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Airnimal Chameleon (the perfect bike?)

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Airnimal Chameleon (the perfect bike?)

Old 02-05-08, 10:18 AM
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Airnimal Chameleon (the perfect bike?)

Post #1 is a little poetic background about my preferences and goals. Post #2 is about the chameleon itself:

When I first got into folders I bought a Pacific Cycles Carryme and a Downtube VIIIH (front suspension). I bought the Carryme for multimodal use and the Downtube (upon the encouragement of so many members of this forum for me to "get a real bike") just for kicks.

Though I've owned a few decent bikes over the years I've never been much of a cyclist. I gave up on derailleur equipped bikes long ago for the same reason I gave up on cars: too much trouble to maintain (or too much money if you pay someone else) and just a plain hassle overall. Before my two folders the last bike I purchased was a singlespeed with a coaster brake. Although through this forum I've now come to understand some cycling culture and the politics go along with it, at the time I didn't realize why I needed to get such an obviously superior drivetrain alternative custom built ("who the heck would want to buy stock bikes built to be such pains in the arses?"). I lived in a pretty flat area and, indeed, I didn't notice much the significance of hills until I moved and started cycling somewhere else. I've never understood (and still don't understand) the idea behind recreational cycling. I get no more pleasure out of riding a bike than I do out of driving a car. A bike is a tool to get me from point A to point B.

I eventually gave up cycling due to the fact that it was an all or nothing proposition: If I cycled somewhere then I generally had no choice but to cycle everywhere until I returned home. Multimodal excursions via train, bus, car, etc were, for the most part, impossible (or at the very least, way too inconvenient to be worthwhile). For a while I adopted inline skating for multimodal travel, but after one too many threats from transit police about skating in the subway I eventually gave that up too (the utility the skates provided did not outweigh the hassle of rebooting every time I wanted to board transit). So for many years my preferred mode of travel was riding as a passenger in trains, buses, planes, and automobiles, supplemented with a (literally) healthy dose of walking and running.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago where, for the first time in my life, I was faced with a situation where my long time preferred mode of travel wasn't going to cut it. I loathed the idea of buying another car, so I decided to research my other options. To my surprise I found that although the local transit agency generally did not allow regular bicycles, they allowed folding bicycles. So I fired up my web browser and eventually ended up buying the two bikes noted above.

For my original purpose I've been very happy with the Carryme and have come to think that it is almost the perfect folding bike. Whether it be going into buildings away from home (offices, theaters, bodegas, etc), riding the bus, flying in airplanes, or squeezing into a packed car for a road trip, I can't imagine being willing to settle for a heavier bike with a bigger fold if I know I'm definitely going to be folding. Obviously, there are better bikes out there in cases when I don't think I'll be folding, but really the only scenario including a definite fold where I can imagine wanting to tradeoff for a larger folder is a regular commute which involves both a long trip in a spacious vehicle which disallows nonfolders and an exceedingly long bicycle ride on fairly poor roads. However, I find this scenario pretty unlikely as most multimodal commutes to places with bad roads are either crowded (like going into an urban area) or if spacious (like taking an offpeak commuter train or a pickup truck to unpaved rural backroads) can easily accommodate a nonfolder. Even flying is occasional enough for me that I'd rather pack light and take a smaller, less capable bike (after all, I don't ride for fun so when on vacation, if anything, I'd be riding less than usual). One thing I will say is that having a higher gear is desirable on well paved open roads and that, combined with the hilliness of my city means that I'm planning on upgrading my Carryme to a dual speed one of these days (I'm just waiting for a 12 pound titanium ultralight version so I never have to buy another Carryme again ).

On the other hand, riding my Downtube has opened my mind to how just a bit more flexibility can really amplify the utility of a bicycle as a primary mode of transport. I don't actually fold the main frame of my Downtube that much and, in fact, I probably wouldn't miss it much if I could never fold it again. However, I find that the other design features which compliment the folding frame are extremely useful. Compared to typical diamond frames I'm in love with the versatility of the monotube construction. Monotubes are elegant, compact, and offer an ever so convenient low step over height (not to mention the ease with which they can be converted to recumbent bikes...see the folding cruzbike conversions). Indeed, it seems that wheel removal combined with a monotube construction can provide almost the same reduction in size as a folding frame with the additional benefit of being able to separate the different pieces (for example, if you're catching a ride just put the wheels in the trunk and the monotube should fit just about anywhere). Yes, it's less convenient, but for occasional unplanned use it's probably not that bad (after all, it's not like there are any 20" folders out there with particularly small or manageable packages). Moreover, provided you have a means to rotate the handlebars, folding pedals provide an even greater reduction in bike width for nonfolding bikes than they do for folding bikes (where the frame is wider once folded in half). Small wheels, are, unfortunately, a bit of an achilles heel when it comes to rough roads. They are less comfortable and (at least theoretically) less efficient. Yes, you can use wider tires, suspension, etc but for a portable bike weight is just as important as size. Moreover, in an effort to shave off a few more inches folding bikes often add to the discomfort with short wheelbases. In the end it seems that unless a bike it going to go all out and be as small as possible (like the Carryme) these sacrifices are not worth it. For a bike that is going to be primarily ridden round trip and whose compacting features are only for "just in case" scenarios (or even scenarios where the bike just needs to "fold" to meet a policy), these tradeoffs do not seem worth it. So where is the light weight bike with a monotube frame, shrinking/rotating handlebars, folding pedals, and full sized wheels?

Where is the perfect bike?

Last edited by makeinu; 02-05-08 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 02-05-08, 10:19 AM
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Is the Airnimal Chameleon the perfect bike? Not too long ago I gave the Joey a test ride and I didn't fall in love with it. I thought it felt a bit sluggish and, although it rode fairly smoothly, lacked stiffness and lightness compared to the Dahon Mu SL. On the other hand the fold was not as inconvenient as one might think. The fold was extremely thin and easy to handle (perhaps due to the light weight or perhaps due to the height of the folded frame).

At the time I actually didn't realize that Airnimal made several different models. However, when I was recently looking at some monotube folders for a Cruzbike conversion, the Chameleon frame came to my attention and struck me as being very versatile (as you might expect from a bike named "Chameleon"). Like the Mu SL it's a very light weight bike with a monotube frame. The handlebars can obviously be rotated once the wheel is removed for a very thin profile and one can also, naturally, add folding pedals. Moreover the bike has significantly larger wheels than the Mu and a taught suspension which, apparently, does not detract from the stiffness of the frame.

As I'm sure many of you know, the Chameleon is designed to be gradually disassembled into the most transportable set of packages possible. This seems like a great feature as I've always thought the distinction between folders and separables is kind of silly. After all, what good is it to have the whole package attached if it's either swinging around or not in the most compact arrangement possible anyway? Tight packages like the Brompton are great, but I think most folders don't actually make good use of the benefits of folding over separating. In any case, the Chameleon seems to make no design sacrifices to make itself more shrinkable, but still doesn't neglect to add shrinking features where possible.

When I read the frame also has "replaceable dropouts" I jumped for joy at the potential for single speeds or internal hubs. However, it turns out that only the derailleur hanger is replaceable, not the actual dropouts (like these bikes https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/). Nuts.

Last, but not least, is the fact that the Chameleon frame seems like the perfect donor for a Cruzbike conversion. The Y shaped frame and larger wheel size are exactly what the Cruzbike was designed for. It seems the folding seat cantilever might lend itself well to actually folding the recumbent seat. A folding bike which easily converts to a light fast folding recumbent would be true Chameleon indeed.

So what do you Chameleon owners think? How do you like your bikes? Anyone care to comment on how it compares to the Joey?

Last edited by makeinu; 02-05-08 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:12 AM
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You might want to ride a recumbent first before donning their praises and thinking about a Cruzbike option. You might also want to research how easy it actually is to convert folders into Cruzbikes. If I'm not mistaken, even SesameCrunch had some issues with customizing parts, etc. particularly the seat mount area which is fairly crucial when it comes to recumbents. Finally, there is no bike that everyone would universally agree is perfect, but keep trying to find one.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by spambait11
You might want to ride a recumbent first before donning their praises and thinking about a Cruzbike option. You might also want to research how easy it actually is to convert folders into Cruzbikes. If I'm not mistaken, even SesameCrunch had some issues with customizing parts, etc. particularly the seat mount area which is fairly crucial when it comes to recumbents. Finally, there is no bike that everyone would universally agree is perfect, but keep trying to find one.
Well, I never said recumbents should be praised, but it never hurts to have more options.

I also know that everyone won't agree about what makes a bike perfect. That's why I gave the long first post about my cycling experience and what I'm looking for in a bike. Not to be selfish, but I'm obviously most interested in the perfect bike for me. However, I'd think that the more variations a bike is capable of without compromise the more likely people of varying tastes would agree that it's perfect.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:16 PM
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Is the recumbent option a real issue for you? While I agree that more alternatives are better, it doesn't seem to fit your profile to the point that the option would have little value.

Just a general comment: folding is generally more convenient and faster than separating a bike. But what an individual is willing to tolerate is, of course, their own prerogative.

From test rides, I thought that the Chameleon was a great bike. Although I did not think that it was that different than the Joey. It seems like overkill for a utility bike, however. Does your perfect bike have wide tires? If so, the caliper brakes on the Chameleon would limit your choices (assuming fenders) unless you went with really long reach brakes.
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Old 02-05-08, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
Well, I never said recumbents should be praised, but it never hurts to have more options.
I didn't mean anything by it. They ARE more comfortable for most, but your positioning - especially how far you're able to lean back and how high you like your legs to be - really determine the comfort factor; next would be hand position. It would just seem to be an expensive experiment to go through the trouble of getting a Cruzbike kit only to find you hate recumbents. That's the only reason why I suggested riding one first.


Originally Posted by makeinu
I also know that everyone won't agree about what makes a bike perfect. That's why I gave the long first post about my cycling experience and what I'm looking for in a bike. Not to be selfish, but I'm obviously most interested in the perfect bike for me. However, I'd think that the more variations a bike is capable of without compromise the more likely people of varying tastes would agree that it's perfect.
Fair enough.
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Old 02-05-08, 01:02 PM
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I have a Chameleon and think it is a good compromise between portability and the traditional qualities associated with a light road bike.

It does lend itself to other configurations. Have a look at this chap who uses it for track racing. Go to "Airnimal and then click on the link to his web.

https://www.foldsoc.co.uk/
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Old 02-05-08, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand
Is the recumbent option a real issue for you? While I agree that more alternatives are better, it doesn't seem to fit your profile to the point that the option would have little value.
Not really, but it looks like a blast and the Cruzbikes in particular seem so cool. The theoretical comfort and speed advantages seem pretty compelling. As test rides are a bit weak it'd be nice to own one for a bit to see how it pans out.

Besides, there are lot of people who claim Y-frames similar to the Chameleon's are the best frame shape for uprights anyway. The fact that the Cruzbike conversion kit is designed for Y-frames is just a bonus.

Originally Posted by invisiblehand
Just a general comment: folding is generally more convenient and faster than separating a bike. But what an individual is willing to tolerate is, of course, their own prerogative.
I'm not so sure about that. Most folding mechanisms aren't any quicker than quick release skewers (in fact, most folding mechanisms are QR skewers). Taking the front wheel off most any bike doesn't seem to be any slower than folding. Rear wheel might be a little more trouble, but still I'm inclined to think that perhaps it's best to consider most bikes to be separables. I mean, the frames don't separate, but if you file off the lawyer lips then the wheels easily separate from the frame. Certainly a pair of 26" wheels are in themselves compact and easy enough to manage. Problem is the resulting frame is often a bit unwieldy, especially if the frame itself separates. Seems like just having a more compact frame like a monotube goes a long way towards making it more convenient and a folding unified rear triangle seems to provide a nice alternative to actually removing the rear wheel.

Originally Posted by invisiblehand
From test rides, I thought that the Chameleon was a great bike. Although I did not think that it was that different than the Joey. It seems like overkill for a utility bike, however. Does your perfect bike have wide tires? If so, the caliper brakes on the Chameleon would limit your choices (assuming fenders) unless you went with really long reach brakes.
Not that I own any expensive bikes, but I don't see why utility bikes should always be selected from the junk pile. If I'm traveling by bike in lieu of car then why not spend the extra money on better quality? After all, as appealing as it is, there are times when I would definitely think that traveling by human power could certainly use all the advantages it can get.

As far as the tires go, I think weight is the number one priority when it comes to carrying a bike of any kind. Small diameter wheels with wide tires are nice, but large diameter wheels with skinny tires probably provide a better compromise in this regard, especially if you have an adjustable suspension (which seems to be available without design penalty whenever you have a unified rear folding triangle).

Originally Posted by spambait11
I didn't mean anything by it. They ARE more comfortable for most, but your positioning - especially how far you're able to lean back and how high you like your legs to be - really determine the comfort factor; next would be hand position. It would just seem to be an expensive experiment to go through the trouble of getting a Cruzbike kit only to find you hate recumbents. That's the only reason why I suggested riding one first.
Well, given all the praise recumbents get I think I'd have to at least ride one for a while before coming to such a strong conclusion.

I guess the premise of my train of thought is that, by virtue of their simple compactness, a monotube construction greatly enhances the convenience of any bike (folding or otherwise). This is the primary benefit which is accompanied by a number of side benefits, namely that monotube constructions facilitate:
1. Folding frames (frame hinged or rear triangle hinged).
2. Lower step over heights for upright bikes (a minor convenience).
3. Extension to Y-frame geometry (which some consider the pinnacle of upright design).
4. Recumbent seating position (in particular the Cruzbike, which has many of its own benefits, is designed to connect #3 and #4).

The second premise I guess is that there is no substitute for larger diameter wheels when it comes to the worst of terrain and the side benefit is that the Cruzbike kit is designed for larger wheels.

You could easily pick out four, maybe five, bikes to get this spread of features, but the Chameleon seems to do it in one shot with little compromise (while maintaining a feather weight to boot).

I certainly wouldn't be blowing thousands of dollars on a Chameleon just to experiment with recumbents, but if I settled on a Chameleon for other reasons it would certainly seem like a relatively inexpensive opportunity to give a high quality folding recumbent a fair trial. I mean, how many miles am I likely to be able to get on a folding recumbent for less than 300 odd dollars? Especially since I'm particularly intrigued by the Jon Tolhursts boasting about no hand steering and superior maneuverability for swivel-nose bikes.

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Old 02-05-08, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by onbike 1939
I have a Chameleon and think it is a good compromise between portability and the traditional qualities associated with a light road bike.

It does lend itself to other configurations. Have a look at this chap who uses it for track racing. Go to "Airnimal and then click on the link to his web.

https://www.foldsoc.co.uk/
The compromise compared to a typical folder is pretty clear to me, but what, in your estimation, does it compromise with respect to the traditional qualities of a light road bike?

Around here the general opinion seems to be that the higher quality folders don't compromise much of anything with respect to traditional road bike qualities and my impression from the folding society is that the Chameleon is one of the best of the higher quality folders (with some reviews even mentioning its advantages over top of the line Bike Fridays or even Moultons).

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Old 02-05-08, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
I certainly wouldn't be blowing thousands of dollars on a Chameleon just to experiment with recumbents, but if I settled on a Chameleon for other reasons it would certainly seem like a relatively inexpensive opportunity to give a high quality folding recumbent a fair trial. I mean, how many miles am I likely to be able to get on a folding recumbent for less than 300 odd dollars? Especially since I'm particularly intrigued by the Jon Tolhursts boasting about no hand steering and superior maneuverability for swivel-nose bikes.
Maybe it's worth shooting an email to the Calhoun Cycle dudes; they know recumbents and sell the Airnimal. Perhaps they'd know whether a Cruzbike conversion would work for sure.
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Old 02-05-08, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
I'm not so sure about that. Most folding mechanisms aren't any quicker than quick release skewers (in fact, most folding mechanisms are QR skewers). Taking the front wheel off most any bike doesn't seem to be any slower than folding. Rear wheel might be a little more trouble, but still I'm inclined to think that perhaps it's best to consider most bikes to be separables. I mean, the frames don't separate, but if you file off the lawyer lips then the wheels easily separate from the frame. Certainly a pair of 26" wheels are in themselves compact and easy enough to manage. Problem is the resulting frame is often a bit unwieldy, especially if the frame itself separates. Seems like just having a more compact frame like a monotube goes a long way towards making it more convenient and a folding unified rear triangle seems to provide a nice alternative to actually removing the rear wheel.
Just to clarify, faster also includes securing the two pieces -- say front wheel and remainder of the bike -- instead of just folding the bike into a single package to carry or store. And if you want, you can always remove the wheels of a folded bike to make the package smaller or more malleable. For instance, to fit both Bike Fridays in the trunk of the Echo, I usually remove a front wheel to allocate the volume differently. That is, I still put the front wheel in the trunk.

Regarding the utility bike, I can think that there is wiggle room between the junk pile and a $1500 bike -- my off the cuff estimate for a frugal Chameleon. Theft, of course, is another concern; but that is presumably one of the reasons for folding/separating the bike. Lastly, one would think that there is less added value for high-end components for utility bikes. But you are right that one would still want a comfortable, reliable, and (relatively) efficient bike for utility purposes. So spending more for better quality is more than reasonable. And your preference for the monotube is perfectly rational.
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Old 02-05-08, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
I certainly wouldn't be blowing thousands of dollars on a Chameleon just to experiment with recumbents, but if I settled on a Chameleon for other reasons it would certainly seem like a relatively inexpensive opportunity to give a high quality folding recumbent a fair trial. I mean, how many miles am I likely to be able to get on a folding recumbent for less than 300 odd dollars? Especially since I'm particularly intrigued by the Jon Tolhursts boasting about no hand steering and superior maneuverability for swivel-nose bikes.
The Cruzbike is not easy to ride with no-hands. I've seen the video of John Tolhurst (the designer) riding it hands-free, but even he's not that stable on it. So, while I agree with all the other benefits of Front Wheel Drive, hands-free is not the selling point.

Personally, I would not install the Cruzbike conversion kit on an expensive bike like the Airnimal, even on an experimental basis. The conversion is heavy, and the resulting bike is more suited to be a cruiser. I wouldn't destroy the design integrity of the Airnimal that way. It would be like grafting a Hyundai engine onto a Ferrari.
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Old 02-05-08, 03:49 PM
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I've ridden my new Chameleon for over a year and continue to enjoy it .. depending on how you set it up, it can certainly be a comfortable, fast, road going bike... probably the only rational compromise over a high end road bike would be weight, you won't be dipping down under 16lbs any time soon..... one nice feature is that the Chameleon frame is available separately (that's how I approached my bike).. I agree with SesameC, I wouldn't consider mucking around with a Cruz conversion .. the Chameleon is too nice a bike just as it is...
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Old 02-05-08, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by invisiblehand
Just to clarify, faster also includes securing the two pieces -- say front wheel and remainder of the bike -- instead of just folding the bike into a single package to carry or store. And if you want, you can always remove the wheels of a folded bike to make the package smaller or more malleable. For instance, to fit both Bike Fridays in the trunk of the Echo, I usually remove a front wheel to allocate the volume differently. That is, I still put the front wheel in the trunk.

Regarding the utility bike, I can think that there is wiggle room between the junk pile and a $1500 bike -- my off the cuff estimate for a frugal Chameleon. Theft, of course, is another concern; but that is presumably one of the reasons for folding/separating the bike. Lastly, one would think that there is less added value for high-end components for utility bikes. But you are right that one would still want a comfortable, reliable, and (relatively) efficient bike for utility purposes. So spending more for better quality is more than reasonable. And your preference for the monotube is perfectly rational.
Well, that's the thing. I don't think I'd want to take any bike bigger than my Carryme into a store unless I rode 20 miles to get there (which is a rare enough occurrence that I wouldn't mind having the less preferable bike...whichever it may be). As I've said before, I think the Carryme is the perfect bike for all situations where I actually plan on folding.

Now, If I'm putting the bike in the closet or the car then I don't need to secure anything. As you said, having the pieces (wheels, etc) separate may even be preferable. Apart from that, the main purpose of the demountable would be convenience for unforeseen circumstances. For example, I ride 20 miles to the store and expect to be quick enough where locking is safe, but I find out I'm going to be delayed in the store for a long time (so I need to go dismantle the bike and bring it in....an inconvenience for sure, but worthwhile to have the better bike for the 9/10 times when things go as planned). Or suppose I usually sneak my bike past security at work, but today they just so happen to catch me and tell me I'll have to leave it outside. So I go get a big canvas bag from my office, stick the bike in, and security lets me through.

I just don't feel that relatively quick folding bikes with 16"+ diameter wheels have much of a place in my stable. They are just too big and heavy to make proper use of the quick fold. I avoid folding these kinds of bikes at all costs, so it doesn't make any sense to make significant compromises for the ability to fold. However, even without folding I still find such folders easier to manage than regular bikes and as best as I can tell it's due to the more compact monotube frames, etc, etc....or so stews my thoughts.

As far as utility bikes go, I see your point, but it seems there isn't much to choose from when it comes to light weight monotube bikes with suspension and large wheels, especially with the extra compactness afforded by a folding rear triangle. The Montagues weigh a ton and there are probably a few recumbents which come close enough if I'm willing to lose all compactness with the giant seat (yeah I know I was talking about a Cruzbike conversion, but the idea was to buy that in lieu of a whole separate recumbent bike), but the only thing I can think of cheaper than the Chameleon would probably be the Joey with a Thudbuster. Am I missing any?

Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
Personally, I would not install the Cruzbike conversion kit on an expensive bike like the Airnimal, even on an experimental basis. The conversion is heavy, and the resulting bike is more suited to be a cruiser. I wouldn't destroy the design integrity of the Airnimal that way. It would be like grafting a Hyundai engine onto a Ferrari.
That's easy for you to say. How many bikes do you have? I'd rather not have to rent a public storage facility in dedication to the design integrity of my bikes. Keeping all bike related paraphernalia contained in the right half of my front closet is a higher priority and, gosh darn it, I'd use a Ferrari as a Cruzbike donor if that's what it would take to make it all fit!

Here is the right half of the closet which I have designated for my bikes:

There is room for a Cruzbike seat in front of the Carryme. There is room for full size wheels if the frame is short (like a monotube). There is no room for a third bike on the right half of the closet, so if I want a to own a recumbent it will have to be a Cruzbike kit attached to the bigger bike. At some point the Downtube will be upgraded to something else. If that something else happens to be a Chameleon, then any Cruzbike kit will have to go on that, lest I destroy the integrity of my closet arrangement. I love packing bikes into small places.

Originally Posted by BruceMetras
I've ridden my new Chameleon for over a year and continue to enjoy it .. depending on how you set it up, it can certainly be a comfortable, fast, road going bike... probably the only rational compromise over a high end road bike would be weight, you won't be dipping down under 16lbs any time soon..... one nice feature is that the Chameleon frame is available separately (that's how I approached my bike).. I agree with SesameC, I wouldn't consider mucking around with a Cruz conversion .. the Chameleon is too nice a bike just as it is...
Thanks for ringing in Bruce.

I noticed you previously mention that you thought your Chameleon could use some fine tuning to bump it back above your Reach in terms of handling, speed, and comfort. How'd that fine tuning go? Which gets the tip of the hat in your book, Chameleon or Reach? How do you feel about the difference in wheel size for rough roads?

Last edited by makeinu; 02-05-08 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 02-05-08, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
That's easy for you to say. How many bikes do you have? I'd rather not have to rent a public storage facility in dedication to the design integrity of my bikes. Keeping all bike related paraphernalia contained in the right half of my front closet is a higher priority and, gosh darn it, I'd use a Ferrari as a Cruzbike donor if that's what it would take to make it all fit!
Fair enough, you have to do what's best for you. But, you imply in your heading that you're looking for a perfect bike. All I was saying is that the particular combination of a Cruzbike and Airnimal would hardly result in perfection (and I'm a Cruzbike fan).
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Old 02-05-08, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
I noticed you previously mention that you thought your Chameleon could use some fine tuning to bump it back above your Reach in terms of handling, speed, and comfort. How'd that fine tuning go? Which gets the tip of the hat in your book, Chameleon or Reach? How do you feel about the difference in wheel size for rough roads?
I'll be doing some A to B testing fairly soon.. posting of my findings will follow... the Reach is superb over rougher roads due in part to it's active front suspension and excellent stability... not too much difference between skinny 451's and 520's.... anyways, more riding and more readings in the works... I'll be curious too..haha
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Old 02-05-08, 07:54 PM
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Why not put the Cruzbike kit on the Downtube and let the Chameleon be a Chameleon until you're sure you like 'bents? After that, butcher the Chameleon.
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Old 02-05-08, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by spambait11
Why not put the Cruzbike kit on the Downtube and let the Chameleon be a Chameleon until you're sure you like 'bents? After that, butcher the Chameleon.
The kit doesn't seem to be such a good match for the Downtube VIIIH. Sesamecrunch's modification came out well, but he replaced the front fork and the stem riser plus he had a derailleur equipped model. I saw another Downtube Cruzbike conversion and the guy there had a lot of trouble with the stock suspension fork. Moreover I'm not sure how well the kit will work with an internal hub. Cruzbike also recommends a rear suspension which the Downtube lacks.

Stylistic sentiments aside, the Chameleon seems like it would probably be a good match for the kit. The fork appears to have more clearance than the stock Downtube fork and the wheel size is a closer match to the length of the Cruzbike kit front triangle tubes. With the Y-frame the position of the seat is closer to the stock Cruzbike's, there is rear suspension, and it appears it might even possible to get the seat to fold with the folding seat cantilever. Moreover, the light frame would help compensate for the extra weight of the Cruzbike kit (I personally don't understand the sentiment a lot of people have where if they can't make a bike ultralight then they just go ahead and pile crap on till it weighs 40 pounds).

As I said, I'm obviously not going to buy a Chameleon just for the kit, but given the choice between mounting the kit to the Chameleon and mounting the kit to the Downtube I don't see any reason why I would choose the Downtube. I understand that some of you guys would be offended if I soiled a good road bike, but practically speaking I can't think of a single reason why the Chameleon would not be a better donor.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:44 AM
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If you want a good folding recumbent, check out the new GrasshopperFx from HP Velotechnik
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Old 02-06-08, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by makeinu
The compromise compared to a typical folder is pretty clear to me, but what, in your estimation, does it compromise with respect to the traditional qualities of a light road bike?

Around here the general opinion seems to be that the higher quality folders don't compromise much of anything with respect to traditional road bike qualities and my impression from the folding society is that the Chameleon is one of the best of the higher quality folders (with some reviews even mentioning its advantages over top of the line Bike Fridays or even Moultons).

I think it is up there with the ride of a quality road bike. The small wheels do make for quick acceleration and the weight is pretty good (22lbs). The ride is comfortable even with the narrow tyres in that it had carbon forks and rear suspension. I bought mine for light touring and being foldable means that I don't have to worry about being turned away from buses and trains.
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Hmm, I've been thinking about this a little more and it seems that the handlebars on the Chameleon do not quick release.

My coat closet seems fairly typical in depth and is just about deep enough to accommodate a 20" fork and headset. I was thinking I could probably squeeze the extra 2-3 inches in for the ISO 520 fork, but not if I can't easily remove the stem riser. This is a blow to convenience, not just for my coat closet, but for many coat closets (which I imagine are built to standard dimensions).

As an alternative I was considering the Swift, but the non-sloping top tube makes the rear stays just as high as the front fork, necessitating rear wheel removal.

Seems that the only bikes featuring fairly monotube frames which remain as close to the wheel axles as possible are 406ers with folding frames. So perhaps my perfect bike really is a folder (just one that I don't actually fold).
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Old 02-08-08, 04:10 PM
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I don't think there is a standard size for coat closets. Similar to rooms, closets depend on the layout of your house.
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Old 11-07-15, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by spambait11
You might want to ride a recumbent first before donning their praises and thinking about a Cruzbike option. You might also want to research how easy it actually is to convert folders into Cruzbikes. If I'm not mistaken, even SesameCrunch had some issues with customizing parts, etc. particularly the seat mount area which is fairly crucial when it comes to recumbents.
I have owned an Airnimal Chameleon since 2004 and some years ago fitted a Cruzbike kit.
This was done by making up a seat mount to replace the folding seat pillar so I did not have to alter the frame at all.
The handling was exceptional and I contemplating having a custom fork built because of the weight of the Cruzbike fork kit.

The only downside was that the bike no longer fitted into the Delsey hard case I have for airline travel.

At the moment I am using the Chameleon as an upright in its original form.
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Old 11-08-15, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by spambait11
You might want to ride a recumbent first before donning their praises and thinking about a Cruzbike option. You might also want to research how easy it actually is to convert folders into Cruzbikes. If I'm not mistaken, even SesameCrunch had some issues with customizing parts, etc. particularly the seat mount area which is fairly crucial when it comes to recumbents.
Since you have no experience, let me clarify.

The ONLY issue converting a folding bike with a conversion kit is finding a Cruzbike conversion kit.

I have thousands of miles on my conversion with no issues.
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Old 11-09-15, 08:40 AM
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Did you guys notice how old this thread is? I can see adding something to the thread, or asking a question. But you guys are responding to other posts from 2008. Funny stuff right there,...
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