Santa Cruz Chameleon MX NSMB AndrewM.JPG
EDITORIAL | REVIEW PART III

MB-1 And The Santa Cruz Chameleon MX

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Feb 21, 2022
Reading time

MB-1

No, not the sweet end-of-the-80's Bridgestone mountain bike, but, well, also that. MB-1 is an antithesis to N+1, that old saying that N is the number of mountain bikes you currently own, and N+1 is always the number you should own. In MB-1, a new mountain bike is in a perpetual state of conflict with any other mountain bike you already possess and, in the end, there can be only one. Either a new bike supplants the current love, or it's gone. Even a rig I truly love like the Banshee Titan, which I would have bought after my review if space wasn't an issue, has to leave in order for another mountain bike to move in. It's a Sith-like 'rule of two' with one master and one apprentice. Technically they're working together to deliver a diverse mountain bike experience, but they're also trying to murder each other.

I live with my family in a relatively palatial 850sq/ft and we already have multiple bikes each counting our off-road rigs and commuter/city set ups. Never mind budget, multiple mountain bikes simply are not a possibility space wise. We're limited to one ride each with one extra spot for a test bike when I'm reviewing something for NSMB, like this Chameleon MX. I have friends making it work in places much smaller than ours who similarly use bikes to get around and for recreation, and some of them have - gasp - a single sled that fills both roles. Whether it's multiple wheelsets or just gutting it out around town on sticky knobby tires. Some go as far as to use the same machine for amateur XC-racing, bike packing, and even riding from home turning aggressive Plus tires with inserts to best keep up with friends on their 160mm, 170mm, 180mm don't-call-them-freeride rigs.

In a way, MB-1 is an extension of the single-speed mentality. Sure, you're in the wrong gear most the time but you just have to get on with it. The Chameleon MX, in name and deed, commits fully to riders living this reality. It will not complement a diverse fleet of mountain bikes the way a dedicated pump-and-jump bike, or a super light carbon XC bike, or a lift-access DH bike will. It will not be the first choice for a rider who always hits the same lines, on the same mountain, with the same friends - whatever they may be. But, with judicious component choices, or some quick ride-specific parts swaps, it will say "YES" to most any ride or adventure you want to go on from a Seawall cruise to a full day of janky single track.

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The Chameleon MX will climb, traverse, and descend technical mountain bike trails while at the same time remaining playful in situations where longer and slacker hardtails prefer to punch through. Photo: JacVenture

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I much preferred the additional climbing traction and stability of running the wheelbase full long (437mm chainstays) but playing around on the street, or winning the parking lot test, I'd give an edge to the shorter (425mm stays) option. Photo: JacVenture

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I climb a hardtail out of the saddle a lot and, after riding a lot of different bikes, I prefer the stability of a slacker head tube angle (HTA) when climbing as well. The static 65° HTA on the Chameleon never felt too slack in the woods. Photo: JacVenture

Of course, the Chameleon is not the only mountain bike that could wear this mantle. It's not even necessarily a hardtail-specific role. Santa Cruz's own Tallboy, for example, could fill this role for some riders. There are advantages to a hardtail in terms of reduced downtime and maintenance cost and improved pedaling efficiency in many circumstances. But it's easy enough to use planned service intervals to limit downtime, and reduce surprise failures, with most full suspension bikes. If a rider cuts out the faster and longer distance applications, a much longer travel bike couldn't suit the MB-1 role. Sticking on brand here, the Hightower or Bronson MX with two wheelsets could arguably fill 95% of the role of a Tallboy or a Megatower.

If you could only have one mountain bike, what would it be? After spending many hours on the Chameleon MX, I'm going to argue that it would be a solid one-bike option for most people riding most places. Maybe it's part of a two-bike solution along with a really big rig like V-10 or a fully person-powered complement to an e~biker's main steed. In any event, it's value may not be readily apparent on paper, comparing the spec. with other hardtail rigs, but rather its potential in an MB-1 world.

Stereoscopic

I experienced many of my mountain biking firsts on a 1997 Giant ATX 890 hardtail. I think about that bike every time I look at this Santa Cruz Chameleon MX. The yellow paint jobs are not an exact match but it's fitting that both remind me of Lego. The hues are close enough that the Chameleon paints vivid recollections of my first time riding Burke Mountain, my first endo on Elevator, and my first time riding Bear Mountain when my rear wheel passed my front wheel in one of the steep sections on the DH track. I get winded just thinking about the soul crushing experience of my first XC race. I get sore rolling through plenty of moments on the ground trying to decide if I was actually hurt-hurt or just needed a minute. Many hours were spent in my parents' basement replacing or upgraded components as the bike evolved.

The ATX was a mountain bike that could be ridden anywhere and in any mountain bike event, and that's the promise of the Chameleon MX. Having ridden a few of the more recent generations of this bike, the mullet wheel mix lends itself to a bike that can be looking at the pump track with one eye and a truly janky, rooted, rocky, steep, single track at the same time. I can see endless possibilities through the lenses of the MX bike which accelerates and changes direction quickly thanks to the smaller rear hoop but still maintains the hard-to-endo factor and the roll over characteristics of the 29" front when trails overwhelm the 130 mm fork and decidedly all-trail geometry.

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Four sizes, but the small isn't that small and the XL isn't very big so there's a lot of overlap here - short and tall riders be damned when it comes to hardtails. Santa Cruz does normally have a bigger size range with their smallest Juliana Roubion running a 405mm Reach and their largest Megatower running a 515mm Reach.

I temper that by saying this is clearly not the ideal machine for any particular application. No matter how much thought I put into component swaps or rubber choice, it is not some sort of miracle all-in-one option. Whether I had the chainstays set full short at 425mm or full long at 437mm or somewhere in between when I mocked it up for single-speed use, this bike's a very adaptable multi-tool. While the geometry is a nice half-step forward from the previous aluminum and carbon Chameleons, this is still a bike that will not offend anyone with its geometry and ride characteristics. At the same time, there are any number of choices on the market, including from other mainstream brands like Kona and Marin, that will better suit a rider seeking the current edge of hardtail evolution.

One thing that I like about the Chameleon is that Santa Cruz has bucked the current bike design trend to make the static seat tube angles (STA) of hardtails aggressively steep like longer travel pedal-and-plunge Enduro rides (keeping in mind they get steeper with sag). Santa Cruz lists the Chameleon's static STA at 74.1-74.6° depending on size, with the larger frames being slightly. When trails get really steep I tend to stand to climb, I find the slacker STA is more comfortable riding long distances, and I can create more power. Of course, one negative of running a slacker STA is that Reach has to be reduced in order to keep the seated top tube length from growing too huge. Frame design is a fascinating game of give and take once you get beyond needing a very steep STA to accommodate very short chainstays and needing a longer Reach to make up for the drastically reduced effective top tube length that comes from a very steep STA.

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The yellow hue, adjustable dropouts, and do-anything-geometry of the Chameleon MX all say "LEGO" to me. I'll argue that the complete build is just a starting point and it's the frame you're really buying here. Photo: Deniz Merdano

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Run it as a mullet bike, over-fork it with dual 27" wheels, or swap the dropouts to ride it as a dual 29er. 9point8 even makes the SLACK-R IS Angleset if you want to get into Honzo ESD territory without the extra weight. Photo: Deniz Merdano

Sizing

I've regularly been accused of being that evangelist standing on the side of the trail yelling "mullet, mullet, mullet" but the Chameleon MX highlights that my membership in the #HotForMullet cult is situational. With my relatively short legs would choose a mullet as my next mid-to-long travel full suspension bike, while I prefer dual 29" wheels on my hardtail. That's up, down, and across. Better traction climbing, more stable rolling through chunk, faster and more fluid on janky descents. My shorter legs don't have any issues with 29er wheels when the rear wheel isn't moving upwards and I can generate enough power to turn over the larger hoop up hills. That's for where I live and how I ride with a combination of terrain, weather, and riding surfaces made by nature and people. For many other places I've ridden, the faster acceleration and directional changes of the smaller rear wheel would be a winner on the hardtail as well.

These are the same local experiences that led me to seek out hardtails with significantly longer wheelbases, and slacker head tube angles (HTA), many years ago. My own personal rig is closer in Reach and top tube length to the XL Chameleon than the large I've been riding. The number I focus on is wheelbase and even with the Chameleon at full-long, my rig is more stable and more balanced. That said, I think at 5'9" the large Chameleon is the right choice for me and I can also appreciate - depending on terrain and application - how a slightly taller rider would choose an XL for janky trail riding and someone even taller may choose a medium for hitting pumps & jumps.

The most negative thing I'll say about the Chameleon - MX or 29er - is that Santa Cruz shorted their customer base by at least two, if not three, size options. There should be an extra small with a Reach in the 400mm range, there should be an XXL with a Reach in the 520mm range, and I think there's a strong case for bumping the XL Reach up to 500mm, the Large to 480mm, adding a Medium-Large at 460mm, shrinking the Medium to 440m and then keeping the Small at 420mm. That would make seven sizes from 400mm to 520mm Reach in 20mm increments. Add in a some size specific variation for chainstay length on top of the adjustable dropouts and vary the seat tube angle in 1/2° increments from 73° for the XS to 76° for the XXL and things are getting exciting.

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The bar, stem, grips, and pedals are mine. I really started to get along with the Chameleon MX when I swapped to my faster engaging wheelset with more aggressive tires and CushCore inserts. I covered that in Part II.

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The NX shifting was okay, though it has really cemented for me that below GX Eagle, Shimano is eating SRAM's lunch in terms value and performance. This should be a Deore bike. More on the spec in Part I. Photo: Deniz Merdano

Marketing, Part Deux

Surly does it with skinny steel tubes and beards. Kona does it by supporting an interesting group of riders and celebrating them regularly. In this case 'it' is very big bicycle businesses creating dynamic 'small brand' energy that says they're about making great products and having fun. With its recent purchases, Santa Cruz Bicycles parent company Pon is now the biggest bike company in the world. I think the biggest challenge that SCB will have going forward is keeping their unique edge honed when it's so easy to just be another big, boring, bicycle brand like Giant or Trek. Not saying the latter brands aren't making excellent bikes. In fact I'd believe you if you said that Trek's engineering investment per bike is the highest in the industry, but I don't think I'm in left field discussing relative appeal here.

In my first look at the Chameleon MX, I highlighted SCB's Five Riders' Rides, which I thought was a sweet effort to showcase the "blank slate" potential of the Chameleon frame. I played around with a lot of potential builds looking at going from a frame-only or buying a complete NX or GX-level Chameleon and I think the potential here is in building some really cool rigs from a frame or a complete bike. It ends up being quite similar to Surly and Kona, in that a rider on a tight budget may not be buying this bike because there are stronger complete values on the market. And yet, someone who currently can't afford a custom build could, with a vision towards future upgrades, enjoy it as a starting point that's rideable from day one.

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I feel that most folks buying a complete Chameleon MX won't be planning to put the spec on ice. It's a very upgradeable bike that has a vibe that says "personalize me" but there are much better value builds out there for hardtails with similarly good geometry for someone who just wants to ride their bike as it came out of the box.

No mention of Santa Cruz Bicycles' marketing efforts would be complete without a link to my all-time favourite piece of mountain bike marketing, the Carbon Chameleon - There's Something in Our Aisles video. I was thinking about it the other day when I was working on getting this Chameleon MX back to stock and I can't help but feeling that SCB really missed an opportunity with this latest Chameleon. How about having JT Barse and the whole team doing a custom-cover of the NOFX song Linoleum ("my closest friend aluminum"), or maybe even a little Lukas Graham ("you don't know what it's like, aluminum"), or hit me with your best idea!

Slider Rider

The one factor that I think adds to this bike's value is the very well-integrated sliding dropouts. These cost significantly more to produce that just welding a set of fixed vertical dropouts onto a frame. Large-and-rigid sliding dropouts will often harm ride quality compared to smaller and simpler dropouts but that's not the case with the Chameleon. As with the past generation aluminum frame, this has a nicer ride quality than many "steel is real" rigs I've ridden. And yes, that matters less and less as I deflate my 2.6" rubber to the lower pressures that CushCore makes possible, but keeping with the MB-1 theme, I think it could matter to someone who is also planning to throw some lightweight XC rubber on this bike and race it around a closed course.

I love the potential for sliding dropouts, both for riders to experiment themselves with how much a centimeter of wheelbase adjustment changes the ride of a bike, and because it opens up the potential to easily try single-speeding for a minimal investment. If those options don't interest you then I'd skip the added weight, cost, and complexity and buy a frame with vertical dropouts welded in place.

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The Chameleon's sliding dropouts are not as quick to adjust as some others but they're intuitive and do a great job of holding the wheel in place once they're tightened down. A great option for anyone who is a single-speeder, or single-speed curious, as well as those who would like to experiment with chainstay length adjustments.

No Hard Feelings

I was on the Chameleon MX when I stepped backwards and ruptured my Achilles. It wasn't a mountain biking accident so much as it was an accident and I happened to have a mountain bike with me, and while I absolutely "last lapped" myself that's not the Chameleon's fault. Because of my injury there is some unfinished business I never made happen. I would have loved to have gotten my hands on the right size of 9point8 SLACK-R angleset to try the Chameleon with a 150mm fork, up from the stock 130mm, with the HTA kicked out another 1.5°.

When I ride another hardtail, I ask myself, "what if my bike was stolen tomorrow?" While I love my custom Waltworks, it could easily take a year to get a replacement, so what stock bike would I ride in the meantime? I like the ride quality of the Chameleon. The stays are much shorter than my Walt, but they are on most bikes and a 437mm rear center, at full-long, isn't stupid-short. I could add a 29+ wheel and a RSD 510mm rigid fork and order it with both the 29" and the MX dropouts to mix-match wheels and dropouts to my heart's content. A tall, 120mm Durolux EQ combined with the SLACK-R headset and the 29+ wheel would be within my happy range. I love the Lego-yellow colour as well and it would certainly fit with my MB-1 lifestyle, at least until my replacement Cosmic-Lilac custom was available.

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The Fox Rhythm fork was disappointing. I know they're much better with a rebuild and the good Fox/SKF Low-Friction seals so I'll recommend doing that upgrade before leaving the shop. At least the chassis us highly upgradeable, and a top-end GRIP2 RC2 damper would cost much less that flipping the fork and buying a higher end unit. Photo: Deniz Merdano

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These basic SRAM Guide-T brakes were at least as good as any Guide system I've used in terms of power but I'd still like to see brands spec.Code R brakes as their baseline on SRAM builds. If anyone actually feels over-braked they can drop a bunch of weight going to smaller rotors, and likewise folks that need a lot more stopping power will only have to bear the cost of larger rotors and adapters.

What I can say for certain, after riding the SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, Guide-T brakes, and basic Fox 34 Rhythm fork, is that I would most likely build my Chameleon from the frame up. It would cost more up front but I'd be happy. If I wanted a bike today and planned to upgrade over time that could be a slightly different story. I'd budget to rebuild the rear wheel with a faster engaging hub, swap the Guide-T brakes for some Magura Trail Sports, and service the fork right away with better quality Fox/SKF Low Friction seals. I'd consider upgrading the basic Rhythm fork with a Fox GRIP2 RC2 damper or Avalanche Racing SSD damper since either option, combined with fresh seals and a service, would come in cheaper than flipping my OE level fork and buying a better one, and the Rhythm 34 chassis is suitably stiff, especially on a hardtail and at 130mm travel.

I'd also be looking to swap out the stem and bar for my preference, and the stock rear tire would be a summer affair only. Compared to starting with a frame and building up from scratch, I'm probably still ahead value wise buying the complete, at least if I'm planning to have a multi-speed drivetrain for the bike. I talked more about spec in Part II, so I'm going to leave it at that aside from the final caveat; I'd choose the Chameleon - complete or as a frame - over most off-the-shelf hardtails even if they did have nicer parts for less money. Value here is going to come down to what you value in your mountain bike.

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Foot out, get out. Apologies for the lack of cool, janky, descending shots. As you can see it would have been the perfect day to bag some dank North Shore photos with the Lego-yellow Chameleon in the foreground. Photo: JacVenture

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If I needed a new hardtail tomorrow, this would be on my shortlist, with the wheelbase run long, 9point8 Angleset installed, and I'd choose a large after spending a day or two wondering if I could ride an XL. Photo: JacVenture

I don't tend to gravitate to the faster, smoother, more pumpy flow trails where a shorter and steeper bike, even speaking relatively, is more fun than my personal hardtail with a wheelbase that competes with some of my friends' DH bikes. I don't dirt jump and I only hit the pump track with my kid or in the middle of the night after a few wobbly pops, when the long wheelbase stability is nice to have. I love mullet/MX full-suspension bikes, but if I was buying a hardtail it would have dual 29" wheels.

And I know that all sounds fairly 'meh' but I'm persnickety, especially when it comes to hardtails and min-maxing my budget. And within my MB-1 framework, for the single-speed or adjustable-chainstay curious rider looking for a frame or a very upgradeable rig with a nice ride quality, I'd recommend the newest aluminum Chameleon and Chameleon MX. Whether you read this and see value in this 2950 USD | 3850 CAD R-level complete bike or 950 USD | 1350 CAD frame is going to depend on your own needs and, I think, whether you're adding to a fleet of rigs or looking for one mountain bike to do it all, or complement something very different like a DH sled. Everyone I know who rode the last generation of the aluminum Chameleon is a fan of their bike, and I suspect that in any conversation that goes beyond min-maxing parts-spec per dollar, this latest Chameleon will be a winner as well.

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Comments

realtortechguy
realtortechguy
4 months ago
+7 Andrew Major Cr4w Vik Banerjee nothingfuture FlipSide Ryan Mammal

Well written as always.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Ryan

Merci!

Reply

enduroExpert78
Rick M
4 months ago
+3 Geof Harries Andrew Major Lynx .

My Surly KM fills this role:

Steel HT

120-130 mm fork (rigid fork at the ready)

Sliding dropouts

Dropper post

Plus sized wheels/tires

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+3 Geof Harries Andrew Major Lynx .

My Krampus (with -2 headset) is pretty damn close as well.  I would take some slightly more progressive geo but that's being picky.  If I had to choose between the Krampus and Murmur, the Murmur would have to go even tho it's a fantastic bike.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Damn. When did you start believing in the Starling fallacy?! Surely the perfect choice of pivot location combined with the choice of steel and shed-based manufacturing makes them better hardtails than hardtails?!?! 

Hahahahahaha

How about splitting the difference in the geo though? Krampus with the HTA kicked out -6*.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Lynx .

Do you mean when did I "stop believing in the Starling Fallacy"?  But to further the Fallacy - yes the correct position of pivots combined with a special shock tune (even OLEO Nitro Shox) and Special Shed Sauce would make a Starling far more suitable than a HT.

Joking aside - I'd love a HT with the geo splitting the difference between my two bikes.  

The Krampus is such a versatile bike I couldn't part with it.  Sorry Starling...  now if Starling made a HT like the Chameleon I would be all over it.

Also if I rode a Murmur in London it would be stolen in 2 seconds regardless of lock.

Reply

mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have a Karate Monkey with a 120mm fork. I'm 5'9" and I've done the math: a large would never really fit me right. I have a put a 70mm stem on it and it's still a bit cramped. 

While it suits my needs, I can see why it would not appeal to a lot of people: the compact geometry. I could never seem Andrew riding one, with his love of long wheelbases. the KM is a short, nimble little bike. the reach on the medium is what most modern manufacturers would call "extra small". putting an angleset on it or a longer fork would make the reach even smaller and the BB so high in the air as to be ridiculous. I would not want to put a longer fork on it for this reason, but some people make it work. it works for me, but I'm thinking about getting something roomier.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm 6'1" and on a L Krampus OG.  It's got a shiort reach (~440) and slack ESTA but has a similar butt to bar as my 515r Murmur.  If I were after a new HT it would have a longer reach and steeper STA.  I'm running a -2 in mine and wouldn't ride it without.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Just FYI, an angleset will lower the BB slightly, and assuming the lower cup is a similar height the lower front will bring the reach back close to even.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months ago
+3 Andrew Major kcy4130 Lynx .

I'd be fine with a single hardtail mountain bike as my only bike. If the rules allow I'd have 2 wheelsets for road/gravel & trail tires ready to go. Also perhaps a rigid fork and suspension fork option. With external routing and sliders I'd be able to convert from 1x11 to SS as my stoke dictated. Mudhugeger fenders and a rear rack that can go on/off easily. Enough room in the frame for a half-framebag and a bottle.

Of the bikes I own that would be my custom Daambuilt. If I was buying a new production bike it would probably be something like the Pipedream Sirius.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Yeah, with the right cable setup it’s so fast to go from single to multi-speed and back or swap from rigid to suspension.

I think one one is to go with bosses/clips for mounting. Then you aren’t going through a million zip-ties a year. 

———

Hardtail crowd is out. Where’s the folks pedaling a DH bike from home and up to the trails?! I know they’re out there.

Reply

Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I have to admit, although I still can't justify the insane cost of my GX AXS derailleur, now I have it, the ease of switching to single speed and back to geared makes me smile everytime!

Reply

rainozeros
rainozeros
4 months ago
+3 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee boomforeal

You nailed it with this story! I have always had this issue of being torn between different  bikes like many of us. So far I have settled with a OnOne BigDog  Hardtail as my MB1. I use it in many different configurations. From mile muncher to XC rig to mullet trail banger- it ticks a lot of boxes.   It is very versatile, but I only wish it had sliders.    

In most cases my Swarf Contour FS stays home,  since a hardtail seems to be the better choice for me.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Lynx .

Sliders, not JUST for single speeding.

Wish more companies could figure it out. But in my experience some bike designers - charging just as much for overseas steel frames as SCB charges for the Chameleon - can’t grasp it. 

Yes, dedicated #1FG riders, and even #1FG curious riders, and even “I might try it one time for kicks” #1FG is a small, small market but the ability for riders to adapt their chainstay lengths to their preference and try different things is awesome.

And I know they add monies but Kona is selling $700 CAD frames with great sliders in aluminum and steel. So if in doubt use theirs.

Reply

gdharries
Geof Harries
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

My Kona Explosif was this bike. I rode it at the bike park, commuting, trail riding and gravel. Although, the Bomber Z2 was never removed. I also rode it geared and SS.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Great machine. I had mine mulleted with a shorter travel fork and loved that.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
4 months ago
+3 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee yardrec

Another good follow up piece Andrew, well thought out comments to truly help people "understand" this bike. Personally though, if I'm buying frame only HT and on a budget, I'm definitely picking up a Kona UNIT for <$700, which gives me the option of going rigid at that price or then picking a nice sus fork and having the option of swapping depending on what ride I'm doing. If I want slacker, an external cup and/or angleset will do the trick and a second wheelset adds even more versatility to have an XC setup and a more Trail focused with fatter and burlier rubber/inserts.

Don't really think the Chameleon offers anything substantial over said Unit, or Monkey or any one of the many other HT/Rigid frames out their with adjustable drop outs.

Here's a pic of my beauty now, waiting patiently until things get a bit more back to normal and work does the same, right now, still very slow here, but when it does, I'm going to grab one of the Rough Cut dampers for my Trace fork and run it at 100mm on the Unit. Right now I run "her" Dingle Speed upfront with a 32t & 36t ring and swap between depending on the trails, and climbing.

My Unit

My 2018 Unit

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee

MB-1.... 

For me it's gotta be a HT as I need to commute on it.  It also needs to be singlespeedable (without tensioner) as I've dabbled in SS and like the option to mix it up.  Preferably it would be steel but i'll take Al.  Lastly it needs to have reasonable geo although not to progressive.

At £799 the Chameleon is an intereting frame only option.  It ticks most of the boxes above.  It's slight more expensive than something like a Cotic or Stanton but they aren't SS compatible and it's slightly less than a custom which start at around £1000.  Therefore it's a very appealing option.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

One more nice thing in the Chameleons camp - although it matters much less with big tires - is the frame has a nice ride quality. I’ve owned/ridden steel and Ti frames that are much harsher. 

I like that the bike sort of turns that steel-for-hardtails thing on its head a bit - noting that I do own a steel hardtail.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

It's the first Al hardtail that has interested me in a long time.  Steve at Hardtail Party gave it a good review as well.  The only thing that sways me in favour of steel is repairability and ease of.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Steel certainly wins for ease of manufacturing (less processing/processes) making it small-builder friendly, repairability, and environmentally - steel bikes should last longer and require the least energy to recycle when the day comes.

Aluminum wins on weight and overall frame strength-to-weight - which matters to many folks - without going the plastic-fantastic route. Still very easy to recycle. I know a few folks who had aluminum frames repaired BITD but it was never a long term solution. I don’t know if a big company, say Trek or SCB, could reliably repair aluminum frames if they were motivated to setup to do so.

Reply

eriksg
eriksg
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Steel's ease of construction (aka. the built-in-a-shed factor) is a big win in my book. I watched Steve's review of the Santa Cruz with great interest, but when I was looking to add a second HT for my wife to ride it didn't really come into the finals because it didn't fit some of those intangibles we were looking for.

This is not quite the spirit of MB-1 but I think I've largely found a set of components I'd be happy with on any trail/AM frame +/- a rear shock. If I added a second personal bike to my Stanton it'd be a full sus frame that I'd swap parts onto for half the year, and then swap back. I do envy Steve's ability to A/B test so many frames back to back with the same parts too--I'd love to be able to do the same just to learn more about geo and frame feel.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 eriksg

Re. components. I know a couple folks who have a hardtail and a dual sus with 100% swappable parts. They’d say cannibalizing them back and forth keeps them riding during service etc.

JBC
Jordan Drew
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae

I have kinda wanted a moderate "all trail" (lol) 29er for some time. Just picked up a 2015 Transition Trans Am 29 frame with a -1.5 Angleset that should fit that bill nicely, and hopefully for less than the $1350 CAD  a Chameleon frameset costs once It's complete.  

MB-1? If I can keep my Road, CX, and commuter bikes, I would probably stick with a full squish, all mountain MTB. In some Hellish dystopian alternate reality I could only have just one bike though, I think it would have to be something similar to the Chameleon. It would be about the right ammount of compromise to handle the mix of "gravel" and MTB that makes up the majority of my recreational cycling, while also being relatively sensible to commute on.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Mammal

Hahahaha… with many months left with no bike riding look forward to many more “hellish dystopian alternate reality articles.”

Next up, if you HAD to ride fresh examples of the Panaracer Magic, WTB Velociraptor, or Kona Scratch & Sniff, in the original rubber compounds, in a 26/27/29 x 2.1 this season what would you choose and why?!

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gdharries
Geof Harries
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

WTB all the way. That is, unless they are switched out last minute for Nanorapotors.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

HAHAHAHA. Yeah, that would have been my first choice too.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Or had to ride DH in 80s Euro lycra or XC in early 00s DH kit...

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craw
Cr4w
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

You could give the Chameleon a MB1 paint and decal job. That would be something.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

That would be cool… but really needs to be a steel frame with a straight seat tube… Kona Unit maybe!?!

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craw
Cr4w
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Eventually your Waltworks will need a fresh paint job. Maybe that will be the time!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Maybe my V1 will. My V2 is a powder coat and when it needs fresh I'll probably just get it powdered Cosmic Lilac again.

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craw
Cr4w
4 months ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

Eventually your Waltworks will need a fresh paint job. Maybe that will be the time!

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smoochy
Max Nodwell
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee

Vik mentioned the Sirius, and a.funks is talking Moxie, so I'll share my one-and-only here.

Big fork, big reach, big weight, and big fun.

In my many years of searching for Isildur's bane, I have landed on a few potential candidates (depending on the needs of the time), including a mid-2000's Norco Torrent, an early generation Salsa Fargo, a Giant STP, a couple of rigid single speeds, a Rootdown and a Titanium Surface. 

After a bit of fit fiddling and adaptation, the Moxie has taken the crown out of left field. Indescribably smooth, comfortable, stable and inspiring both uphill and down. A reach to seat-tube/stand-over ratio that actually understands what hardtails need. Stack that keeps my neck and shoulders happy. Wheelbase to keep me planted - unless I don't wanna be.

Good fit = more comfort = more confidence = more speed = more fun = the one.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

That's a heck of an endorsement! I like the green too. Can't tell from your photo, but where do you run your sliders? There's about 1.5cm of adjustment?

That's totally a hardtail that could fit in my MB-1 box. The seat tube angle is really steep (77.5° static?!) on paper so I'd have to mullet it, over-fork it, and/or find a dropper post with a lot of setback. I haven't been able to wrap my head around why companies are going so steep for hardtail STAs (I can understand the various motivations with FS bike), but stoked it works for you.

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a.funks
a.funks
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee

The Moxie seat tube angle isn’t as steep in reality as the chart claims - I realised this when I saw these pics on bike radar:

Cotic BFeMAX @ 150mm

BFeMAX

Pipedream Moxie @ 160mm

Moxie

So I emailed Pipedream and they said that @140mm the actual seat angle is 72.5 deg and that at my ~750mm saddle height the virtual seat tube angle would be ~75.25 deg. So with a 160mm fork it would be ~74.25 deg.

That was a costly bit of information because I then couldn’t think of a reason to not buy one…

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smoochy
Max Nodwell
4 months ago
+2 Andy Eunson Lynx .

Regarding the seat tube - Yes, the effective STA shift is correct in practice too - I am also not a fan of steep STAs (an odd development in progressive hardtail design that I think has gone way too far)  and it is striking how much the seat tube kink corrects for what the Geo chart shows relative to other hard tails (most recent example is from a small local company out of Whistler, something about Chrome, or Mags, can’t quite remember).

The net “knee feel” when seated is more relaxed, I don’t feel pushed onto (and fighting against) the handlebars, and the saddle doesn’t get jammed in my jammer - over all result is that seated pedalling on flat or uphill terrain is comfortable and more efficient.

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andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

Exactly how I find it too. I have the previous generation aluminum Chameleon with a 150 fork. I’m short but I extended the drops all the way back. It rides better. People throw out the word "progressive " all the time but what the hell does that really mean? Steep seat tube angles on a hardtail are just plain stupid. I think the steep seat tube angles have come about because people want a long reach but the same top tube length and short stays because apparently riding with your butt on top of the rear wheel is "playfull".

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

Yeah, I mentioned it in my 2nd piece but if I was designing the Chameleon it would have a straight seat tube and the chainstay length would start at the current mid point. Can’t have it all…

stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

These look lovely but they don't cater for taller riders (6ft 5in), I need a stack height of at least 650mm but 660mm would be ideal!

The only hardtails that I've found are Ragley Big Al (my current bike) and Banshee Paradox v3 (yum!)

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gdharries
Geof Harries
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Steven Hambleton

Yeah, the Paradox looks to be properly sized in the XL version. Adequate stack, reach and seat tube length for tall people.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Steven Hambleton

I really, really, hope there's a version of the Paradox in the future with sliders. I understand that a ton of focus has been put into the ride quality of that frame and there's concern the slider system will add stiffness, but it just would fit so well with Banshee's nerd-brand status. 

And yes, as noted in the piece - I think Santa Cruz is missing 3x sizes for this frame.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

That's great info; thanks for sharing - puts it squarely in my happy place then!

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smoochy
Max Nodwell
4 months ago
0

Sliders are about 1/2-way back right now - they started at full slam and that was fine, although Moxie’s aren’t known for their tire clearance at shortest stay setting. I pulled them back as far as I could go with my current chain length, and when I replace the chain, I will be pulling them all the way back.

So far, I would say the longer stays feel great. It’s a little hard to tease out the effect of my own improved comfort and adaptation to the bike, or the shift alone, but the longer slider position seems more balanced with respect to how the wheels react to the ground on the way down, and, as described by Sam at Naked, there’s more lever or rocker from front-to-back, so the rear wheel shares the fork suspension a little more smoothly (if that makes sense).

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skooks
Skooks
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee

If I could only have one MTB it would have to be a full-suspension rig. My Knolly Chilcotin/Warden/Fugitive were my only bikes for many years, and I never wished for anything else. Added a Knolly Tyaughton hardtail recently just to have something different to ride, and I love it. Perfect geometry in my opinion, and handles any trails I want to ride.  If I had to pick one bike (shudder), it would definitely be the full-squish.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major yardrec

FWIW - there are so many ways to add a bottle or two to a frame that it shouldn't really be a deal breaker for someone if they are stoked about the rest of the frame.  My Pipedream Sirius has mounts for 1 bottle, but I could carry 4 without breaking a sweat. If I wanted more volume I could make some of them 1L or 1.5L bottles.

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olaa
olaa
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'd have to go with my FS Crossworx if I had to choose only one bike for where I live. The hardtail is nice but mainly a complement to the fs.

The Chameleon is one of the nicest-riding frames i've had, I had an alu frame when it was re-launched (in 2017?). So smooth, but that first iteration didn't have the geo quite sorted. The Moxie that came after had most of the geo, but it was quite a bit harsher. The new custom hardtail show promise after a couple of rides, with some of the lively feel of the Chameleon and the up-to-date geo of the Moxie.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

This rides just as nice as the previous generation but with current-enough geo, without getting away from being a Jack-of-all Chameleon. It’s subtle.

What did you go with for a custom rig?

I suspect most folks I know locally, even if they live their hardtail, would choose an FS for their single, MB-1, bike.

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olaa
olaa
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Nice! Glad they kept a good alu version as well.

I got a frame from a small french builder called Egérie. Saw some frames he had built for Scott employees, for trying out various geo and flex profiles, that looked good. I wanted something close to the Moxie geo, but with more lateral stiffness around the bb area and less stiff vertically. He said that it should be feasible, so there we are. And since he is starting out with the frame building, the frame was fairly priced. Also, as a bonus i could get a colour matched Formula fork :)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

That’s cool, from the rabbit hole it looks like he also restores vintage motorcycles? Here’s the link to the mountain bike site for anyone interested.

I like the tact of calling the hardtails “semi-rigide” as a way of distinguishing a design philosophy. FS bikes look interesting too.

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olaa
olaa
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Mammal

Yup, he has built quite a few nice motorcycles! But right now he was fully booked with orders for bike frames, so that is his focus at the moment. Got to go ski touring with him when I picked up the frame so got some time to talk about the whole frame building business, amongst other things. A healthy amount of bike nerding and some good stories about alpine bike rides. Always good to know that the frame builder rides a ton, and can test the products properly.

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olaa
olaa
4 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
4 months ago
+1 Tremeer023

In Australia -

Santa Cruz Chameleon frame: AU$2,249

Ragley Big Al frame: AU$599

I could buy a Big Al frame, Hope headset, Nukeproof stem, and a Pike Ultimate fork and *still* be under the Chameleon frame price!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

That’s a big spread. Lots of examples of world-wide pricing discrepancies - suspension is a big one - and we can’t list them all.

Ragley doesn’t do anything with sliders - which is a must for me. How does something like a Kona Honzo frame compare price wise in AUD?

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stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
4 months ago
0

I cannot for any for sale in Australia at all! Going by their full build prices, I'd say around $1,200 for a frame.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

interesting. So around 1100 CAD. What accounts for the difference? Higher wages in Australia certainly. Extra tariffs on bikes? Just the cost of shipping there? Although you’d think these frames would go straight from Asia. 

Never have really thought about it before but folks I worked with from Australia and New Zealand would always take their bikes home and flip them there after our summer.

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stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

All of the above! Plus we're a small market compared to the US and UK. Also building a bike from frame up is annoying here due to Shimano/SRAM geoblocking so we're forced to pay higher prices for a lot of stuff.

Also, our dollar is a bit weaker these days. If it every does get anywhere close to parity then those flipping days may be back!

PS. I hope your achilles is healing well :)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Thanks Steven, me too! I get to see a Dr at the end of the week so I will hopefully know how I’m doing then. Down to one shim in my boot and starting to dream of taking the thing off to sleep - hopefully one more month to the start of the weening process!

Pnwpedal
Pnwpedal
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I did the MB-1 thing on a Chromag, and I honestly miss it. It was a economical decision for me but also a pride decision... The old bmxer mindset that I could ride anything on one bike and make it work. And I did, until I didn't. The main reason was that I pushed past the comfort level on faster choppy trails to the point where my feet were hurting after each ride. I reluctantly bought a squishy AM/Enduro and love the ride but I've also spent WAY too much time working on it. It needs a few hours of work now just to be ready and I missed our PNW "false spring" window since it's snowing here again. As if by fate, I am back on the Chromag for my only rides since I converted it to a more gravel/XC build which is fun on the lower elevation hiking trails.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Pnwpedal

So the follow up - and I’ll wait for Marty to walk by before I say this - is could you get the same MB-1 experience as the Chromag as, say, a simple single pivot FS bike with a coil shock? Say an Orange… or even a Starling. 

I love my hardtail and riding #1FG but I can see how my MB-1 being an FS bike would make sense absent my love of 1xSpeeding.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+3 Cam McRae Andrew Major Mammal

Walking by slowly enough to overhear....

A single pivot like an Orange would make a great MB-1 bike if you were only riding dirt*.  Coil for DH days, air for long pedalling days and you're good to go.  I've been running my Murmur at 120/120 and it's surprisingly efficient.

*and obviously a Starling.

** any commuting and I've gotta go with a HT and light fast tyres.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

I don't even see myself not owning a commuter bike of some sort. The roads around here just get so nasty and I don't clean my bikes that regularly. We'll see how I feel when V1 comes back though as that beautiful Toxik-Harald painted dirty-fade is going to be doing the gravel/commuter/light trail miles. 

Actually, that would be the bike - with a second wheelset with 2.8" Vigilantes on CushCore - that would be my MB-1 if I had to choose JUST one bike. 

But no, I always see my mountain bike - as much as I ride to the trails - being a complement to my commuter so knobby tires, slack-slack HTA, and whether it's FS or hardtail matters a lot less than in a conversation that's also about commuting. 

If it wasn't for my love of single-speeding I could be talked into having an FS bike as my MB-1 rig. It's just my single-speed full-suspension projects have all been meh to date.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

For me commuting is train into London, site visits and then back home - I'm up for 53 miles tomorrow (with the option of bailing onto a training needed).  A road / gravel bike would be great but not as versatile as the Krampus with road tyres etc.  Maybe one day a dedicate commuter will be on the cards.

We mostly ride to the trails but it's only a mile or so from home till you get to bridalways etc so FS is fine for MTB.

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Pnwpedal
Pnwpedal
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I haven't necessarily ridden the newest coil shocks on anything pedally... But I could see this working with a shock like a DHX2 that has a climb switch. Single pivot with big bearings would be lower maintenance (as long as the frame was straight enough to not eat through shock eye bushings).

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DogVet
Hugo Williamson
4 months ago
0

Precisely! Orange Switch Six, does everything for me in the Uk. ( I live in the north west UK, close to Welsh hills, so need a bit more travel than Marty who lives in the relatively flat south) plus a FS E bike, which is exquisitely expensive to run!!

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

You don't even need FS down here in the south as the drop is so small.

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a.funks
a.funks
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

The idea of having lots of bikes just confuses me! Used to ride a hardtail for everything - Cotic Soul with 140mm forks , 1x10 and a Gravity Dropper. Then added a full-sus (Banshee Spitfire) and slacked out a Bird Zero AM 150mm 27.5 hardtail as a LLS upgrade to the Soul. When I got a Levo the Spitfire proved one bike too many and was sold - so the Levo gets ridden without power when I’m with a group or with power on my own. 

I also commute on the Levo, across a hilly city with some cheeky trails and urban features to liven up my journeys - sometimes I use the hardtail but it’s never as much fun for that.

The Zero AM is about to be replaced with a Pipedream Moxie - excited to go to 29” wheels, back to steel and hopefully better geometry (not quite as low, slacker, bigger reach and stack and longer chainstays with sliding dropouts) for my needs (I’ve been thinking about replacing the Zero for years, it was really just a mule for a custom steel hardtail).

The sliding dropouts have sucked me into singlespeed madness - ordered the parts do that and initially I’ll be building it up as a singlespeed. A 160mm hardtail is a fairly silly bike at the best of times so why not go all the way?!!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

If you do a thoughtful job with your cable routing and are handy with a cassette tool and chain whip then swapping between single-speed and multi-speed setups can easily get down under five minutes if you're not swapping chainrings at the same time. I've never had an issue reusing quick-links over and over for the life of a chain. 

If you're running two rear wheels it's even faster. 

I totally get that #1FG is not for everyone all the time, but it'll certainly keep trails fresh and even running a fairly low gear like I do it'll work you on the rides you'd normally just spin along. Do fire me a message and let me know if you have any single-speed setup questions. I only offer because I get a fair amount of inquiries from single-speed-curious riders.

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Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

May I ask what ratio you are using? I'm running a 34/22 and it's about right for everything local, but for one steep short climb, it's a feature that only about 50% of local riders can make it up geared but I'm getting closer everytime! I couldn't deal with the road rode back from the trail of I pushed any lower a gear...

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Single-speed gearing depends on a ton of stuff, and the ride-to-your-ride is absolutely a factor. There's fitness, bike weight (my SS is well over 30lbs with big tires and CushCore inserts), and choice of trails. For example, I gear my bike for one of the nastiest (sustained) local single-track climbs but if I only rode that climb on multi-speed bikes I could go with a higher gear on my #1FG bike. I've also found that I like oval rings for single-speeding but usually 2x teeth smaller than round rings. 

Depending on my bikes over the years I've run 29'ers on the Shore from 33:21 (lightweight build, fast XC tires, clipped in) to my current setup on the Walt V2 with an oval ring 28:22 (2.8" rubber with inserts). I still ride to my rides it just takes me a bit longer to get there - and let's face it mountain bike gearing on the road always sucks. 

Anyway - what works for you is the best! I wrote a piece on the subject called Let Go Your Ego  if you're interested!

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Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Thanks!! I'll check out the piece you wrote.

I'm very new to single speed so it's great to hear from those with experience!

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Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

karakoram
Ryan
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Great article! Curious on your thoughts of the Chameleon, the new Salsa Timberjack, and the Specialized Fuse. All have sliding dropouts and progressive geometry. I have a 490 A2C rigid fork, think that would set any of these into the weird geometry zone (steep HTA, too steep seat)?

Cheers!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Ryan

All of those bikes would probably be fine with a 490mm fork, especially with a 29+ front wheel for “suspension.” That said, I’d be grabbing an RSD 510mm or going custom personally. If anything I’d like it a bit taller than sagged geo.

Haven’t seen a Timberjack in person. Or actually, any current (not steel) Salsa frame. The Fuse is a great looking machine in the same all-rounder geometry vein as the Chameleon. Specialized’s aluminum manufacturing and ride quality is excellent, so while I haven’t ridden a Fuse off-road I’d have high expectations.

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lookseasyfromhere
lookseasyfromhere
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Re: rigid forks, a new, inexpensive, long-ATC option is Bird's cro-mo 505mm fork for roughly $150.

https://www.bird.bike/product/bird-blank-rigid-forks-505mm-a2c-1320g/

I haven't ordered one yet, but it's on my shortlist of things to get for my DragonSlayer.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

That looks great for the money! Thanks for sharing.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I want to replace my Karate Monkey with something a bit more modern in geo, designed around a 100-120mm fork (most everything is built around monster 140+ forks), and singlespeedable. short sub-430mm chainstays are my preference. my first choice after exploring everything I can find is the Esker Japhy, but Andrew's love of the Chameleon has me considering not buying something steel for the first time.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major yardrec

Steve at Hardtail Party has some great ideas. He's one person, though. his terrain is nothing like mine, as Sedona is 900 miles away.

that Marin looks fine, but where's the dropout adjustment for singlespeed? I've used a few tensioners over the years and they're all horrible. I have zero interest in putting gears on my bike. I've tried it and it was boring to me.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 yardrec

Absolutely has to have sliders of some kind!

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
0

Jonathan, apologies my geographical knowledge of the south / south west US is poor at best.  Let us know know what you end up with as it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
+1 Jonathan Nolte

Go custom if you can afford

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+2 Andrew Major eriksg

I appreciate all the responses here. I confess that my struggle to find the right bike has nothing to do with bikes and everything to do with the current state of my mental health. I apologize for giving you all a hard time and I can't thank you enough for playing along. when I get my life back from work and school, maybe I'll find the will to ride my bike again and maybe like myself enough to buy something nice. owning that in front of strangers on the internet is scary, but hopefully it helps someone with similar struggles.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Zero stress, it’s a great discussion about modifying bikes and I think there’s value in multiple viewpoints. I just don’t like manufacturers making a big deal out of stuff that’s not a big deal (you know, like drilling a hole for a Stealth Dropper when that’s exactly what they’re going to do).

When it comes to the vast majority of folks commenting here I wouldn’t think of them as total strangers. The odd troll wanders through but in general this community is awesome at disagreeing about stuff and holding each other accountable in a polite way. I wish more of the internet was like NSMB.

Being a mountain biker who doesn’t have the time or passion or energy to ride is difficult. Been there. Don’t feel bad taking a break, the activity and community and trails will be waiting. As someone who can’t ride, and won’t be able to ride for a long time, if all you have the bandwidth to do is think about/talk about/write about bikes then that’s cool too! 

Cheers,

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I emailed Kona and the answer is still murky. I asked for a specific a-c limit on the Unit and they said "the max value is as noted" and "if your frame fails your warranty will be void." noted, meaning that a 100mm fork is the limit. that's not really an answer because it's not a specific measurement. however, I think it's safe to say that nearly every 29er fork with more than 100mm of travel will have an a-c that is longer than what they had in mind, so you'll be SOL if you break it.

Yeah, I just need a break. that's too bad, because the weather is perfect right now. nine months out of the year it close to 100° F (40°C) all day with high humidity. I can't break away from my studies though. I thought I was too old to go back to school, but my income is not even keeping up with the cost of living, let alone my bike habit.

Hope you're feeling better soon!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Lynx . Cam McRae

Cheers Jonathan, I can’t imagine being a student again. My little family and I live a tight but comfortable life and when I think of going to school, working for minimum wage, and how hard it was to pay bills sometimes and then look at what tuition is now, what rent is now, I feel like I got away with a crime by comparison. Really hope you come through it in a much better situation.

Thanks, it won’t be soon but it’s healing well the Dr says so I’m staying positive. It’s been a life experience for my whole family.

The other day, I was thinking about an interview I’d read in DirtRag with Jacquie Phelan where she shared her philosophy on such things, and I found it online. Wrote about about it and the other editorial (by Zap) that really affected my life/outlook over on my blog if you’re interested.

Here’s the pertinent J.Phelan quote either way:

I’m the queen of making lemonade out of lemons. And, you know, there’s an awful lot of lemons, and lemonade is pretty damn good. And then if you get sick of that, there’s lemon curd, lemon pie, lemon tart, lemon sorbet…"

mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
0

LOL. If I could afford things like that, that would be obvious.

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eriksg
eriksg
4 months ago
+2 Jonathan Nolte Vik Banerjee

Pipedream Sirius S5? Vik has one, I don't, so I can't recommend it directly. Geo is definitely modern, chainstays seem to go as short as 425. Maybe more extreme than you want to go though when you say "a bit", but it's in my mind because I was looking at them recently.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

it's in the running, but I'm not sure it's the best tool for the terrain here in central Texas. I asked Vik about it and he agrees. it's also hot AF for nine months out of the year, so I carry a hydration pack and at least two water bottles. I've blown through a 3L pack and two 20 oz bottles in less than three hours. the lack of additional mounting points for at least two bottles is a big turnoff to me.

the biggest source of annoyance for me is that there's no way to test ride something like this. if I buy one, I'm financially committed for a year or two. that's a big committment. before anyone asks, yes, I have seen all of Hardtail Party's videos and they are somewhat useful. nothing will ever replace actually trying to ride a bike before buying.

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eriksg
eriksg
4 months ago
+2 Jonathan Nolte Andrew Major

Absolutely, there's a clear value to being able to test before putting down a bunch of money on a frame. Even having ride reviews from people you know or trust isn't a guarantee.

Hadn't considered the water bottle issue myself either. I ride with a pack typically and a 750ml bottle lasts me one to two hours depending on temperature.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 Lynx .

That’s phooey. The axle to crown of a nominal 120mm fork at 50% sag (where it’s going to sit, or even more/shorter, under hard braking loads down steep terrain) isn’t any taller than their rigid fork. 

Also, fork travel is a silly limiter since axle to crown heights vary a lot. My Durolux at 100mm is ~15mm taller than a 100mm Fox and my 100mm Mattoc Pro 29+ was even taller. A 120mm R7 is a similar A-to-C to the Fox but rides so high in its travel it might as well be a 140mm from other brands.

Anyways, I’d -2* a Unit and run a 120mm fork in a heartbeat. Insert some disclaimer about how I highly recommend you not do it at home and always consult a representative from the company before going ahead with any modifications.

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
4 months ago
+1 Lynx .

If you want to fit a second bottle, a Wolftooth B-rad 4 could get you there.

Lynx
Lynx .
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Absolutely agree with Andrew, A2C differences between brands and even model years can vary as much as 20mm, easily, so whoever at Kona told you that :-\

Another option I just came across this morning, looking for a friend, that I'd forgotten about, is the Marin PINE Mtn1. <$1600 US for the complete, only thing missing is a dropper, which can be added for another <$200 US. Have always liked these bikes and the people specing them out, are actually riders and thinking, really good min/max parts spec, looks DAMN AMAZING IMHO this year too, colourway I mean.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

Marin makes some excellent value, nicely manufactured, hard tails with great geo. They’d come up in all the hardtail articles IF they had sliders.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Just some thoughts on bottles/steel. 

Full custom is an upfront cost commitment for sure. It makes sense when there’s not something suitable on the market and you know what you’re chasing, and even then I have a V1 and V2. I had a fair few inquiries from riders last year planning a custom rig wondering if I had advice on getting it done with one.

Unit + Angleset either rigid or with a 120mm fork us the answer to many questions.

Another option is to buy an off-the-shelf steel rig and have bottle bosses added. Under the top tube. Two bottles on the down tube (like my Walt V2). Most (?) custom builders do repairs and add-one for steel frames. Adding bosses to a stock frame is relatively inexpensive.

mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
0

Kona specifically told me that putting a fork longer than 100mm would be off limits. The exact words were "the Unit maxes out with 100mm of travel." I assume they mean it would void the warranty because the headtube welds have not been tested to withstand the head tube angle that would result. that's too bad, too, because the go would have worked out in my favor. they told me to try to find a 2017 Honzo on ebay instead, because the current Honzo would suck with a lowered fork.

I asked all over the place about getting someone to add bottle cages to a steel CX frame a few years ago and I could not find anyone within 100 miles of Austin, TX who would touch it. I ended up doing it myself, but the frame was old enough that I didn't have a warranty to worry about. I free-handed two holes and crammed some rivnuts in there.

fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
0

Jonathan - have you spoken to Steve at HT Party.  He's in your neck of the woods (relatively speaking said from the other side of the Atlantic) and has ridden  a lot of HTs.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Yeah, I'm sure you're right Andrew, hence why I just contacted Marin with a link to this article and asking how come no sliding drop outs ;-)

mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months ago
0

A custom Marino will cost less than the SC Chameleon.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
-1 Joseph Crabtree

if you're willing to over-fork a bike after a company specifically told you not to, that's a risk for you. I've had a frame crack at the headtube while using the fork length for which it was designed. 120mm 29er Reba on a '16 Vassago Jabberwocky. fortunately caught it before it sheared off.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+2 Jonathan Nolte Greg Bly

I hear what you’re saying, and I’ve worked in bikes on the North Shore and surrounding locals, and ridden, since the bad old days so I’ve broken and seen plenty of broken stuff.

But, I say again, what 100mm fork? Axle to crown heights vary wildly. Let’s say it’s a specific Fox fork, say a current 34 Float. The difference in axle to crown height between a 100mm and 120mm fork with 20% sag is 16mm of A-to-C height. I’m personally not at all concerned about over forking a (heavy steel) bike by 16mm.

————

Rather than me feeling silly for running a slightly longer fork, I think whoever you talked to at Kona should feel silly about scaring you off over 1.6cm of fork length.

But what do I know - insert above disclaimer.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

Lynx
Lynx .
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Jonathan, think you've got that a bit off, pretty much every rigid 29er fork I've encountered stock, is 470mm. Either way, you mention wanting the ability to carry more bottles, so take a hard look at that Marin, the DT and TT have a crap ton of bottle bosses, depending on what size you need, expect you can fit at least 3 bottles in the front tri. 

Also, value for money, you don't get Shimano 12spd vs the Unit, but you do get a good sus fork instead of having to them turn around and buy one, only thing you need to add to the Marin is a dropper and you can find a good one now for under 200. Who ever spe'd that Marin knows a thing a=or 2 about bikes and what you need - has a 4 pot caliper upfront and well thought out, 11spd drivetrain parts.

mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
4 months ago
-1 Joseph Crabtree

I will ask them for a hard a-c limit. the Unit comes with a 470mm a-c rigid fork. most rigid forks are around 480mm, imitating a typical 100mm travel sagged 29er fork. there are some 490-500mm rigid forks on the market designed to imitate a 120-140mm fork at sag. If Kona gives me a hard NO, I can't afford to gamble and experiment with the structural integrity of the frame, not to mention my skull (as thick as it may be).

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YungSquab
Tommaso Gomez
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

just6979
Justin White
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

"a 1997 Giant ATX 890 hardtail"

Me too! Actually, not sure the model year, but I know I had it when I went to watch the 1997 Mt Snow World Cup races. Also in yellow, it's a Tomac Signature Edition, though not on purpose: it was what was in stock in my size when I ordered.

It actually started as a full rigid (chromed chro-mo fork FTW!), with STX-RC 3x7, and other parts from an MB-6, but pretty quickly got a Quadra 21R and then a Judy SL. I rode it exclusively until it was decommissioned in 2012, with Deore LX/XT 2x9 (2x because bash-guard), RockShox Dart (maybe?), Avid BB-7s with Avid Ultimate levers, and XT/RhynoLite wheels. Most of the parts were used to "upgrade" a Rocky Mountain Elevation

Until 2019 it was hanging in my home bike shop area, but I've recently started rebuilding it close-ish to original spec. Found new old stock (!) STX-RC hubs that I laced to fairly-period-correct Alex rims, a 26" rigid fork, 90mm Easton stem, 650mm Easton bars, and XT V-brakes. Now slowing collecting drivetrain bits (XT 9sp mech and cassette so far), though I might just toss on a modern crank, single ring, and thumb shifter, and go ride it. Just gotta order up some Panaracer Smoke & Dart Classic tires!

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fartymarty
fartymarty
4 months ago
0

Justin  - Photos please, I love old bikes.  I had matrs with 990s.  Those things were always broken but were awesome for the time.

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just6979
Justin White
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Best I have right now is a comparo to the RM that retired the Giant and took most of its parts, and a quite blurry (wow, phone cameras have come such a long way!) shot of it stuck in mud up to the pedals on one of its last rides. You can even catch a glimpse of the A2Z IS Disc Mount adapter*. That yellow beast took me far, and took everything (both new parts and crazy rides) I threw at it. I'll try to get some shots of the current build if I think of it.

*Despite the hose bosses specifically for hydraulic rim brakes, without a brake booster those ovalized seatstays were quite flexy even with just v-brakes. And though the disc mount was pretty janky, (for example if you grabbed a bunch of rear brake to keep from rolling back down a steep get-up that you just missed clearing, then the mount was likely to rotate backwards and pull on the QR skewer in weird ways), it was still worth it to get the consistency of a disc brake over flexy v-brakes.

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Shoreloamer
Greg Bly
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm a bit slow perhaps ADHD. MB1 . Bridgestone? The top end model I lusted over was the MB zipp. Or MB 0. It was sold out so I got the MB 2 .  Each tube was listed such as Tange ultralight and butting dimensions were also included.  I miss my MB 2. 

Oh yes a Fox 34 with an Avalanche upgrade.  Avy makes mid stroke support if that's your desire.  Coils in forks feel wonderful.! 

A quick search on SC website. This frame is life time warranty.  That puts a different spin on its value.  Ride this frame for five years or longer. I would. It's a sound investment.  Those are beefy sliding dropouts . I suspect they won't move from excessive pedal torque.  Cromag has a slightly more affordable frame with tabs for chain guides . A feature I appreciate. But no sliding drop outs . This a compromise to switch wheel size and wheel base .  

At 1300$ I would have to consider the many local frame builders . Wild Wood for example.  Probably 2000$ for a custom steel frame .  Which makes this frame rather appealing.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+2 Lynx . Greg Bly

It’s a great dropout system! Geo very well rounded. Lightweight frame without sacrificing durability. Really nice ride quality. It’s a Chameleon.

Warranty is interesting. I always say “who’s lifetime, mine or the bikes?” Actually been working on a piece about it. I’d love to see realistic warranties (say 5-10 years on a hardtail frame) but have them be transferable when a bike is sold. If you say the frame will last five years then it shouldn’t matter how many owners it has in that time.

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mnihiser
mnihiser
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

This week I've been shopping for a hardtail- before you get too involved in this it's best to check availability. Really like the Chameleon but at $2500 you get a lot of SRAM. Also liked the Honzo but I can't get the only local dealer to answer an email. Settled on a San Quentin 3 from an online dealer in California. Really wanted to try a 29er- I've never even ridden one- but already thinking of the mullet possibilities with the SQ. For now I just hope the bike makes it to Ohio unscathed.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

SQ is a great machine/value. Have my daughter on the 24” version. 

Mullet is definitely an option. Marin makes some great hardtail frames and excellent value bikes. Just wish they had sliding dropouts.

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mnihiser
mnihiser
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew- would love to see a write-up on your daughter's build. That is a cool looking bike!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 mnihiser

I've actually done four hits on it on my personal blog. If you hit number 4 here it has the full build. 

I should note the brakes were free as part of my favourite little bike charity. When you're upgrading for yourself be sure to Give The Gift Of Guides. They're perfect for kids - modulation, power, rebuildable with great parts available if they crash.

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boomforeal
boomforeal
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Living on the east coast, my one bike would have to be a/my fat bike. I’ve got a surly Wednesday with a 100mm bluto and 26 x 4.5” studded tires for the winter, 27.5 x 3” tires for summer. I just got a rigid fork for it for post-apocalyptic readiness and I am thinking of building a set of 29er wheels for longer/faster rides. It’s fun to ride in every guise I’ve tried so far, seems pretty strong, and has tons of braze on’s for fenders, racks, baskets, etc. Sliding dropouts to allow different wheel sizes, ride feels, and gearing. Not sure bikes/frames come any more versatile so yeah, if I had to have only 1 bike, Wednesday would be it

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
0

Wednesday... with a -2° angleset?! HAHAHAH.

What is the hub spacing front/rear on the Wednesday? Could it clear 29x2.8" rubber. When I was trying to sell my family on moving to Terrace, BC I was picturing a Waltworks V3 that could run 26x5" and 29x3" on the same rig with whatever the narrowest Q-Factor I could manage with a 450-470mm chainstay length. Very fun cloud drawings of that one.

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boomforeal
boomforeal
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Well, the ICT fork adds 25mm to the A2C so the HTA is probably around 68*. Works well enough for around here. I feel like slacking out the front too much without steepening the sta would feel a bit weird. Bigger issue might be the reach, which is ~450mm. 

As it stands the geometry is pretty close to v1 chromag surface with a bit more reach. I don’t think it would work well as a 1 bike for living on the north shore but out east where trails are flatter and covered in snow or ice half the time it’s a pretty solid compromise

Hub spacing is 150/170mm. That’s probably obsolete by now but as you say it keeps the bb width/q factor down and makes the bike more comfortable to pedal on longer days than full-on fatties. I think it could clear 29x2.8” rubber but feel like that would jack the bb to high; I was thinking more like 2.4”

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Lynx
Lynx .
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'd expect so considering the nominal diameter of a 26x5" tyre and clearance needed, using  my Monkey with same drop outs, which go from 435-455, it'd more than fit a 29x2.6", even a  2.8", maybe depending on which brand, a 3.0". My Unit's stays go to 460mm and that's where I run them to fir 29x3.0" and it's only designed to clear 29x2.6", so the Wednesday designed to clear 5" tyres would work a treat as a 29er with somewhere between 2.6-2.8" rubber on some i35 rimmed wheels.

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boomforeal
boomforeal
4 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

The Wednesday is more fat-light than full-fat. It comes Spec’d with 26/3.8” tires and claimed max clearance is 26x4.6” (which is what i run in the winter, and its fine). The ICT is surly’s full fat, with more tire clearance, longer stays, and a lower bb. I bet it could run big 29” meat without too much change in geo but it’s heavier and pedals a bit more poorly; the Wednesday is a bit more rideable and versatile, imo

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Well now, I still believe in and love a good Steel, sliding/adjustable drop outs, Rigid 29+ capable bike, has to be one of the most versatile bikes you could own and I'll never get rid of mine.

This being said, I've been sitting on my OG Banshee Phantom frame since the BB developed a crack back in early 2018 with the hopes of maybe somehow figuring out a fix and Friday I decided I had the parts to build it back up and give it a spin to see if it really was as good as I was remembering and if it was worth all the effort to repair - thanks Andrew.

Unfortunately Friday was overcast and raining and it's continued on over the weekend, so no proper ride, but I did take it out as a commuter to pop to the store and, yeah, I wasn't having any of those "good old days", hyped up memories of the bike, it still felt as natural and good for me as I remember. The Reach is a tad shorter than I'd like, but not by enough, I can use a 70mm stem and the shorter wheelbase makes everything easier, makes stuff feel more nimble. I know a silly metric, but I can easily track stand with it, no front wheel "moving", stationary in one place, almost like if it was nothing and the turning and feel of it just feels so good, can't wait till things dry out to take it on a proper XC ride.

Here's the really cool/funny part...when I measured the front and rear centre and compared it to the Unit, the Unit is within 5mm of it in all aspects, so no wonder I love the Unit so much, although now I have rebuilt the Phantom, will say the 35mm longer Reach on the Unit with shorter stem, does make slow speed stuff require a bit more input, can easily feel the difference.

So in essence, if I could only have one bike, an original V1 Banshee Phantom with the adjustable drop outs, would be it. It can run regular XC 29x2.25" tyres on i30 rims, or you can run 650Bx2.8", or you can even run 29x2.8" on i35 using the long drop outs. With what I like to ride, the steep setting on the drop outs is perfect, but if I wanted to do more aggressive/steep stuff, I can easily flip the chips in the drop outs and be a degree slacker all round, If I wanted it even slacker, I could even replace the rear wheel with a 650Bx2.8".

It truly amazes me what a bike with such good, short (105mm) travel is capable of. Unlike a lot of people though who are clamouring at this new crop of bikes with short travel, but almost DHesque geo, I think that's a bad idea, because it encourages you take this bike in WAY beyond what it's designed to handle and I'm certain, that even with the modest 67.5": HTA, the hard and aggressive trails and riding I gave it are what led to the BB starting to fail, I know of several drops where there was always a hard bottom out, but everywhere else on the trails rode good, so no bump in sus pressure.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Original Phantom with a couple geo updates and the shock mounted to the top tube or through the down tube (like an Orange DH bike) so I can have a bottle? I’m there! Love that adjustable dropout system. 

I think the geo really comes down to terrain. I don’t do much “dropping” on my rigid bike but do feel the aggressive geo (long wheelbase, balanced front/rear, slack HTA) gets me down trails where I’d otherwise like a bunch of suspension.

For better or worse (personally in the better camp) I suspect we’ll see more companies adopting geo packages through their trail lineup where the Titan, Prime, and Phantom would all have ~ the same HTA and Reach and STA and the real difference will be travel.

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

For me, as I wrote to Keith, the V1, is perfect right out the gate, he really hit it out the park, but they have to make money and sadly a lot of folk listen to the marketing BS and/or are lazy and don't want to work on improving their skills and as such, like bikes that basically, ride themselves, as most don't really ride on the sort of terrain like the N.Shore where those bikes can be considered more aptly suited and "needed".

I honestly do hope that that's not the case, but looking at the trends and seeing what's come out already, it seems that about where it's at, which IMHO is sad, because as said, not many have N.Shore type terrain and would be suited with a lesser travel, less aggressive geo bike.

Now to be upfront and honest, I've not ridden one of the newer, slacker bikes with lesser offset in a sane amount of travel, just much bigger stuff like the SB150 and to me they feel absolutely horrible unless pointed DH, and it's steep and fast. Not sure what something like the newer V3 Phantom would ride/feel like, don't have the disposable income to gamble, but going by the longer stuff, think that the HTA is just too slack for the bike. I did build and "parking lot" test a REVEL Ranger, but it has the same 67.5 HTA as the Phantom in it's slack setting and STA when measured at my height is actually the same as well, almost a carbon copy of the V1 Phantom in it's slackest setting, literally, except longer Reach, actually strangely almost the same as the Prime which is sposed to be about 20mm shorter - it felt OK with a 50mm stem for the XL.

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Mb3
Kelly Kim
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 slimchances57

Damnit… I came here hoping to read an article about classic Bridgestone bikes.  :(

My very first real mountain bike was a Bridgestone MB3 (hence my username), which I did everything on (XC and downhill racing, trials, commuting) until it was stolen while I was attending UVic.  Replaced it with a Cannondale with the insurance money, but I still would rather have had that lugged steel hardtail rig any day…

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

This is exactly what I'm talking about, and why I invoked the MB1 for the concept of MB1 v. N+1:

"which I did everything on (XC and downhill racing, trials, commuting"

What would you ride today if you had one bike that was going to do EVERYTHING the way your Bridgestone did?!

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Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I love the MB-1 idea! I'm also stuck for space, but having qiut drinking a couple of years ago my booze money can go into bikes - so I need to figure out one bike (and a couple of wheelsets)

I started by building up a Ragley Big Al with a 150mm lyrik and some Nukeproof Horizon wheels. Have loved riding that but now, die to COVID I'm stuck on local trails that are mostly short sharp ups followed by short sharp downs, rocks and roots but no descent longer than a minute.

I've put in an order for a Binary Maniak frame and will have two builds: one using the Horizon wheels and 150mm lyrik fork and the other around a 120mm SID and a set of Nobl TR32s.

I'll also be switching between geared (GX AXS derailleur with a Shimano cassette) and single speed (34/22 for the 120mm build and 34/18 for the 150mm).

I'm tempted to get a set of gravel/road tires and some clip on aero bars too - just to round out the options...

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karakoram
Ryan
4 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

cyclotoine
cyclotoine
4 months ago
0

vertical dropouts? Are they still called that with thru axles?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+1 nothingfuture

A 142, 148, or 157x12 hub still slides into the frame vertically and the hub axle is captured before the frame axle is inserted just like a 135x10 hub.

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mnihiser
mnihiser
4 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

Tommahawk66
Tom Hawk
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

What rear hub would you go for on an MB-1 hardtail?

I'm thinking it needs very fast engagement, not too heavybut reliable, even when regularly riding single speed.

I'm between a Hydra or a Project321...

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hardtailparty
hardtailparty
3 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Another fantastic article. I couldn't agree more.

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BenLaden
BenLaden
4 months ago
-3 Joseph Crabtree Taiki nothingfuture

This thing is so insanely overpriced.

You can get a Commencal Meta TR dual suspension bike for $2,500.

I find it suspicious that people who review Santa Cruz bikes rarely if ever fault them for their ridiculous price gouging and total lack of innovation.

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cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
4 months ago
+11 Andrew Major LWK Velocipedestrian Andy Eunson nothingfuture FlipSide Lynx . Mammal Spencer Nelson Greg Bly Tremeer023

Stick around Ben. I imagine you'll begin to notice that we rarely pull punches. We have no corporate overlords to push us around and we're generally willing to piss off advertisers when it's the difference between telling the truth and keeping them happy. When one of them is annoyed about something we have written I ask them if they appreciate it when we tell the truth about their competitors as well. 

We are not perfect, but integrity and truthfulness are at the heart of everything we publish.

Also - Santa Cruz bikes are expensive. So are Yeti, Specialized, Trek, Scott, Evil, etc. The marketplace has indeed changed.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months ago
+5 LWK Velocipedestrian Grif nothingfuture Lynx .

I think it’s fair to say (aluminum or carbon) that Santa Cruz’s bikes are at more expensive end of the pricing curve.

I don’t think it’s fair to say they don’t innovate - they invest a lot of money on design and materials, the latter which admittedly doesn’t matter to some folks like me who go for metal bikes and the former is a general comment since this is a hardtail.

They also don’t assemble bikes in lowest-bidder facilities but rather in their own, and I think it matters, and I know it costs a fortune more - for example building bikes in the USA.

This is also my third piece in this series, and I think between them all I mentioned more than enough times that riders looking for the best spec/$ would not be buying this rig.

Meta TR is a great bike. Why is it so hard for people to say “I don’t see the value in what Santa Cruz is offering. For a similar investment I’d be on a Meta TR and here’s why” instead?

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