Bike Check - Chris' North Shore Slaying Santa Cruz Chameleon 8

Bike Check - Chris' North Shore Slaying Santa Cruz Chameleon 8

Welcome to another bike check post! In this installment we're checking out Chris our service manager's wee beastie of a Santa Cruz Chameleon 8. The Chameleon has long been Santa Cruz's go-anywhere do-anything hardtail, and going back through the archives that definition has been pretty loose over the years from lightweight cross country type builds to double-ring big fork freeride machines and everywhere in between. It's fair to say that the Chameleon 8 is pretty damn refined these days, even if it's intentions are as broad as ever. What better a frame then to build a bike for tooling around on North Shore trails, racing the occasional Fiver, riding around East Van with a film camera and whatever the hell else it is Chris does with his bikes.

Santa Cruz Chameleon

Let's start at the top - with that sweet looking frame. Designed from the ground up to have a fully modern ride with aggressive trail geometry for shredding tech and flow trails alike, but with a ride quality that makes it versatile and easy to control. Built with a 130-140mm fork in mind, it sits right in that sweet spot of trail/all mountain without being too much of a handful. Running boost dropouts that are single-speedable and with the ability to go mixed wheel or full 29, the Chameleon retains all of the mix and match compatibility of the older bikes while simplifying things a little mechanically.

Santa Cruz Chameleon 8

Santa Cruz Chameleon 8

Suspension-wise, Chris is running a 140mm Fox 34 Factory up front and whatever damping his knees can provide out back. With a stiffer chassis than previous years and the proven Grip 2 damper, the current 34 is plenty burly for most for a build like this while light enough to be playful still. 

Fox Factory 34

For drivetrain, Chris is running Shimano's XT 12 speed. Well known for being workhorse dependable, the best bang for buck balancing light weight, performance and reasonable price. It's everything you need and nothing you don't. Up front is a Race Face turbine crank. With some beauty CNC machining, the Turbine is their lightweight trail/enduro crank. With a direct mount chainring it's easily swappable for compatibility with almost any chainring size and drivetrain brand.

Race Face Turbine Shimano XT

When it comes to slowing down, Chris is a diehard Magura fan, and we won't hold it against him. Magura have a cult following thanks to their great lever feel with excellent modulation and surprising levels of power. Using their own blend of mineral oil, they're relatively easy to bleed and maintain and are pretty low weight. With four-piston caliper up front and 2-piston out back the MT Trail Sport brakeset here has plenty of power without having so much that the back wheel breaks traction all the time. The perfect combo for a North Shore hardtail.  

Magura MT Trail Sport brakes

Magura MT Trail Sport

For wheels and finishing kit, Chris has a full Race Face Turbine setup with Turbine stem, Turbine handlebars and Turbine wheelset. The Turbine kit is all high quality aluminum, light in weight but tough enough to withstand some proper abuse. The Turbine wheelset is especially nice, using Race Face Vault hubs they use big chunky bearings so are plenty stiff and have near-instant engagement thanks to the massive ratchet ring. Providing Chris a sporty perch is a Specialized Power saddle, on top of a Fox Transfer dropper post. 

Race Face Turbine

Specialized Power Saddle

Of course the build is stunning but for it to work in the real world it needs to have a couple of accessories, that's why Chris is using a OneUp Components EDC Tool hidden inside an EDC Pump. With tools and air, there isn't much you can't fix with the OneUp EDC kit. Carrying a spare tube he's got a Supacaz tube strap, and keeping him hydrated is a Specialized Zee Cage and a sweet Steed Cycles water bottle. Simple but effective - we like it!

Oneup EDC pump