Kelton’s 2020 Santa Cruz

Chameleon Shredpacker 

After touring the last few years on a rigid, drop bar bike, I knew that I wanted my next bikepacking rig to be a “do-it-all” bike. I needed a bike to take on the rough and chunky terrain here on Vancouver Island that I could also strip down and rip some single track with when the feeling is right. I wanted a build that was super responsive and light while never feeling too over-biked. This Summer I’m going on an 8-week cycling adventure, first to Iceland with friends to conquer the sandy, remote Iceland Divide route and then in Continental Europe with my partner and daughter for some more leisurely and family oriented bike-touring.

Prior to a significant geometry upgrade in 2021, Santa Cruz made a carbon fibre version of their Chameleon for only two years. I love the feeling of riding carbon: it’s both lighter and just looks cool. The geometry for these 2019-2020 hardtails was much slacker than that of the newer, aluminum version, which I find better suited to long days in the saddle and adventuring on multi-day trips.

Last fall I found a used XL frame (in the colour that I wanted no less!) in almost mint condition to build around some burly XC tires, a mid-travel fork and a wide-range cassette for climbing while loaded-up with several days of supplies. This was my first time doing a build starting with just a frame and customizing everything to my needs, including colour-matching gold and green accents throughout to compliment the black frame. I’ve been stoked with the results. Meet Chameleoniare!

Cranks + Chain Ring + BB

Cranks: Race Face Turbine (170mm)
Chain Ring: Wolf Tooth (30T)
BB: Chris King Thread Fit 30 BSA

Saddle + Seat Post

Saddle: WTM Volt
Seat Post: Fox Transfer Dropper and remote (125mm)


Fork: Fox 34 Performance Elite (130mm)

Stem + Headset

Stem: Chromag Ranger V2 (31mm)
Headset: Chris King Dropset 3


Valve: Peaty’s (Gold)


Front + Rear: Vittoria Mezcal 2.6″

Cassette + Derailleur + Chain + Brakes + Rotors

Cassette, Derailleur, Chain: Shimano XT, 12 spd (11-51T)
Brakes: Shimano XT hydraulic centre lock, 
Rotors: Shimano XTR (180mm rear, 200mm front)

Bars + Shifters + Grips

Bars: SQlab 3OX 12deg alloy (45mm Rise, 31.8, 780mm)
Grips: Wolf Tooth Echo Lock-On, SPIRGRIPS+ inner ends


Pedals + Downtube

Pedals: Shimano PD M520
Downtube Bag: Tailfin Downtube Pack

Rear Storage

Rear Rack: Tailfin AeroPack Carbon with 2 X 10L Mini Panniers (or Spider Rear Rack depending on use).

Front Accesory Storage

Bottle Holders/Top Tube: Field & Forest Snack Sack and Top Tube Bag

Frame Storage

Frame Bag: Field & Forest
Rear Top Tube: Bikepacker’s Foundry BottleCradle

Bar Storage

Bar Cradle: Aeroe Spider Cradle
Dry Bag: SealLine Baja 10L


The TR35’s are a great choice of rim for this bike as they offer a good balance of compliance for bikepacking but are still quite stiff and responsive for when I want to go mountain biking unloaded on more technical terrain.


Wheelset: 28h TR35
Graphics: Shadow
Nipples: Sapim Gold Alloy

Hubs + Spokes

Hub: Chris King
Hub Specs: Boost, Centerlock
Spokes: Sapim D-Light