Stif Cycles Morf first ride review£1,999.00

A tough-as-nails hardtail that can stick it to the full-sussers

Yorkshire-based Stif Cycles has long sold bikes from the likes of Orange and Santa Cruz, but this is the first time in its 33-year history that it has actually had its own name on a head tube. The Morf is that bike — a long, slack, 650b-wheeled hardtail, which has been designed by Stif staffer Sammy Smithson, in partnership with frame designer Brant Richards, to be a true ‘do it all’ ride.

Stif Cycles Morf spec overview

  • Fork: Rockshox Pike Solo Air RC 130mm
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano XT M8000 GS RD
  • Shifter: Shimano XT M8000 SL
  • Brakes: Shimano XT M8000
  • Rotors: Shimano RT86 ICE TECH 180mm
  • Crankset: Shimano XT M8000 32T w/BB 175mm
  • Cassette: Shimano XT M8000 CS 11-42T
  • Chain: Shimano HG70011
  • Handlebar: Burgtec RideWide, 30mm rise, 800mm wide, 31.8mm clamp
  • Stem: Burgtec Enduro mk2 35mm long, 31.8mm clamp
  • Grips: Burgtec Lock-On
  • Headset: Hope 2H with Hope top cap and bolt
  • Seatpost: KS LEV Integra with Southpaw 150mm travel
  • Saddle: Burgtec the Cloud with cromo rail
  • Front wheel: Hope Pro4 hub laced to WTB Frequency Team i25 TCS rim
  • Rear wheel: Hope Pro4 142x12mm laced to WTB Frequency Team i25 TCS rim
  • Front tyre: Maxxis Minion DHF 3C EXO TR 27.5 x 2.3 tubeless
  • Rear tyre: Maxxis Minion DHF 60/62a EXO TR 27.5 x 2.3 tubeless
  • Tubes / sealant: WTB TCS Sealant and WTB TCS valves

It may not be ground-breaking but the Morf is spot-on if you want a take-no-prisoners ride
It may not be ground-breaking but the Morf is spot-on if you want a take-no-prisoners ride

Stif Cycles Morf frame and kit

The intention with the Morf's geometry was to give this rigid-rear-ended machine similar riding characteristics to a modern full-suspension trail bike. It has a fairly long reach (435mm on the medium size), a raked out 65-degree head angle and the chainstays have been tightened up to a very short 420mm. The bottom bracket height is a reasonably average 311mm.

The frame is made from 4130 chromoly steel. There’s a bend in the down tube to prevent any clashes with the fork crown and Stif has used ovalised tubes at the rear end to give a small amount of flex and bump absorption. There are a few neat details, such as an inboard mount for the rear brake and replaceable bolt-through dropouts. The frame’s signature feature is the ‘12 Bore’ chainstay bridge, which allows the back end to be made as short as possible while also providing clearance for 2.4in tyres.

The ‘12 Bore’ chainstay bridge is so called because you can fit two shotgun cartridges in it
The ‘12 Bore’ chainstay bridge is so called because you can fit two shotgun cartridges in it

The complete bike (the frame is available on its own for £499 / $623.75 / AU$838.32) comes with a burly RockShox Pike fork, in 130mm (5.1in) travel guise. Stif says that a longer fork would make the front end dive and steepen the bike’s geometry too much as it neared full travel. The brakes and 1x11 drivetrain are both Shimano XT, and although no chain device is supplied, there are tabs for fitting one.

Finishing the bike off are some of the best British-engineered parts available: Hope Pro 4 hubs and a Burgtec seat, bar, stem and grips. Tubeless Maxxis Minion tyres give an indication of the type of riding that the Morf is intended for, namely ripping corners and finding the limits of traction.

Stif Cycles Morf ride impression

It's easy to kick the back end around tight turns and get the weight over the back wheel on steeper sections
It's easy to kick the back end around tight turns and get the weight over the back wheel on steeper sections

Stif’s sizing means that a rider around the 6ft mark could go for either a medium or a large frame, dependent on their riding style. The large, with its longer reach and taller stack height, is undoubtedly the go-to for all-day trail riding, and having such a slack head angle, the bike feels composed even when blasting down high-speed sections.

The medium shares the same angles, but with shorter top and seat tubes it definitely feels more playful. Slam the saddle and you have a bike that’s equally as at home on a pump track as a trail. The Morf’s short chainstays make it easy to kick the back end around tight turns and get the weight over the back wheel on steeper sections. With the relatively long reach, this is something that would have been difficult with a lengthier back end. It also means that manualling sections and bunnyhopping trail features comes naturally.

The build kit is reflective of a bike designed to be thrashed. The stiff wheelset, aggressive tyre tread, wide bar and short stem put you fully in control and encourage you to find your limits. Although there isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking about this bike, it’s the simple things that Stif has got right, like the bang-up-to-date geometry and solid spec choices, which help to give the Morf its edge and let you really ride it hard.

Stif Cycles Morf early verdict

A great ‘one bike does it all’ hardtail for those riders who enjoy being on the ragged edge.

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