For a daily commute that takes you from main road to country lane to towpath and back again, the German made Ghost Cross 5100 is perfect. The tyres are tough, the saddle is well padded and there's a slight rise in the handlebar, putting you in an upright position for a more comfortable ride.
The Shimano XT Shadow rear mech is usually found on high-end mountain bikes, and sits inboard, protecting it from any bumps and scrapes that you might experience while parking in an overfull rack, loading it onto a train or manoeuvring through towpath gates.
The Suntour NEX suspension fork has 63mm of travel and eases the impact when bumping over cattlegrids, but can be locked out for when you’re on smooth tarmac. The Shimano Deore shifters are dependable, and the nine-speed mountain bike drivetrain gives you gears low enough to climb virtually any incline.
The butted aluminium frameset is ready to attach disc brakes and there are rack eyelets front and rear if you need to carry luggage. And it would be a great touring bike.
The Ghost has been ridden for an average of 130 miles a week for the past month or so, and so far our testers have experienced no punctures, no undue tyre wear and no discomfort, so we can vouch for its suitability and endurance.
Despite the mountain bike appearance, the Ghost has 700C wheels, so if you were intending to use it mostly on the road it would be easy to trade your tyres for something more slick.
It weighs in at 12.7kg (28.2lb), which admittedly is 3-4kg heavier than your average road bike, but is still light enough for one intrepid tester to carry up the three ﬂights of stairs to her apartment.
Overall, the Ghost Cross 5100 is comfortable and easy to manoeuvre, sturdy yet light, and built with high-end equipment but still affordable at £600. It’s the well-adjusted love child of a mountain bike and a road bike, and the perfect ride for mixed surface commuting.