Ghost HTX 29 Actinum 7000£1,000.00

Impressively fast, smooth and controlled

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The slick looking, state-of-the-art Ghost Actinum 7000 29er is a coherent, competent and cost effective package for fast trail riding. It's faster and smoother than a conventional small-wheeled hardtail, with more control and less fatigue.

Ride & handling: Impressively fast, smooth and controlled for fast cross-country/trail riding

The Actinum 29er is an impressively well-balanced and neutral blank canvas to base any sort of cross-country/trail riding on, and one that grows on you the more miles you put into it. While it’s no lightweight, decent power delivery and fast rolling tyres mean that once it’s rolling it picks up speed encouragingly if you put in the effort. 

The stiff front end and fork lockout mean you can really put your shoulder into stand-up climbs on the smooth, but there’s enough flex in the rear end to keep it hooked up in the rough. The fatigue fighting comfort of the frame is a welcome surprise given the big diameter tubes and seatpost – it takes the edge off the sharpest hits and smooths out traction.

The fork stayed consistently controlled over all bump sizes and speeds, with the bigger wheel size helping smooth out the ride over the small stuff and only bigger steppy sections taking it out of its depth. That’s par for the price, and the frame is well worth upgrading with a better fork.

The mid-length stem and flat bar combine with the slack 69-degree head angle to create a stable, predictable piloting experience – particularly at higher speeds – which suits the bike’s character well. The short back end means it still nips round tight corners okay though, and a shorter stem/wider bar are worth thinking about if you do a lot of intricate singletrack work.

Frame & equipment: State of the art chassis balances stiffness and smoothness, and kit is weak link free

The Ghost's subtly colour co-ordinated frame, fork, saddle and rims are the most obvious favourable first impression. Get up close and there are plenty of other structural smarts in the curvy, carbon fibre look frame too. There's certainly upgrade potential in the chassis, which is shared with higher-spec models.

The tapered head tube, big hydroformed triangular section, lazy S-curved down tube and huge press-fit bottom bracket create a stiff mainframe. The curved seat tube allows a really short back end, while extended seatstays and brace plate create a neat ‘pierced’ look that ends with a neatly curved organic mount for the post-mount brake.

Now that Fox and most RockShox forks are only to be expected on the far side of £1,000, even on hardtails, the RST unit found here is an acceptable fit. Especially as it comes with an adjustable air spring, adjustable rebound damping, colour matched livery and a tapered steerer. 

There’s a remote lockout too, although the handlebar lever for that is the ugliest, most awkward to position remote we’ve ever tried. The fork was as reasonably smooth and predictably controlled at the end of the test as it was at the start though, which is the main thing.

Given the price we’ve no complaints about the Alex rims and Schwalbe’s new reasonably fat but fast rolling Rapid Rob tyres. You do need to be wary of the hard Active rubber compound in wet wood and rock conditions though. A mix of Shimano Deore and SLX transmission gets the job done smoothly with a light shifting action. 

The fixed axle crankset and oversized press-fit bottom bracket mean firm footed power delivery. 180mm rotors front and rear mean no shortage of stopping power, and seating and cockpit kit is all decent, conventionally cross-country sized gear that suits the bike’s character.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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