Stif’s Chromoly Sqautch Hardtail MTB Breathes New Life into Steel Frame Bicycles

Squatch Hardtail MTB 14 photos
Photo: Stif Mountain Bikes
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All people tell stories. Some are better at it than others, but everyone tells stories. This story is about a vehicle that's not meant to be driven, nor is it meant for the streets; it feels most at home among forest vegetation and can be seen kicking up debris on a daily basis.
Folks, the bike you’re looking at is called the Squatch. It's an MTB made by Stif, a company normally known for selling MTBs and not necessarily manufacturing them. Around since 1984, the Stif team has dabbled in manufacturing before, producing a steel hardtail known as Morf. However, it would seem as though the Stif team has been working in the shadows all along.

My theory is that they have been selling bikes from manufacturers like Santa Cruz and Juliana and in the process, studying every bit of detail and reproducing some of the ideas learned into their own machine, the Squatch; just a theory. But looking at this hardtail MTB, maybe that theory isn’t so far off from the truth.

Now, this bike is built upon the Morf and “refined over three years of design and development,” so be sure it comes out as a solid bike, especially since it comes in with a price tag of just €2,315 ($2,727 at current exchange rates). The problem is that it’s sold out on the manufacturer’s website; yeah, it seems to be that good.

First thing’s first, the frame. For the Squatch, and probably one of the reasons for its price, the Stif team is using 4130 chromoly tubing. Sure, this stuff is slightly heavier than the aluminum or carbon fiber that you may be used to, but these frames can take one hell of a beating. Best of all, steel generally bends before it breaks, unlike aluminum and carbon fiber, which first break on a molecular level before any bending is visibly seen.

Squatch Hardtail MTB Teal Color
Photo: Stif Mountain Bikes
But the frame you see was actually designed around a 130 mm (5.12 in) fork, and not the other way around. In doing so, the team was able to “preserve” the frame geometry to their liking. Keep in mind that this sucker is also set up on 29-inch tires, also a feature taken into consideration when building the frame.

Since I mentioned the fork already, on the Squatch you’ll find a RockShox Pike Select with the above-mentioned 130 mm (5.12 in) of travel and 42 mm (1.65 in) offset. However, if you’d like a bit more travel added to your ride, the frame is suitable for forks with up to 140 mm (5.51 in) of travel.

Continuing with a Sram (manufacturer of RockShox) family setup, the drivetrain, too, is provided by this team. Can you guess what kind? Ok, I'll stop dragging it out. For the Squatch, Stif decided to provide an NX Eagle setup all based around a 1x12 drivetrain. Everything from shifters to derailleur, crankset, and even chain, all NX Eagle. Only the cassette breaks away from this family.

To give you an idea of how mountain-ready this puppy may be, know that it also includes a dropper post, allowing you to clear up the groin area on descents or jumps. Jumps? Yes, jumps. Don’t believe me? Just check out the video below. I too was surprised when I saw what the boys were doing with the Squatch.

Squatch Hardtail MTB
Photo: Stif Mountain Bikes
For braking and ground control, Sram Gide T brakes with 200 mm (7.87 in) Avid Centerline rotor on the front and 180 mm (7.08 in) on the rear, it should be more than enough to control turns, descents, and evade the eventual squirrel that pops up on path.

For tires, Stif drops a Maxxis Minion DHF with 2.6-inch diameter on the front, while the rear sports a DT Swiss 370. However, if you don’t like these tires, you can grab whatever you like as they’re a pretty cheap component to replace.

All in all, for this price, equipment, and construction, sign me up for one of these ASAP. Oh, wait, I'll have to be lucky enough to find a dealership that still has one of these in some forgotten corner. But if I do...

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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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