We haven’t been overly impressed with sub-£1,000 full-suspension bikes in the past year or so. Price increases pushed many of the bigger brand entry-level offerings to well over the £1,000 mark. So Ghost’s ASX 4900 is a pleasant surprise.
At 14.5kg (just shy of 32lb), it’s a bit of a burden on the climbs, but the well-controlled suspension makes it a great option if you like to seek out rough terrain and ride hard and fast as soon as the terrain points the same way as gravity. There are a fair few parts compromises compared to similarly priced hardtails, but they rarely interfere with the bike’s overall performance.
Ride & handling: Superbly well-controlled bike, ready to tackle almost anything
The only thing that interfered with the instant appeal of the 4900’s plush, controlled and stealthy ride aura was the rear derailleur hitting the underside of the chainstay when freewheeling over bumpy ground. A stick-on soft-patch bump-stop would quieten this and anyway, it doesn’t actually do any harm.
That aside, we couldn’t find anything to complain about – apart from the predictable climbing sloth that comes with any bike weighing 32lb. Short, bumpy grunter climbs are achieved with ease thanks to the supple suspension, but the heft makes long drags harder.
To make up as much time on rough terrain and downhills as you’ll lose to similarly priced, and much lighter, hardtails on the climbs would require you to spend significantly more cash. But as soon as the ground points downwards, the 4900 feels as though you’ve been let off the leash.
Not all suspension setups work just as well on the tiny pitter-pattery stuff as they do on big square-edged hits on high speed descents, but the Ghost copes handsomely with both. It’s pedal efficient, so you don’t feel as if you’re losing energy on climbs, and even heavy braking and big weight shifts have little bearing on the bump eating efficiency.
If you’re into the idea of simply having a lot of fun on a bike, and you don’t mind losing time on your hardtail mates on the uphills, the ASX 4900 is a superb way to spend £950.
Frame & equipment: Excellent chassis design and build quality leads to parts compromises
The Ghost’s chainstay pivots and rocker operated shock create a very efficient four-bar linkage suspension setup with 120mm (4.7in) of plush travel. The X-Fusion air shock has adjustable rebound damping and there are decent quality bearings rather than bushings on all the main pivots, to keep the suspension action smooth and durable. You don’t always get this on cheaper full sussers.
The frame tubes are substantially reinforced behind the head tube to shrug off front end shocks, although the 120mm-travel (4.7in) RST Titan Air fork does a pretty good job of that already – it’s as well controlled as any fork we’ve tested on a sub-£1,000 full susser, with a smooth, progressive compression and decent rebound damping adjustment.
It also has a bar-mounted lockout lever which is ratcheted, giving you the choice to either partially or fully lock out the compression. We never actually used the lockout, though, because it feels odd locking out the fork when the back end is still fully active.
The 4900 has a low top tube linked across to the extended seat tube by a neat half-pipe bridge. There’s loads of mud room around the 2.35in treads and there’s one set of bottle bosses.
The level of componentry on the 4900 is a notch below that found on similarly priced hardtails. That’s to be expected when the frame is so well sorted. Drivetrain-wise, the gear mechs and shifters are Shimano Deore and the cranks use Shimano’s standard Octalink bottom bracket.
The wheelset is fairly heavy duty, with Ghost-branded Alex DP20 rims, big flange non-groupset Shimano hubs and a 2.35in Schwalbe Black Jack tyres. Tektro Auriga Comp brakes are superb stoppers and bed in quicker than a budget Shimano alternative (we really liked the feel of the lever too).
As soon as the ground points downwards you’re let off the leash: as soon as the ground points downwards you’re let off the leash Robin Kitchin