Ghost ASX 5100 £1099

Well balanced trail ride

BikeRadar score 3/5

Ghost’s ASX 5100 is a competent all-rounder that's elevated above many similar looking bikes at this pricepoint by its sorted suspension and tight pedalling manners. It has a relaxed feel that'll suit technically minded riders.

Ride & handling: Contemporary trail geometry and cockpit dimensions keep the ASX well balanced

The Ghost isn’t a bike that’ll immediately grab you and fill you with enthusiasm. That said, its overall competence will increasingly grow on you the further and faster you ride it.

The X-Fusion rear shock takes some fettling to feel decent, but while it always stays stiff rather than smooth, it keeps the rear wheel on the ground over the rough reasonably well. More significantly, there’s no trace of top-out clunk or the erratic rebound found on some bikes at this price, once you’ve got it set up right.

The 120mm of rear travel really helps over bigger boulders or long step sections too, allowing the Ghost to carry speed rather than getting bounced off line. Not only that, but the shock creates an excellent pedalling platform, so we never missed not having a lockout lever, however hard we leathered the Ghost uphill.

The long linkage plates and skinny seatstay tops do lead to a noticeable amount of sideways twist and slur when you’re really chucking and carving it around, though.

Up front, the RST fork isn’t as plush as the best units on other bikes at this price, but it’s controlled enough in terms of shock absorption and steering. It can slap down off bigger drops and chokes fairly quickly on prolonged rocky sections, but the firm overall feel is a good match to the bike’s rear end.

As a result, the bike is more controlled and predictable than most at this price when you’re pushing the pace hard. The fork can also be locked out via the massive lockout lever on the handlebar.

It’s the contemporary trail bike handling that really gives the Ghost an edge, though. The relaxed 69-degree head angle stops it snatching and twitching over every bump or steep drop.

Unlike some bikes we’ve seen, where sticking a long fork into an older frame has meant slack seat angles, the Ghost is properly configured to keep steering weight over the front wheel. The mid-width bar and slightly shorter stem give it enough leverage to place it with reasonable accuracy and immediacy on the trail when you need to.

Frame & equipment: Patient tuning is essential for consistent suspension feel; bar is an odd shape

The chief strength of the ASX 5100's well-proven four-bar suspension design is that the mainframe has the same efficient triangular layout as a conventional hardtail, just with a shock mount on the top tube and another mount for the rocker link on the seat tube.

The seatstays are short and the top ends are attached to the back end of the rocker. Add a rear pivot ahead of the wheel on the chainstay and you've got two big triangles for maximum structural stiffness. There’s some flex from the unbraced triangular rocker linkages and skinny forged seatstay bridge, but it’s not so intrusive that it spoils the ride.

While the frame format may be old-school, the chassis is up-to-date where it counts. The flared head tube hides an inset headset, while the main tubes are a mix of hydroformed shapes and gusset-reinforced round pipes.

The component menu follows a similar vibe: it’s not outstanding but it is well balanced. RST forks and X-Fusion shocks aren’t headline grabbers, but they work okay once you’ve spent time tuning them.

The Shimano transmission is smooth, but it’s a splined rather than integrated axle chainset, while Avid’s Juicy brakes feel good and are easy to find spares for. The wheels are okay, and the seatpost and saddle are fine in a workmanlike kind of way.

You’ll definitely want more secure lock-on grips than the very firm and slippery ones supplied, though, and the bar shape felt weird to most testers. At least it's a reasonable 670mm wide. The 90mm stem keeps the steering light and responsive too, which all helps on the singletrack.

The Schwalbe Black Jack and Smart Sam tyres form a speed-friendly grippy front and fast rear combo that help offset the 14kg weight, but you’ll want tyres with more grip when the trails get gloopy.

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