After the success of the Morf, a 650b steel hardtail designed to be a companion to a full-suspension bike, Stif has answered the calls for the same ride quality and progressive handling on 29" wheels. Introducing the Stif Squatch.
Having spent three years in the design phase, the brand has aimed to create a bike that is every bit 'Morf' as it can be while rolling on 29" wheels. They says that means a playful and spritely ride despite the progressive geometry.
Stif has designed the Squatch in two halves, concentrating on its climbing ability and its downhill prowess respectively.
If we start on the bike's climbing details, a very nice touch is that Stif has measured the effective seat tube angle with the 200mm seat post fully extended at the seat post’s minimum insertion. This means that the seat tube angle at the slackest it will ever get will be 78°. This also means that if you don’t have the dropper post at minimum insert (which is the case for a lot of us) the seat tube angle will effectively be steeper.
That seat tube is also curved just above the bottom bracket which in part allows for the short, 430mm chainstay. It allows clearance for up to a 2.6" tyre too.
Onto the downhill side of the Squatch, it gets a 64° degree head angle and that's been specifically chosen as Stif says it provides a confidence-inspiring ride that's stable without the front end getting floppy and vague on the flats and climbs.
The Stif Squatch comes kitted with a RockShox Pike that provides 130mm of travel. Stif has gone with 130mm with the idea that as it moves through its travel, the geometry won't be affected too much, remember hardtails get a slightly steeper head angle as the fork compresses. It's also enough squish to save you when you need it the most.
That fork is one of the short offset forks on offer which increases the bike's trail measurement. This, paired with the 35mm stem specced on the Squatch should make for more sensitive steering, which will allow you to put the tyres exactly where you want them on the trail.
As a bike claimed to have progressive geometry, it wouldn't be progressive without a lengthy reach. The size large that we have on test comes sorted with a 480mm reach while the medium gets a 460mm reach and the extra large is graced with a 500mm reach.
This bike also gets an 80mm bottom bracket drop and a 293mm bottom bracket height. That should keep rider weight nice and low which will hopefully make the bike super fun in the corners, while extra confident when the trail gets steep.
The Squatch is built around a bespoke 4130 chromoloy steel frame which gets an ovalised top tube and seat stays. This is where the brand has built some compliance into the frame to dull down trail chatter while keeping stiffness in those areas where it's needed. That stiffness should offer an efficient pedalling platform that isn't affected by the compliance.
Where the chainstay meets the bottom bracket, you'll find Stif's 12 Bore chainstay bridge. It's designed to provide the best chain line while allowing space for up to a 34t chainring. Stif says that it also offers a better welding surface without sacrificing tube stiffness.
There's also an ISCG05 chain guide mount and bottle bosses on the upper of the downtube.
The Squatch was designed and tested in Yorkshire so that means a tonne of riding in the wet. As such, Stif has winterproofed the bike, spraying it in an anti-rust coating inside and out before any paint is applied. There's also a user-friendly threaded bottom bracket.
On test, we have the Squatch in its PRO 200 model which will set you back £2,500.
It comes kitted with a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork, a SRAM Eagle GX 12-speed drivetrain with SRAM G2 RSC brakes. The wheels are a pair of WTB KOM i29 rims laced to Hope Pro 4 hubs and they get a 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF 3C with an EXO casing, paired with a 2.6" Maxxis Recon 3C with the slightly burlier EXO+ casing.
The dropper post on this one comes from KS in the form of the Lev Integra and that offers 200mm of drop, as the bike's model name suggests.
Burgtech handles the finishing kit, furnishing the bike with an 800mm handlebar, 35mm stem, and Minaar signature grips. A nice touch is that all Squatch's come with a pair of Burgtech Penthouse MK 4 Composite pedals in the box.
Along with the PRO 200, there's the PRO 175 model that comes with a 175mm dropper post for the same money and then there's the Squatch AM. That one will set you back £1,900.
The Squatch AM gets a RockShox Pike Select+, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain with SRAM Level T brakes. The AM rolls on the same rims and tyres as the PRO models but it gets DT Swiss 370 hubs. As for the dropper post, it's still a KS unit but it's the Ragai here with 175mm of travel. It's worth noting that the AM doesn't have an option for a 200mm dropper.
If you would like to build a Squatch from scratch, the frame can be picked up for £600. That's a great starting point if you would like a Squatch frame but with the option to create a more budget-friendly build.
The Stif Squatch is available in three sizes, from medium to extra large and it comes in Bone, Silver or Teal, like our test bike.
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