Ghost are new to the UK, but they’ve been around for 17 years in their native Germany and have an excellent reputation. The SE in the name stands for ‘Special Edition’. The ‘First’ refers to the RST First Platinum fork fitted on it. For another £100 you can get a RockShox Recon forked version of the same bike, but we’re pretty impressed with this hardtail exactly as it is.
At 12kg (26.4lb) it’s 2.5kg lighter than its identically priced 120mm-travel (4.7in) ASX 4900 full-suspension stablemate, has a lighter wheelset and a better drivetrain and offers a lively and reasonably comfy ride – as long as the trail doesn’t get too demanding. At that point, the frame stiffness reminds you that the full-sus approach has advantages, even at this price.
Ride & handling: Capable machine for more skilled riders
The 7000 is at its best on climbs and on smooth-flowing singletrack, where its low weight results in lively acceleration. Fork performance is excellent on even the roughest terrain, so it can cope with rough descents. The super-stiff frame structure can feel harsh at times, though, kicking you through the saddle when the back end follows through over bumps.
While the big air volume of the tyres counters this a little, you’ll often find yourself hovering over the saddle on technical terrain, which sometimes hampers your ability to exert maximum pedal power. In short, you need to use subtle body language rather than just blasting through everything.
Like most well equipped 12kg (26lb) hardtails, the 7000 will be valued by riders who are always on the search for extra speed and can ride with a certain amount of finesse. It’ll be less valued by those who’d rather have as much plush confidence-enhancing suspension travel as possible to take the sting out of the more technically demanding trails.
For someone who wants a great all-rounder and thinks they may want to have a go at the occasional cross-country race or marathon/enduro event, the Ghost 7000 is a good bike for £850.
Frame: Well thought out chassis with noticeably stiff back end
The fat aluminium frame tubes are reinforced in all the right places and manipulated to create big weld contact areas for extra tube joining strength. Luggage rack eyelets emphasise all-rounder credentials and there are two sets of bottle cage bosses.
A long top tube reach (23.25in on the 19in test bike) makes for a good, sporty flat-backed ride posture, with the geometry feeling at its best with the 100mm (3.9in) of fork travel sagged by 25 to 30mm once you’re on. One of the plastic cable/hose clamps under the top tube wouldn’t stay in place so we replaced it with a ziptie.
The 7000's frame is very stiff, most noticeably the back end. It's great for precise tracking and quick acceleration but it can feel harsh at times, especially on square-edged bumps. The 2.25in tyres fitted need to be run at medium pressures (about 30psi) to soften things up. The best way to do this without increasing the risk of pinch punctures is to convert to tubeless – check out Stan's NoTubes or Joe's No Flats kits.
Equipment: Surprisingly good parts package, including an excellent wheelset with quality tyres
The RST fork behaved itself throughout the test, although its long-term durability is an unknown quantity to us. Although there was some stiction at the start of every ride, this loosened up after a few compressions.
The compression and rebound damping settings are spot-on and a handlebar-mounted lockout lever is ratcheted to allow you to stiffen the fork action gradually, all the way to fully rigid – plenty of riders will appreciate this for long steady climbs and road work.
The 7000’s drivetrain is about average for hardtails at this price and a non-groupset hollow-axled Shimano crankset, with external bearing bottom bracket, means Ghost could afford an XT rear mech. Up front there’s an SLX mech and Deore shifters.
Shifting was perfect throughout the test, as was the Shimano non-groupset braking set-up after a short bedding-in period for the pads. By making the effort to heat up disc brake pads on a long, dry descent before subjecting them to wet gritty off-road use, you ‘glaze’ the surface, and this makes them work better and last longer.
The wheelset is well built, with Ghost branded Alex rims laced to Shimano’s excellent SLX hubs, wrapped in grippy but fast-rolling 2.25in Black Jack treads from Schwalbe. A Ghost branded riser bar, stem, seatpost and saddle all perform perfectly adequately too.