Wandering the new-exhibitor section of the annual Interbike trade show,
we discovered a 10x10 booth manned by Michael Schwartz, who was showing
off his creation—the
Morpheus Bikes Oracle World Cup. The bike was a
real eye-catcher because it was loaded with everything but a giant price
tag. While the $5000 neighborhood is not low rent, considering the
amenities of the Oracle World Cup, it looked like the show's value
leader. And speaking of neighborhoods, Morpheus Bikes is based in the
Bronx, New York City—a highly unlikely place for a mountain bike
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Oracle World Cup is a cross-country race bike. It is built for
speed, not comfort. Still, the bike could be pressed into service as a
trail rager on groomed trails where traction is plentiful and
bunnyhopping is about the biggest air required.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Oracle World Cup uses a carbon fiber frame with a cosmetic weave
that is anything but subtle. The Oracle tells the world that it is a
carbon fiber advocate. The bike uses full carbon stays, and the
single-pivot rear suspension uses massive machined aluminum rocker arms
that have been red-anodized and rock on six oversized sealed bearings.
The asymmetrical chainstay uses a replaceable derailleur hanger.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Race Face Deus seatpost gets a five-star rating for its micro
adjustability and proven durability. Same goes for the Race Face Evolve
stem that clamps to the comfortable-yet-rigid Race Face Next SL
The RockShox SID World Cup is a proven performer, and the addition of
the remote Floodgate lever sweetens the deal. Finally, the Industry Nine
wheelset gives the Oracle World Cup the air of a custom-built race
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The Oracle World Cup puts its rider in an updated cross-country riding
position. This means that the width of the bar is more comfortable than
the chest-pinching widths of old, and the WTB Devo saddle actually
offers a measure of comfort to riders who might not be able to log 300
miles a week. The rider does end up in an aggressive, flat-backed riding
position, and weight is biased towards the rear wheel.
Off the line
: The Truvativ cranks, SRAM drivetrain, Industry Nine wheels
and Continental tubeless tires all add up to help this bike rocket out
of the blocks. We found it necessary to keep the shock's Floodgate on to
limit unwanted rear suspension movement.
: The Oracle World Cup likes its rider to get on top of the
gear (instead of torquing it) and spin along with the Floodgate (on both
the fork and shock) engaged. The tires look too skinny to be hooking up
as well as they do. Our advice is not to look at the tires and just
power away. Some riders commented on their calves making contact with
the suspension's rocker arms when seated and hammering.
: The Oracle World Cup is a quick-handling package that expects
its rider to pay attention. The steering isn't slack, so rider input
is critical. If you don't want to change directions, relax that grip.
The tires offer impressive traction and control for a true two-inch
: We kept the shock's Floodgate engaged, opened up the fork, and
took advantage of the bike's light weight and quick handling to hop or
steer around trail obstacles while climbing. The Oracle World Cup
responds best if you stay planted in the saddle and keep your torso low.
It was easy to slip the tire on out-of-the-saddle attacks if you didn't
concentrate on keeping your weight back.
: This was the only situation where we opened up the shock and
allowed it to do its job, which is just a part-time job anyway when you
consider that the bike only offers 3.9 inches of rear wheel travel and
that it never really feels like that much. Hey, it is a cross-country
racer, not a trailbike. You make time on the climbs and try to cover
your losses on the descents. The Formula RX brakes are perfectly suited
for this application.
We never noticed fading, and they offered plenty of stopping power
without getting grabby. Incidentally, the Industry Nine hubs make the
coolest sound when gliding downhill.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The valve stems that came with our bike blew through the rim hole when
we were trying to get the tubeless tires to bead to the rim. Replacing
them with a better-quality valve eliminated the problem. The cable
routing down the top of the top tube may not look as clean as an
internally routed cable (a trick of many carbon fiber frames), but it is
far easier to service and never got in our way.
Some Southern California riders laughed at the size of the bike's rocker
arms and the sealed bearings, but Morpheus may get the last laugh. The
bike's designer is used to the sloppy conditions that East Coast riders
have to contend with, and this bike is designed to withstand those harsh
conditions without requiring its rider to rebuild the rear suspension a
few times a year.
Riding the Oracle World Cup reminded us of the importance of scouting
out the back aisles of Interbike, because there are discoveries to be
made. Morpheus doesn't have Trek or Specialized worried, but the Oracle
World Cup proves that a guy from the Bronx can make a capable bike at a
good price that will appeal to the rider who wants something a little
different and is tired of equipment that doesn't hold up well in harsh
conditions. You won't get the backing of a large dealer network or a
by-the-numbers cross-country racer, but you will get a unique ride that
gets the job done.