Stif are one of the biggest shops in the UK and, for the Morf, they teamed up with Brant Richards, long time industry mogul and the man behind On-One bikes. Stif make some bold claims for the Morf, ‘Designed from the ground up to offer a riding sensation both climbing and descending like no other’ but in the last years years since the Morf was conceived, things have changed in the world of bikes, so can it still cut it with the young guns?
This bike is part of a group test: The best hardcore hardtail you can buy – 7 bikes in review
The Morf’s very yellow, skinny tubed frame is Tig-welded from 4130 Chromoly steel. Designed to run a 130 mm fork, the Morf has the least amount of travel on test: external gusseting around the slack, 65˚ headtube looks a little like an afterthought and we wonder if a frame with such short travel could have been designed without. Drop out spacing is designed for 142 x 12 mm hubs and the super short 420 mm chainstays have clearance for a 2.4 tyre and a 36 t chainring. The unique, ‘12 Bore’, Chain-stay Bridge, is made from vertically welding two hollow (until they fill with mud) tubes side by side. External cable routing for gears and brakes is no bad thing but the dropper is internal to make life easier. Old style ISCG (03) chain device tabs are there if you need them.
Geometry of the Stif Morf
|Seat tube||380 mm||430 mm||480 mm|
|Top tube||615 mm||630 mm||650 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||130 mm|
|Chainstay||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|BB Drop||42 mm||42 mm||42 mm|
|Wheelbase||1145 mm||1160 mm||1190 mm|
|Reach||425 mm||435 mm||455 mm|
|Stack||600 mm||605 mm||625 mm|
Riding the Stif Morf
Throwing a leg over the Stif Morf is a bit like going back in time ten years, it feels decidedly old school; short with low stack, reach and tight rear end yet high and upright due to its relatively high bottom bracket and seat tube. Once under speed, the Morf feels like a nice trail bike: with skinny tyres it accelerates and climbs well and, on mellow descents, the slack head angle, ovalised seatstays and top-tube create a very compliant and predictable ride. Unfortunately, when the going gets rowdier, you can predict that your going to come unstuck as, despite the 65˚ head angle, the Morf’s short and high geometry, short fork and skinny tyred 27.5 wheels makes the bike nervous and skittish as rocks and roots push and ping you about.
The bottom line is that the Stif Morf is a good all rounder but perhaps feels a little dated. Sure, with it’s slack head angle will get down everything but it’s not a smasher so it’s better suited to epics rather than enduro. The Stif Morf would be a great bike for someone who who wants a engaging, playful steel hardtail for general trail duties.
Price: £499 frame only (£2199 for XT build as tested)
- Good stable descending XC/trail bike
- Great climber
- Bend in the rear stay boosts compliance, very comfortable
- Dated design
- Not ‘hardcore’ by modern standards
For more info head to: stif.co.uk
All bikes in test
Words: Thomas Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey