What is it about the hardtail that just won’t go away? Although industry types keep shouting “hardtails are dead”, the abundance of non-technical groomed trails in the Bay Area mean they will always be in demand. For local trail riding, the 29er hard tail is the logical choice when you’re leaving the car in the garage and miles across town to access local dirt. For dirt jump parks and pump tracks, the dirt jump hardtail is the purpose built bike we reach for when we want to dial in lines and get rad. Good luck pedaling that dirt jump bike up the hill to the trail though; mine has one gear, a short seat/seatpost and one brake, which makes trail riding a chore.
That’s one of the reasons for the undying popularity of the Santa Cruz Chameleon. A do everything, go anywhere hardtail, the Chameleon is an great option for the quiver when you don’t want or need a stack of bikes to choose from. For 2013 the Chameleon gets refresh with the addition of a tapered headtube, slacker angles, ISCG 05 mounts and a longer top tube.
The longer top tube is nice addition for many that will be buying this frame and erring to the short side for handling and stand over for hooligan antics. The dropout system first debuted on the Alloy Highball model also makes an appearance, and the eccentric bottom bracket goes away. (and won’t be missed) The tapered headtube makes it AngleSet compatible if you want to change it up even more. A frame that can transform to fulfill a number of needs and duties, this sucker is versitile. Single speed it with a longer stem for hurting yourself in the hills. Stick a 50mm stem on it for days your rides end up with an urban or pump track session. (anything longer than a 70mm stem would be silly to us, regardless of how you set her up) Platform pedals, or clip in. Either way, the frame screams out for a 5″ adjustable height seat post.
To celebrate the release of the latest Chameleon, Santa Cruz released an edit of Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland ripping it in dirt jump and all mountain hardtail mode. (ie, with gears and without) One thing to note though: These dudes are tall.
With middle of the road geometry, the Chameleon won’t replace the dirt jumper’s specific steed, and she’s a tad heavy to race, (or is she? They managed to shave a pound off the previous model using hydroformed tubing— Listed weight is a mere 4.07lbs.) but that is just fine.
Frames start at $750, with completes at $1800 or so. Check it out