Designs for 29in-wheeled frames have been evolving fast over the last few years. The best look and feel just right, offering trail manners that can seduce a rider of 26in wheels instantly. This is one of those designs. It’s fast, lively and has been one of our workhorse bikes for months, with no more than the odd rinse and chain lube.
Ride & handling: A spritely all-rounder of a bike
It’s always hard to tell to what extent clever frame tube proﬁling helps in terms of ride feel, but we know what feels right here. The relatively relaxed 69/72-degree geometry combines with a fairly long (23.5in on the 19in bike) top tube stretch, a short stem, compact back end and big-proﬁle, fast rolling tyres. This creates a bike that manages to feel comfy, sure-footed and incredibly stable – yet still more direct in handling responses than a lot of other 29ers.
The inherent stability of the big wheels, longish wheelbase and low BB fosters masses of conﬁdence when you’re pushing your boundaries. It hits rough high-speed drops and twisting technical singletrack almost as calmly as a short-travel full suspension bike.
During the last couple of years we’ve seen the best 29er hardtails evolve to a point where it’s hard to know where they’ll go next. The Ghost HTX isn’t a real eye catcher, but it’s one of the best equipped and best riding 29ers we’ve tested at this price. Impressive.
Frame & equipment: Ready for bad weather and changing times
Even before you try out the HTX 9000, it’s easy to see that it’s mud-proof and future-proof – two attributes that mean a lot in our books. The seat tube curves forward to keep the chainstays short and the wheel tucked in for lively acceleration and climbing.
There's plenty of room for crud on the Ghost HTX 29er
The compact rear triangle helps too, but there’s still a load of mud drop-through room around the tyres and at the front mech. Gear routing is outer cables all the way, leaving the 3x10 XT drivetrain to keep working sweetly in all conditions.
The mid-sized 180mm rotors on those Shimano Deore brakes mean it stops superbly too.
There are plenty of talking-point frame tube shapes here. A triangulated top tube, bridged to the seat tube, has loads of standover room and visually almost seems to ﬂow into the wishbone at the top of the seatstays.
The head tube is 1.5in/1.125in tapered with an integral headset to keep the front end low and strong, while the down tube is massively ovalised for extra stiffness at the head tube and bottom bracket. Finally, the wide BB shell has simple press-ﬁt bearings and there are two sets of bottle cage bosses for the thirsty.
The 100mm RockShox Reba 29 RL fork is an ideal choice for a bike like this, with loads of ﬁne-tuning options, a bar-mounted lockout switch and a very nicely controlled compression and rebound action.
Deore-hubbed, Alex-rimmed wheels are tightly built and come ﬁtted with fast but grippy 2.25in Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres.
Ghost’s own seatpost, saddle, stem and handlebar are all classy items, and the big, 27in width of the bar is ideal for the tight twisty singletrack on which this bike excels.