WORDS Jordan Carr
PHOTOS Colin Meagher
Morpheus may be a smaller company compared to some of the more well known names out there, but they're betting that their philosophy of assembling durable aluminum frames and offering them at competitive prices will have them standing out in the crowd. And while they might have more of a following in the dirt jump and slope worlds, their new 27.5" wheeled, 116 - 126mm travel Loki could be the bike that introduces trail riders to the New York company. They aren't about to forget those roots by offering a mega-light trail bike frame that won't last long under an aggressive rider, though, saying that they "have not and will not release any model unless a single frame lasts at least an entire season on the world tour in the hands of our factory riders.
" Complete builds are available at either $4,125 o $5,688 USD, and a frame and FOX RP23 shock can be had for $1,795 USD. Color options include orange, blue, black and red, and all are anodized with laser etched graphics and carbon fiber rocker arms.
Morpheus Loki Details
• Purpose: trail / all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 116 - 126mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Hydroformed 7005 aluminum tubing
• Carbon fiber rocker arms
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• Weight: 30.3lb (large, w/o pedals)
• Sizes: medium, large (tested)
• MSRP: $1,795 USD (frame w/ FOX RP23)
The Loki's construction consists of a hand welded frame that uses boxy 7005 aluminum tubing, and additional gussets have been added to high stress areas despite the tubing already being extensively hydroformed. In contrast to the frame's otherwise completely aluminum make-up, Morpheus has gone with carbon fiber for the rocker arms. Morpheus says that their manufacturing process not only results in an ultra-durable frame, but they also claim to have a historical failure rate of only .02%, which is significantly lower than their cited industry standard of between 3-5%. No, we can't confirm those numbers as failure rates are not only a closely guarded secret within most companies, but
they can also be interpreted a number of ways. Regardless, it is interesting that Morpheus would reference them, and it makes it clear that they have a lot of confidence in their design. The bike's cable routing isn't as invisible as with some of the competition, but it's also easily accessible while being out of the way underneath the top tube. A traditional thread-in style 68mm bottom bracket shell allows for endless crank options, while ISCG 05 tabs give riders the ability to easily install a chain guide or bash guard if they should require one. A perch for a direct mount front derailleur can be found on the seat tube, although our single ring setup left it looking a tad out of place on an otherwise clean looking bike.
The bike's main pivot sits just above the bottom bracket shell, and it uses a sturdy looking captive design that sees the chain stay pivot sandwiched in the one-piece bottom bracket and pivot unit. The whole thing looks burly enough to be used on a motorbike, and it's finished off with flush pivot hardware for a clean appearance. Hidden out of sight within the main pivot is a twin needle bearing system, and a grease port has been added to keep it turning smoothly over time. Custom IGUS self-lubricating bushings are employed at the other pivot locations, which also see grease fittings used. Up front, a straight 1.5" head tube has been used to allow for maximum angle options via an angle adjusting headset, and you'll find a 12 x 135mm thru axle at the other end that requires a hex key to remove. Suspension Design
The Loki employs a relatively simple single pivot and rocker arm layout, with the rider able to choose between 116, 120, and 125mm of travel via three different lower shock mounting positions. Those numbers may seem awfully close to one another, but that fact does mean that you aren't making drastic changes to the bike's leverage ratio when moving between the different travel settings, and only minor air pressure alterations should be required. While the Loki's front and rear triangles are made out of aluminum, Morpheus has used carbon fiber to construct the rocker arms, a move that they say saves more than 150 grams compared to the older CNC'd version of the arms.
Climbing / Fit
|The Loki's compact feeling cockpit makes for a playful attitude, but Morpheus has also managed to create a bike that feels surprisingly stable at high speeds. |
An all-out climbing machine the Loki is not. There are a few reasons for this, but the bike's tight feeling front center length stands out to us due to the relatively cramped position that it put us in, despite our test bike being a size large. The answer is obviously to run a longer stem than the 50mm unit our Loki came fitted with, although this compromises that bike's excellent descending abilities and fun loving nature that we'll talk more about below. The end result was a more upright riding position than isn't ideal for seriously long climbs, although it took rides lasting over the two hour mark before we found ourselves voicing any complaints.
The Loki is not going to be a Strava assassin on the ascents, but it should be noted that clearly isn't Morpheus' intentions with the bike. If you have no idea what Strava is, or if you don't have the slightest interest in timing yourself on the climbs, then that fact shouldn't matter to you. We found ourselves being happiest when pedalling up moderately technical sections and singletrack that kept us on our toes, and the bike compared favourably to the competition in these type of settings. It's when things got slower and more technical that we had the distinct feeling that the blue machine was a bit unwieldy, and it seemed to make us square up a bit more than expected on tighter switchbacks in order to clean any sort of clutch corner. It wasn't as if we didn't clean anything that we made on other test bikes, but just that the Loki seemed to ask us to take a different approach. The bike's active suspension was best tamed by reaching down for the RP23's CTD lever, and we spent most of our time on smoother climbs with it flipped to the firmest 'Climb' setting.
If it sounds like we're painting a negative picture of the Loki's ascending abilities, take a second to remember that Morpheus didn't set out to design an all-out climbing machine. No, this is a bike for the rider who simply wants to get to the top of the mountain in order to make the most of the descent. Ride it with that in mind and you won't be disappointed in the slightest, not to mention that you'll have a hell of a good time when you drop the saddle and let it rip on the way back down. Descending / Technical Terrain
Any of the complaints about the Loki's climbing were forgotten a few seconds after we pointed the bike down the trail, and Morpheus' desire to create a nimble and fun loving machine were clear as day. The compact cockpit gives the bike a very BMX-esque personality, and it didn't take long before we found ourselves playing around with a huge grin on our face as if it was our first day on a bike in ages. Somewhat contradictorily, the Loki also displayed some impressive stability on ledgy, rough ground that upsets bikes of similar travel, something that is surely helped by rear suspension that feels more forgiving than its advertised travel would have you believe. The Loki's all around abilities on the descents means that it's a bike that can be fun on pretty much any trail that finishes lower than started, and that is especially true when the speeds pick up - there aren't many bikes of the same travel that can hold a candle to the Loki in big-boy terrain.
The Loki loses some of its luster when the speeds drop, and we sometimes found ourselves feeling like our weight was a touch too far forward on steep sections, something that can likely be put down to the compact cockpit. It also doesn't pretend to be the most maneuverable of bikes when you're at a near standstill and need to change direction or put some air between the ground and your tires, although the tradeoff of high-speed stability was a welcome compromise. The bike's head angle felt spot on so long as you kept moving at a decent click, and the 150mm travel FOX 34 Float did a great job of levelling anything we pointed it at.
While we've certainly talked up the Loki's surprising performance on fast, rough terrain, it is on the smoother, man-made lines that the bike makes you feel like a competitive slopestyle rider. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but it is a bike that can be pumped like mad, take flight off of the smallest of lips, and boost like you never thought you could. Get after it on your local jump line to see what this bike is all about. Component Check• Spank Subrosa rims/ True Precision hubs:
A nice wheel build featuring the 30mm wide (outer
) Subrosa rims and quick engaging True Precision hubs, and we didn't have a single issue with the combo. The rims' inner width of 24.5mm offered a great platform for the 2.3" Maxxis Ardent tires as well. Overall, a great wheelset for the Loki's intended purpose as a thrasher's trail bike. • Formula RX brakes:
We had some initial issues bedding in the pads on the Formulas, but they eventually came to life for us. And although we find them to offer substantial power and modulation, their lever shape is something we still have a hard time getting used to. Riders who have come to appreciate the Formula's stoppers will, however, find this a non-issue. • SRAM X9 Type 2 derailleur:
The Type 2's clutch system kept our drivetrain quiet and the chain engaged on the roughest of trails, while the Race Face narrow-wide ring made for a seamless 1 x 10 drivetrain without the need for a chain guide.• Fox D.O.S.S. seat post:
Mating the D.O.S.S. with a one-by drivetrain allows for perfect remote lever placement where you'd otherwise expect to see a shifter, and just like with the other D.O.S.S. posts that we have on our test fleet, it performed flawlessly. No, it's not the lightest, not does it offer infinite adjustment throughout its travel, but it is becoming the most dependable option on the market when talking dropper posts. Pinkbike's take:
| The Loki is a rather unique bike that offers up some very specific strengths that not many machines with similar travel numbers can brag about. Does it qualify as one of those elusive quiver killers that we often talk about? As always, that depends on what you're looking for, but if that includes putting more of an emphasis on fun than crushing climbs, it could be the bike for you. On the other hand, it wouldn't be the first bike that we'd reach for if we were heading out for any ride of serious distance or massive elevation gains, so keep that in mind if you're considering the Loki. - Jordan Carr|