Ghost’s AMR is a long running, long distance machine honed for the German marathon mountain biking scene. The LT version adds suspension travel and a dropper post for theoretically increased trail control but how does that play out in practice?
Highs: Clear division between pillowy comfort and firm pedalling will suit some riders; mechanically durable kit for long-distance riding
Lows: Linear rear suspension is hard to tune for supportive feedback; narrow bar and flexy frame undermine confidence
Frame and equipment: classic carbon chassis with a few unexpected touches
The carbon mainframe follows a classic smooth-curved, ‘melted’ looking format, with a large-diameter down tube leading to a press-fit bottom bracket. The linkage driven shock is mounted relatively high and the asymmetric main pivot demands a kinked seat tube with an in-moulded support strut off the tapering top tube.
Mud clearance is limited by the bridge above the triangular seatstays and the rearward front derailleur mount. Cabling is all internal but sticks out enough at the front to knock knees out of the saddle.
A few heft-increasing deore elements lurk among the xt drivetrain:
A few heft-increasing Deore elements lurk among the XT drivetrain
The suspension is a Fox Float Evolution double act, making for theoretically easy syncing of the triple-mode low-speed compression damping. A Shimano XT crankset and rear derailleur provide the keystones of the 2×10 transmission but there’s lower grade Deore kit hidden in the mix, which adds weight.
The dual-compound grips are remarkably uncomfortable on even slightly rough trails, but given the low replacement cost that’s hardly a dealbreaker. The Ghost-logoed rims are actually made by Ryde, which is fine by us.
Buyers should make sure to keep the bearings on the weighty rear hub properly adjusted to reap their smooth long-term potential. The inclusion of an internally routed KS LEV Integra dropper post adds mass but suggests a more aggressive attitude than you might expect of a German 29er.
Ride and handling: speedy but short on confidence
Unfortunately – if appropriately – your first contact with the Ghost may be somewhat scary, particularly if you’re in dark and dangerous woods. The 700mm riser bar and 80mm stem lift your hands high and sit you upright, making for a comfortable cruising position but pulling commitment and confidence away from the front wheel.
Removing all the steerer spacers and flipping the stem gave a more aggressive body position but we still felt underpowered in terms of steering leverage. Even when we experimented with a slightly wider bar and shorter stem to mimic the cockpit of the BMC Speedfox we were testing simultaneously, the Ghost still felt like a very different bike.
The first thing we did was to lose some spacers and flip the stem:
The first thing we did was to lose some spacers and flip the stem
The curving frame tubes, narrow linkage and skinny stays are clearly not as stiff as those on the Swiss machine. Even with grippier tyres than the Speedfox, the flex makes it harder to hold a line and react accurately to the distorted feedback through the frame. It also makes it more difficult for the underpowered front end and relatively long and stable rear end to create a consistent response or predictable character through each section of trail.
The suspension is very on/off in feel too. The fully open ‘descend’ lever position on the Extra Volume sleeved Fox shock is very soft and linear. That means you need to run a lot of pressure to stop the bike wallowing around and blowing through its travel. In contrast, ‘trail’ mode is very stiff, leaving it clattering and banging over small bumps at medium pressures, and rendering the firmer ‘climb’ position largely redundant.
Even at high pressures, relatively small but sudden high-speed hits and G-outs will blow the sag ring right off the end of the shock with little resistance. There’s a damping sweet spot of sorts if you work on getting it right in either ‘descend’ or ‘trail’ mode (not both) but it’s hard to find a happy medium. This combines with the compromised steering control to mean that even with the dropper post, we were reaching for the brakes and backing off a lot earlier than we’d have liked on the Ghost on technical trails.
Finding a suspension sweet spot on the ghost proved frustratingly difficult:
Finding a suspension sweet spot on the Ghost proved frustratingly difficult
Keep the AMR LT on less demanding trails and it’s definitely happier. The Ryde rims are light enough to accelerate OK and it pedals fine if the suspension is sorted to stop bob.
While they look like open-knobbed mud treads, Schwalbe’s redesigned Nobby Nics are surprisingly quick rolling. They’ll still pull predictably reliable traction out of a wide range of trail surfaces, and turn tubeless easily too.
The long top tube stretch and naturally upright position translate to lots of breathing space on long climbs. The 2×10 transmission gives smaller gear jumps and a lower crawler gear than 1×11 systems, which long-distance spinners will appreciate.