Long, low and slack, and with a frame that apes the ride of a full-susser, the Morf is a blast to ride

Product Overview

Stif Morf XT

Pros:

  • The Morf has a great vibe and the geometry and ride quality mean you can really attack the downhills.

Cons:

  • The paint finish is a little fragile and it’s not the lightest frame in the world.

Product:

Stif Morf XT first ride

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,999.99
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Need to know

  • Progressive hardtail designed to have the same geometry as a modern full-suspension trail bike.
  • 4130 cro-mo tubing is shaped for a more forgiving ride.
  • 12-bore shotgun-inspired chainstay bridge enables massive tyre clearance and a short rear end.
  • Three frame sizes: Short, Medium and Long

Sporting geometry and construction techniques to emulate the ride of a modern full-suspension bike, the Morf is legendary Yorkshire bike shop Stif’s first ever frame. On paper, it’s one of a handful of steel hardtails sharing a similar basic shape, and as such it is touted as slack, low, and aggressive. Out on the trails however, the Morf really stands out.

Slack 64.9° head angle paired with a 130mm fork

Slack 64.9° head angle paired with a 130mm fork

At 6lb, and made out of the same 4130 cro-mo as BMX bikes, it certainly isn’t light, but the £500 frame uses ovalised rear stays (common in road bike design) in the quest for vertical compliance to keep comfort levels manageable.

And it actually works. On rough, flatter (trail centre-type) surfaces, hardtails can roll slowly and be at their spine-rattling worst, but the steel Morf takes more of the sting and vibration out than most.

This improved comfort isn’t at the expense of stiffness though, the Morf retaining its ability to drive forward with every push on the pedals. The low bottom bracket height gives a direct connection with the terrain and aids quick cornering and overall stability.

Combined with the 130mm suspension fork and slack 64.9° head angle the geometry on the Morf keeps the steering and rider position stable, regardless of the gradient, which allows you to focus more clearly on the trail ahead.

‘12-bore’ chainstay bridge gives sufficient clearance to run chunky 2.4in tyres

‘12-bore’ chainstay bridge gives sufficient clearance to run chunky 2.4in tyres

Point the Morf downhill, or through fast corners and kickers, and the compliant frame carves smoothly and accurately and jumps well. It allows you to link trail features and turns together with enough precision and speed that it feels super-fast and connected without ever being too nervous or edgy.

Stif claims that the idea behind the Morf is that it should feel natural when switching over from a full-suspension trail bike, and that certainly rings true.

So even if you’re not a hardtail fanatic, zoning right in to the action with no rear suspension can be a fun change of pace, and the Morf does this better than any 27.5in hardtail I’ve ridden to date.

Details

Frame:4130 cro-mo Tig-welded steel
Fork:RockShox Pike Solo Air RC, 130mm travel
Wheels:Hope Pro 4 hubs, WTB Frequency i25 Team rims, Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5x2.3in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano XT M8000 32t chainset, shifter and r-mech
Brakes:Shimano XT M8000
Components:KS Lev Integra w/Southpaw, Burgtec Cloud saddle, Burgtec RideWide 800mm bar, Burgtec Enduro Mk II stem
Sizes:Short, Medium, Long
Weight:13.2kg (29lb)
Size tested:M
Rider height:5ft 9in
Head angle:64.9°
Seat angle:73.8°
BB height:309mm
Chainstay:420mm
Front centre:742mm
Wheelbase:1,162mm
Down tube:708mm
Top tube:630mm
Reach:435mm
Contact:stif.co.uk