Ghost ASX 5500 - First ride£1,349.99

120mm-travel trail all-rounder

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The ASX 5500 is the first bike we’ve tried from Ghost, a long established and well respected brand based in the south of Germany. It boasts a good looking four-bar linkage frame that, despite a few inevitable parts compromises to keep the cost down, serves well as an introduction to ‘go anywhere, have a go at anything’ full-suspension thrills.

Ride & handling: Great all-rounder that'll flatter your riding abilities

The ASX 5500 carries its 30lb weight – which is fairly typical for a full-suss bike at this price – well, and the fast-rolling Schwalbe Black Jack 2.1in tyres, fast-handling geometry and an efficient top tube reach all help to keep things feeling lively on all but long ascents.

There’s almost no feedback between the pedals and the rear suspension, so you can leave the shock fully active on most climbs for maximum bump absorption, traction and comfort. The air sprung fork and shock are both easy to fine-fettle to suit your riding feel preferences.

The plush, well controlled overall character of the bike really comes to life on the sort of bumpy, high-speed and pedally trails that often challenge a cheaper full-susser. The control and comfort offered by a bike like this are what make it a serious rival to similarly priced hardtails.

While the majority of hardtails at this price will weigh less, feel more lively in acceleration and go up hills quicker, the fun involved in slamming through rock- and root-strewn singletrack and down challenging descents on the Ghost will be of more interest to many riders. Of its type, the ASX 5500 is one of the best all-round performers we’ve tested.

Frame: Quality chassis with smooth suspension, and well equipped for the price

While there are two cheaper ASX models in the range (the 4900 at £950 and the 5100 at £1,100), this is the first to offer a decent RockShox fork (the Recon SL) and a level of componentry that appears to complement rather than compromise the quality of the frame.

Its fork travel – 120mm front and rear – and weight point to a fairly hard-hitting all-rounder identity rather than cross-country racing but, like many bikes of this genre, it seems better suited to fast and rough trail taming than downhilling.

The frame is reinforced in all the right places, most notably behind the head tube, and quality pivot bearings should ensure maximum durability as well as the constantly smooth suspension action that typifies good four-bar linkage designs.

The X-Fusion rear air shock offers well-controlled rebound damping adjustment and a staged flick lever that sets up compression damping from fully active to almost locked out.

Standover clearance is generous, and compact frame triangles make for accurate tracking and stability on punishing trails. There’s space for a water bottle in the main frame and masses of mud room around the tyres.

The schwalbe treads are grippy, comfy and surprisingly fast rolling: the schwalbe treads are grippy, comfy and surprisingly fast rolling

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