Santa Cruz Chameleon + Rohloff = Chameleon-off

For my off-road tour in 2011 I had my Rohloff mounted on an Orange P7 frame which was a bargain from eBay (mostly because its neon pink). Part of the reason I was looking for a P7 was because I had recently purchased the P7 Rohloff specific dropouts for pretty much nothing. It’s a common frame in the UK (for good reason) so generally they don’t fetch too much secondhand, also they are made from steel which I like.  The P7 worked really with the Rohloff however changing the chain tension was a bit of a faff due to the sliding dropouts. I also fancied getting a bigger frame so I could run a shorter stem with a burlier front end as this would give me lots more confidence on rough trails.

My neon pink Orange P7 Rohloff at Coed-Y-Brenin

My neon pink Orange P7 Rohloff at Coed-Y-Brenin

To get round the chain tensioning problem there was really only one solution, a frame with an eccentric bottom bracket. When you start looking for a long travel hardtrail frame with an eccentric bottom bracket it doesn’t take long before you realise the list is pretty damn short. The two on mine were a Santa Cruz Chameleon and a Chumba HX1. The Chumba was a great option, it looks awesome and is pretty cheap so I could have bought one new (very unusual for me as i’m such a cheapskate). There is a really nice example with a Rohloff here: Chumba HX1 Rohloff . The problem was that there is only one outlet for them in the UK and they had sold out of large frames. After some more internet searching I happened across a burly Santa Cruz Chameleon in Switzerland with a Rohloff  and was smitten.

Swiss Santa Cruz Chameleon with Rohloff from:

I kept my eyes peeled and eventually managed to grab a nice green example for a good price. My forks took a bit of a hammering during the off-road tour and it wasn’t really worth spending money getting them serviced. I decided that it would be more sensible to put the money towards a newer (still secondhand) pair of 20mm bolt trough forks and a bolt through front wheel to stiffen the front end up for that proper hardcore hardtail feel.

Santa Cruz Chameleon-off starts to take shape

Santa Cruz Chameleon-off starts to take shape

I started building her up with my Rohloff in the summer however after hitting a number snags I never got round to completing the build before moving to the US. The first issue was changing the axle plate on my Rohloff, I will post about this separately as it’s a common problem with a ballsy solution. This delayed me for a while. There are a number of solutions for running a Rohloff on a frame that isn’t designed to have one. The guy in Switzerland used a Rohloff speedbone which mounts on to the outside of the disc brake mount with a bar to stop the hub spinning. I think this is a bit of a clumsy solution for a company that produces such a clever highly engineered hub. The method I decided that I would use is the much neater and far more ingenious monkey bone adaptor (more about this in another post later). There were lots of other little problems such as sorting out the Rohloff cable routing on a frame that isn’t designed to hold one. This doesn’t sound like a big thing but correct and secure cable routing is very important to ensure smooth shifting. 

Santa Cruz Chameleon as a singlespeed hardcore hardtail.

Santa Cruz Chameleon as a singlespeed hardcore hardtail.

Eventually as it was taking a while to put together I got impatient. A mate invited me back home to go riding and I decided to give in and converted it to a singlespeed for the weekend. The bike is great fun to ride, I’m pretty sure I was riding one of the most hardcore pimped singlespeeds on the trails that weekend. I will finish the Chameleon-off on my return to the UK, it’s sure to be one of the most fun Rohloff equipped bike on the trails, I might even add a dropper post just for good measure. Keep reading to find out what happens.


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