Is Santa Cruz CHAMELEON A Good Bike? [Santa Cruz CHAMELEON Review]

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  • Price: $4,049
  • Travel: 130mm front
  • Wheels: 29″ / 27.5″
  • Drivetrain: 1 × 12
  • Brakes: Hydraulic Disc

What do we like about it: Top Flow makes a hardtail trail bike, and there’s nothing better than a hybrid 29/27.5″ wheelset. It comes with SRAM GX Eagle, a 12-spd drive for more efficient pedaling. Meanwhile, the SRAM G2 R hydraulic disc brake provides more riding confidence.

What do we don’t like about it: the high-end branding plus the inevitable slightly higher price relative to the components will be.

Rating: (4.7/5)

2022 Santa Cruz CHAMELEON


If you’re still impressed with Santa Cruz’s full-suspension excellence, you’ll want to try this Santa Cruz CHAMELEON hardtail bike. Equipped with a lighter and stronger aluminum frame, it is more aggressive in the face of the outdoors. SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd combined with 32T crank technology, easy and smooth speed adjustment.

Front: Maxxis 29 “x2.5”, Rear: 27.5 “x2.5” hybrid tires, more interesting and fun to ride between the constant ups and downs of the mountains.

Not only that, but the longer 130mm of front travel will allow CHAMELEON to ride more actively in the face of harsh terrain changes.

In addition, the expensive SRAM G2 R hydraulic disc brakes will give you the necessary support for speed descending or shuttling through unfamiliar territory. As I articulated, “This is a hardtail bike that you can imagine more, takes you to embrace the adventure, and can take you to the podium.”

Follow us to review more information about Santa Cruz CHAMELEON.


It would make no sense to put the CHAMELEON with its 130mm of front travel through a rigorous climbing review. So this weekend, I went out on a wild forest road with it. The terrain has more continuous uphill climbs to test the SRAM drivetrain.

Steeper angles and more obstacles on the ground keep you on your toes as the FOX 34 fork with 130mm of travel works efficiently with the Maxxis hybrid wheelset. Even though I’m a year-round rider, I’m still sweating over the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON.

Excellent results mean that achieving high speeds and climbing steadily needs to start from the ground up. A lighter and stronger aluminum body with Maxxis hybrid vacuum tires means more efficient acceleration and maneuverability in a lighter and stronger balance. Also, choosing the more classic and taller tires of 29×2.5” on the front wheels will make save more effort and give you more energy to focus on unknown turns as well as some obstacles.

But don’t worry about how difficult this process is, don’t forget the smaller 27.5×2.5” wheels are flexible enough to help you steer. Combined with 125mm of trail without sacrificing stability.

Woodland Track

Although there is no denying that the woodland track has become very smooth due to long years of riding, there are still some unexpected conditions, such as some bumps and continuous uphill from small rocks rolling down the hill. This time, the FOX fork with 130mm of travel gives full play to its proper efficiency.

The 28.64lbs from sacrificing the rear shock didn’t make me sweat more at this point. The drivetrain has a much lighter weight, whether it’s continuous uphill or a single setup to increase the difficulty of picking up a steep dirt bag.

I don’t think I would have wanted to tackle this terrain without the swift SRAM GX Eagle with 12-speed. Also, if you notice the 65.0° seat tube angle of the 465mm stack combo, you’ll realize that this is another big boost for climbing. Not only is your posture more helpful in dropping your center of gravity, but I think it’s also a great help in the face of prolonged physical output.

You don’t need to worry about his reflexes at all, as the vast majority of people say about him, “Stronger than any racehorse, blending endurance with agility to create a whole new beast.”


I’m sure many people are afraid to take their hardtail bikes to professional rugged descending trails. But thanks to the mixed Maxxis wheels, it is also the best in the fast descending forest roads in the face of speed descending.

If you think you’re like me and wish riding a hardtail would eliminate bumps, you need to find the best route down the hill first. A smoother surface with a FOX 34 fork with 130mm of travel can make up for your mistakes and the possibility of a flat tire.

A common mistake I see people demonstrate when riding, leaning their weight too far back or too far forward. And with a moderate seat tube angle of 74.4° and a stack value of 465mm, I was able to keep my riding position at a neutral value and have a good starting position even for a novice.

Practice On Descending

One thing I often do is let the 27.5×2.5” rear wheel hit the ground first, and with the Maxxis’ hybrid tires, I was able to reduce the risk of a blowout. Facing the shorter rear wheel, the taller 29×2.5” front wheel with the longer fox 34’s 130mm of front travel absorbed the most squeeze at the moment of landing.

Compared to many full shock models with exaggerated travel, the 130mm did not make me feel that I was losing the amount of rebound, damping, and low and high-speed compression that I wanted. Also, if you notice some slick pavement, facing such high drop terrain, without a responsive enough SRAM G2 R hydraulic disc brake.

To be honest, I too would have chickened out at times. When I stalled in a dive due to high-speed inertia, the SRAM’s swiftness, as well as sensitivity caused me no danger of tipping over.

Main Features


2022 Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

At first sight, the first thing that attracted me was the free frame geometry. By trying it I found interchangeable decouplers easily for multiple major configuration conversions. With the experience of riding, it saves a lot of trouble for subsequent technical upgrades to modify the bike.

In addition, the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON comes with a high-spec aluminum frame, which is not only more comfortable for the rider than the more expensive carbon but also maximizes shock absorption and impact resistance in the field. To be honest I wasn’t worried about taking the CHAMELEON through deeply wooded trails.

Mounting holes under the downtube support the installation of a rear rack and water bottle unit. The neat internal alignment also produces more efficient riding rates, avoiding drag and mud contamination from high-speed riding. When I rode Golden Yellow’s CHAMELEON for the traverse, my mood was as brilliant as the gold.


As I tell every rider who wants to start riding: “Straighten your backbone! That’s how you can ride farther.” The muscular and comfortable geometry of the CHAMELEON is something you may not be able to feel without experiencing it first-hand.

Just like Santa Cruz always does. After the seat tube angle (74.4°) reaches a steeper value, this puts the rider’s center of gravity in a balanced position and also allows for a more relaxed sustained output on climbs.

The head tube angle (65.0°) allows for a faster steering response when riding at high speeds and descending becomes relatively easy. This also effectively compensates for the lack of rear guts support. Some people think such a head tube angle may affect stability, but my actual riding tells me that it doesn’t bother me that way. It’s 425mm rear lower fork improved my stability.

The proper reach (465mm) allows the arms to be stretched as far as possible, reducing fatigue and making the ride incredibly free.

Components and Specifications

FOX 34 Float Performance, 130mm

One of the biggest advantages of the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON is the longer fork damping. From my riding test experience, I am satisfied with its performance.

The 130mm of travel has something to brag about compared to the SR Suntour series I rode a while back. When I was riding through a small section of wooded terrain with countless rocks and raised roots, I honestly couldn’t have ridden farther if the fork hadn’t worked so efficiently.

The fully checked damper design allows for low-speed compression adjustment and optimal traction control. The seat post dropper design for riding precision set under the double insurance can keep the body stable forward without worrying about body bumps. It can maximize riding performance and ride quality.

SRAM GX Eagle, 12spd

2022 Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

To be honest, when buying a bike we often look at its drivetrain first. So I wasn’t much surprised to see that the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON is equipped with SRAM Eagle Series, 1x12spd combination 148 DUB 32T crank technology. Because according to Santa Cruz’s usual practice, the SRAM-class drivetrain is standard.

In addition, the 1×12 gear range is not as rich, but the more dense gear ratios allow us to climb at speeds that may not be as fast as on flat surfaces. But being able to reduce the physical output allowed us to provide enough confidence when riding longer sections.

Also, with the 1× drive, I don’t have to worry too much about dropping the chain and rapping it when shifting. This is because SRAM’s signature technology will allow us to provide fast, seamless shifts that are quiet and stable enough when shifting.

Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5,Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5

The vast majority of bikes I ride take a more conservative approach to wheel design. But with the return of the hybrid wheel trend, Santa Cruz is very much into doing combinations of large and small wheels. This CHAMELEON, for example, fully deserves the title of the best of both worlds.

The taller 29-inch front wheel mixes enough power to find the ground faster than you can trace. Maintaining a larger rate on the pedal supports you in making quick acceleration drives. The 27.5-inch rear wheel, on the other hand, will allow you to make quick and sudden bounces. If you are a restless riding rider, there is nothing better than this mix of personalities.

Moreover, there is no need to worry whether it is in vain. Beneath its rough tread exterior has a steady heart that can actively cope with wet and slippery terrain. The vacuum tires also excel in their puncture resistance. To be honest, I would be inclined to buy because of this bunch of wheelsets.

Other Versions Of Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S / AL / 29

For the CHAMELEON S AL 29, priced at $4,049, there is a major divergence in design from the CHAMELEON S. Instead of the CHAMELEON S’s flexible mix of Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5 and Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5 wheelsets, a consistent 29” wheelset was chosen. Although there is no denying that this is classic, the way it handles the different stacked terrain is certainly not as positive as the CHAMELEON S.

Despite the choice of 1x12spd and Hydraulic Disc setups for both the drivetrain and brakes. And if you notice its fork, both are designed with FOX 34 Float Performance, 130mm.

In the paint color, I am more like CHAMELEON S bright gold yellow, although CHAMELEON S AL 29 also achieved the ultimate in calmness.

Santa Cruz Chameleon R / Aluminum / 29

The Santa Cruz Chameleon R Al 29 series is all about friendly pricing. I’m sure this is related to its shorter fork travel, but to be honest the 120mm figure isn’t exactly meager compared to other hardtail lines.

Even I think with the Maxxis 29 “x2.3” wheels, SRAM NX Eagle and 1x12spd drivetrain, even bumpy gravel roads can be handled satisfactorily.
Unlike the CHAMELEON S, the Chameleon R Al 29 chose the SRAM Guide T series, but from what I felt there wasn’t much difference.

They both quickly stop the wheels at high speeds. Of course, the Chameleon R Al 29 forgoes the hybrid option for a consistent 29″ wheelset when it comes to the distinctive wheelset choice, although this will further increase its price.

All things considered, I think the Chameleon frame, basically Santa Cruz scores well.


Build SpecsD 29R 29
Kit14.06kg / 31lbs13.28kg / 29.28lbs
PriceRockShox Recon RL, 130mm, 29″FOX Rhythm 34, 130mm, 29″
WeightSRAM SX Eagle, 12spdSRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
ForkSRAM NX Eagle, 12spdSRAM NX Eagle, 12spd
Rear DerailleurSRAM X1 Eagle 148 DUB, 30tSRAM Descendant Eagle 148 DUB 30t
ShiftersSRAM PG1230, 12spd, 11-50tSRAM PG1230, 12spd, 11-50t
CassetteSRAM DUB 68/73mm Threaded BBSRAM DUB 68/73mm Threaded BB
ChainSRAM LevelSRAM Guide T
Bottom BracketAvid Centerline 180mmAvid Centerline 180mm
BrakesCane Creek 10 IS Integrated HeadsetCane Creek 10 IS Integrated Headset
Brake RotorsRaceFace RideBurgtec Alloy Bar
HeadsetRaceFace ChesterBurgtec Enduro MK3
StemSRAM MTH 716, 15×110, Torque Cap, 32hSRAM MTH 716, 15×110, 32h
Front HubWTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 29″ RimsRaceFace AR Offset 30 29″ Rims
Rear HubSapim RaceSapim Race
RimsMaxxis Minion DHF 29″x2.5, 3C, MaxxGrip, EXO, TRMaxxis Minion DHF 29″x2.5, 3C, MaxxGrip, EXO, TR
Front TireStan’s SealantStan’s Sealant
Rear TireSDG Tellis Dropper, 31.6SDG Tellis Dropper, 31.6
TubesWTB Silverado CompWTB Silverado Race Saddle or WTB Volt

What do we like about it?

  • Hardtail bikes made by Top Flow, are more high-end and professional.
  • A high-end aluminum frame is lighter and stronger.
  • 130mm long stroke shock absorption efficient and more comfortable.
  • Hybrid 29/27.5″ wheelset for more terrain.
  • 1x12spd drivetrain, easy and smooth, dense gears, strong power support.
  • SRAM-rated hydraulic disc brakes provide stable suspension even on slippery surfaces.
  • Internal alignment is simple and efficient.

What do we don’t like about it?

  • Too little paint color selection.
  • Compared to the high price of components.


  • What is the tire size of the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S?

Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S tire size is Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5, Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5.

  • What is the drivetrain of the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S?

Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S drivetrain is SRAM GX Eagle, 1x12spd.

  • What is the brake on the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S?

Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S is braked by SRAM G2 R Hydraulic Disc.

  • What is the recommended size for the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON S?
SizeRider Height
SM158 – 171 cm
M/D168 – 180 cm 
LG178 – 189 cm 
XL186 – 199 cm  

Comparison Table

Diamondback Sync’r Carbon 29$3,6501×12Shimano MT501 Hydraulic Disc 29×2.5″Click View
Yeti ARC C1$4,0001×10SHIMANO DEORE 2 PISTON Hydraulic Disc29×3″Click View
Specialized Fuse Comp 29$3,0001×12SRAM Level TRL Hydraulic Disc29×2.6″Click View
Niner SIR 9 3-STAR SHIMANO SLX SINGLESPEED$3,8992×8Shimano XT M8100 Hydraulic Disc29×2.6″Click View

Diamondback Sync’r Carbon 29 vs Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

For the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON, the Diamondback Sync’r is a tough competitor! It comes with a Maxxis 29×2.5″ front and rear wheelset, SRAM, 1x12spd drivetrain, and Shimano MT501 Hydraulic Disc. The Diamondback Sync’r caught my eye.

During the ride, as I chose a long enough section of forest road for testing, I found myself facing sections with multiple terrain overlaps, such as concentrated ascents or descents.

For the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON, the 130mm, Fox Performance Float 34 with the Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5, Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5 hybrid wheelset would have performed more aggressively and effectively.

Although the Diamondback Sync’r front 140mm fork is also in an efficient working condition, it is not as clever as the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON.

learn more:Diamondback Syncr Review – Balances Comfort And Speed

Yeti ARC C1 vs Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

2022 Yeti ARC C1
Yeti ARC C1

My first impression of the Yeti ARC C1 will be attracted by its well-fitted components. The Fox Performance Float 34 fork with a travel value of 130mm is stronger and more efficient in the face of bumps, the DT, 29×3″ wheelset is tough enough to crush over any obstacle bumps, and the expensive and swift hydraulic disc brakes can provide riding confidence.

Although it is clear from the comparison that the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON 1x12spd will have more range of options than the Yeti ARC C1 1x10spd in terms of riding confidence. The Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5, Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5 hybrid wheelset is also hard to beat with the Yeti ARC C1.

In addition, CHAMELEON’s interchangeable decouplers easily perform multiple major configuration conversions. With the experience of riding, it saves a lot of trouble for subsequent technical upgrades to modify the bike.

Learn more : Is Yeti SB130 C1 Splendid – [Yeti SB130 C1 Review]

Specialized Fuse Comp 29 vs Santa Cruz CHAMELEON

2022 Specialized Fuse Comp 29
Specialized Fuse Comp 29

For the Specialized Fuse Comp 29 model, I think it also makes a decent effort for the money. That would be the RockShox Recon RL with 130mm of travel up front, a combination of SRAM, 1x12spd drivetrain, and the expensive and swift SRAM Level TRL hydraulic disc brakes.

To be honest, although compared to the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON version, it does not reach that excellence. For example, from my riding, CHAMELEON’s FOX 34 Float Performance, 130mm will be stronger and more durable, and will not crack in the face of big setbacks.

The hybrid design wheelset Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 “x2.5, Rear: Maxxis Aggressor, 27.5 “x2.5 will also be very efficient in dealing with all kinds of stacked terrain. Although I have to admit that the Eliminator, 29×2.6” wheelset is tough and can absorb vibrations.

And you should also note that CHAMELEON’s 1x12spd can be easily configured for conversion with interchangeable decouplers. From the riding experience to the subsequent technical upgrades to modify the bike to save a lot of trouble.

However, there is still a lack of ingenuity. All things considered, if it were the best of the best: I would prefer Santa Cruz CHAMELEON.



Based out of beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, Niner specializes in passionate riders and adventurers, so I was very excited about the SIR 9 3-STAR. With a 120mm of travel value and a single-speed drivetrain, it’s honestly a mix of modern and traditional off-road borders.

In addition, if you notice its steel body material, you will understand what I have elaborated about its special. It’s as if it can withstand countless drops and torments in the outdoors.

However, if you compare the Santa Cruz CHAMELEON, you will find that if you are a solid rider, you will always prefer the CHAMELEON. The SRAM G2 R hydraulic disc brake also provides more riding confidence.

In case, the above comments are helpful to you, please remember to share the subscription. Have a great day!

Learn more : Is Niner SIR 9 3-STAR SRAM GX EAGLE Splendid? – [Niner SIR 9 3-STAR SRAM GX EAGLE Review]

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