Interview by Robert Johnston | Photos by Simon Hird
Adding to the growing list of start-up bike companies emerging from the UK is Morph Cycles – a one-man operation built on the premise of pushing back against the current industry trends of constantly shifting standards and new models each year. Instead, Morph are bringing a single model to the table, offering custom geometry, and not subjecting the bikes to a model year or name which allows them to become “outdated” so quickly. Read on to find out more about the bikes, and the man behind them.
ROBERT JOHNSTON: WHO ARE YOU? TOM BUGLER: Good question. My name is Tom, I’m 23 years old from the UK. I’ve been riding mountain bikes about 12 years. At University I decided to start my own bike brand, having done some field testing for Specialized previously and being a major bike nerd for a long time.
RJ: HOW DID MORPH COME ABOUT? TB: I had my heart set on doing an internship at Specialized between my 2nd and 3rd years of university but it became apparent that it was going to be pretty impossible. You needed a job offer to get a visa and a visa to get a job offer. It also was going to be super expensive to both get out there and find somewhere to live.
Long story short, I ended up finding out about this scheme at my University where you could pursue your own business idea for a year with University support. I figured having a go at designing my bike frame idea would be a lot of fun and it was a good opportunity, so I pitched my bike frame idea and made it happen.
RJ: WHAT WERE YOUR DESIGN GOALS WITH IT? TB: My first full suspension bike was a YT Jeffsy. I was stoked with how it rode for my trails back home in Hampshire – trail bikes are perfect there. But when I went on my first trip to Morzine and started going to uplift days in Wales I felt undergunned on it. I couldn’t really afford a second bike though.
I thought it would be cool to have a bike that was like a trail bike in one configuration but then you could do something to it to beef it up for Alps trips and uplift days. I came up with the idea of using some kind of flipchip so that the same frame could be run with a 140 fork, to give trail geometry, or you could bump the fork travel up to 160 and flip the chip and have an enduro mode with more aggressive geo. That way I wouldn’t need two bikes and I could feel like I was on the right bike more of the time.
RJ: HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF TAKING A CONCEPT AND MAKING IT HAPPEN? TB: It was definitely challenging. I had to formulate my own plan to get from where I was to where I wanted to be and then see through my own plan. That definitely requires a lot of faith in both your ideas and your ability to realize them. It’s been difficult at times but super fulfilling and I’m enjoying it a lot.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE? TB: Too much to even list.
RJ: WHAT’S NEXT FOR MORPH CYCLES? TB: I’m hoping to sell 5 frames in April 2020. They’ll be Reynolds 853 tubing with stainless hardware, 142mm rear travel and compatible with 140 or 160mm travel forks. Geo and sizing will be customizable on each frame. I’m going to call them the “First-Edition” bikes and they will all come numbered so they’re identifiable as some of the first bikes.
You can run the frames with a fixed length fork and never touch the flipchip if you want, or if you’re interested you can switch it up. Some forks would require you to change the air shaft out to change the travel, but some forks, like DVO’s Diamond, you only have to move a spacer inside and you’re good to go.
RJ: FINAL QUESTION – CHOOSE 3 RIDERS YOU’D LIKE TO SEE ON YOUR BIKES? TB: So hard to choose man. I’m a big fan of Olly Wilkins, he’s a local hero around Hampshire and Surrey where I’m from. I’m a big fan of Craig Evans’ riding. That guy boosts like crazy. I also love to watch Jeff Kendall Weed ride – his technical climbing videos particularly are so sick.
THE BIKE MORPH CYCLES FULL-SUSPENSION 29 GEOMETRY
*For a 470mm reach frame.
Custom sizing will be available on each frame, so you can get the exact reach you’re after.