It's a Conspiracy
Morpheus is at Crankworx with a brand new, 27.5'' wheeled downhill bike, dubbed the Conspiracy, that features 200mm of rear wheel travel and full carbon fiber construction. It also replaces the older prototype they had been working on for the last few years, a bike that even Morpheus now admits was never able to meet their own expectations, and let's not forget how its polarizing look had earned it the unflattering nickname of the 'Boomerang.' Something tells me this new bike won't have many complaining about its appearance, though.
Morpheus Conspiracy Details
• Intended use: downhill
• Rear wheel travel: 200mm
• Full carbon fiber frame
• Tapered head tube
• Internal cable routing
• PF92 bottom bracket
• Compatible with all rear shocks
• Frame weight: 6.8lb (w/ FOX DHX2 Air)
• MSRP: $5,395 USD as pictured
The final version of that now defunct Boomerang prototype frame had to weigh 10lb in order to keep it in one piece, Morpheus revealed, which really defeats the purpose of using carbon fiber in the first place. It's a whole other story with the Conspiracy, though, with the frame weighing a very impressive (and claimed
) 6.8lb with a FOX DHX2 Air, and the complete bike coming in at 33.5lb with the build kit shown here (but a FOX DHX2 Air in place of the coil shock
). Morpheus isn't shy to say that the Conspiracy's low weight and reportedly high strength is a byproduct of them working with Quebec-based engineering firm FactionBike Studio, an outfit that offers everything from industrial design work, engineering services, and consulting, which are resources that other brands have also employed but are less likely to admit to.
Morpheus explained that, after the Boomerang's aborted life, they knew that they had to turn to the experts to create a lightweight, reliable machine. They even went so far as to divulge that they purchased a carbon Specialized Demo to use as a benchmark for things like chassis rigidity and overall feel - it's not an uncommon practice for any serious company to use products from their competition for this reason, but few will cop to it - but they also claimed that they feel the Conspiracy is a step forward compared to what their rivals offer when it comes to suspension performance and handling.
Priced to Sell
The other big story here is the bike's price: it's going to be a lot less expensive than most other carbon fiber downhill bikes on the market, and in some cases even half as much. The model pictured here sports the premium build kit, which includes FOX's DHX2 shock and 40 RC2 fork, a set of Race Face's SIXC carbon cranks, and SRAM's X0DH seven-speed drivetrain, will sell for $5,395 USD and ship to the customer with a set of Morpheus branded race pants, jersey and goggles. The standard build kit, with a BoXXer Team and Vivid R2C shock, retails for $3,895 USD; the bare frame with a FOX DHX2 shock will go for $2,495 USD.
Morpheus say that this pricing is possible for two reasons: first and foremost is their new consumer-direct sales that allows the customer to order the bike directly off their new website, a route which can obviously help in lowering the bike's final price due to there being less people taking a cut; and second, Morpheus confessed that the downhill bike market simply isn't one where they expect to make much in the way of profits. Either way, the Conspiracy's pricing is sure to make many riders happy when the bike becomes available in the first half of 2016. Suspension Design
While the all-carbon frame and impressive pricing are sure to be big talking points, the Conspiracy's suspension design is much more traditional. The bike's Horst Link layout, which became open for use by other companies only half a year ago, has been employed because Morpheus feels that it's proven itself over many years. That's not to say that they've just gone ahead and copied other brand's leverage curve, though, as they claim that theirs is unique to the Conspiracy but also compatible with all shocks on the market, air or coil. They weren't to keen to expand on exactly how it behaves, however, only saying that while it's progressive enough to keep the rider off the end of the shock's stroke, it also does some distinctive things throughout the travel.
One of the goals of the design was to not just have a downhill bike with the stereotypical plowing abilities that one associates with 200mm of travel, but to create a bike that feels more alive and playful. They claim that they've done exactly that, but also that, due to a leverage curve that allows a shock's full damping adjustment range to be utilized if needed, a rider is also able to dial-in more of a monster truck personality if that's what they're looking for. The Conspiracy's pedalling abilities are also said to be quite impressive, but we'll have to wait until we get a test ride on the bike in the near future to confirm or deny that point. The shock's low position in the frame - the canoe-shaped lower portion of the down tube is even open on the bottom to allow the shock to sit as close to the ground as possible - should make for a very low center of gravity.
Morpheus will offer the Conspiracy in three sizes when it becomes available in the first half of 2016, all of which will feature much longer front ends than Morpheus has offered in the past: the medium-sized bike will have a 450mm long reach, and all three sizes will sport a 63 degree head angle and 13.6" high bottom bracket height.
The Conspiracy is clearly a big step forward from the Boomerang prototype that never made production (there were only ever fifteen manufactured
), and that aborted bike has obviously served as a lesson as to what not to do when it comes to designing and manufacturing a downhill machine. This time around, Morpheus looks to have put together what looks like a winner, although actually riding the bike will be the only way to verify that. We'll be getting one the first available production bikes to test for that very reason, so expect a review of the Conspiracy in the future.