The Carbon Chameleon is dead long live the aluminium Chameleon

by 87

Santa Cruz kills off the carbon Chameleon but replaces it with a new alloy Chameleon starting from just £2399.

Wet muddy trails mean it’s about time for some hardtail hooning, and if you’re after something fresh Santa Cruz has the goods.

The Santa Cruz Chameleon has been a bit of a hardtail hero for some time, and this new updated version of the classic is even more versatile than ever before.

Santa Cruz has treated the new Chameleon to a bunch of updates and changes so that this hardtail really can be ridden anywhere you want and how you want. Hardcore fans will likely love the fact the new frame can be built up with a mullet wheel configuration with 130mm fork, while hardtail enduro riders can build one up with dual 29er wheels for speed. Although Santa Cruz has built the Chameleon to take some serious abuse they also want riders to use it for long-distance riders too, and so have included additional cargo hanger bolts along the downtube.

We’re not so sure many UK riders, especially in winter, will use the downtube rack options so it’s just as well Santa Cruz have updated the geometry for some serious muddy rut action. Reach has increased across all sizes, the head angle has been relaxed to 65-degrees and the top tube has been dropped for better clearance when flinging the bike about.

Santa Cruz will offer the new aluminium Chameleon in 3 builds in either 29er or mullet build (so 6 bikes in total) with pricing ranging from £2399 – £3499. Before you ask, no there won’t be a frame only option and there also won’t be a new carbon frame.

2022 Santa Cruz Chameleon Geometry

2022 Santa Cruz Chameleon Pricing

  • Santa Cruz Chameleon D – £2,399
  • Santa Cruz Chameleon R – £2,999
  • Santa Cruz Chameleon S – £3,499

For more details head over to the Santa Cruz website.


Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 87 total)
  • The Carbon Chameleon is dead long live the aluminium Chameleon
  • Premier Icon richmtb
    Full Member

    £2400 for an Alloy hardtail with SX and a Recon

    Shut up and er… mug someone else.

    Premier Icon pmurden
    Full Member

    Overpriced with those specs I’m afraid.

    Premier Icon davros
    Full Member

    No frame only will send most people elsewhere. Seems like a daft move.

    Edit: especially when they promote it like this on the website:

    We gave new Chameleons to five very different riders and this is how they built them up…

    Doh

    Premier Icon alan1977
    Free Member

    Santa Cruz mark up…
    can get a rather nice Sonder Signal Ti with SLX groupset for £100 more… know what id do

    Premier Icon didnthurt
    Full Member

    Overpriced, underspecced and are they even available?

    I tried to buy a chameleon frame earlier this year and there was no stock anywhere. Even in ‘poo’ brown, I mean bronze.

    Always had a soft spot for Chameleons but not at those p$$$taking prices.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Full Member

    starting from just £2399

    I don’t usually like to criticise specific bike journalists, but please do try to be a bit less gullible in future and take an objective look at the VFM of products.

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Full Member

    I’m gonna buy a Nukeproof scout and some Santa Cruz stickers and save myself a fortune.

    Premier Icon lovewookie
    Full Member

    I’m gonna buy a Nukeproof scout and some Santa Cruz stickers and save myself a fortune.

    quite. it’s difficult to see what ‘added value’ santa cruz are bringing with this vs lots of similarly capable hardtails.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Full Member

    At the pricing, frame only would have to be circa £1500, I can see why that aren’t offering it.

    Premier Icon Duckman
    Full Member

    Isn’t that a lot of money for a type 5 accessory?

    Premier Icon whatyadoin sucka
    Free Member

    i paid £1320 for the d-spec in feb2018. it seems inflation is running high on bikes

    Premier Icon munkyboy
    Free Member

    Even the £3k spec is terrible. £3.5k for gx? Is that a finders fee?

    Premier Icon Edmund Billing
    Full Member

    TBF the Chameleon has been horrendous value for years, although this takes it to another level. As above, if you weigh in all the bits the frame price is unreal!

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    Nice looking bike, but that’s a bunch of cash

    Premier Icon fenboy
    Full Member

    i’d been thinking about one of these last time round so been waiting to see what they came up with but no frame only option is dumb! most folk who would buy one want just the frame and build with either parts bin or spec themselves as significantly better VFM as its normally a second bike. Frame only option must be where the majority of their sales are/were in the UK

    Premier Icon Matthew Walker
    Full Member

    Always admired chameleons, and only ever made sense to me as a frame. ‘starting from just £2399’ I hear you chuckle!

    Top marks to Santa cruz brand and marketing team as they completed this years challenge: ‘make maximum profit from the limited stock of alloy frames we can get this year…’

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Full Member

    only ever made sense to me as a frame

    So many other good options these days, let’s just allow SC to consign the Chameleon to greedy obscurity.

    Premier Icon Daffy
    Full Member

    Why is it the same price in GBP as in USD?

    £1GBPis $1.37USD Vat and duty would add 25% so it should be 10-12% less in GBP… which is about what it is on the more expensive models (8%)…but not the entry level?

    Premier Icon Steve madden
    Free Member

    Bird Zero AM from £1810, Orange Crush Pro for £2500 etc etc….its not like there is a lack of choice

    Premier Icon I_Am_Sparticus
    Free Member

    I don’t usually like to criticise specific bike journalists, but please do try to be a bit less gullible in future and take an objective look at the VFM of products.

    1. open press release from Santa Cruz
    2. select all, copy and paste

    Oh hi, I’m a bike journo.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Full Member

    This is getting daft now. Just think of what reynolds steel hardtail loveliness you can buy for a significantly smaller chunk of cash.

    Premier Icon Barney Marsh
    Full Member

    I note from the link in the story that there is a frame option in the US ($949). I seem to recall when I bought my alloy Chameleon (2017 I think) I paid £650ish for the frame (yes, I bought it at full retail). I’m surprised they’re not offering a frame-only option in the UK, although I wonder if one might appear further down the line. The whole marketing thrust on the SC website, after all, is individual customisation.

    Geo changes from its predecessor are interesting too. On the XL bike, there a 5mm increase in reach, a shorter TT and a steeper (by nearly 2 deg) SA, which is going to make for a shorter-feeling bike overall. Curious to see how it rides…

    Premier Icon idlejon
    Full Member

    I note from the link in the story that there is a frame option in the US ($949). I seem to recall when I bought my alloy Chameleon (2017 I think) I paid £650ish for the frame (yes, I bought it at full retail).

    Sounds about right. I seem to remember working out that I could buy a frame and a better spec even at full RRP, and still pay less than the entry level full bike. They’ve been spectacularly poor value as complete bikes for a long time. (Orbea Laufyey here – mainly XT inc. brakes, Fox 34 forks, DT wheels, approx £2k from Orbea. But it’s not got a SC badge on it…)

    Premier Icon snotrag
    Full Member

    Bought my 2020 Hightower Alloy in Autumn 2019 and built up waaay nicer than the entry level ‘S’ build for the same cost. I kind of didnt want a SC but the old alloy prices were actually really good, and with the suspension frames you are actually getting some value in tech/design/warranty/quality.

    Its hard to see where the value is on a pretty normal looking alloy hardtail frame though.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    1. open press release from Santa Cruz
    2. select all, copy and paste

    Oh hi, I’m a bike journo.

    I think it’s more cunning than that – the ridiculous “just” will make lots of people like us comment on the thread and get SC’s engagements on social (vom sorry) metric going up better .

    Premier Icon thelooseone
    Full Member

    Shame there is no frame only option, I have a 2019 alloy frame which I bought specifically to run as a singlespeed.

    Premier Icon joebristol
    Full Member

    Wow that’s amazingly bad value.

    The top spec one at 3749 on their website doesn’t even get the grip 2 damper in the Fox 34, has bottom end DT Swiss 370 hubs, G2 R brakes etc. That’s awful.

    Whilst my hardtail built last year doesn’t have a Santa Cruz badge on it (Marino) it’s custom steel with fancy paint, Pike Ultimates, Code Rs, Erase Components hubs, Dt swiss XM rims, GX Eagle but with a carbon crankset and KMC gold chain, Oneup dropper, decent tyres and carbon bars / branded stem etc. Buying as a sole individual I brought that in just under £3k.

    Having no frame only option seems a bit of a mistake – people can go to the likes of Ribble (alloy, steel or Ti), Bird, Sonder etc and get frame only or a customised build and it’ll be better value / have better components on for the money.

    Premier Icon gunz
    Full Member

    Every time I’ve seen someone with a SC over the last couple of years I’ve assumed they’re a bit of a mug.

    Premier Icon twonks
    Full Member

    They do look nice but as said are a tad too spendy.

    I bought a Carbon Chameleon as frame only and transferred bits over. Absolutely love how it rides with plus tyres and a 140mm fork.

    Gone a bit silly with some of the spec on mine but is probably my number one keeper now.

    Prices aside, I think SC have dropped the ball in not offering it as a frame only. From what I understand, most of the delays in shipping new bikes is down to components and the kit build – if the frames are available why not get the selling and out there.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Every time I’ve seen someone with a SC over the last couple of years I’ve assumed they’re a bit of a mug.

    You never know someone’s background, financial situation etc. I bought a new Bronson CC 4 years ago, and never paid what that chameleon would cost. Most of my riding buddies who had SC’s weren’t loaded either, joiners, brickies etc, they just liked the bike and local shop supported them really well.

    And as I don’t drink, smoke or spend daft money on mobile phones, designer clothes, I was happy to spend decent cash on a bike.

    There’s folk on here with 7 or 8 bikes, and folk that buy new bikes every year, yet they’ll slag someone for buying a tart brand. Pretty judgey that.

    At full RRP that bike doesn’t look great value, but then neither are a lot of brands tbh.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Full Member

    What a silly bike

    Premier Icon twonks
    Full Member

    The mug comment is interesting, as I do feel SC are taking advantage of their market and I suspect a lot of new mtb riders coming from the upper levels of affluence are automatically drawn to SC, without any real know how or market knowledge. Is that just clever marketing on the part of SC and not people being mugged off as such, as most of the bikes still ride well – just cost a bit too much.

    I’m no mug but I do like SC bikes and feel something for the brand having had my first one in 1999 when most people had never heard of them.

    As mentioned above, it’s mainly a case of whatever floats your boat. I’m like nobeer as I have no other vices or hobbies so can and do spend a disproportionate amount on cycling kit and bikes compared to Mr average.

    Maybe it depends on the individual as well. Some of my mates are very quick and skilled riding, yet couldn’t give two hoots about their bikes brand or condition. Others go way too far making everything match and keeping them clean, moaning for ages when a scratch appears and having to have the latest kit.

    I’m somewhere in the middle as I like my bikes to ride well above all, but if they happen to look nice too then a brucey bonus. Don’t worry about surface scratches or keeping them spotless but, also don’t neglect them.

    Sometimes it’s worth a few quid extra to make the purchase feel special to you. For me, brands like SC are such purchases as I have history with them, although maybe it is now dwindling a tad for reasons mentioned.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Sometimes it’s worth a few quid extra to make the purchase feel special to you. For me, brands like SC are such purchases as I have history with them, although maybe it is now dwindling a tad for reasons mentioned.

    Agreed. When I bought the Bronson, it was the first time I’d ever bought an off the peg in a nice build, always just done frame only. Over the 4 years, it was head and shoulders the best bike I’ve had, doesn’t owe me a thing, and when I finally get my finger out to sell it, I won’t lose a huge amount either.

    But would I buy one again? probably not, try something else next time. And I don’t ride anywhere near as much as I did when I bought it.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Full Member

    I wouldn’t sneer at anyone’s decision to buy one, its a really nice looking bike.

    I’m the proud owner of a Superlight and had a Blur LT at one point too. But I think the Superlight was £1,099 frame only and “D” level builds were under £2k. Admittedly that was 10 years ago but SC were actually pretty good value for a “boutique” brand.

    They are clearly doing something right, I don’t doubt they will sell all the Chameleons they make.

    Meanwhile I’ll be happy slumming it on my On One Scandal

    Premier Icon G
    Full Member

    Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon Chameleons? They come and go…

    Just me with the earworm then?

    Premier Icon oldfart
    Full Member

    I still remember quite a few years back on a riding holiday in the States, our guide was looking at a mag i took with me and couldnt believe the prices on the SC advert. I said they are thought of as a boutique brand here, his reply really? Just considered run of the mill over there 🤔

    Premier Icon Phill
    Full Member

    A hardtail that’s not made from steel, no!

    Premier Icon Charlie Hobbs
    Full Member

    This might help explain what might be going on. Just speculation… I don’t actually know anything, but I have imported bikes.

    YEILD HARVESTING.
    Make as much profit as possible from a limited resource. If they have only xxxx amount of frames, they can maximise profits by selling as a complete rather than frame only. You can also prioritise markets with the most margin.

    TAIWAN TO USA TO UK
    A UK distributor really wants its stock to come direct from Taiwan, and not via the USA, as the bikes will attract double import duty. It’s possible the frame only stock may already be in the USA, and not financially viable for the uk.

    Like I said, these are just things I have seen before. It’s not factual to this situation.

    And it is a good looking bike. Can you still run them single speed?

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    I suppose it works for them, SC have enough brand ‘cachet’ that I still see the occasional shiny one being hoisted from the roof of a German company car.

    Let’s be honest they’re not for those of us with normal incomes, they’re pitched (at least in the UK) at those with a bit more disposable income and “premium aspirations”…

    And that’s fine, if someone can afford/justify a £2.5k HT that companies like Bird, Sonder, PX etc can match (spec wise) for substantially less then that’s their prerogative.

    Premier Icon gunz
    Full Member

    I shall reiterate a little as I’m certainly of the mind that people should ride what ever they want. I just think they’re too expensive for what you get and, as oldfart says, it’s only the UK that thinks of them as boutique bikes (I ride a battered Bird Aether though, so what do I know).

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