Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?

    Looking at new frames. I'd prefer steel, but the Chameleon looks enticing and is priced well. I know the old models were a popular SS. Anyone riding the new one SS?
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  2. #2
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    I demo'ed one as a 29er SS. I normally ride a Highball SS. THe Chameleon was a lot of fun. Rode it hard. Gearing was a tad easier than what I normally ride.

    It flexes where it should to help make the ride not so harsh.

    Climbed great, descended really great. I wouldn't hesitate....it is a solid option.
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  3. #3
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    Test rode a friend's Chameleon and thought it rode well. He opted for the lower priced version and I can tell you he regrets it. I wasn't impressed at all with the RS fork on it.

  4. #4
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    I bought one about 3 weeks ago and went straight to single speed with it and have loved every minute of riding it. Coming from an 07 Chameleon single speed 26r to the 27.5+ platform was rather eye opening. Not sure why I held out so long to finally make a switch. So I'm probably not the best person to give a ride report as I haven't ridden anything else with the "modern" geometry or even made within the last decade. I had originally intended to buy a frame only as I wasn't excited about the 120mm fork options. But after pricing components for a build and the frame being on back order I decided to pull the trigger on a complete bike which was conveniently in stock at my LBS. I bought the cheaper version and ordered a new 140mm fork that is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. Just in time for a race on Saturday. I'll probably be the only single speed hardtail competing in the local enduro race.
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    Last edited by tsj5677; 12-07-2017 at 08:48 AM.

  5. #5
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    What race are you doing?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelcaro View Post
    What race are you doing?
    Just a fun non sanctioned enduro at a local trail near Springfield MO. I've ridden in several cross country races over the years. This is my first attempt at an enduro. I turned 40 years old this year so my only goal is to not crash.

  7. #7
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    Let us know how the bike does with the 140.

  8. #8
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    Is it possible to just ride a bike like the Chamleon, or os it one of those bikes one must "rock"? At what point do you palp that rad colourway?

  9. #9
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    Would love a 29er Chameleon.
    Got a 2011 26er and a bit of flex and bigger wheels would be quite nice...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsj5677 View Post
    I bought one about 3 weeks ago and went straight to single speed with it and have loved every minute of riding it. Coming from an 07 Chameleon single speed 26r to the 27.5+ platform was rather eye opening. Not sure why I held out so long to finally make a switch. So I'm probably not the best person to give a ride report as I haven't ridden anything else with the "modern" geometry or even made within the last decade. I had originally intended to buy a frame only as I wasn't excited about the 120mm fork options. But after pricing components for a build and the frame being on back order I decided to pull the trigger on a complete bike which was conveniently in stock at my LBS. I bought the cheaper version and ordered a new 140mm fork that is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. Just in time for a race on Saturday. I'll probably be the only single speed hardtail competing in the local enduro race.
    That sounds great! Please be sure to give us a report on the enduro! Was hot on one of these (my son has the first gen highball set up as SS and loves it), but still like steel, so I picked up a ROS 9+ at Jenson at half price. Waiting for S. Clause to bring a manitou machete pro fork. Bad shoulder, plus I have been riding increasingly technical stuff.

    Interesting reviews on youtube for the Chameleon, if you are looking for a hardtail SS, I don't know how you can go wrong with this. I did spend about 25 miles on the Giant carbon SS at DirtFest, and thought it was outstanding as well. Just not big on that whole seatpost thing Giant has going on there (and the nasty Giant graphics...). Jenson has some slate blue ROS 9+ in stock I believe. If you like to climb, nothing like the 29+. Just not big on the Stans wheels, supposedly the second gen are better, but I think they are too wide, there is no tire bulge to protect the outside of the rim. First ride, one easy cruise for 15 minutes, caught the edge of a rock at low speed, and dented the rim enough that it wouldn't seal up. I just run it with a tube because it looks like an ongoing issue. If you got cash, I would get the ride, and get some light carbon hoops for it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    Would love a 29er Chameleon.
    Got a 2011 26er and a bit of flex and bigger wheels would be quite nice...
    You can get a set of light 29er hoops for it and use those on smooth rides! Best of both! I don't know what it is about the geometry, but SC seems to have it figured out. I think my son does technical descents faster on his rigid SS 29er highball than his racebike. I've watched him toast good full-squish riders going downhill on that thing (but he did that after they laughed at his rigid setup, so I guess he had a point to make). I think the chameleon would be a sneaky-able enduro machine for the right rider.

  12. #12
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    Yeah, I think it would make a great SS. Unless I find a decent steel frame around the same price that might be where I'm heading...
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  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slohr View Post
    You can get a set of light 29er hoops for it and use those on smooth rides! Best of both! I don't know what it is about the geometry, but SC seems to have it figured out. I think my son does technical descents faster on his rigid SS 29er highball than his racebike. I've watched him toast good full-squish riders going downhill on that thing (but he did that after they laughed at his rigid setup, so I guess he had a point to make). I think the chameleon would be a sneaky-able enduro machine for the right rider.
    I descend quicker on my 100mm travel Kona Unit 29er than the 140mm travel Chameleon 26er
    A bit of flex and bigger wheels FTW!

  15. #15
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    All SS here on an XL. Planning to go to a rigid Niner fork and a 3.0 DHF on the front soon.


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  16. #16
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    I'm enjoying mine! Rollin on the 27+ set up and I've been playing with different chain ring/rear cogs and I think I've settled on the 32t/17t for now. The plus set up is nice, but I think when I upgrade the wheels I'm going to go 29" with a wide trail 2.5" setup. I notice not being able to just roll over stuff as much as I'd like... On my bony and rocky New England loops, I want as much momentum as possible. I also plan to jump up to a 140 fork as well... This bike wants to charge hard and I feel like it would do really well with a more aggressive/stiffer fork, not to mention the much needed boost in BB clearance. Only other thing major to figure out is how much tension to put on the chain. I can't quite figure out what the proper amount is. I had some chain stretch, but the drop outs seem to move on me. Anyone else find this happening?
    2019 Evil Offering (150/140 29")
    2017 Santa Cruz Chameleon (SS 29")
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  17. #17
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    Still loving the new bike. I've added a Raceface Aeffect 150mm dropper, Absolute Black oval chainring and swapped the fork. I'm really pleased with the new 140mm Rockshox Yari fork in comparison to the Recon. I noticed a big decrease on pedal strikes but still felt very stable. I think the bottom bracket was a little too low with the 120mm fork. Still need to play with pressures and clickers some more. I went by the fork leg recommended pressure which I felt was too low for climbing out of the saddle so I had to run the compression almost maxed out to compensate during the race. I wasn't sure what to expect for my first enduro so I didn't bring my shock pump with me. I ended up 11th out of 37 riders but keeping true to single speeding, I passed several riders on my return climbs back to the top for the next segment. Guess that doesn't matter much for enduro racing. And yes I was the only one who entered the enduro on a single speed.
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  18. #18
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    Nice work on the race!!

    Quote Originally Posted by tsj5677 View Post
    "Absolute Black oval chainring"
    I was wondering about utilizing an oval chain ring myself, but wasn't sure if the dynamics screwed with the singlespeed drive-train at all... Have you noticed any issue with it?
    2019 Evil Offering (150/140 29")
    2017 Santa Cruz Chameleon (SS 29")
    2015 Salsa Blackborrow (Fatty)
    2009 Redline Monocog 29er Flight (SS 29" Commuter)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjcdesignz View Post
    Nice work on the race!!



    I was wondering about utilizing an oval chain ring myself, but wasn't sure if the dynamics screwed with the singlespeed drive-train at all... Have you noticed any issue with it?
    It works great with singlespeed it is just a little different to setup. The chain tension does get slacker and tighter with every rotation, but not enough for the chain to jump ship with the narrow wide oval chainring and a singlespeed rear cog. To set tension, I found the tightest spot in the chain while slowly turning the cranks, then based the adjustment from there. So far so good, haven't dropped the chain.

  20. #20
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    Always wanted a chameleon, maybe pulling the trigger on one next year... can't say I'm too excited about that color scheme

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    I descend quicker on my 100mm travel Kona Unit 29er than the 140mm travel Chameleon 26er
    A bit of flex and bigger wheels FTW!
    I used to ride a Remedy 9.7 with ALL the bells and whistles. I could descend just as fast on my rigid Superfly Carbon SS. It wasn't as comfortable, but the precision and feel made up for the loss of squish everywhere except "washboarding" where it would vibrate so much I literally could not see. I sold the Remedy but still have the SS
    Have at it!

  22. #22
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    Well after 4.5 years riding a couple Highball Al SS's.....I broke my 3rd one. Santa Cruz has dropped the HB AL. So I went with a Chameleon. Was a little hesitant....it is a not as XC as I am used to.

    Transfered all my parts over. Chameleon was .5 lbs heavier than the HB.

    I've got about 1.5 months on it.....it rides way better than I thought it would. Climbs like a goat....descends like a banshee.

    The frame is supple where it needs to be, but doesn't feel overly flexy.

    My only complaint.....the rear end is so wide. My calves rub the seat stays and my heels run the chainstays.

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  23. #23
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    I'd still like to be able to throw a leg over one of these. My LBS had so many problems with SC and getting one of these in that they dropped them from their lineup and gave me a LES 29er for the same $$. In the back of my mind though I wonder if I wouldn't like the Chameleon better. I like to ride aggressive downhill and I can imagine the chameleon rippin just a bit harder. I crashed the Les yesterday by washing the front out going into a switchback a bit hot, would love a slacker front.

  24. #24
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    Hi - nice bike, picked mine up in late Jan & now want to convert to s/s - did you change your hub or have you found a shimano type freehub body to fit the 11 speed sram (novatec?) hub - my LBS ordered one in but its' the 9/10 speed which was never going to fit & they are now saying there is no 11 speed compatible.

  25. #25
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    To follow up on this thread, I did build up a Chamelon. It rides so much better than my old Soma Juice. WAY stiffer too.

    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?-2018-02-22-13.03.10.jpg
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Widgeontrail View Post
    To follow up on this thread, I did build up a Chamelon. It rides so much better than my old Soma Juice. WAY stiffer too.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I just picked one up this week, so yours wont be the only one around the greater GB and Folsom area.

  27. #27
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    Just got mine built up SS and have 3 rides on it. Really fun bike! It has been 4 years since I was on a SS hardtail but it feels great. Snappy and quick in the corners. I am 5'10" and got a medium as I usually like smaller bikes. I started with a 35 mm stem and 800 bars, was a little cramped so went 50mm and fits pretty good. If you like a longer reach you should size up. I am still planning on cutting bars down to 760-750ish.
    In the pics below, still hadn't cut brake lines as I was playing with stem and bars. They are cut now.

    Build
    Frame size - Medium
    X-Fusion Trace RCP 140mm
    XT Brakes
    Old XTR Cranks
    Renthal Fatbars - 800mm
    Cheapo Amazon Stem - 50mm
    Hope hubs - Stans Arch MK3 rims
    Front tire - Minion DHF 2.5 Rear Tire - Aggressor 2.3
    Giant Contact SL 150mm Dropper
    Weight - 26.5lbs

    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?-img_0673.jpg

    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?-img_0675.jpg

    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?-img_0680.jpg
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  28. #28
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    Rented the cheapest Chameleon 275+ after i broke my crank.
    Fork was not the best, but everything else was working well. "cheap and cheerful"
    I think with anything better than the RS Recon fork it would be a great bike.

    BB was abit high compared to my BTR Ranger, so it was not as stable downhill and in turns but this depends on you riding style and what you expect.

  29. #29
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    Hey all. I still don't understand how easy/hard it is to swap wheels on chameleon.

    If I get a 27.5+ version and an extra set of 29 wheels is it straightforward swapping of wheels or do I need to change drop outs etc.?

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  30. #30
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    For swapping wheels, you could just put a 29 wheel in the 27.5 dropouts but it will mess with the geometry SC designed it around. That said, I don’t know how it would ride? My guess is your bottom bracket would be higher, less standover, and HA would be slightly steeper. Swapping dropouts takes a couple minutes after you do it a couple times.

  31. #31
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    Hi

    Planning to buy Chameleon for ss. What sprocket / cog sizes you guys are using on 27.5+ versions?

  32. #32
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    I'm 32 x 16, but on a 29er
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Widgeontrail View Post
    I'm 32 x 16, but on a 29er
    Wowza! Big gear! I run 32x19 on a 29er. The gearing really depends on the terrain you ride, or the size of your legs! Guess Widgeontrail has some tree trunks.
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  34. #34
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    Hi Guys,

    If using SS dropouts on Chameleon what kind of cranks do I need? Do I still need boost crankset?

    Thanks

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by sssar View Post
    Hi Guys,

    If using SS dropouts on Chameleon what kind of cranks do I need? Do I still need boost crankset?

    Thanks
    You don't need a boost crankset. I have an old triple xtr crankset I use. Biggest thing is your chainline but that is easily adjusted via spacers on the freewheel.
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  36. #36
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    I'm running the 142 Dropouts with SLX 7000 crank and King SS hub.....no issues with chainlines.
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  37. #37
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    No, I don't think so. I have boost drop outs with a non-boost crankset. I believe its the ring that is off set, not the crank. I can't imagine it makes a difference with a single speed.
    Sometimes you eat the trail, sometimes the trail eats you.

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  38. #38
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    Hey Guy's - considering this ride due to how verist ale this bike is!

    I have 148 boost wheels and will use a SS conversion kit. Can I still run the 148 dropouts? Or do I need a different wheel that will take the 142 dropouts?

    Also, anyone know the frame weight?

    Thanks
    Mark

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark194 View Post
    Hey Guy's - considering this ride due to how verist ale this bike is!

    I have 148 boost wheels and will use a SS conversion kit. Can I still run the 148 dropouts? Or do I need a different wheel that will take the 142 dropouts?

    Also, anyone know the frame weight?

    Thanks
    Mark
    You don't need a conversion kit. You just need the Boost dropouts for the correct wheel size.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark194 View Post
    Hey Guy's - considering this ride due to how verist ale this bike is!

    I have 148 boost wheels and will use a SS conversion kit. Can I still run the 148 dropouts? Or do I need a different wheel that will take the 142 dropouts?

    Also, anyone know the frame weight?
    You can use your existing dropouts to SS this frame. Only issue (not really an issue) is you can't remove the derailer hanger if you care about that. Only looks, the dropouts function the same.

    Frame weight is about 5.4 lbs medium
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  41. #41
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    BTW, I've had 4 or 5 single speeds in the last dozen years or so. This bike is by far my favorite.

    Anybody rocking the new Santa Cruz Chameleon?-2018-08-17-10.jpg
    Sometimes you eat the trail, sometimes the trail eats you.

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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Widgeontrail View Post
    BTW, I've had 4 or 5 single speeds in the last dozen years or so. This bike is by far my favorite.
    I have to agree with this. Best bike I have owned. Trying to figure out ways I would improve the geometry for a custom frame, and only a few small changes.

    1. Try to squeeze 2 bottles in the triangle
    2. Lose some weight in the frame
    3. Maybe steepen the seattube a bit
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  43. #43
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    Anyone running a Chameleon rigid 27.5+? It's one of the very few frames on the market that ticks all of the boxes I want (boost, threaded BB, sliding dropouts) at a reasonable price, but I'm worried that a rigid fork will drop the BB too low for comfort.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by coleam View Post
    Anyone running a Chameleon rigid 27.5+? It's one of the very few frames on the market that ticks all of the boxes I want (boost, threaded BB, sliding dropouts) at a reasonable price, but I'm worried that a rigid fork will drop the BB too low for comfort.
    Not sure you'll have an issue there. A to C length on my Whisky rigid is @ 19.5" and on my SC 34 (120) is @ 20.5. If you are sitting at 25% sag on a fork, you're easily eating up that 1" difference in static A to C length, and your BB isn't dropping every time you move or pedal like it is on a suspension fork. I go back and forth with an SC 32 and the rigid fork on my XC SS with zero issue
    Have at it!

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by coleam View Post
    Anyone running a Chameleon rigid 27.5+? It's one of the very few frames on the market that ticks all of the boxes I want (boost, threaded BB, sliding dropouts) at a reasonable price, but I'm worried that a rigid fork will drop the BB too low for comfort.
    Man, this frame is deserving of a good fork. You are free to do what you want but I don't know if this geometry will really shine with a rigid fork? Just my opinion.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtimms View Post
    Man, this frame is deserving of a good fork. You are free to do what you want but I don't know if this geometry will really shine with a rigid fork? Just my opinion.
    That's why I'm asking - I have a pile of spare parts looking for a frame and the Chameleon is one of the few options that has the right specs to fit everything. I know, not the normal way to do things, but that's just the way it worked out this time.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by coleam View Post
    That's why I'm asking - I have a pile of spare parts looking for a frame and the Chameleon is one of the few options that has the right specs to fit everything. I know, not the normal way to do things, but that's just the way it worked out this time.
    Makes sense. I love the Chameleon and if you get one, you will have a fun time!
    When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist.

  48. #48
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    The rigid fork worked well for me but I ran 27.5 plus rear and 29 plus front. Geometry didn't feel wonky and the bb didn't feel too low. I used a Specialized Chisel fork.

  49. #49
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    Does anyone race xc on one of these?

  50. #50
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    I raced mine at the True Grit Epic 50 back in March. It was fine. It liked the tech.
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  51. #51
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    It is a bike, so, yes you can race it. All that said, mine weighs 27 lbs and there will be faster/lighter race bikes out there. I have rode mine in a race, it was fun. All that said, it is a 5.5lb frame so not a weight weenie race bike.
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  52. #52
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    The only bit that would "worry" me about racing it is if it does just weight a bit. I tend to do the stupid climbing climbing races like Leadville 100, Marji Gesick, MDH.. I have a feeling it would be fun either way.. and it'd have room to put burly mischief tires on when I just want to have a laugh..

  53. #53
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    Light alloy frames (i.e. Specialized Chisel) are around 3 lbs. Not sure about light alloy SS frames (not too many of those around anymore), but they'll be a touch heavier due to hardware, so at most you're picking up around 2-2.5 lbs going with the Chameleon, assuming an equivalent build. That's significant, but manageable, and as you said, it allows you to put on a more burly build when you're not racing and not feel like you're going to break your bike if you decide to start hucking off of stuff.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtimms View Post
    It is a bike, so, yes you can race it. All that said, mine weighs 27 lbs and there will be faster/lighter race bikes out there. I have rode mine in a race, it was fun. All that said, it is a 5.5lb frame so not a weight weenie race bike.
    Built up as a SS.....mine is portly at 24.5 lbs.
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  55. #55
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    24 is really light for a chameleon. What is your build?

  56. #56
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    L frame
    Revelation RCT3 140mm
    King SS/Arch MK3
    SLX Cranks 34t
    Niner Ti Cog 22t
    KMC 10.93 chain
    King BB
    SLX brakes 180/180
    2.35 Forkaster/2.35 Ikon
    XT pedals
    Answer Pro Taper DH Carbon 780
    Redmonkey grips
    Race Face Ride stem
    Truvativ Al Post
    WTB Silverado saddle.
    Bicycles don’t have motors or batteries.

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  57. #57
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    L frame - I have M Frame
    Revelation RCT3 140mm - X Fusion Trace RCP
    King SS/Arch MK3 - American Classics SS/Arch MK3
    SLX Cranks 34t - XTR Cranks 32t
    Niner Ti Cog 22t - Surly 20t
    KMC 10.93 chain - Sram 8 Speed
    King BB - Shimano BB
    SLX brakes 180/180 - XT brakes 180/160
    2.35 Forkaster/2.35 Ikon - 2.5 minion DHF/2.3 Aggressor
    XT pedals - XT Pedals
    Answer Pro Taper DH Carbon 780 - Renthal Fat Bar Aluminum 780
    Redmonkey grips - Ergon GE1
    Race Face Ride stem - Cheapo Amazon Stem
    Truvativ Al Post - Giant Contact Dropper
    WTB Silverado saddle. - WTB Devo

    Pretty crazy how meatier tires and a dropper (couple other things) can easily add 3 lbs. By the way, I like your build! I think we have similar tastes in bike setup.
    When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist.

  58. #58
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    Dropper and tires add about a pound each. Not really that surprising.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  59. #59
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    I ride an older XL XC frame now, and the geo is the same for the L chameleon (which I’d run with a longer stem ~100 to keep the front end planted).. I like the idea of a ‘burly’ xc build..

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowdownthehill View Post
    I ride an older XL XC frame now, and the geo is the same for the L chameleon (which I’d run with a longer stem ~100 to keep the front end planted).. I like the idea of a ‘burly’ xc build..
    Keeping the stem length the same on two bikes that have otherwise very different geometry is not going to result in the same handling. If you have to put a 100mm stem on a modern frame, there's a 99% chance that you are looking at a frame that is one or two sizes too small. Go ahead and do this if you want to build a mountain bike that handles like a beach cruiser

  61. #61
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    Has anyone had issues with the dropouts slipping forward? Seems I need to adjust every week or so to keep the chain tension. The gear combination I have is running them a fair way back. I've tried lock tight on the bolts that clamp the dropout, but no luck. They don't really seem to come loose anyway.

    I've just noticed that the cover bolt is actually pressing against the "adjuster" bolt even though there is still at least 5mm more room in the frame to move them back. Seems the bolt is longer than necessary?

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by craign View Post
    Has anyone had issues with the dropouts slipping forward? Seems I need to adjust every week or so to keep the chain tension. The gear combination I have is running them a fair way back. I've tried lock tight on the bolts that clamp the dropout, but no luck. They don't really seem to come loose anyway.

    I've just noticed that the cover bolt is actually pressing against the "adjuster" bolt even though there is still at least 5mm more room in the frame to move them back. Seems the bolt is longer than necessary?
    I don't have that problem (they might slide a little over 6 mons). But the adjuster bolt is supposed to sit against the cover bolt to provide keep it from moving, I believe.
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  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Widgeontrail View Post
    I don't have that problem (they might slide a little over 6 mons). But the adjuster bolt is supposed to sit against the cover bolt to provide keep it from moving, I believe.
    Correct, I looked again and it shouldn't matter where the dropout is set the relative position of the cover bolt and underlying adjuster bolt should be the same. So unrelated.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by craign View Post
    Has anyone had issues with the dropouts slipping forward? Seems I need to adjust every week or so to keep the chain tension. The gear combination I have is running them a fair way back. I've tried lock tight on the bolts that clamp the dropout, but no luck. They don't really seem to come loose anyway.

    I've just noticed that the cover bolt is actually pressing against the "adjuster" bolt even though there is still at least 5mm more room in the frame to move them back. Seems the bolt is longer than necessary?
    Put grease on the bolts, that stopped my dropouts from sliding in SS mode. They would come loose over a ride or 2 and then slide under power. To keep them from backing out, I needed the grease.
    When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist.

  65. #65
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    I tried locktite, maybe I'll have more success with grease enabling them to torque up well.

  66. #66
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    Why do people purchase these expensive frames?
    There are better deals out there.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzo View Post
    Why do people purchase these expensive frames?
    There are better deals out there.
    I was willing to pay $750 for this frame over the other options under 1k. $100-250 is not enough cost difference to make a difference in my decision.

    Question for you @gonzo, why do you care how much we pay for these frames? How does your comment add to the conversation?
    When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist.

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