We now move into a new era, where long, low and slack is the buzz-description for fast, stable enduro bikes with high performance. It would seem some hardtails have jumped on this new geometry bandwagon to offer more affordable fun, with the same characteristics as their fully-suspended cousins. Here is where the new Stif Morf steps in, designed in the UK out of good old steel, it’s a looker offering up all the modern geometry, but how will it perform?
Stif Cycles are based in the north of the UK, with a long-standing reputation as the largest sellers of the well-known Santa Cruz brand. Now they have put their hand to designing a very unique hardtail, British in it’s design and steel in it’s structure. This bike is sold as a hardtail version of an enduro machine, offering up some impressive numbers in terms of seat angle of 73.5°, and head angle of 65°. Sporting compatibility to singlespeed and a widening seat-tube from top to bottom to stiffen the BB, this bike has had some real thought go into it’s design and looks stunning too.
What models of the Stif Cycles Morf are available?
Basically this bike comes available as a full XT build for € 2,199 (£ 1,999 ) or as a frame-only for € 549.00 (£499.00). The construction of the frame is quite unique, with ovalized seat-stays and top-tube. The cables are routed externally except for an internal port to fit a stealth dropper post in the seat tube. Their so-called “12 bore” chain-stay bridge offers wide clearance for a 2.4 tyre while still keeping the back end nice and short for a playful feel at 420 mm.
Specification of the Stif Cycles Morf
We can see why it’s known as the XT build, as Shimano’s flagship XT componentry covers the drivetrain, cranks and brakes. Burgtec too are used for more than one component, with their RideWide 800 mm 30 mm rise bars fitted to their Mk2 35mm stem, plus the use of their chromo-railed Cloud saddle.
The 130 mm of front suspension is taken care of by a RockShox Pike Solo Air RC fork, a popular choice for racers and trail riders alike. A set of 2.3 Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR tyres give maximum chunky grip, fitted to strong WTB Frequency Team i25 TCS rims, laced upon a set of trusty Hope Pro 4 hubs. Finally the dropping of the seat is performed by KS’s smooth 150 mm Lev, with their sporty Southpaw lever. The Morf weighs in at 13.30 kg (29.05 lbs).
Fork: RockShox Pike Solo Air RC 130 mm
Brakes: Shimano XT M8000
Drivetrain: Shimano XT M8000
Seatpost: KS LEV Integra, 150 mm travel
Stem: Burgtec Enduro mk2 35 mm
Bars: Burgtec RideWide 800 mm
Wheels: Hope Pro 4 hub laced to WTB Frequency Team i25 TCS rims
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF (Front: 3C, Rear: 60/62a) EXO TR 27.5 x 2.3
Weight: 13.30 kg
Price: € 2,199
Geometry of the Stiff Cycles Morf
|Head tube angle
|Seat tube angle
|Botttom bracket height
Feel of the Stiff Cycles Morf
With our rider being a burly chap at 101 kg and 185 cm tall, we set the SAG correctly on the Pike Solo Air RC forks with two tokens for ramp-up and 90 psi of air pressure. We felt ok with the compact 435 mm reach of this bike and the cockpit felt quite roomy for a medium sized frame; although on hindsight we probably would have prefered a large for our riders height. From the start we found the front to feel a touch on the low side with the 130 mm forks, but with the 800 mm Burgtec bars and short 35 mm stem the Morf certainly feels aggressive from the get-go.
Climbing on the Stiff Cycles Morf
Immediately from the first pedal stroke, this bike certainly doesn’t feel like it’s in the category of a 130 mm trail bike. It climbs so well, never feeling like it is going to wheelie or becoming vague on the front wheel; this is pretty surprising considering the shortness of the back end, plus the fact the Morf is running a 73.5° seat angle, putting the rider’s weight towards the rear of the bike on the climbs. The Morf’s great uphill prowess mixed with the ultra grip from the Maxxis Minion DHF (even though it’s actually meant to be a front tyre) on the rear makes for some impressive traction whether the going is firm or loose.
Descending on the Stif Cycles Morf
With a low 311 mm BB height and the slack 65° head angle the Morf certainly feels stable at speed, like a steel attack weapon ready to pounce. The mixture of the steel tubing dampening down the hits with the design of the oval rear seat-stays offers a great, almost rear suspension feeling ride at speed for a hardtail. The grip too seems far beyond what could be expected from a hardtail, as the Morf begs to be ridden harder and faster, taking big jumps in its stride and exiting corners so fast, as the short rear chain-stays make for very fast corner snap and great jump popping ability indeed.
Improvements we’d like on the Stif Cycles Morf
This 2016 model we tested came with Shimano’s 2016 XT chainring, which offers the chain hold of an arthritic pensioner, so combined with the lack of chain-guide and we were dropping the chain a lot. We would like to see the use of either a better narrow/wide chainring or a good chain guide added to solve this. Our test rider, as a very aggressive rider, would like to have tried this bike with maybe a 150 mm fork for a higher front end and a bit more attack-ability, as on a few occasions under race conditions he felt the front end lose traction as things got a bit rough. Also during the several times the bike ended up lying down from a bit of over commitment, we found the Burgtec stem easily lost it’s grip on the steerer, resulting in the bars twisting, even after being torqued way over the recommended settings!
Should I buy the Stif Cycles Morf
This is certainly a bike for the rider who likes things a bit different, it seems to us kind of a bit stuck between the category of a trail and enduro hardtail, as a 130 mm travel fork is more suited to trail riding, but the rest of this bike’s geometry lends itself more towards a hard hitting attack weapon. It’s certainly got that desirability in the fact that it’s British, it’s steel and can also be set up as a single-speed too. We think it’s a good bike for the all-rounder hardtail rider who wants to stand out from the crowd and get a bit rowdy too!
Bottom Line of the Stif Cycles Morf
We certainly like this bike, it may kind-of not fit entirely into its offered category, but who cares, it’s a rad bike that looks cool, hits hard and doesn’t fit the into the usual genre of a standard hardtail. We can’t imagine we are going to see a market flooded with these bikes, but they certainly will have a niche appeal over in the UK and hopefully for Stif Cycles abroad too.
For more information on the Morf head to the Stif Cycles website.
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