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Morvelo and Chickens Frame Emporium collaborate on a new bike

Morvélo expand their cloth into steel

Brighton based cycling outfitters Morvélo and Sussex frame-builder Jon Chickens have banged their creative heads together to produce this new CityCross cyclo-cross bike.

The brief for the Chickens x Morvélo CityCross was to bridge the gap where cyclocross stops and mountainbiking begins, with the speed of a road bike and the playfulness of a BMX mixed in too. A bit like the criteria that went into creating the innovative CityCross race series that used the historic Peace Hall in Halifax late last year to produce an unforgettable event.

It’s a bike that’s designed for speed but built for the abuse of hurtling down steps, over jumps and down drops, Urban CX at it's most exciting. Morvélo reflect the way modern cyclo-cross bikes are transforming to echo the fact that riders are doing much much more with their CX bikes now than ride them around the edge of some football fields on a Sunday morning, something they highlighted in their Ride Everything video. Here’s the result, the handsome lovechild of a traditional cyclocross machine getting dirty with a modern 29er mountainbike.

Jon Chickens learnt his craft at Enigma Bicycles where he worked for a year and a half before he became a framebuilder under his own name, which is actually Jon Aston but he has a few chickens. Here’s a thing about Jon, a few chickens, and some bikes.

Morvélo - Two wheels, peace and quiet from Morvélo Bicycle Apparel on Vimeo.

Jon has been putting steel tubes together professionally for four years now and works from a shipping container right on the South Downs. He’s also a trained astrophysicist if you fancied a chat about lesser things than bicycle frames.

The CityCross frame is made from Columbus Life steel with a tapered head tube into which is slotted a Whisky No.9 Carbon fork. The fork has a Bolt-Thru axle, possibly the next big thing in cyclo-cross bike design now that disc brakes have taken hold, and a development we first saw on the new Giant TCX Advanced.

To cope with the abuse that Morvélo are going to be dishing out the wheels are carbon Reynolds 29er mountainbike ones with Maxxis Raze clincher cyclo-cross tyres levered on.

To match the multiple personality of the bike the componentry is a similar mash up, SRAM road shifters are mated to a 10 speed SRAM Type 2 clutch rear mech which when chained up to the Absolute Black Thick/Thin CX specific chainring negate the use for either chainguards or a bolt on chain guide to stop the chain bouncing off. Tidy.

TRP HyRd cable actuated hydraulic discs handle the braking, when you’re doing the kind of riding that Morvélo imagine on this bike you’ll want something that’s going to stop you rather than the quaint “slowing down a bit” conventional cyclo-cross brakes give you. The HyRd’s have got to be good, they make our Top Cycling Products of 2013-14 list, twice.

Here's the full spec list, for thos that ike that sort of thing..

Frame: Chickens Columbus Life steel with tapered headtube
Forks: Whiskey No:9 Carbon bolt thru fork with custom Rock Shox Maxle Lite
Headset: FSA Integrated
Stem: FSA SL-K Carbon
Bars: FSA SL-K Carbon
Bartape: Lizard Skins DSP
Cables: Jagwire
Seatpost: FSA SL-K Carbon
Saddle: Prologo Zero II Titanium Saddle
Seat clamp: Chickens Integrated
Wheels: Reynolds 29R XC Carbon with 15mm bolt-thru hub
Tyres: Maxxis Raze 33c
Brakes: TRP HyRd
Levers: SRAM Force with the left one customised to run singlespeed
Mech: SRAM X0 Type 2 10 speed Clutch rear mech
Chainring: Absolute Black CX 42t
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 6700 10 speed 12-25
Chain: SRAM PC1071 10 speed hollow pin chain
BB: SRAM GXP Outboard
Cranks: SRAM Red Black Edition
Pedals: Shimano Deore XT M780

Then it comes to the most important bit, the appearance. Morvélo wanted it to have an essence of some of the 1980's BMXs they loved so much and Jon wanted to showcase the quality of his workmanship by keeping the filet brazing exposed. The happy result of this mix is a black and gold beauty (readers of a certain age will also instantly be reminded of the JPS Formula 1 livery, or a Raleigh Record Sprint maybe) with the stenciled graphics colour matched to the brazing.

If this gets your thighs excited then a similar frame from the hand of Jon Chickens will set you back £1200.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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Morvelo | 10 years ago

Chainline is surprisingly good. I must admit I thought on the smallest cog it looked like the chain would derail but the combination of thick/thin chainring and clutch rear mech means the whole drivetrain is rock solid. As yet the chain hasn't slipped of hopped off once! Really is incredible and also so silent that it's like riding a singlespeed. Recommended!

joemmo | 10 years ago

Tasty although a little bit boutique for my tastes.
Wonder what the chainline is like running a 1x10 with a double chainset and single ring on the inner? My experience of a 1x9 is that its acceptable but not great on the smaller cogs

aviemoron | 10 years ago

hmmm, 3 Peaks bike....

Ush | 10 years ago

Absolutely beautiful.

jason.timothy.jones | 10 years ago

I didnt think it was possible to be sexualy attracted to a bike...i was so wrong

Bagpuss | 10 years ago

That is gorgeous.

Back in the day, a long time ago now, my parents bought me a second hand Record Sprint so I could ride to school. First proper bike, first bike I ever rode any distance, seemed like 100 miles back then but was probably nearer 20.

Happy days.

ajmarshal1 | 10 years ago


I'm in the market for a fresh commuter, general thrashery and winter bike and was already considering a Chickens frame. That combined with my love for Morvelo's clothing could provide a winner.

I'd have to put a proper groupset on it though.

jollygoodvelo | 10 years ago

Shades of JPS in the colourscheme, but that's no bad thing. Very, very pretty bike.

badback | 10 years ago

Lovely. Colour scheme reminds me of Raleigh Record's when I was a kid. Which is not a bad thing as I always wanted one of those.

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