measured the depth at 325mm. I called back SC to make sure I didn't mishear 225 as 325, and then told them what I measured. The tech was as confused as me and said he'd have to get someone to go remeasure it and update their info. He said if it fits in that far, there shouldn't be any issues with using the whole 325mm though.

    I have a 200mm drop PNW post on the way, and should have it installed by Monday night.

  44. #44
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    Thatís probably going to fit fine, I have a medium and couldnt fit a 200mm PNW Reiner (it stuck out too far and made even the lowest travel unusable for me) but the 150 fits perfect.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeeper0122 View Post
    Thatís probably going to fit fine, I have a medium and couldnt fit a 200mm PNW Reiner (it stuck out too far and made even the lowest travel unusable for me) but the 150 fits perfect.
    Can confirm that a 200mm drop PNW Rainer easily fits all the way (300mm) in an XL frame.

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