Morpheus is proudly displaying an all-new downhill bike here at Crankworx and we caught up with company founder Michael Schwartz to get the lowdown.
This full carbon fiber rig is the first project where Morpheus sought expertise from outside the company to assist in frame design and suspension kinematics, “to make [the Conspiracy] a bike that goes against the other bikes in the category right now, we really had to seek help,” said Schwartz. “We worked with a new FEA program that’s used in Forumla 1 to test parts pre-season and that was extremely useful because we never had such a well-sorted bike from a first prototype.” Here, Schwartz is hinting at Morpheus’ previous downhill prototype, which the company ended up scrapping entirely because they couldn’t achieve the results they were looking for. “We wanted to accelerate the project because people have been waiting for a downhill bike for a long time from us,” Schwartz continued.
Well sorted, indeed. The Conspiracy’s fit and finish looks spectacular. It’s truly light-years ahead of the previous prototype and this sample was on-par with some of the best in the business.
During initial prototyping, Morpheus entertained the idea of making a bike that offer 26- and 27.5-inch capability. Ultimately, they decided on 27.5 because they were able to hit their geometry targets while also taking advantage of the inherent traction advantage of 27.5. Choosing one wheel size also simplifies construction significantly.
The Conspiracy’s geometry falls right in line with what’s developing as the “standard” range for bikes in this category; 17.1-inch chainstays, 13.6-inch bottom bracket height and a 63.5-degree head tube angle.
Notice that chainstay pivot? Yep, it’s a Horst Link, which is now free to use after the patent recently expired. Morpheus calls its suspension design Optimized Performance Suspension (OPS), but didn’t offer any further specifics.
Though it’s designed as a race bike, Morpheus sought to maintain a lively feeling suspension to maximize fun in the bike park too. Schwartz wanted a bike that’s at home smashing rock gardens and hitting the jump line.
Another of Morpheus’ key targets for this bike was affordability. As a smaller, consumer direct company, Morpheus has less overhead than many of the large manufacturers, so they’re able to offer a competitive package to the end consumer. The Conspiracy frame will retail for $2,495 with a Fox X2 shock and the standard build with a Rock Shox Boxxer, Vivid rear shock and mid-level Race Face components. Even the premium build, which is said to weigh less than 35 lbs., will retail for $5395 with a Fox 40, Fox DHX2 rear shock, Race Face Carbon components and DT Swiss wheels for $5,395. Expect bikes to ship in February of 2016. If all goes well, you might even see a few of these in action at Red Bull Rampage this year.