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Santa Cruz relaunches Chameleon as an alloy-only hardtail

Santa Cruz Chameleon
(Image credit: Santa Cruz)

Most of Santa Cruz’s bike portfolio might be dual-suspension bikes, but the Californian brand remains committed to producing some of the best hardtail mountain bikes.

For many years, the Chameleon has been Santa Cruz’s adaptive hardtail, available in both alloy and carbon models. In a market where most trail riding hardtails are steel, the Chameleon has always offered something different. 

So it's big news that Santa Cruz has now discontinued the carbon-fiber Chameleon and will henceforth only offer an alloy version, which is more faithful to the model’s heritage.

Product managers at Santa Cruz have visited some significant geometry changes upon the 2022 model year Chameleon as well. With most trail hardtails now running head angles close to those of enduro bikes, Santa Cruz has followed suit in terms of slackness.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

The new alloy Chameleon gets some significant geometry updates (Image credit: Santa Cruz )

Big geometry changes 

The new Chameleon has a 65-degree head angle when built with a 130mm fork. That’s nearly 2.5 degrees slacker than before, and to balance the notable change in head angle, the Chameleon range has also grown in the rear triangle. Chainstays have grown approximately 10mm in length, to increase tire clearance and add a touch more overall high-speed tracking stability. Reach on a large is set at 465mm and a lengthy wheelbase of 1207.8mm.

Santa Cruz’s latest Chameleon continues to offer both geared and single-speed options, thanks to an improved sliding drop-out system, removing the need to fiddle with rear brake alignment when changing configuration. The drop-out system also allows the switching between 29er or 'MX' (29er front, 27.5in rear) wheelset options.

Santa Cruz Chameleon 2022 yellow

New sliding dropouts make switching between geared or single-speed setups simpler (Image credit: Santa Cruz bikes )

Adaptability has always been a core value of the Chameleon, hence its name. The 2022 model can even be built as a hardcore touring bike, thanks to three downtube mounting points.

The latest Chameleon range comes in either Golden Yellow or Gloss Navy Blue and features some very premium pricing. The entry-level build sees a RockShox Recon RL fork and SRAM SX drivetrain, for $2,399. If you prefer a Fox 34 Rhythm fork and SRAM SX shifting, pricing stretches to $2,949. The top of the range S kit Chameleon prices at $3,749 and fixes a Fox 34 Performance fork up front, with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain.

All three build options are available in either 29er or MX wheel variations. For full details, check out Santacruzbicycles.com.

Lance Branquinho
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype